Today’s STM feature comes from our good friend and rock star CrossFit trainer Kassandra McKenzie of CrossFit South Arlington. Kass wrote to us earlier this week with a fabulous STM idea for those of us who are battling a winter cold or flu. When you’re sick, all you want is “comfort food” – for us, it’s grilled cheese, tomato soup and ice cream. But we think unhealthy food when you’re already down and out is a terrible idea – why pile even more stress on an already stressed system? Kass agreed, writing, “I know how hard it was for me to adjust to eating good food while down with the flu, so I want to help pass the good word along to anyone who may need it.” So Kass got to work coming up with a better solution.
Kass not only passed along her favorite recipe, she also included tips and tricks (in her inimitable style and sass) for getting you back on the healthy bus fast. Thanks for the write-up, Kass!
Steal This Meal: Feed a Cold
by Kassandra McKenzie, CrossFit South Arlington
Imagine this: you’re humming along your everyday life, eating Paleo and just living the dream when BAM! You’re hit with the black plague. This could be the flu, strep throat, cold, whatever — the bottom line is that you’re feeling way crappy and you want to get better ASAP. But when you’re on a Whole30 program, you can’t rely on old-school “comfort” food like chicken noodle soup, Saltine crackers, and Sprite. So what are you going to do?!
Before you give up on your nutrition choices and feel even worse than you already do by eating poisonous things, think about what you should eat while sick – we’re talking real food. I love making soup because it’s an easy way to cook up some veggies and meat with very little effort. The task can seem daunting at first, but I really do promise: soup is no drama.
Easy Chicken Soup Ingredients:
- 1-2# cubed chicken breasts, cooked (or pulled chicken from a cooked whole bird)
- 2 quarts chicken broth (Imagine brand makes a Whole30-compliant broth, or read your labels – no added corn, rice, soy or sugar!)
- A busload of diced/chopped vegetables of choice*
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 2 cloves minced garlic, or to taste (garlic powder is also good here)
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
- 2 tbsp coconut oil, or favorite cooking oil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
*Traditional would be carrots and celery, but nutrient density is key when you’re sick. I love using kale, broccoli, leeks, cauliflower, and mushrooms. (Broccoli and cauliflower tend to absorb the salt and garlic in their “trees” – yum.) The possibilities are endless here.
Easy Chicken Soup Directions:
- Melt coconut oil on medium-high heat in large pot.
- Add diced onions, cayenne pepper, and garlic and cook until onions are starting to soften.
- Add all vegetables and continue to cook 5-7 minutes.
- Add chicken broth and stir.
- When soup gets to be really hot, almost boiling, add chicken and stir.
- Turn the heat down and serve the soup hot, but not scalding
The little bit of cayenne pepper in this soup helps clear the sinuses without killing your mouth with spiciness. You can add any of your favorite herbs to this mix, as well as use any kind of meat. I’ve had great results with sausage, lamb, and turkey. You can plan ahead your next sick day by having some of these leftovers in your freezer so you can just defrost and start feeling better.
Kass’s (and Whole9’s) Best Sick-y Tips
Some other things that I’ve found that comfort me while I’m sick:
- Club soda or mineral water: The bubbles help me burp, which makes my stomach feel better. And, HYDRATION!
- Skip the dairy: It can make you even more snotty/sniffly/mucous-y.
- Skip the crackers: Try carb-dense veggies like sweet potato, butternut squash or pumpkin instead of Saltines for a queasy stomach that needs something that’s easy to digest
- Ginger and apples: An old cruise ship remedy to help battle nausea – fresh or pickled ginger and sliced apples
- Broth: Beef, chicken, veggie, all help with a sore throat, warm you up from the chills, and hydrate you
- Real Food: When I’m feeling up to eating something, I like to eat some of the above soup or some plain chicken breasts cooked with a little oil and salt and pepper.
- Herbal teas: Check out your local tea shop, Whole Foods, or grocery store and you’ll find some great teas that help soothe the throat, aid in digestion, calm, and clear up congestion.
- Sleep: Lots of it. I’d rather be awake for far less hours than I’m asleep when I’m sick.
- Snuggie: Don’t you dare think that your current blanket is as good as this one whilst you’re recovering from the black plague. Try it, you’ll thank me.
- Netflix: Are amazing. Tons of movies to stream on demand.
- Someecards: Send them by the dozen. What else are you going to do when you’re laid out in bed?
And finally, our best tip yet… Remember that bad food made me feel bad when I was healthy, so bad food while I’m feeling bad is a recipe for disaster.
Hungry for more?
Want more comfort food ideas that aren’t based on grains, dairy or sugar? Check out these Whole30-approved recipes from our favorite recipe blogs.
- Chowstalker: Flu-Fighting Salmon Soup
- The Foodee Project: Hidden Veggie Spicy Soup
- Whole Life Eating: Chicken, Cauliflower and Mushroom Soup
- The Clothes Make the Girl: Ten Minute Pizza Soup (for when you need something a little more hearty)
Got a Whole30-approved soup recipe to add? Post to comments – and pass the tissues, please.
We can help you live the Whole9 life.
Fill out the form below to join the Whole9 Newsletter.
Meghan Waldeck says
Can I see your awesome and raise you the following three things I put in mine the other day?
1. Bone Marrow. You can either roast the bones separately and drop the cooked marrow in, or throw the bones in with your broth and obviously remove them after they’ve simmered for awhile.
Bone marrow is one of the most amazing things in the world, especially for helping to prop up your system when you are sick.
2. Kale or some other leafy green – don’t put it in til the end so it doesn’t get too mushy.
3. Chili oil and or a little cayenne to help clear your sinuses.
Seriously, it’s lifesaving.
This is SO perfect for today, as my husband woke up this morning with fever, chills, aches and severe nausea! It’s the flu, yet he won’t admit it and, as with most illnesses/injuries, refuses to go to the doctor. The soup will be made this evening, and hopefully his nausea will have passed by then.
Very good tip on switching to more nutrient dense veggies while you’re feeling under the weather.
And your best tip yet, priceless!
All the best,
I swear by chicken soup made with bone broth when I’m sick. It’s easy to make and freezes really well so you’ll always have some on hand. Nothing in a box or can compares :)
Bert Reed says
This soup will keep you from getting sick. Or cure you if you do. And it’s EASY. Make it ahead and freeze it for an emergency.
Tom Kha Gai, the famous Thai coconut soup is my favorite soup for cold and flu season. It’s not just medicinal; it’s delicious. The first time I tasted Tom Kha Gai, a friend served it to me in a large mug. I thought it was the most scrumptious beverage I’d ever had.
– – – Courtesy of The Food Renegade.
Allison K says
That Food Renegade Tom Kah Gai soup is the best.
I find it interesting that you posted this. I’ve been eating healthy about 90% of the time for almost a year now (yes, I know it should be 100%) and I haven’t been sick once. Not in the slightest, not one cold or flu. I know many other people who say the same thing. Even though I’ve come into contact with friends and coworkers who are sick, I haven’t had a cold in probably a year and a half.
I suppose it could be inevitable if you’re stressed and immune system lets its guard down, but I find eating healthy is more of a preventative measure than a solution
Thanks Kass for the Chicken Soup recipe.
My Missus thinks it’s delicious.
Add some pictures so I can pin it to Pinterest!
I love chicken soup very much. I don’t really know how to cook chicken soup since my mom cooked it for me ever since. But thank you for sharing your recipes and the directions on how to cook chicken soup. I will probably going to cook one of these days.