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A Soothing Tonic for All Your Winter Woes

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What can you do with just five minutes? Actually, way more than you think! Introducing Food52 in 5: your cheat sheet for speedy, delicious recipes, fun mini projects, and more.


If you’ve left your house and interacted with other humans sometime in the past few months, chances are you have been, currently are, or soon will be feeling sick. Sniffles, sore throat, chills—even if you've had your flu shot, it's hard to emerge from winter with a completely clean bill of health.

With colds and flu season still in full swing, it pays to be prepared. But don't reach for the tissues or Vicks; instead, when you feel the first hints of sickness—be it achy bones or a scratchy throat—whip up a batch of this super-simple warming tonic. It's like a powerful immune-system boost, zinging with ginger and honey and just a hint of cayenne. Bonus: it tastes like a hot toddy, minus the booze (though if you want to add some, more power to you). We can't legally promise that a bright, steaming mug of this will cure all your ills, but we can promise that it will taste excellent.

A tablescape featuring Vitamin C.
A tablescape featuring Vitamin C. Photo by James Ransom

The best part? You don't even need a recipe to make it happen—which is especially helpful if you're trying to make it in a fog of sickness. Here's how to keep colds and sniffles at bay, all winter long.

First, gather your ingredients. Basically, this should be a mixture of everything that is said to have holistic healing properties—as long as it tastes good. (Sorry, raw garlic, you're not invited.) Grab a lemon, a small piece of ginger, a piece of turmeric root, a jar of honey (the nicer the better), some apple cider vinegar, and cayenne pepper. Ready your favorite mug. Cue up some daytime TV and prep your couch and blanket.

Ready to boost that immune system.
Ready to boost that immune system. Photo by James Ransom

If you're making this warmer for yourself, start with 4 cups of water in a large saucepan. Slice off about an inch of fresh ginger, peel it, then crush it with the side of the knife (like you’re crushing garlic before peeling). Do the same with the turmeric; use a single root if it's a small one (an inch or so), or half of one if it's larger. Toss both of these into the saucepan. Juice the lemon over the water (don't worry about the seeds—you'll strain those out later), then toss in the juiced halves. Add a healthy splash of apple cider vinegar (about a tablespoon) and an equal amount of honey. Feel free to add more if you like things on the sweeter side, but we really like to taste the apple cider vinegar. Finally, if you're really stuffed up, add a sprinkle of cayenne pepper—careful, this stuff is really hot! But it will clear up your nasal passages.

Ginger and How to Enjoy it at Every Meal

Ginger and How to Enjoy it at Every Meal by Lindsay-Jean Hard

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Fresh Turmeric and Why You Should Be Eating More of It

Fresh Turmeric and Why You Should Be Eating More of It by Lindsay-Jean Hard

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Put the pot over medium heat until it just starts to simmer (don't let it boil), stirring a few times to dissolve the honey. Turn down the heat and let it simmer gently for about 5 minutes—a little under or over is no big deal. Strain the steaming liquid into a large thermos, your coziest mugs, or a heat-proof container for future use. Store extra tonic in the fridge for up to a week, then reheat on the stove or in the microwave whenever you feel under the weather.

What do you eat (or drink) when you feel a cold coming on? Share your healing secrets in the comment section!

Automagic Spring Menu Maker!
Automagic Spring Menu Maker!

Tags: Ginger, Winter, Alcohol-Free Drinks, Wellness