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Best food when you're sick

  • c

I am a San Franciscan planning a trip to New York and have had the flu the last couple of days after weeks of reading this board. My fever thoughts have had this board in mind and I have been eating Tom Kha Gai for three days, mainly because I have a great Thai restaurant at the end of my street (Thai Corner, nee Thai House, corner of Market and 15th).

My question: What do you need when you're sick?

There must be a million things I don't even think about. What's yours?

Thanks for being here,

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  1. Hot & sour soup!!

    I've been fighting a nasty case of bronchitis since X-mas that I can't shake and that's the only thing that appeals to me ;-)

    5 Replies
    1. re: Trufflebaby

      Yes, Hot and Sour soup is the first thing my wife requests when she is sick...

        1. re: Melanie

          I love hot and sour or chick w/ matzo ball soup when I am sick.

          1. re: Kelli2006

            I love hot and sour whether I'm sick or not, but we went to NYC two years ago for Christmas, and ate at least four Chinese places. NYC h&s is the pits, IMHO. It's brown, and the only thing I taste is black pepper. Here in Toronto, h&s is red, and you really taste the heat from the chilis and the sour from the vinegar. I think Toronto has it all over NYC when it comes to Chinese food.

            1. re: KevinB

              This is so funny! I had no idea everyone else ate hot and sour soup for sickness. I honestly thought I had stumbled on some kind of miracle cure, the only thing better than my mother's chicken soup.

    2. Depends on the kind of sick. But for flus or colds, I like chicken noodle soup (aka Jewish penicillin), orange juice, tons of water, hot tea with lemon, toast, anything with ginger in it, all sorts of hot chilis to get the old sinuses running and Popsicles. I also swallow a large soupspoonful of honey to coat my throat about every 3 or 4 hours. And if none of that works, a hot toddy and bed.

      1. Jewish Penicillin, of course! Nothing like chicken noodle soup as a curative.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Passadumkeg

          Wonton soup for me. When my wife was pregnant, she ate a lot of chicken corn soup from a nearby NA-Chinese restaurant. She still orders it when she has the flu.

          1. re: Passadumkeg

            Accompanied with a PB&J sandwich on, of all things, Wonder Bland. I used to dip the sandwich in my soup; this horrified my mother.

            1. re: Passadumkeg

              If not any home made in the fridge, then simply Lipton Chicken Noodle soup...enough salt to soothe a throat, chicken flavor, and I get the "Extra Noodle" variety. Second plenty of liquids. Definitely don't need hot sauce to get the sinuses running, but add some Tylenol and you'll be good to go.

            2. Concur heartily with the chicken noodle soup, and would add in variants of this wonderful substance including matzoh ball soup, Korean Sam ke tang (chicken stuffed with ginseng and glutinous rice, Chinese dates and licorice root in a broth), and Chinese chicken congee.

              1. Concur with the above mentioned chicken soup, hot and sour soup and jook. But there are also times when I want soon du bu (sp?). Oh and most assuredly, I have to have hot tea near me and it depends on what type of sick I am that determines the type of tea. If I have a sore throat or cough, I like logan tea otherwise mint, green, brown rice, rooibos, or chrysanthemum are some of my favorites.

                Oh, and when I just really can't eat anything...this is probably odd, but saltines with 7-up. For some reason, the taste of saltines mixed with the soda is the only thing I can taste sometimes.

                1. When I'm sick, I want chicken salad sandwiches and chocolate cake. It's all I want.

                  1. miso-lemon-tofu-scallion soup made with fish stock

                    1. these are the things that have gotten me through many a cold and flu:

                      -korean spicy halibut soup (kwanguh maeuntang)
                      -thai hot and sour seafood soup (tom yum goong)
                      -miso soup
                      -egg drop and corn soup
                      -thai green papaya salad (som tum) w/ steamed white rice
                      -beef pho

                      1. If I have the flu, it's hot and sour soup. If I have a gastrointestinal problem, it's congee/jook.

                        1. Pho, pho and more pho. Wasabi peas are also good.

                          7 Replies
                          1. re: cimui

                            Yes pho is the solution.
                            The Vietnamese rooster hot sauce will also clear lungs
                            My method is squirt little bit of rooster onto spoon and scoop up broth and eat it

                            Drink all the broth before you eat the solids

                            Ten years ago I was driving taxi day shift
                            When I felt depressed or out of sorts or sick I would try to have pho + rooster sauce for dinner and it never failed to put me back together

                            1. re: gafferx

                              That's pretty hardcore. But I bet all the germs in your body commit suicide after that kind of rooster hot sauce exposure.

                              1. re: cimui

                                Obviously one can omit the rooster sauce ....

                                Because pho is so potent
                                I usually get rare beef pho and eat the sprouts and fixings on the side. I do not dump them in the soup

                              2. re: gafferx

                                Pho is my favorite too. Steam and hot sauce clear out the sinuses, the broth provides needed nutrients and water and soothes my throat, and lime juice and basil add a little extra flavor and vitamins.

                              3. re: cimui

                                So here I am with a nasty cold. First one in 4 years. Just finished a nice bowl of pho tai with all of the extras. I don't know whether it's the spices in the broth or the sauces I add, but my head feels a lot clearer. Sorry but chicken soup doesn' t cut it anymore.

                                1. re: cimui

                                  Pho broth has star anise in it which has medicinal properties. Tamiflu is actually derived from star anise.

                                  1. re: cimui

                                    Pho ga, udon, real ramen with the slightly chewy noodles, hot and sour, and saimin. Really any clear broth soup but regular chicken noodle. I have yet to try chicken soup with lemon and dill.

                                    No mater how I make the regular chicken noodle, it's just boring. Double chicken style broth, with leeks... meh.

                                  2. Hot and sour soup sounds like a very good food when you're sick. When I felt sick from chemo I craved Tom Young Gu, is this similar?

                                    Now when I'm feeling tired and want something nourishing I crave squash & carrot soup with ginger.

                                    1. Something really easy to digest like soup or congee.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Miss Needle

                                        Congee! Or the above-mentioned hot & sour or miso soups.

                                        Or, oddly enough, soft-boiled eggs with toast soldiers.

                                      2. When I was sick as child, my mom used to make milkshakes and would add a raw egg for protein. Now, whenever I get a sore throat, I instantly want a vanilla shake.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: sebetti

                                          Lucky you. I was put on a strict diet of sprite and saltines -- prison food!

                                          1. re: cimui

                                            7 up and saltines for me, but that's only when I can't taste anything else. I actually like it.

                                        2. My mom always made me pastina pasta with butter. I still make it for myself when I am not feeling well!!!!

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Barbarella

                                            Yea, plain butter pasta (elbow noodles especially) with salt and pepper is a good, good choice.

                                          2. Like others have mentioned chicken soup is a must, as is pho or jook.

                                            I also like to boil up some water with ginger and brown suger -- clears up the sinuses and clears the throat.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                              I am sipping water boiled with ginger and brown sugar right now. Have been sick for over a week and am bored bored bored of the whole thing. Later today I'm heading out to get some take-away hot and sour soup.

                                            2. Just to not say chicken soup a thousand times more, I find plain scrambled eggs to go down pretty easy.

                                              1. Chicken soup is fine, as is hot-and-sour, which I consider a variation of chicken. But Onion Soup is really the way to go. Not 'French onion,' because all that cheese doesn't help when you're sick. Just lots and lots of onions, sauteed and then simmered in good homemade stock. In fact just cutting up 3 or 4 lb. of onions for the soup helps a lot.

                                                1. My favorite is the broth from soup - any soup will probably do. Just give me lots of broth with no meat or veggies in it. Serve it with untoasted French bread and butter. Also hot Earl Grey tea sweetened with honey and a squeeze of fresh lemon.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: Pampatz

                                                    Re: Earl Grey and honey

                                                    another nice sickness drink is ginseng tea with honey, very soothing when you have a cold. Very energizing too.

                                                  2. Canned veggie broth, maybe with a shot of Tabasco if I'm stuffed up. Potato chips (about the only time I eat them is when I'm sick). A good beer always goes down nicely, and lots of water. Pearl barley with butter, which is a leftover from early childhood and about the only food my mother didn't screw up! :)

                                                    1. a timely topic, since I have been battling something for three days....ginger ale is high on the list...and chicken soup of all types is good...but for some odd reason what I really crave when I am sick is dairy, particularly mac and cheese (will even eat Kraft out of the box if I am desperately ill) and ice cream. When I lose my sense of taste the creaminess is the only thing that tastes good to me...Indeed, last year I was very sick for a bit and had absolutely NO appetite...and literally all I ate for three days was ice cream, ginger ale and club soda!

                                                      1. chicken broth with rice cooked separately, then mixed together...with butter
                                                        cheeze whiz on whole wheat bread
                                                        orange juice, lots of oj

                                                        1. orange sherbert and ginger ale!

                                                          1. Chicken Soup for me too please, but leave out the noodles now... also, afterwards, we dip our chicken pieces into mayo.

                                                            Hot Apple Cider

                                                            Pastina or Egg Noodles w/ Butter and Parmesan (now w/ gluten free noodles)

                                                            Vanilla Frozen Yogurt w/ Shasta Diet Grapefruit Soda... I know it's weird, trust me... but it's my improved version of a 50-50 that dates back to my youth

                                                            1. 'Aunt Reba's' Toddy made of steeped ginger, garlic, lemon juice, cayenne and whisky, if possible.

                                                              1. Ginger seems to be a popular theme!

                                                                Just went for dim sum, and had tofu fa, the soft tofu dessert served with ginger syrup. That is also great when you have a sore throat.

                                                                1. Poached eggs on toast - always makes me feel better....

                                                                  1. If I'm barfy, plain chicken broth simmered with lots of garlic and flat-leaf parsley and then strained, gallons of it. Not to be too gross here, but I have discovered that eventually I'll be able to keep it down...and in the interim it tastes pretty much the same coming up as going down!

                                                                    My recent two-week bout with the flu (no hurling, but lots of fever) I survived on homemade chicken/veg soup, bowls of Kashi Go-Lean Crunch (with banana and milk) and a couple of very small cheese omelets, and the crunchier kind of green salad. I craved fruit, but it hurt my VERY sore mouth and also tended to go through me like Sherman through Georgia...

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: Will Owen

                                                                      ouch...don't tell me this damn thing I came down with this morning is going to last two weeks :-(

                                                                      My Mom gave me ginger ale and vanilla custard. Hate ginger ale today, but nothing could put me off that custard.

                                                                      My personal sick-craving, however, is oranges.

                                                                    2. When I was little, my mom would give me apple juice and dry toast, now it's
                                                                      Very Spicy Red Curry soup with lots of veggies and some tofu! always makes me feel better.

                                                                      1. Tom Kha Gai is my staple when I'm sick, it really clears the head. Also, I get some frozen lemonade in a can, take a big spoonful of it and mix it with seltzer water.

                                                                        1. I'm not picky. When I'm not feeling well, anything that I didn't cook myself tastes just fine to me. If I have to fend for myself, it's Campbell's chicken noodle and toast with butter and grape jelly.

                                                                          1. I happen to be currently involved with a production of the children's show "Really Rosie", and it's finale is a paean to that universal remedy "Chicken Soup with Rice". (Although my wife recently made a chicken soup with noodles and peas that was even better.)

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: DonShirer

                                                                              A very timely question..I have felt "under the weather" for two days and all I want to eat are bland starches. I breakfasted on a piece of whole wheat toast and lunched on a cup of canned corn niblets. Dinner was a sweet baked potato.

                                                                            2. By the way, a study came out a while ago which stated that it was the chicken fat in the chicken soup that held the curative properties. I no longer skim off the fat. It makes sense as many vitamins, minerals and nutrients are only absorbed with (natural) fat, and fats contain some very healthy acids that the body needs. Of course, it will depend on where the fat is coming from, how the chicken was raised, etc. But it's an interesting concept/reality.

                                                                              1. I just had my first Pho experience last night and I must say that I am now looking forward to my next cold.

                                                                                1. I agree with all the soup ideas, but when things are really really bad and food is not an option it is either a mix of fresh squeezed orange juice and 7-UP or weak tea with honey and lemon.

                                                                                  1. i've come down with a horrible fever, all i want is plain boiled or roated chicken, lots of apples, bannanas, oranges and lemons plus a heap of fresh salad and veggies and also pumkin soup plain with heaps of parsley

                                                                                    1. Pho for a regular cold. Tom kha gai with heat if it's in my sinuses. Chocolate cake if I'm miserable :)

                                                                                      1. Ginger Ale and Cheez-Its

                                                                                        1. memo to self **get sick with either rochfood or GenieinTX**

                                                                                          1. Cold Peaches and Seven-up

                                                                                            1. toffee syrup have a spoon of this and no matter how bad your throat is you can eat

                                                                                              1. On more than one occasion, pizza, vanilla ice cream and two bottles of Sierra Nevada porter have brought me back from the throes of death.

                                                                                                1. Nothing like a bowl of hot pastina with a little butter.

                                                                                                  1. Loved chicken soup. But I had other favorites as well:

                                                                                                    Creamy chunky tomato soup (made with cream cheese and diced tomato's)
                                                                                                    Egg Flower soup
                                                                                                    Warm old fashioned tapioca pudding (you know, the kind made with the real tapioca and had the egg whites beaten to stiff peaks and then folded into the pudding)
                                                                                                    Warm butterscotch pudding

                                                                                                      1. re: ZenSojourner

                                                                                                        That was a staple in our home as well. That, along with hot white rice, a pat of butter, brown sugar and warm milk over it.

                                                                                                      2. Not just chicken soup, but MRS. Grass's chicken noodle soup from a box with the secret "golden egg." I'm not sure why. Family tradition or tiny noodles that don't sound gross when you're ill.

                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                        1. re: natewrites

                                                                                                          Mrs. Grass's soup with a large spoonful of fiery hot lime pickle stirred in has been my go-to curative for colds and flu for many years. If I haven't got the pickle, I squeeze in sriracha and lime and a blast of the hottest sauce I have. I really love hot apple juice with ginger and cinnamon, and gingerale with half a toasted dry everything bagel. For stomach stuff; seltzer with lime and bananas, rice, toast w/ jelly (no butter ever). For general angst and free-floating anxiety, really good apple pie or cherry pie or chocolate cake after a chicken/noodle dinner, followed by a large snifter of decent brandy. In general; scrambled or poached eggs, pasta w/ cottage cheese tossed in;crumbled ground hamburger, well-browned and salted. ; D

                                                                                                        2. My boyfriend and I just ordered from one of my fav Chinese restaurant's, Wok Inn. I've been sick for days and finally remember when I was sick a year ago my bf and I tried this restaurant out after my visit to the doctor. I decided after starting to read all these posts that I need some Sizzling Rice Soup :) I remember feeling so much better after having some the last time I was sick...

                                                                                                          The first day I got sick I also picked up IZZE's sparkling clementine juice and forgot about them in the fridge until my bf just brought me one of the cans. Definitely recommend... I always want juice when i'm sick but a big bonus is if it's fizzy to make my throat feel better :)

                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: Caribearkiss

                                                                                                            Really any soup when I don't feel well will do, but the best chewable food when I'm sick is sushi rice with melted cheddar cheese and lots and lots of hot sauce. Bizzare but super comforting and opens up the sinuses!!

                                                                                                            1. re: lovessushi

                                                                                                              I agree that with respiratory ailments, anything that opens you up helps...fresh ginger tea, hot and brothy with lemon, really great stuff...and anything else with hot sauce usually does magic!

                                                                                                          2. Any food that a loved one brings to and eats with you.

                                                                                                            1. a TON of orange juice, and hot won ton soup from the (mostly) vietnamese place down the street.

                                                                                                              1. Of course I gotta mention chicken soup (well, or a very strong beef for that matter), with a lot of garlic and a dried pepper in it for heat, and if I'm making it specifically due to sickness I'll toss a bunch of ginger and hot sauce in too. Depending on how bad I'm feeling, I can always just drink the broth, and if I'm feeling better a few days later I can use it for a sort of rosotto.

                                                                                                                For some reason whenever I am really sick (but not the pukey kind) I crave CRAVE KFC fried chicken. It's salty enough to be tasted at least a little bit and heck there is just something cheery about the greasy, crunchy skin. I can also usually go for some Macdonald's fries and chicken nuggets. I think it's mainly that I crave greasy junk food or really spicy food. Also chips and salsa with extra salted chips, which provides a flavor (salt) and required heat for head decongenstion.

                                                                                                                Of course when facing illness of any kind I always sip on sprite and lemon-lime gatorade, as this is what mom and grandma gave me growing up. If my mom calls when I'm sick she always tries to make sure I'm sipping on gatorade to keep from getting dehydrated, and she knows my appetite goes to almost zero when sick so she tries to make sure I am at least eating soup.

                                                                                                                If it's a stomach thing, like another poster I sometimes consider the taste of things coming back up, hence will generally drink grape juice (tastes about the same both ways), along of course with the gatorade and sprite. As to food, if I can eat it's usually a chicken bowl from one of the many chicken bowl places around here. It's just that lovely sticky rice topped with grilled chicken and that awesome, probably too thick and sweet teriyaki sauce eaten slowly over the course of the day. That's another one mom and grandma used to do. Sickies get sprite and a chicken bowl.

                                                                                                                I've never had pho, but I just looked it up online and it looks great! I think I've unintentionally made it or something very similar before.

                                                                                                                1. Can't believe no one has mentioned Tortilla Soup! It's loaded with all kinds of good-for-a-cold ingredients like chicken broth, tomatoes, garlic, onions, lime juice & chiles. Mo' hotta, mo' betta!
                                                                                                                  Also, hot ginger tisane with a little honey, and (as gross as it might sound) hot Coke with lemon & ginger.

                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: pie22

                                                                                                                      read that wrong - you even explained

                                                                                                                  1. This was a great post to read when I was sick. I thought I should make a contribution since I didn't see it anywhere...

                                                                                                                    When you've reached the stage where you can eat toast, try making some grits. They take 3-4 minutes in the microwave and require almost zero effort. They're warm and comforting, and if you put some salt, and some cheese in them they taste great!

                                                                                                                    Also, if you just have a cold and can't taste things, try getting pizza with fresh mozzarella on it. It was only when I had a cold that I learned how amazing melted fresh mozz is--it's all about texture, which is perfect if you can't taste!

                                                                                                                    1. Mine is greek lemon and egg soup when it is a cold and if I am nauseous then I want plain starches and my favorite is Bob Evans open face turkey sandwich with mashed potatos. Works everytime. Simple and sits easy on the stomach.

                                                                                                                      1. ALL THE BELOW ARE FALSE, when you have the flu your body is nutrient defecient therefore lacks the proper nutrients to sustain your immunn system from fighting the flu. This is probably why all the below are getting sick. You want to avoid foods that lack nutrients or foods high in sodium, salt and sugar. Crackers, Soda, Soup are all poor choices, rather foods high with nutrient density to help fight the virus. Drink wheat grass juice and eat as many raw green leafy vegetables and coloured fruits as possible. This may not taste good but will expediate your recovery ten fold and if you continue to do so most likely you will avoid from getting sick in the first place. REMEMBER nutrient dense colourful food!!!! You need the nutrients to fight the flu from the inside!!

                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                        1. re: davidnaralee

                                                                                                                          I'll bite on an old thread. This reminds me of Granny of the Beverly Hillbillies surefire cure for the common cold. Drink her concoction, get lots of rest, and in a week to ten days you'll be better. I had swine flu a few years ago, one day I had BBQ, I live in Texas, and another pizza, and was well in a week or so.

                                                                                                                        2. hysterectomy two weeks ago and all i want is chocolate milkshakes (just milk and icecream in blender) Don't think I've had one in what, 20 years? i'm sure the sugar can't be good for me, but it's all i seem able to stomach

                                                                                                                          1. When I was a kid and sick I always asked for boiled spaghetti or rice with melted butter. Ginger ale was another one on my list.

                                                                                                                            A few months ago when I came home from the dentist with my head throbbing after a tooth extraction my DH made me pancakes with butter and maple syrup. Just what the doctor ordered.