If you are in the Northern Hemisphere, you might want to skip this post. But do make a note to come back and read it around January when you might need it for your own cold and flu season.
I have a cold, and sadly for me, I caught it from DB so we’re both out with it. I’m the kind of person that crawls under covers, sinks right into it and doesn’t come out until I feel better (kind of ironic given the whole kidney transplant thing) and DB is the kind that wants to be taken care of. We’re a recipe for disaster.
But perhaps you are the kind of person who likes to look after your sick friends… And if you are, you’re in luck because I’m sharing our cold/flu care recipes for your Stress Free Dinner Party to Comfort a Friend with a Cold.
I’ll just remind you, I’m not a medical person, I’m not qualified to provide medical advice, and these recipes are based on our experience of what works for us. They might not be right for your or your friend.
You need to consider food that will comfort and help them get better. Some of these include: chicken noodle soup (which can thin mucous), citrus (can speed recovery and while it might not be much time every little bit helps), salmon or lean chicken/turkey (can help fight infection), leafy greens (may fight infection), blueberries (antioxidants), dark chocolate (immune booster), brazil nuts (boost immune function), carrots and sweet potatoes (immune boosting) and oats (protect the respiratory system).
Herbs and spices that you can use in the food, which are said to ease colds include basil (for fever), cayenne pepper (thin mucous), chilli (induces sweating which can help break a fever), cinnamon (to warm the body and clear mucous), garlic (antiviral, anti-inflammatory), ginger (induces sweating), horseradish (clears congestion), lemon grass (fevers and coughs), marjoram (eases respiratory symptoms), oregano (cough), parsley (may help clear the lungs), pepper (to thin mucous), rosemary (congestion), sage (sore throats and coughs), spearmint (fatigue), thyme (clears congestion), turmeric (anti-inflammatory).
You should avoid dairy (which might promote mucous production) and high fat and sugar foods like cakes which can be difficult to digest and slow recovery.
It’s important to stay hydrated so plenty of water, tea or juice. I like a shot of whisky in my lemon and honey tea, but other “cures” I have heard of include a hot rum toddy (rum, honey, lemon, cinnamon and water, sometimes other spices as well), vodka mixed with pepper, and Jägermeister with orange juice and ice.
Maybe eucalyptus essential oil or a blend in an oil burner. Oils can include tea tree (disinfectant), lavender (analgesic), peppermint (decongestant), black pepper (anti-inflammatory), ginger (analgesic), rosemary (analgesic and expectorant). Or you can buy specific essential oil formulations in some health food stores. If your friend is pregnant, you might want to skip the oils and just open the windows for some fresh air.
Perhaps pyjamas, fleece robe and fluffy slippers.
I assume you are packing this up and taking it to your friend’s place, so what follows is a combined plan/schedule – partly because I am too tired to plot it out accurately, and partly because you will do some of the work when you get there. I am assuming you are taking this over for lunch.
mid morning: prepare spicy soup
May my French friends forgive me, but this is based on soupe à l’oignon française. It’s somewhat ad hoc, but it’s made to taste and I’m not generally feeling very well at the time that I make it… It’s spicy so that it will make me sweat to force the fever, make my nose run, and the spice feels really good on my sore throat.
This recipe is for one person, so amend the quantities according to how many people you are catering for. Thinly slice a couple of onions, two or three cloves of garlic and a bit of chilli. Sauté in butter and a little oil for about 20 minutes until they are soft and quite brown. Add some pepper (I use Szechuan) and if the onions aren’t very brown add a little balsamic vinegar for colour. Then slosh in some brandy and cook for a little while before adding about a pint (600ml) of beef stock. Ideally, leave to simmer for an hour, but given you are going to reheat it later there will be plenty of time for the flavours to develop anyway.
While the soup is cooking, make some salad dressing: put one tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 grated clove of garlic, 1 – 2 tablespoons of chopped mixed herbs (basil, marjoram, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, thyme) in a jar. Put the lid on, give it a good shake and leave to infuse. I’ve specified olive oil, but your health food store may have a selection of health-promoting oil blends will work too.
Aperitif: Tea with lemon and honey, and a bowl of blueberries to pick at
When you get there, get the kettle on and make the tea. Put the soup on the stove to reheat, and preheat the oven to 350F (180C).
Appetiser: Arugula (Rocket), Avocado and Tomato Salad
Put some arugula on a plate, top with avocado slices and halved cherry tomatoes. Sprinkle with dressing. If your friend feels up to it, add some smoked salmon or cooked chicken/turkey. You could also add garlic croutons or toasted pine nuts for some crunch
Main: Spicy Onion Soup
Maybe serve with some bread or cheese toasties, though these can be difficult to manage when you feel wretched.
Dessert: Citrus Roasted with Ginger and Rosemary
Cut assorted citrus (e.g. lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit) into thick slices (like discs). Place them on baking paper on a baking tray, top with a slice of preserved ginger in syrup and a sprig of rosemary and bake for about 20 minutes. If you can’t find ginger preserved in syrup, you could put some honey on the orange and top with a thin slice of fresh ginger or a sprinkle of powdered. Encourage your friend to eat them skin and all, because the pith has good anti-inflammatory properties as well.
Tea with lemon and honey
Stack and run your friends’ dishwasher and clean the kitchen while you make them another cup of tea. Leave any leftovers in their fridge for a snack later, and take your own dishes away with you.
Tuck them up on the couch in front of the tv (I find British documentaries are excellent for falling asleep to) with a box of tissues to hand. If you lit a candle for the oil burner, blow it out before you leave.