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October 13, 2009

Top 10 Foods to Eat When You Have the Flu



I'm gearing up to have the flu because I keep putting off getting a flu shot, only because rumors still abound that we will get them here at the Sun in spite of the new Purell dispensers.

This is one of those cases where waiting for a discounted flu shot that may or may not happen night not be the best idea, but whatever. ... 

So in honor of high fever, muscle aches, sore throats, coughs and even a touch of nausea, this week's Top 10 Tuesday features my 10 favorite sick foods. Thanks to Charm City Mom Kate for suggesting the idea:

* Orange juice/ginger ale. This isn't an either-or. It's orange juice mixed with ginger ale half and half over ice because for some reason at the time you need orange juice most, it tastes worst. The ginger ale cuts the acidity and is bubbly, which adds interest at a time when not much is interesting, including whether you live or die.

* Chicken noodle soup from Eddie's at Roland Park. Last winter when I had the Endless Cold, I stopped at Eddie's every night for a week and picked up either chicken noodle or Maryland crab. One or the other was always available. Either will work, but the chicken noodle was my favorite. Please post below if you have other sources to recommend.

* Saltines. With or without the soup. An essential.

* Spicy ramyun noodles with egg from Nina's Espresso Bar. (Ramen noodles to us Americans.) Nina's is the Korean cafe near the Sun, which you wouldn't exactly guess from the name, and this is the best $5.75 you can spend when you're sick and have a stuffy nose. Better than Afrin.

* Raita and rice. I discovered this combo during my last Brush with Death, chronicled on this blog. I believe the raita contains enough probiotics to conquer any flu bug, but that's just my justification for craving Indian yogurt/salad at a time like this.

* Baugher's canned peaches in heavy syrup. Opening a can of these was a desperation move on my part. (I had very little sick food in the house when I was last under the weather.) But they went down remarkably easily, and the heavy syrup, which would normally be gaggingly sweet, tasted even better than the peaches.

* Jamba Juice. We have a slight problem here, folks. We don't have a Jamba Juice in the Baltimore area as far as I know. The closest is DC. When Gailor lived in Beverly Hills, she had a Jamba Juice franchise a couple of blocks from her apartment. Once when I was visiting her and caught a bad cold, I lived on Jamba Juice for the duration of my short visit. My cold was gone before I left. Maybe other smoothies would work too, but I've never had any others.

* Wonton soup from Jumbo Seafood in Pikesville. You may begin to see a soup pattern here. I recommend the Hong Kong Style Crystal Won Ton Soup ($7), with "crystal wonton, dim sum style, thinner wrapper filled with chicken & shrimp."

* Spumoni ice cream (or gelato). Unfortunately I haven't seen it around here anywhere. The last time I had it was in Venice, incredibly smooth and creamy and just the thing to calm an incipient sore throat.

* Hot tea with lemon and sugar. Two things I never put in my tea normally taste right when I have a cold or the flu. I have no idea why.


Posted by Elizabeth Large at 4:59 AM | | Comments (42)
Categories: Top Ten Tuesdays


Cinnamon toast and hot chocolate were always good when I was a kid, but,then, so was Lipton Ring-o-Noodle soup. Come to think of it, that's what my wife likes when she feels like dirt.

This is a cruel topic to wake up to (I spent the weekend with food poisoning), but although I can't eat much yet, I have a few suggestions.

Nimbu pani, salty - Make a big glass of ice water. Squeeze a lime into it (tossing the halves into the ice water is optional, but traditional). Put in a pinch of salt, stir. Drink within an hour or two. You won't taste the salt, it just cuts the bitter enough to let the sweet of the lime through. This is natural gatorade, tastes fantastic when you are sick or dehydrated (Gandhi drank this stuff when fasting), tastes meh when you are healthy.

Curd rice - Overcook some rice (white is easier on a testy stomach). Mix with yogurt. You can add lime or lemon juice, or mint leaves, or whatever to flavour it, if you wish.

Miso soup - I have an instant kind I get at Japanese grocery stores that has a packet for the miso paste and another for the garnish stuff. Easy and nutritious.

Ginger tea - Take a piece of ginger that is a couple inches long. Peel (use a spoon, it is easier than a knife, really, just scrape it). Chop into a couple pieces. Boil for a bit (5-10 min., whatever) in a couple mugs of water. I drink it straight, but most folks add honey.

blueberry cake doughnuts
butter rum muffins

Some excellent suggestions here. When I was little and in recovery from the flu, my mother used to make what she called "milk toast." She would place in a soup plate one or two slices of cracked wheat bread, toasted, with piping hot milk poured over, topped with a pat of butter. Sugar optional. It was the most soothing meal possible.

Feel better, Lissa!

Thai noodle soup from Noodles & Co. Preferably with a bit of extra fresh ginger grated in. I swear this soup is a cure-all!

Sticking with the soup theme, my DH is a big fan of hot and sour soup, spicy as hell. For me, Pho. But all those ginger recommendations are sounding good too.

I think this may be my version of Jamba Juice... Naked's Green Machine Juice. It is amazingly good and filled with so many healthy things. I get a large bottle for $4 at BJ's instead of buying the small $3ish bottles at the grocery stores/convenience marts. Some will not want to even taste it... most folks don't drink green things. The overwhelming flavor for me is apple. Try it, it works. I've staved off two colds this year by drinking copious amounts of this juice.

I like apple juice when my throat is sore. Not pulpy like orange juice, but cold and delicious nonetheless.

Funny this would be the topic.. sick as a cliche this morning. I feel that any food that is brought to you by someone else will be the favorite, considering the body aches make it hard to move, much. Actually, piping hot coffee with a fair dose of chocolate soy milk ( actual dairy seems to make the sinuses worse) does good comforting things.That, and if someone could run out and get me matzo soup and bourbon. I don't think it does much for being sick, except being unable to remember much of it.

When I was younger the thing I liked the most when I was sick was Mrs Grass' Noodle soup (with Golden Flavor Nugget).

I must be in the minority here. When I have the flu, all I want is Lime and/or Orange Jello.

When I am in the midst of the illness, I like hot tea mixed with orange drink and Chicken with Stars soup. Love the feel of those little pasta stars on my tongue. It makes me happy when feeling like crap.

Once on the mend, it's Beefaroni. I know...rather disgusting normally but I love it when I've been sick. It's the only time I eat Beefaroni.

A simple HOT TODDY made w/ either moonshine or Seagram's 7. I think my mom made it w/ water, butter, sugar, Lipton tea bag or 2 (for a big cup) and of course a little of the secret ingredient metioned above. I prefered the Seagram's 7 over the moonshine. This was of course before my initiation to NyQuil ("The best s*** you can get on the street w/o gettin' arrested" - George Carlin) Also a hot creamy rice pudding like cereal she would make w/ toast broken into it helped.

Soup. Lots. And hot. does not matter what flavor, style, or base.
Tea, hot. Again, does not matter.

I have a limited sense of smell and taste to begin with, thank you allergies and being a former smoker. Throw in this lovely bug I got this weekend, my olfactory is kaput.

As a matter of fact, anything that is usually above my temperature tolerance is more than welcome in me on such occasions.

I second the pho suggestion. Pho is also the world's best hangover cure.

But if you really need to knock a bug out of your system, you need Mama Julie's Magic Lithuanian Chicken Noodle Soup. For years the recipe has been top-secret, but in an effort to stop the spread of swine flu, I'll share it here.

Boil a bunch of cooked chicken (legs, thighs, whatever) in broth or water with bouillon. Saute minced onions and chopped mushrooms in a pan and dump them in the soup. Add a chopped celery and carrots, herbs (fresh basil, rosemary and oregano, dried herbes de provence, whatever strikes your fancy), and -- here's the important part -- several cloves of crushed garlic and at least a tablespoon of fresh grated ginger.

Let the soup simmer for at least 45 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste and throw in some noodles or rice just before you're ready to eat it.

The combination of chicken fat, garlic and ginger can cure you of just about anything.

I agree with Sarah G. Mrs. Grass' was the favorite when I was a kid.

Spumoni ice cream - Edy's ice cream has this flavor and it's pretty good.

Thanks! EL

Hot cup of black tea with lemon, honey, and a shot of bourbon: soothing, relaxing, and leads to a nice nap.

Hot & sour soup---homemade is best.

Chicken soup — of course. And I add quite a bit of crushed red pepper.


This will be my last post, sorry for upsetting the 'foodies' on my last post by using my initials to save time when posting a comment. Wasn't trying to be clever or step on anyone's lowercase toes, it's my name, sorry for offending the easily offended.

Won't happen again. And by the way, the comments I made about noise at happy hour at Hamilton Tavern were very well received (sarcasm.) Fun group you have here. And no I am not 18 and do not necessarily enjoy LOUD music in bars or restaurants, I am older than 35 which is why I read the blog entry to begin with, and am happy to hear most of you will not be hanging out at Hamilton Tavern due to the obscenely loud noise...

Some touchy people reading about food and drinks. I guess I'll add food and drinks to the list of religion, politics, and sex as far as topics off limit.

(I'll continue to read your lists Ms. Large, they are enjoyable.)

Please don't go. I'll make you a special Sanskrit character that stands for The Artist Formerly Known as CHW if you continue to comment. Or we can call you TAFKAC. EL

Thanks to Julie for the Lithuanian soup recipe. I'm going to keep it in reserve in case I get sick. In my family Lissa's milk toast was called "graveyard stew"-think I'll pass on that one.
My favorite remedy is Jello instant lemon pudding.

Lamb chops When I got sick my mom always made broiled center cut loin lamb chops, with fresh spinach with butter and a scrape or two of nutmeg. My wife, bless her heart, still does this for me!

Meekrat is right about the milk making sinuses worse. Dairy and eggs both are known to increase mucus production and that's the last thing you wanna do when your head is feeling like a sandbag.

PB or Almond Butter toast or oatmeal/oat bran are always good to me- including when I'm sick.

I have tried the tea/brandy/honey/lemon mix and I had some luck with it.

Lipton Cup-O-Noodle soup with plenty of pepper

i miss jamba juice!!!

spumoni can be found at Vaccaro's in Little Italy.

Erin, I think the milk toast was Dahlink's.

My mother used to fix us Mrs. Grass's Chicken Soup, too, with that damned yellow egg. Flavour nugget my tush. You ever eat one of those? Worse than Vitamin E capsules.

Thank you, Dahlink. I'm better, just weak.

I agree with Julie that homemade chicken soup with garlic and ginger is going to work wonders for everything short of nuclear disarmament.

Lissa, glad to hear you are getting better.

Yes, the milk toast was my post, Erin. I never heard it called "graveyard stew"--and I am now going to proceed to forget I ever heard that term!

I believed in chicken noodle soup until I tried the ginger mushroom soup at Mr. Chan's in Pikesville. Its a chicken, very gingery broth with a few mushrooms floating in it. It'll cure what ails you.

Matzo ball soup -- it's Jewish penicillin (and although I am not Jewish, I very much believe in matzo ball soup). If you do not have a Bubbe (Yiddish grandma) in your life, go to Giant and get some Maneschewitz matzo ball soup -- I like the jarred kind and I do about 2 parts chicken stock to one part jarred soup.

Blessings on all who are under the weather.
Here are two SURE FIRE cold and flu remedies that WORK, given to me by an old, Asian, female physician. (The second one was corroborated by the son of a Pakinstani Army general who prescribed it for sick troops):
1. Gargle with warm salt water.
Fill a glass tumbler with water (from wherever). Add 1/2 teaspoon table salt (or sea salt or Kosher salt or moon salt--if you're a real foodie). Microwave for 1.5 minutes. GENTLY gargle this saline solution and expectorate heartily. Your throat, sinuses, and whole head will feel better almost immediately. This remedy, I think, as Ken Burns says, realligns your molecules.
2. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot. Coarsely chop two large yellow onions. Add and saute.Take the skin off a half a dozen cloves of garlic. Mash them with the blade of a broad knife. Chop coarsely, add, and saute with the onions. Add six cups of chicken or beef stock. Simmer until the onions and garlic start to melt. Serve in bowls with whole grain garlic croutons and a spinkle of parmesan cheese.
You are healed.

Oh totally forgot a remedy a friend swears by ... eating a clove of raw garlic, one per hour. Crush the garlic and swallow it down. Honey can be used to help mask the taste.

I did this once. I managed about 4 doses before I thought I was going to be sick in another manner. It worked. I've never tried it again. Instead I use copious amounts of garlic in my food.

Two weeks back I consumed a pound of collards with a huge amount of onion and a whole head of garlic. I was feeling fine the next day except for smelling like garlic.

as a bartender, here is a sure fire cure for the upset stomach part. put 3 dashes of angostora bitters in a ginger ale, actually 1 glass of that a day will improve your health. it is also the only known cure for the hiccups (i'm sure everyone will debate that) cover a lemon wedge with sugar and bitters and chew it up, no more hiccups! warning, I never said it tastes good!

On the day that the Virus Of Doom That Apparently Wasn't The Flu hit me last month, I happened to be meeting with someone at Roland Park Bagel Company. As I was standing in line I started to feel that icky, hot-behind-the-eyeballs, dead-tired feeling and decided that a bagel was not at all appealing. So I ordered the matzo ball soup, which I'd never had, and: ohmigosh. It was delicious and soothing and exactly what I needed. I craved it every one of the approximately 4,000 days I had that pestilence.

Jack Z. - I completely forgot that my mom used to lovingly prepare baby lamb chops for me in times of illness. Thanks for the memory! It never made me feel better but it did make me feel special. Especially when I learned what those chops cost!

On the converse subject, one never wants to Become ill after eating a multi-course Indian dinner. I know this.

Joyce W: LOL.

Chopped up fresh ginger simmered in Knorr chicken boullion

I LOVE OJ and ginger ale, especially for brunch -- it's the poor woman's mimosa.

This topic is very timely. It's time to engage in my version of "preventive medicine"--making a vat of chicken noodle soup and freezing some of it in 2-serving portions. Then, when I feel like crap and going out isn't an option, I just get it out of the freezer and nuke it. Bonus: the steam helps open clogged sinuses. A couple of days later, when I feel better but not cured, I eat soft boiled eggs with toast or grilled cheese sandwiches and cream of tomato soup until the malady is gone. Oh yeah, and Jell-O to soothe a sore throat.

Colds play havoc with tastebuds, so all you taste in tea is the tannins. Honey and lemon knock them down and make it palatable. And, the steam helps open your stuffy head.

Mention of milk toast floods me with memories; it was Dad's favorite food. Whenever Mom made a meal that he didn't like, he'd ask for milk toast or--heaven help us--tomato gravy over toast. This is basically creamed stewed tomatoes. All I can remember was that she had to be very careful adding the milk or the whole pan would curdle. Eesh! None of us kids would touch it!

Good health to all!

I want the flu that you all get. I (somehow) came down with H1N1 a couple weeks back and could not eat a thing. I managed to drop about 10 pounds in 3 days of not eating... which sort of makes me want to try and get it again.

Quick headsup - there aren't any more Jamba Juices in the area :(

This soup (the spicy version) is great when you have a sore throat, but probably not light enough for H1N1. I also love the spicy tofu at Nina's for a cough or cold.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) more than 200,000 people are hospitalized each year from complications related to the flu. Around 36,000 per year die from flu related causes. The CDC recommends seasonal flu vaccinations as the best way to prevent the flu.

You can find out where to get vaccines from your doctor. Also, medtipster is a great site I found that helps you find vaccinations in your area...just in case chicken noodle for two weeks doesn't sound too appetizing. ;P

The sopa de mariscos at Restaurant Salvador on South Broadway in Upper Fells Point. The combination of shrimp, scallops, mussels and crabmeat will certainly bring you back to life (Sopa vuelve a la vida as its known in many other places).

Do NOT forget the benefits of garlic! It is a proven antimicrobial food and one of the best. When my kids start to get sick or if they've been around sick kids...take the WHOLE head of garlic (not just a clove), peel off the EXTRA paper, rub a thin layer of oil, microwave on high for one minute...and wait for it to it like shrimp...peel and eat. Your kids will most likely to go back to school tomorrow!! And you too, back to work with the essence of garlic. My great-great grandmother was the town MD and used garlic for everything. IT WORKS! btw, RESISTANT BACTERIA TO ANTIBIOTICS CAN NOT "KEEP UP" WITH PLANTS BECAUSE THEY ARE GENETICALLY SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT EACH TIME...UNLIKE MAN MADE ANTIBIOTICS. STAY WELL!

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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