Detox Detour: What do you eat when you’re sick?

I’ve been enjoying Tracy’s tour through this interesting detox diet with the rest of you, but I thought I would step in and make a brief post about a much looked-over branch of cuisine: sick food.

Sure, there are different kinds of sick, and different kinds of sick food.  When you are stomach sick, there are usually only a few things you can tolerate without feeling sicker.  Some people swear by ginger, others turn green at the mention of it.  Some people will only eat dry saltines, other people avoid carbs altogether.  Honestly, if it’s the stomach flu, I’m eating Wasa Crackers and apple sauce.  Unless that’s what I was eating when I got sick, obviously.

But when we are talking about the common cold, or some derivative thereof (I am currently fighting a sinus infection), chicken soup is the best thing to have when you are sick, at least according to traditional American folk knowledge.  (Veggie noodle soup for the vegetarians, I would imagine.) This is probably true for a number of reasons: it’s nutritious, especially when made from homemade stock, it’s usually served hot, the steam serving to loosen the sinuses and the hot liquid serving to soothe the throat, and it’s got flavor without being heavy, spicy, or too anything.  Chicken soup is simple and it’s therapeutic. It feels good to have warm soup in your belly, especially when you are experiencing chills and/or fever.  It may even keep a persistent cough at bay for a short while.

And let me tell you, I had chicken noodle soup this week.  It was good.  There actually wasn’t any chicken in it, so maybe it doesn’t count. I’m not sure it made me feel better, but it filled the hole.  Honestly, I didn’t feel like eating much, mostly because nothing tasted good.  Usually, when I am feeling healthy and ready to go, I never order chicken soup.  It’s too blandfor me.  I like to keep things interesting, spicy, you know, tom yum soup or lentil curry soup.  I spent too much time eating meat and potato 1950’s farmlife inspired meals growing up to choose those dishes as an adult… but that’s another story.

What I really wanted to get to, without further detouring from the detour, was my non-soup sick food for today.  Today, I wanted something cold for my throat, and I had already wailed through my carrot, apple, and orange juice supplies over the weekend.  So I decided to make a green smoothie.

I went through a raw food phase last year, which was enlightening in a number of ways, but the real take home message for me was that eating as many raw greens as possible was the best change anyone could make to their diet.  Some folks will make outrageous claims and say that a green smoothie every day will reverse your heart disease or your diabetes, but let’s be honest, those are anecdotes and not the norm.  But I’m all in for the greens, especially kale, and when I feel like I need a vitamin boost, or I have the ingredients sitting around, a green smoothie will happen.  For those of you who are put off by the idea of drinking kale or collards, let me tell you, the only mistake you can make is using mustard greens for your smoothie.  (That is a mistake I will NEVER make again.  The name really should have convinced me, but no, I was headstrong about it, and I still managed to drink the whole thing.)

Lacking my full facilities in my weakened state, I did neglect to take pictures, but really, all you need to imagine is the following recipe.

5-6 kale stalks (center vein removed, lightly chopped) any type of kale is find

1 banana (rough chop)

2 scoops peanut butter (I prefer crunchy)

soy milk

almonds (optional)

ice cream (my sick day addition, also because my banana wasn’t frozen)

Throw all this stuff in the blender and blend it smooth.  Really, once you have the kale in there, you add the other stuff on top, and make sure you have enough milk to make it blend, and then add in additional ingredients for your prefered consistency, flavor.  Sometimes, if I don’t have/want to add ice cream, I’ll put a touch of honey in.  If you are wondering if it TASTES like kale, the answer is no, not usually.  Today it tasted like peanut banana ice cream.  And that was perfect.  If you up the kale ratio, it will start to taste like kale.  If that’s what you want, knock yourself out.  Leave out the peanut butter and add other fruits (strawberries, blueberries, apples) for different flavors.  You can even add whey protein if that’s your thing.

Green smoothies, I love them.  And for this round of terrible illness, green is my go to.

Tell me, what do you eat when you are sick?


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