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Your Favorite Healing Recipes for Surviving Cold and Flu Season

December 13, 2014

There are so many great conversations on the Hotline -- it's hard to choose a favorite. But we'll be doing it, once a week, to spread the wealth of our community's knowledge -- and to keep the conversation going.

Today: Your secrets for getting -- and staying -- healthy this winter. 

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The holiday season is undoubtedly one of the most joyous, heart-warming times of the year. It's packed full with parties and events, baking binges and gift shopping. But in the rush -- whether sugar-induced or not -- it’s easy to simply forget to take care of ourselves. This season, slow down: Cook well and eat well so you can enjoy every minute with friends and family.

In the event that you do come down with a cold, there are some simple but nourishing tactics to keep you going. Kimhw asked the Hotline for some healing recipes to help with sickness. She had a stocked freezer and pantry, but requested simple ingredients so she didn’t have to go out to the store while under the weather. She received some great advice -- both traditional and less so -- for keeping sickness at bay:

 Drink up

  • Dona likes to make green tea with honey, lemon, ginger, and a pinch of cayenne. Pegeen uses the same recipe, minus the cayenne.
  • For easier hot beverage making, jungli_beleza creates a marmalade-like blend of grated ginger, lemon juice, and honey to keep in a glass jar in the refrigerator, to be mixed into hot water or tea when the need arises.
  • Meaghan F's "go-to cold eraser" is a classic hot toddyTrampledbygeese is on the same page with a tweak of an old family remedy: Simply make a strong cup of black tea with a bit of honey and lemon or lime and add a “goodly splash of brandy.” She notes that the brandy comes at the recommendation of her doctor to help with a sore throat, but cautions: “Of course, if driving or doing anything important like entertaining the in-laws, best forgo the brandy until after, when you have a chance to relax.”
  • After reading lots of Dickens one winter, Nancy says: "I noticed that all those London characters were inviting each other in for hot gin.” She found a recipe for a hot gin drink, and notes of its effects: “Your cold is not gone, but you don't care anymore. And, oh yes, you'll sleep. Like adult-rated NeoCitran.” 


Soup for days

  • Michele loves Heidi Swanson’s Immunity Soup recipe, and makes substitutions based on the foods she has on hand, saying: “The key ingredients seem to be the ginger, garlic, and onions.”
  • Susan W always keeps homemade bone broth in her freezer for sick days. When she's feeling under the weather, she likes to cook the broth with carrots, celery, onions, garlic, and ginger that have all been caramelized in ghee. She blends all of that up, and then adds in some sliced cabbage that gets cooked down. 
  • Chicken broth is a well-known remedy for illness, so it's no surprise that Pegeen's recommendation of "Jewish penicillin" -- a steaming bowl of chicken broth or soup -- was voted the best answer.

Whatever works

  • Sam1148 suggests the "two hats cure": "Make some tea with ginger, honey, and lemon. Put a hat on the door knob of your bedroom. Fire up an audiobook on the bed-side player and have a sip of tea. Follow that with a shot of bourbon. Look at the hat. Have another sip of tea...and a sip of bourbon. Repeat until you see two hats." (Editor's note: While fond of this technique, we also must remind you all to drink responsibly!)

How do you stay in tip-top condition during the holiday season? Tell us in the comments or join the conversation over on the Hotline.

Third photo by Heather Hands, all other photos by James Ransom

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • AmandaClaire
  • walkie74
  • Emilia Rosa
    Emilia Rosa
  • dorota krysinska
    dorota krysinska
  • la greca
    la greca
foodie, writer, performer


AmandaClaire December 14, 2014
Miso soup is great for an upset stomach, but vegetarian hot and sour soup with extra mushrooms is my go to. The spicier the better.
walkie74 December 14, 2014
My favorite is a "feel good tea" from Bon Appetit magazine. It's delicious when it's made right, and it definitely relieves symptoms.
Emilia R. December 14, 2014
When I was macrobiotic (MANY moons ago) we used to drink Bancha (which is actually green tea, in large leaves, that we lightly toasted) with some shoyu (soy sauce). No flue resists that! Also, some dried lotus root made into tea works wonders with asthma and congested lungs.
dorota K. December 14, 2014
yes for soup! i've recently realized you can mix a teaspoon of miso paste into a cup of hot water (i know, i know), grate some ginger and crush some pepper, and there you go, a drink more healing than aspirin, under 5 mins. a real discovery - and very useful, too.
la G. December 13, 2014
Delicious, simple, CURE: heat a generous ounce of grappa then stir in a spoonful of honey.