By Melissa Kravitz
When your nose won't stop leaking, you can barely hear Netflix over your incessant coughing and a trip outside the house seems like a death sentence, there's only one way to cure the plague: Food. A plethora of ingredients are proven to help you feel better—perhaps better than any over-the-counter cold reliever—and soup is indeed medically proven to make you feel better when winter sickness makes everything feel bleak.
Having certain ingredients on hand for when illness hits can also help during cold and flu season.
Elizabeth Trattner is a certified gourmet chef from the Natural Gourmet Institute and a doctor of Chinese and integrative medicine. She recommends stocking up on ginger, an antioxidant that's also an antimicrobial, which kills bacteria and can also combat chills and fever; fresh garlic, an antioxidant that increases antibody production and stimulates white blood cell multiplication; and marrow-based soups, which can be purchased by the box and contain alkylglycerols, a type of fat found in our organs that boosts the body's production of white blood cells, which "protect the body against infections and immune cells that digest bacteria."
And while home cook cures may come from a box, leave it to the professionals to whip up something curative and delicious when they're too contagious to go to work in a restaurant kitchen.
Here's what chefs eat when they're sick (spoiler: lots of broth).
1. Noodle soup
Brian Shin, chef at San Francisco's bar The Snug, is "a big soup guy in general," but his love for warm savory liquids grows stronger when he's feeling sick. Pho and ramen are both sick-day go-tos, and when he can get it, a big, hearty bowl of Korean oxtail soup, called seolleongtang, is the ideal cure.
2. Pho or matzo ball soup
"Whenever I am sick, like most people, I want soup," said Nini Nguyen, culinary director of Cook Space in Brooklyn. "Pho is always my go-to when I am not feeling 100%. It is my comfort food because I am Vietnamese and I like to believe that the ingredients do help my symptoms." Nguyen said the ginger and licorice help with nausea and upset stomachs, and the salty broth helps with a sore throat and hydration. "Also, I think there's something about the hot broth that heats up your body from the inside that makes you feel so much better."
When she can't get a good bowl of pho, the runner-up is matzo ball soup. "It is just so comforting," she said.
3. Sopa de fideo
"When I was a kid I was fed sopa de fideo, a Mexican soup made with garlicky tomato and vermicelli," said Rob Valencia, executive chef of catering production at New York's Great Performances. This brothy soup is still his go-to sick-day dish, "because it makes me sweat everything out and kills anything bad in me," he said. "I feel like a new person the next day." Try this Food52 recipe.
4. (Easy) homemade broth
"My go-to when I'm weak with a cold, or even when I'm feeling one coming on, is broth—homemade," Minnesota-based chef Kristin Hamaker of meal-planning service Goosefoot said. Depending on what ingredients she has on hand, she'll make chicken or vegetable broth in her Instant Pot. "That way, I can go back to bed while the pressure cooker does the labor for me," she said. When the broth is ready, she'll sip it from a warm bowl, unadorned.
"Congee is the Asian person's chicken noodle soup for days when you're under the weather," Maiko Kyogoku, owner of New York's Bessou, said. "I grew up with one that has a dashi stock as the base with daikon and carrots." At Bessou, a brunch congee with crispy prawns and spiced peanuts on top can help New Yorkers feel better after a long night out.
6. Pasta inbrodo
"When I have a cold or the flu, the only thing I crave is food that warms my body and soul," Salvatore Marcello, executive chef of MAMO Restaurant in New York, said. "For me, that is my grandmother's pasta in brodo. In my mind's eye, I can watch my grandmother preparing it for me when I was a child."
To replicate Nonna's recipe, set a small pot of water over medium-high heat, and add a stalk of celery, a carrot, three cherry tomatoes, a bay leaf, a clove and salt, and boil for 30 minutes. Add a handful of broken angel hair pasta and cook for 2-3 minutes. When it's cooked through, serve the pasta and broth in a bowl, and add 1/4 of a squeezed lemon, extra virgin olive oil and grated Parmigiano.
"Sometimes I steer away from Nonna's tradition and add a piece of ginger to the boiling liquid," Marcello said. "This is what I like to eat when I'm sick, but to be honest, I like it so much I do not wait to be sick to eat it. This is also a perfect easy dinner for the cold winter nights. I can't imagine anything more comforting."
7. Spicy pho and molasses cookies
8. Kimchi stew
"Whenever I'm under the weather, I have Jjigae kimchi stew," Justin Neubeck, executive chef at New York's Empire Diner said, noting he just got over the flu with help from this Korean soup. "It's a Korean soup that helps everything. The spices clear the sinuses, the warmth is comforting and soothing, and the silken tofu is easy to swallow on a scratchy throat. It's perfect!"
9. Mom-inspired detox soup: The 'medicine cabinet'
When his mom was sick two years ago, chef David Rotter of New York's Boulton & Watt created a medicine cabinet-inspired (drug-free) soup recipe that combines natural anti-inflammatories with other healthy ingredients into a potion to ward off the nastiest of sniffly noses. Though the soup hasn't made it onto Rotter's restaurant menu, he shares the recipe and notes that, "With this style of soup, it will be even better the next day when all the flavors have had a chance to meld."
- 1 cup small diced onion
- 1 cup small diced carrot
- 1 cup small diced celery
- 3 cloves of garlic (sliced)
- 2 tablespoons of chopped ginger
- 2 tablespoons of chopped turmeric
- 2 medium sweet potato (small diced)
- 1 bunch of kale
- 1 lemon zested (microplane)
- 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cups of sliced wild mushrooms (shiitake, maitake, oyster)
- 4 quarts vegetable stock*
- Salt and pepper to taste
In a medium-size pot, add a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, carrots, onion, celery, garlic, ginger and turmeric. Cook vegetables slowly over medium-low flame. (You don't want to get color on the vegetables.) Once the vegetables are tender, add mushrooms, kale and sweet potato and turn up the heat to medium-high. Stir until the kale begins to wilt. Add the vegetable stock. Bring to a boil and lower to an easy simmer. Allow to cook for 45 minutes to an hour until it is reduced down to 3 quarts. Add lemon zest and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.
*Vegetable stock recipe
Use all scraps from ginger, onion, celery, turmeric, carrots, mushroom stems, and kale stalks. Chop two stalks of lemongrass and add to the mix. Cover with 6 quarts of water and reduce to 4 quarts.
Reposted with permission from our media associate AlterNet.
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After sustained declines in the number of COVID-19 cases over recent months, restrictions are starting to ease across the United States. Numbers of new cases are falling or stable at low numbers in some states, but they are surging in many others. Overall, the U.S. is experiencing a sharp increase in the number of new cases a day, and by late June, had surpassed the peak rate of spread in early April.
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To Have a Second Wave, the First Wave Needs to End.<p>A wave of an infection describes a large rise and fall in the number of cases. There isn't a precise epidemiological definition of when a wave begins or ends.</p><p>But with talk of a <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/27/new-covid-19-clusters-across-world-spark-fear-of-second-wave" target="_blank">second wave in the news</a>, as an <a href="https://www.american.edu/cas/faculty/mhawkins.cfm" target="_blank">epidemiologist and public health researcher</a>, I think there are two necessary factors that must be met before we can colloquially declare a second wave.</p><p>First, the virus would have to be controlled and transmission brought down to a very low level. That would be the end of the first wave. Then, the virus would need to reappear and result in a large increase in cases and hospitalizations.</p><p>Many countries in <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-020-0908-8" target="_blank">Europe and Asia have successfully ended the first wave</a>. <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/08/new-zealand-abandons-covid-19-restrictions-after-nation-declared-no-cases" target="_blank">New Zealand</a> and <a href="https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/06/08/how-iceland-beat-the-coronavirus" target="_blank">Iceland</a> have also made it through their first waves and are now essentially coronavirus-free, with very low levels of community transmission and only a handful of active cases currently.</p>
Different States, Different Trends<p>Looking at U.S. numbers as a whole hides what is really going on. Different states are in <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/coronavirus-us-cases.html" target="_blank">vastly different situations right now</a> and when you look at states individually, four major categories emerge.</p><ol><li>Places where the first wave is ending: States in the Northeast and a few scattered elsewhere experienced large initial spikes but were able to mostly contain the virus and substantially brought down new infections. <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/new-york-coronavirus-cases.html" target="_blank">New York</a> is a good example of this.</li><li>Places still in the first wave: Several states in the South and West – see <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/texas-coronavirus-cases.html" target="_blank">Texas</a> and <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/california-coronavirus-cases.html" target="_blank">California</a> – had some cases early on, but are now seeing massive surges with no sign of slowing down.</li><li>Places in between: Many states were hit early in the first wave, managed to slow it down, but are either at a plateau – like <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/north-dakota-coronavirus-cases.html" target="_blank">North Dakota</a> – or are now seeing steep increases – like <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/oklahoma-coronavirus-cases.html" target="_blank">Oklahoma</a>.</li><li>Places experiencing local second waves: Looking only at a state level, <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/hawaii-coronavirus-cases.html" target="_blank">Hawaii</a>, <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/montana-coronavirus-cases.html" target="_blank">Montana</a> and <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/alaska-coronavirus-cases.html" target="_blank">Alaska</a> could be said to be experiencing second waves. Each state experienced relatively small initial outbreaks and was able to reduce spread to single digits of daily new confirmed cases, but are now all seeing spikes again.</li></ol><p>The trends aren't surprising based on how states have been dealing with reopening. The virus will go wherever there are susceptible people and until the U.S. stops community spread across the entire country, the first wave isn't over.</p>
What Could a Second Wave Look Like?<p>It is possible – though at this point it seems unlikely – that the U.S. could control the virus before a vaccine is developed. If that happens, it would be time to start thinking about a second wave. The question of what it might look like depends in large part on everyone's actions.</p><p>The <a href="https://dx.doi.org/10.1086%2F592454" target="_blank">1918 flu pandemic</a> was characterized by a mild first wave in the winter of 1917-1918 that went away in summer. After restrictions were lifted, people very quickly went back to pre-pandemic life. But a second, deadlier strain came back in fall of 1918 and third in spring of 1919. In total, <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/1918-commemoration/1918-pandemic-history.htm" target="_blank">more than 500 million people were infected</a> worldwide and upwards of <a href="https://theconversation.com/compare-the-flu-pandemic-of-1918-and-covid-19-with-caution-the-past-is-not-a-prediction-138895" target="_blank">50 million died</a> over the course of three waves.</p><p>It was the combination of a quick return to normal life and a mutation in the flu's genome that made it more deadly that led to the horrific second and third waves.</p><p>Thankfully, the coronavirus appears to be much more <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.meegid.2020.104351" target="_blank">genetically stable</a> than the influenza virus, and thus less likely to mutate into a more deadly variant. That leaves human behavior as the main risk factor.</p><p>Until a <a href="https://theconversation.com/what-needs-to-go-right-to-get-a-coronavirus-vaccine-in-12-18-months-136816" target="_blank">vaccine or effective treatment is developed</a>, the tried-and-true public health measures of the last months – <a href="https://theconversation.com/this-simple-model-shows-the-importance-of-wearing-masks-and-social-distancing-140423" target="_blank">social distancing,</a> <a href="https://theconversation.com/masks-help-stop-the-spread-of-coronavirus-the-science-is-simple-and-im-one-of-100-experts-urging-governors-to-require-public-mask-wearing-138507" target="_blank">universal mask wearing</a>, frequent hand-washing and avoiding crowded indoor spaces – are the ways to stop the first wave and thwart a second one. And when there are surges like what is happening now in the U.S., further reopening plans need to be put on hold.</p>
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Methane on the Rise<p>Not only is this a tragic waste of food at a time when many are going hungry, it is also an <a href="https://donatedontdump.net/2014/07/07/the-effects-of-food-waste-on-the-environment-by-junemy-pantig/" target="_blank">environmental hazard</a> and could contribute to global warming. Landfill gas – <a href="https://www.epa.gov/lmop/basic-information-about-landfill-gas" target="_blank">roughly half methane and half carbon dioxide (CO2)</a> – is a natural byproduct of the decomposition of organic material.</p>
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