Summer cold remedies?
August 29, 2010 1:16 PM   Subscribe

My boyfriend has a cold and it's 85 degrees outside. It's too hot for chicken soup, so what can I do or make for him?

I was sick just a few weeks ago during a cold spell and he made me a lovely batch of chicken soup. Now he seems to have caught a cold/cough and I want to return the favor. Any ideas for summer cold remedies? A healthful, wholesome dinner option would work well, too.
posted by pintapicasso to Health & Fitness (22 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Vitamin C helps your immune system. He can take supplements and drink orange juice, eat broccoli, cantelope and other fruits high in Vitamin C.
Vitamin C is water soluable and non-toxic. However if he develops light diahrrea that means his system is saturated and he should back off a little.
posted by srbrunson at 1:19 PM on August 29, 2010

When I have a cold, I like popsicles. The cold soothes my throat, but unlike ice cream, there's no dairy to make me congested. Along the same lines, something like a fruit smoothie might be nice.
posted by decathecting at 1:23 PM on August 29, 2010

Well, food is never really a remedy as such. It's just nice to have the comfort of familiar and well-loved foods when you're feeling a bit sorry for yourself.

When I have a cold, I find my sense of taste/smell really suffers. Cook me something subtle and it's lost on me. A good hot thai curry or a fierce chili is what would work for me. Spicy-hot food tends to make you feel cooler afterwards, and it'll help to loosen and ease the mucus.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 1:25 PM on August 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Anytime I get a cold I mainline orange juice like it's going out of style. I know it's mostly the fluids that are helping and not really the vitamin C per se, but it makes me feel a lot better.

Seconding a hot thai curry. I also love tomato soup anytime I'm feeling under the weather.
posted by Sara C. at 1:27 PM on August 29, 2010

Are you absolutely sure a good hot soup is out of the question? Pho is an every day Vietnamese dish, and it gets damned hot and humid there.
Perhaps Sara C.'s tomato soup comment above will put you in the mind for gazpacho, too.
posted by whatzit at 1:30 PM on August 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

If I had a cold, even if it was 100 degrees out, I would still love chicken soup.
posted by fantasticninety at 1:43 PM on August 29, 2010 [3 favorites]

Gazpacho with a double or triple shot of garlic.
posted by zadcat at 1:55 PM on August 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

I've always been of the opinion that really, really hot and spicy foods help get things going and speed up the recovery. Probably there is no evidence of this, but it does seem logical. My adult kids swear by it and they reject most of my old Mom's tales. Head to your nearest Indian restaurant and ask for the hottest food they have. Watch your boyfriend turn red and start to sweat. Make sure he drinks lots and lots of water. Then, have him stand on his head for a few minutes and then turn rightside up quickly. I swear it is like turning a faucet on. Drain, drain and more drain. I've also found that OTC medicines just prolong a cold. Don't bung up a system that is working!
posted by Pennyblack at 1:57 PM on August 29, 2010

I would make an Asian chicken soup as it's perfectly suited to hot climates; also the chilli is great for colds.


Quantity home made chicken stock
Fish sauce to taste
Some sort of chilli paste
rice noodles

Make the soup by bringing the stock to a boil, seasoning with fish sauce and chilli paste and cooking the noodles in it.

Pour into bowls and add some or all of the following:

Chopped cucumber, mint, coriander (cilantro), chicken pieces, tofu, spring onions, pickled ginger, more chilli/ chilli paste/ chilli oil, chopped carrots, anything else that goes.

Squeeze a wedge or two of lime over each bowl and serve.

Almost any permutation works as long as you have hot sweet and sour. Lemon and tamarind are OK substitutes for the lime. I'm not hugely keen on soy as a substitute for fish sauce, but if you real don't like fish sauce, I daresay it would be OK.
posted by rhymer at 2:01 PM on August 29, 2010 [3 favorites]

I am currently suffering from a very annoying cold/cough combination myself and have been researching and testing a few options...

Chicken soup absolutely. Never too hot for that when you have a cold, and there is some actual evidence that it helps medically (though just one study afaik).

Bizarrely, there is quite good evidence that the theobromine in dark chocolate can help with a cough ( but more studies are needed), and my own experiments seem to bear this out... relief for up to 4h with a thick hot chocolate based on a recipe similar to this one:
But leave out the sugar, that doesn't help a cold in the slightest! The chocolate should be 80% or more ideally, and good quality cocoa powder. Don't bother with pre-mixed hot chocolate powders.
Honey may be an option... Unfortunately I can't read this paper which promises to review the evidence:

Vitamin C is only supported by the evidence as a prophylactic so it's too late for that, and orange juice won't make the throat feel any better. I have however had good personal experience with a hot drink made from lemon juice and water infused with sliced ginger. Simply chewing on slices of ginger also helps me (sample size of one, no control, so take that with a grain of salt...).
A review of some of the "alternative" treatments, though mostly there is simply not much evidence one way or the other:

Paracetamol is a good idea if he's got a fever, avoid most of the other OTC/OTS "medicines" as they are scams:
posted by Morbuto at 2:17 PM on August 29, 2010

Oh, and I wouldn't go too over the top with the chilies if making a curry... capsaicin is used to trigger the cough reflex for testing anti-cough treatments!
posted by Morbuto at 2:19 PM on August 29, 2010

I swear by Perrier and Orange Juice. A 50/50 mix over ice really helps me feel better. If I can get it over crushed ice it's even better. The lemon-lime flavor Perrier tastes better mixed with the juice, so look for that kind.

The OJ is full of Vitamin C and the Perrier really helps cut through the gunk that builds up in my throat. It's mineral water, so there might be something else that helps out. When I down this mixture my colds tend to be shorter and less severe. It could just be the juice but I really think the Perrier has something to do with it.
posted by TooFewShoes at 2:20 PM on August 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

I grate about two tablespoons of ginger and a teaspoon of garlic and stir it all into about six ounces of orange or grapefruit juice. Two or three times per day for a couple of days, and summer colds clear right up. (This also helped with the flu I had last year -- I recovered in just under a week, whereas the people I share a house with, who both relied on DayQuil and the like, took much longer.)
posted by shamash at 2:24 PM on August 29, 2010

As far as actually making the cold better, guaifenesin and pseudoephedrine. You'll have to ask the pharmacist for anything with pseudoephedrine and put your name in the Book of Life. Maybe diphenhydramine too to encourage a sleepy lassitude.

Otherwise, as far as food goes, the right answer is probably whatever your BF finds comforting. Which might still be chicken soup or might be gazpacho or might be McDonald's. Whatever. The point being, if you don't know offhand what he likes or finds comforting, it's probably better to ask him than to assume that he doesn't want chicken soup because it's too hot, or to seek the specific advice of Not Him.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:25 PM on August 29, 2010

Slice or mince a ton of garlic, a head is good. Yes...that much. Slowly sautee it to your desired doneness in your desired fat. Toss in a chopped tomato or two and stir it a moment, then add a bag of spinach and wilt. Add some salt or pepper if you like. Eat all the garlic. At least you have the benefit of being able to taste something, and I swear this helps knock out a cold.
posted by littleflowers at 2:31 PM on August 29, 2010

Animal crackers and applesauce.

I don't think they're healthy or anything, but it sure does make me happy to play with my food when I'm sick...
posted by chicago2penn at 2:39 PM on August 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

As far as actually making the cold better, guaifenesin and pseudoephedrine.
The evidence for this is not very strong: (and there are studies showing evidence that buckwheat honey has more beneficial effect than dextromephorphan which is considered the best supported one afaik, for example, though again the studies wouldn't stand up to review)
posted by Morbuto at 2:44 PM on August 29, 2010

Make him a hot toddy with whiskey or rum before bed.

I've got a head cold this weekend, and I'm in New Mexico -- doesn't matter how hot it is outside, I've been living on soup and hot drinks since Friday. If you insist on something summery, though, I swear by feeding a cold on tons of ice cream...
posted by vorfeed at 2:53 PM on August 29, 2010

I love a Spicy Hot V-8 with extra Tobasco, horseradish, a splash of lemon and some crushed garlic when I've got a cold.
posted by Sassyfras at 3:15 PM on August 29, 2010

Cold gingerale always makes me feel better when I'm sick. He may be slightly queasy from all the mucus drainage and possibly dehydrated if he has a fever, and gingerale helps with both those things. If his throat is too sore for a highly-carbonated drink, fill the glass with ice and gingerale and let it sit for awhile. The melting ice will dilute the soda and decrease the carbonation.

A tablet of rasberry flavor Emergen-C dissolved in no more than 1/2 cup of water tastes pretty decent and often will knock out cold symptoms for me if I catch them early enough.

Nthing the spicy food if he's really clogged up. It really thins out mucus so he can cough it up/blow it out and breathe better for awhile. Maybe a spicy salsa with some chips would be a good snack.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 3:17 PM on August 29, 2010

My standard remedy:

Muddle a few slices of ginger and a chunk of serrano pepper
Top with ice and add
1 1/2 oz Rye Whiskey
1/4 oz Benedictine
1/4 oz Green Chartreuse
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
4 dashes Angostura Bitters

Shake and Strain.

Makes everything better.

If you're not an alcohol person, honey can be substituted for the herbal liqueurs. There's really no substitute for the whiskey though.
posted by Jawn at 3:27 PM on August 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Cannot recommend Naeng Myeon (Korean cold noodle soup) enough.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 4:46 PM on August 29, 2010

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