This said, I definitely made the right choice in staying home. I’ve been really under the weather since Friday: high fever, sore throat, headaches, cough. The usual bastion of misery that accompanies a terrible seasonal cold. Needless to say, my appetite—along with my desire to uncook—has been pretty dim.
People often ask me what I eat when I’m feeling sick. The answer is: whatever I crave – or whatever doesn’t make my stomach turn! Typically, this means more cooked food than raw. This is out of the ordinary for me, but it’s not a bad thing at all: warm foods can be comforting for an upset system. And raw foods, as we know, are cleansing; putting highly cleansing foods into a system that’s fighting off illness can often be overpowering, and do more harm than good.
My favorites for sick days are warm soups, baked root vegetables, sprouted grain breads and toast, brown rice and quinoa, puffed kamut cakes, and banana soft serve (which is especially awesome for a sore throat). Sometimes, especially if I’ve got a summer bug, I crave simple raw foods, too, like blended salads and raw veggie slaws (shredded veggies of choice, like carrots, cabbage, cucumbers, and zucchini, dressed with apple cider vinegar, raw honey and olive oil). I try to get raw or gently steamed greens in if I can – no matter how lousy my appetite is, I know that greens will help my body heal, and so I do my best to keep them down. And of course, I load up on green juice, coconut water, and hot ginger tea with honey.
I was running a pretty high fever for two days (just under 103), and was pretty dehydrated. So my Mom was kind enough to pick up some thai coconuts for me, which helped me stay hydrated the whole time (and the flesh is mellow-tasting and gentle enough to be a great “sick food”).
If you’re feeling under the weather, the best thing you can do is choose foods that are both sustaining (starchy vegetables and grains are good for this) and also easy to digest. If you’re really feeling queasy (or if you have a stomach ailment), try to at least get some soups down (the Pacific brand is great) and some blended foods: one favorite recipe of mine is “butternut pudding,” which is essentially butternut squash that’s steamed, then processed in a processor with coconut oil, a touch of maple syrup, and cinnamon. And if you can’t seem to digest anything at all, do try to sip as much fresh vegetable juice as you can until you’re well enough to eat.
What about my favorite home remedies? To start, if you have a cold, I recommend using a neti pot a few times daily or as often as you need:
If you guys haven’t seen neti pots before, they’re part of an ancient tradition called nasal irrigation, which can help with everything from cold/flu relief to chronic sinus infections and allergies. Neti pots are inexpensive, and they’re easy to use. I highly recommend them!
On the whole (as you know) I’m not one for herbs and supplements. But I’m a big fan of oil of oregano for various medicinal uses, and my friend Charles recently told me that it can be useful in treating fevers. You can find it in oil form, or in pills.
Epsom salt baths are miraculous. They’re not only tremendously helpful for the detox process (as they help to usher toxins from one’s system) but also can be useful in lowering fevers.
Cold compresses on the foreheads and wrists are also good for fever reduction.
Obviously, it helps to avoid alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, and other toxins. It can also be helpful to avoid any processed or refined sugars, and sweets in general.
Most importantly, stay hydrated! Tea, vegetable juice, water: these are essential for healing. And if you have a fever, dehydration is an ever-present concern, so do your best to drink lots of electrolyte rich liquids—coconut water is ideal for this!
Of course, if you find yourself developing symptoms that are more severe than those of a run-of-the-mill cold, or if you have any doubts about the origin or nature of your ailment, you should give your doctor a call or go in for a visit.
As for over-the-counter meds—Tylenol, Nyquil, Theraflu, etc.—you have to use your personal judgment. I personally try to avoid these whenever possible. If my fever had crept any higher this weekend, I would have considered taking Tylenol to keep it in check, but it fortunately stayed within a range I could handle before it broke. I prefer to use my neti pot for nasal irrigation, rather than using Vicks or some other kind of decongestant (and quite honestly, I find it far more effective). There are also tons of herbal and naturopathic remedies that are available for routine illnesses, so feel free to browse these, research them, and figure out what works for you.
I encourage you all to use your heads about these. It’s dangerous to get in the habit of thinking that we can avoid allopathic medicine altogether. Certainly, some of us are blessed with health that is consistently strong enough to avoid allopathic medicine most of the time. And years of eating a cleansing diet can help us to reach that kind of place. But allopathic medicine is here for a reason: in large part, it treats the ailments and conditions that have arisen due to our modern lifestyles (diet included). Very few of us are far removed enough from that lifestyle to be at a point where we can ignore allopathic treatments altogether. Refusing antibiotics for a galloping infection is not a sign of sturdiness—it’s an act of foolishness. Treat whatever you can treat comfortably with natural remedies, but when you sense that it’s time for mainstream medicine to intervene, have the good sense to let it happen! Over time, as you choose to clean, whole foods in your body, you’ll most likely find that your life is increasingly free of health complaints that typically demand allopathic treatment.
Fortunately, my sniffly, sweaty weekend included one new recipe–and a fabulous one at that!
What I craved most in the last few days (in fact, the only thing I craved) were warm root veggies. And I was reminded of a recipe that one of my clients had told me about some time ago, and I’ve been dying to try: carrot fries. A fun alternative to your usual sweet potato or potato fries, these are delicious, simple, and very comforting. They combine neutrally, and they’re super versatile: you could dust them with cinnamon and nutmeg for an autumnal treat; you could dust them with chili powder or cayenne for a Southwestern twist; you could sprinkle them with garam masala and curry powder for an Indian-inspired variation. Or, you can do as I did, and keep the seasonings simple.
This recipe couldn’t really be easier. Simply cut 2-3 large carrots into “fry” shapes. You can use the larger shredder setting on a mandolin for this, or simply hack at large carrots until they’re thin enough (and lots of delis sell pre-cut carrots, too). Next, toss the fries in 1-2 tbsps coconut oil (which is my oil of choice for high-temperature cooking), sea salt, and pepper. Toss them in a 450 degree oven for 40-45 minutes or so, till they’re slightly browned.
The first time I made these over the weekend, I enjoyed them with the sauce above. You’ll have to wait for my next post to find out what it is!
Tonight, with my appetite slowly but surely on the mend, I enjoyed the fries along with some steamed sweet potatoes and veggies, some massaged kale, and some ‘Zeke toast. It was a tasty recovery meal:
This recipe has given me an idea, particularly relevant as we head into winter months, to post one cooked recipe each month for you guys to see what sorts of warm treats I enjoy. As you all know, I eat mostly raw, most all of the time, but I do enjoy certain cooked foods immensely, and it’ll be fun to share them with you.
I hope you all enjoyed more vibrant weekends than mine! Now, get to your kitchens for some carrot fries. I guarantee you won’t be dissapointed!!