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Too Many Cooks: Our *Proven* Cure-Alls

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It's here. You know what I'm talking about. Not the snow, not the gray-post snow slush, not the threatening array of Valentine's Day merchandise at the drugstore (well, that too).

The sniffles. They're here.

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This week we asked the team to share their food-and-drink remedies—the fire ciders, chicken soups, saltine crackers painstakingly spread with peanut butter that they turn to when they start coming down with a cold (or worse). We won't say it's the same as a doctor's visit, but hey—take it from us:

 Carrot-Ginger Zinger Soup
Carrot-Ginger Zinger Soup

Kate: I love carrot-ginger soup when I feel a cold coming on—it's a little sweet, warm, smooth, and nutritious. But when I get really lazy, there is nothing like an ice-cold ginger ale and pasta with butter, salt, pepper, and a little Parm. Total childhood comfort food.

Caroline: I really love turmeric tea—a paste of turmeric, ginger, and honey, a squeeze of lemon, and hot water the rest of the way up. Nothing is as warming, and it's so bright yellow that it makes me feel like it might really be working some kind of magic.

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Merrill: I had my first experience with turmeric tea last week, and it will definitely be repeated. I also rely heavily on Scottish Breakfast tea (with plenty of milk and sugar), toast with honey, and soft, comforting foods like Goat Cheese Grits when I'm sick.

Le Gibassier Toddy

Le Gibassier Toddy by hardlikearmour

Hot Toddy with Dried Cherries and Lime

Hot Toddy with Dried Cherries and Lime by Amanda Hesser

Jeremy: I certainly enjoy a hot toddy, even if I don’t put bourbon in it.

Micki: Ice pops (the cherry-orange-grape combo is always a solid choice), matzo ball soup, plain saltines, ginger tea (green tea with fresh ginger steeped in it, and a good spoonful of sugar), hot toddies!

Haley: I believe hot toddies will cure anything!

Bitters + soda: The perfect drink.
Bitters + soda: The perfect drink. Photo by Mark Weinberg

Amanda H.: I've convinced myself that bitters are a cure-all, so I sprinkle them in my glasses of water. And this year, I've stepped it up to switchels and shrubs, which I add to hot water. If nothing else, I feel purified.

Olivia: My friends are tired of hearing me tout the miraculous benefits of what I call "garlic brew." A not-recipe passed on to me by my childhood best friend, a certified hippie, garlic brew is what I turn to when I feel a scratch in my throat or an itch in my nose. Run as many raw garlic cloves as you think you can stand through a garlic press (I try to do at least 4 or 5). In a small glass, combine the garlic, a glob of honey, a few generous splashes of apple cider vinegar, and dilute with water. Stir and CHUG! Congrats, you're cured!

Amanda S.: Olivia! I am terrified of that, but so intrigued. On the wimpier side of tonics, I err towards a big spoonful of honey mixed with lemon juice. It's what my mom always fed me when I was getting sick, and I have a total involuntary memory of being coddled by her when I taste it, thereby feeling at least a little instantly better. It soothes a sore throat, too.

Whole Slow Cooker-Poached Chicken
Whole Slow Cooker-Poached Chicken

Jackie: I am a big fan of the garlic, ginger, honey, lemon, turmeric, and apple-cider tonics—but I also fully believe in channeling your grandma and going the homemade chicken broth route. It cures anything and is just so soul-warming.

Sarah D.: Matzo ball soup and pretzels, in large doses. I'm also a big fan of the ginger tea situation, especially with, like, two massive dollops of honey.

Sara: I make a tea of fresh ginger sliced and sliced lemon. It should be so spicy from the ginger that it's painful. Drink it warm with or without honey. (Also I have to admit I'm a huge fan of Campbell's tomato soup, with as many raw cloves of garlic as you can take pressed into it.)

Tim: During the winter, I'll boil a pound of ginger and just heat it up as needed with lemon and honey.

Alexis: I'm convinced that a strong screwdriver will cure a cold. The vodka kills the germs and orange juice boosts your immunity.

Photo by Mark Weinberg

Jojo: I swear by blueberries. Every time I feel a cold coming on, I binge on blueberries, and the seemingly unavoidable illness disappears. It really works; I haven't been sick in over 2 years.

Leslie: Tom Kha Gai soup! Served extra-spicy over sticky rice, it is the ultimate cure-all. Considering the number of college ailments I treated with it (pneumonia, mono, tonsillitis, too many fevers to count), I've become a true believer in its healing qualities.

Catherine: My mom always made me chicken soup (not homemade, the microwave variety) served with two slices of white toast coated with butter. I never finished my soup but never had any trouble finishing the toast.

What's your go-to? Share the remedies you swear by in the comments.

Tags: sick day, flu shots, tissues