Winter can be a long and depressing time. The weather drops in temperature, there’s a risk of being snowed in (especially if the last winter is anything to judge), and the nights are super dark. Sometimes you want to curl up in your blanket fort and eat junk food.
But you know that junk food isn’t going to offer you any health benefits. It’ s not going to support your system at all. While it temporarily makes you feel better, it offers nothing for the long term. In fact, the junk food can leave you feeling sluggish and worse later.
If you continue to eat poorly, your immune system takes a dip. You’re more susceptible to colds, and that leaves you feeling even worse.
The great news is food can make you feel better in the dead of winter and get rid of the bugs, as long as you eat the right stuff. You want food that will warm your bones, getting right into the layers of your skin and making you hot from the inside out. That’s why you want to opt for these nine warm foods to fight off and prevent the winter colds and make you feel better mentally.
Spicy Chicken Thai Soup to Kick the Illness
The first thing you want to add to your diet is a spicy chicken Thai soup. There are multiple reasons why this is perfect for the winter colds, and the obvious one is the heat. The soup will warm you up from the inside, leaving you feeling satisfied and warmer again.
However, the benefits come from the spice and the chicken. Chicken soup is a popular food choice when it comes to cold because it’s packed with health benefits. The spice adds to that since the spice will get to your immune system and boost the virus-fighting benefits. Spice will also help to ease the inflammation and mucus in the body, making it much easier to breathe better when you’re ill.
- 3 lemongrass stalks, bottom two-thirds of tender inner bulbs only, thinly sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 (4 inches) piece fresh ginger root, chopped
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into chunks
- 12 ounces fresh white mushrooms, quartered
- 2 teaspoons red curry paste
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 lime, juiced
- 2 (14 ounce) cans coconut milk
- 1 red onion, sliced
- 1/2 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
- 1 lime, cut into wedges, for serving
- 1 fresh jalapeno pepper, sliced into rings
- Stir the lemongrass with the garlic and ginger in a pot over a medium to high heat and then add the chicken brother and bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer for 30mins
- Strain the broth and put to one side; discard the lemongrass, ginger, and garlic
- Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat and add in the chicken, cooking for 5 mins
- Add the mushrooms and cook for 5 mins
- Add the red curry paste, fish paste, and lime juice and stir to combine
- Add the chicken broth and coconut milk and lower heat to simmer for 15-20 mins
- Skim excess oil and fat off
- Stir in the red onion and cook for 5 mins
- Remove from the heat and serve with some cilantro, lime wedges and peppers over the top
You can also put all the ingredients into a Crockpot and cook through that method. This will have your dish ready for you when you get home since you usually can’t take time off work with a common cold!
Try a Delicious Tomato and Fennel Soup
If you want a vegan option for a cold winter cure, you’ll want to turn to fennel and tomato. Both ingredients have healing properties, and the heat will help to reduce the mucus to help make it easier to breathe.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 bulb fennel, chopped
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 1 celery stalk, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- salt and ground black pepper to taste
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium to high heat and add the fennel, celery, onion, and garlic; cook for 10 mins
- Add the tomatoes and chicken broth and simmer for 4 mins
- Remove the saucepan from the heat and then add in the parsley and basil
- Allow the soup to cool slightly and then pour into a blender to make the soup smoother
While you may love some of the chunky soups—and they’re certainly filling for the winter—a purely blended soup is excellent when you have a winter cold. It will be much easier to swallow, especially when you don’t feel like chewing!
Opt for the Healing Cabbage Soup
You’ll likely turn your nose up at the idea of this soup right now, but it’s something you’ll want to consider for the winter cold. Cabbage is full of healing properties, and this soup is extremely easy to prepare and make.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 quarts water
- 4 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules
- 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
- 1/2 head cabbage, cored and coarsely chopped
- 1 (14.5 ounces) can Italian-style stewed tomatoes, drained and diced
- Heat the oil in a stockpot over a medium heat
- Add the onion and garlic, cooking for about 5 mins
- Add the water, bouillon, and seasoning and then bring to a boil
- Add the cabbage and cook for 10 mins
- Add the tomatoes, return to a boil and then simmer for 15-30 minutes
You’ll want to keep an eye on the soup to make sure it doesn’t overcook. It’ll need stirring often. This is another one that you can put everything into the slow cooker, so it’s ready when everyone gets home.
Move onto the Chickpea and Chicken Soup
While the chicken is certainly a benefit, it’s the chickpeas that will help you feel better with this soup. Chickpeas are packed with protein to help build your muscle strength. You also get plenty of fiber to help keep the digestive tract in order when you’re not feeling 100%. The cinnamon and cumin will also offer benefits to fight off infections in the body. They’ve been used in natural medicine for decades.
- 2 teaspoons canola oil
- 5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thigh
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced into rounds
- 32 oz Progresso vegetable stock
- 5 cups cooked chickpea (or use 1-15 oz can chickpea, drained and rinsed)
- 2-3 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
- salt, pepper to taste
- Heat the oil in a heavy pot over a medium to high heat
- Season the chicken and then cook in the pot for 6-8 mins; remove and set aside
- Add the onion to the pot and cook for 4 mins
- Add the garlic, cinnamon, and cumin and cook for a min
- Add the carrots and then the chicken back into the pot, pour in the stock and bring to a boil
- Reduce heat to simmer and then add the chickpeas
- Cook for 45 minutes, until the chicken, is tender
Sprinkle the parsley over the top when you’re ready to serve.
Try Chicken with Kimchi and Mushrooms with Red Rice Congee
It’s time to move onto a slightly different dish. Sometimes you want something other than soup. Red rice is worth thinking about. It’s slightly better than white rice and will offer the carbs for the energy boost you’ll need when ill. The Kimchi will also help give you a bit of a health boost, as you’ll kick the blocked nose and painful sinus feeling.
- 1 cup red rice
- 5½ cups homemade chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth, divided
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 5 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (1¼ lb.)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 8 ounces oyster mushrooms and beech mushrooms, trimmed at base into small clusters
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon grated peeled ginger, divided
- ½ cup kimchi
- ¼ cup scallion greens, thinly sliced, from 3 scallions
- Cook the rice in 1 ½ cups of the chicken stock with some salt and bring to a boil
- Reduce the heat and simmer the rice for 25 mins
- Add the rest of the stock and bring to a boil again and then reduce to a simmer
- Add the chicken thighs and cook for 30-40 mins, until the chicken is tender; put one of the chicken thighs to one side for lunch the next day
- Heat the oil in a skillet and cook the mushrooms for 3 mins, seasoning with salt and pepper
- Add the garlic and 1/2tsp of ginger, cooking for the 30s
- Add ¼ cup of the water and use to scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan, cooking until the water evaporates
Serve the rice between bowls and sprinkle with the leftover ginger and then top with the chicken, kimchi, and mushrooms. You’ll have the chicken thigh for lunch, which you can eat on its own or have with a salad to get more nutrients to fight off the infection.
Enjoy a Delicious Grilled Cheese Sandwich
When you’re ill, you can often revert to some of the foods you had as a kid. There’s nothing wrong with making yourself a grilled cheese sandwich now and then! This is the recipe you want to follow. Consider serving with Campbell’s tomato soup for something liquid and warm on the side. You don’t have to, though!
- 2 slices ½”-thick Pullman or other white bread
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 ounces thinly sliced American cheese or cheddar (about 4 slices)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Campbell’s Tomato Soup (for serving; optional)
- Place the bread on a cutting board and spread with the mayo on one side of the two slices
- Heat a skillet and add half the butter
- Once the butter melts, place in a side of bread with the mayo side down (this is important)
- Top with the cheese and sprinkle with the pepper and then add the second slice of bread with the mayo side up
- Cook for 4 mins before flipping over and adding the rest of the butter
- Press the sandwich down gently to help the cheese melt and cook until the cheese is ready
The mayo on the outside of the sandwich helps to create a crunch to your sandwich instead of burning it. You can use any mayo you want. The comfort food is good for you in moderation, especially with the soup.
Spicy Kimchi Tofu Stew for Veggie Goodness
Stew is a popular option for the winter, and with the right ingredients, it will be excellent for colds. This spicy kimchi option is perfect to unblock the sinuses. The tofu offers you lean protein without the saturated fat, giving you far more energy when you need it.
- Kosher salt
- 1 16-oz. package silken tofu, cut into 1” pieces
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 4 cups gently squeezed cabbage kimchi, chopped, plus 1 cup liquid
- 2 tablespoons gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste)
- 8 scallions, cut into 1” pieces
- 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 6 large egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
- Boil salted water in a pot and then reduce the heat slightly
- Add the tofu and simmer for 4 mins, until slightly puffed; transfer to a medium bowl
- In a heavy pot over a medium to high heat, warm the oil and then add the gochujang and kimchi, cooking for 5-8 mins
- Add the kimchi liquid and 8 cups of water and then bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer for 35-40 mins
- Add the scallions, tofu and soy sauce and simmer for another 20-25 mins
- Add the sesame oil and some salt and pepper before serving with an egg yolk and sesame seeds
The serving suggestions are optional. Egg yolks will add a little more protein, but if you want a vegan dish, there’s no need to keep them. You’ll want to serve hot and consider with a slice or two of whole wheat bread to finish it off.
Make Your Beef Broth
A broth is always a good way to feel better. It’s warming from the inside and full of protein and fiber to support your immune system. Beef broth during the winter can even help to avoid illnesses. Here’s the perfect recipe to make your own. You can also switch the beef for the chicken to make a chicken broth if you want.
- 4 pounds bone-in beef short ribs (about 15 individual ribs)
- 1 medium onion, halved
- 1/2 cup pitted prunes (about 3 ounces)
- 3 garlic cloves, lightly crushed
- Kosher salt
- Combine the short ribs, prunes, onions, and garlic in a pot
- Add 6 quarts of water (doing in batches and allowing some of the water to reduce while cooking if you can’t add it all)
- Cook while covered (with the lid slightly ajar) over low heat to simmer until the meat is tender for 2 ½ hours
- Remove the lid and cook for another 3 hours
- Strain the broth through a cheesecloth and discard the bones
Season this with some salt. You can make it a few days ahead if you’re planning on making soup since it’s not going to be something you want to make when you’re ill. Have some stocked in the fridge or freezer ready for your winter colds?
Opt for the Hot Toddy Pick-Me-Up
The Hot Toddy has been considered a cold cure for centuries. The British still use it to this day, and you’ll want to add it to your cold remedies if you don’t mind alcohol that is! Here’s a delicious recipe for a slight health benefitting twist.
- 6 ounces hot rooibos or strong black tea (such as Ceylon)
- 1-ounce bourbon (preferably Wild Turkey; nothing overproof)
- 1 ounce Cognac (preferably Pierre Ferrand or Hine)
- ½ ounces Bénédictine
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
- 1 whole nutmeg
- 1 lemon wheel studded with a few cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- Stir all the liquids and bitters together
- Grate the nutmeg over the top and serve with the lemon and cinnamon
You’ll have the perfect way to end your night when you’re full of cold. It’s excellent under your blanket fort. This just isn’t suitable for the kids when they’re full of the winter colds.
Look After Yourself in the Winter
When you feel warm, you’ll feel happier. These foods will be perfect to leave you feeling the heat from the inside while boosting your immune system. It’s time to look at the one you’ll make the next time you’re full of a winter cold. You’ll also want to check out the ones that help to prevent the illnesses.
Don’t forget to have a couple of them premade in the freezer. They’re delicious throughout the year, whether you’re full of cold. At least if you have them, you’re ready for whatever you could catch from others.