Seriously Sick: Food For When You're Under the Weather

[Photographs: Tressa Eaton]

Last month I got slammed with a bizarre mid-summer 103°F fever. The sky-high fever, chills, and achy body knocked me out completely. Being home alone and sicker than I've been in a long time made me realize how important it is to have a couple stand-by recipes that can be made no matter what condition you're in. There is no more important time to feed your body with comforting, nutrient-dense foods than when you're sick. Not to sound like your mother, but even if you don't feel like eating anything, you probably need to.

These three dishes below are so simple that they barely need recipes. The coconut chicken soup can be made with or without almost any spice in the recipe. The smoothie can be made with any type of frozen fruit languishing in your freezer. The green pea recipe is so easy, it's almost laughable. Most importantly, the recipes use items that I always have around the house—a can of coconut milk in the pantry, a lemon or lime in the corner of the crisper, a clove of garlic on the counter, or some peas in the freezer.

A Word on Broths

Not that this is new information to my Jewish grandmother, but I am convinced that bone broths (especially chicken stock with its easy to assimilate minerals and tiny golden droplets of fat), have special healing properties. On a normal, non-sick Sunday, I'll set a huge stock pot on a low simmer and freeze a couple quarts of the resulting broth for another time. But if you don't have homemade broth, don't sweat it.

If I don't have any homemade chicken broth in the freezer, I use Imagine Organic Free Range Chicken Broth. For some reason, many store brought chicken broths contain sweeteners, like cane juice and other unwanted additives.If your body is already fighting off armies of invading bacteria or an infection, no point in giving it more things to deal with. Imagine is the one brand made from the same stuff I put in my own stock pot: chicken, water, onions, celery, carrots, sea salt, and spices.

Other Nutritive Ingredients

Garlic and ginger both have nutritive properties of their own, and they are fragrant enough that even with a stuffy nose you'll be able to taste them. I love adding coconut milk to hot soups. Its richness ups the comfort factor and there are many new studies showing that this traditional ingredient is anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-microbial.

The smoothie is extra-thick, cold, and easy on the throat. Plain yogurt is packed full of good probiotics and the frozen banana adds some natural sweetness without whacking your body out on white sugar. If you're not used to eating plain yogurt and you find the smoothie a little too tart, just drizzle some maple syrup over the top.

For me, frozen peas are the one frozen vegetable that is reliably good, pleasantly green, and always comforting. The trick is, like with pasta, to salt the cooking water, watch your cooking time closely, and use a generous hand with the butter.

These foods got me back up and running again. Even if you'd rather put your faith in medicine over food, all of these recipes are just plain tasty.

What food do you fall back on when you're not feeling your best?

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Seriously Sick: Food For When You're Under the Weather

About This Recipe

This recipe appears in: Serious Green: Freeze It Now, Eat It Later

Ingredients

  • 1 quart chicken stock, homemade preferably
  • 1 can full fat unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, freshly grated
  • 1 clove garlic, freshly grated
  • Juice of one lemon or lime plus zest
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Optional garnishes: cilantro, basil, scallions, green onion, mint, mushrooms, carrots
  • 3/4 cup whole milk plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup blueberries or any frozen fruit such as strawberries, raspberries, mangoes
  • 1 whole frozen banana, sliced
  • Maple syrup, optional
  • 1 cup green peas
  • 2 cups water with 1 teaspoon salt
  • Butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Parmesan, freshly grated

Procedures

  1. 1

    Bring the chicken stock to a boil, skimming off any foam that accumulates.

  2. 2

    Add the coconut milk, chili flakes, ginger, and lemon juice to the chicken stock. Reduce heat and cover for 10 minutes.

  3. 3

    Add salt to taste and sprinkle with garnishes.

  4. 4

    20090902-seriouslysick-blender.jpg

  5. 5

    Super-Thick Smoothie

  6. 6

    - serves 1 -

  7. 7

    Add all ingredients to blender and blend till smooth. If chunks of ingredients remain, stir and blend again.

  8. 8

    20090902-seriouslysick-peas.jpg

  9. 9

    Green Peas With Butter and Parmesan

  10. 10

    - serves 1 -

  11. 11

    Bring water and salt to a boil.

  12. 12

    Add peas and cook about 5 minutes until tender.

  13. 13

    Stir in a knob of butter, some salt and pepper, and top with Parmesan.

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