I have been at home all day with that lurgy, the one that makes you cough like a consumptive old cigar smoker. As a freelance journalist I can’t take time off or call in sick so have to get over these things super-quickly, like in a day. So, desperate colds called for desperate recovery measures.
‘Sneezing, sore throat, cough and runny nose are signs that your immune system is working to rid the body of the cold,’ immunologist Dr Serene Foster told me for a piece for Psychologies a few months back.
Here’s my recipe for rapid cold recovery:
1. DON’T WORKOUT
That ‘sweat it out at the gym’ thing? It’s a myth. Each time I have stoically tried to plod away at my exercise regime while ill, I always end up with worse symptoms by the end. Not the purpose of a workout. For Type-A like yours truly this feels like huge waste of time but a day’s rest is better. Trust me.
2. EAT SPICY SOUP
Drink warm tea and soups made with chilli, garlic and ginger which all contain anti-inflammatory properties, Dr Foster advised as such warming foods and drinks give the body the raised temperature it needs to help fight off infection. ‘Causing a temperature by raising heat in the body helps the immune system overcome viruses,’ she says.
Last year Indian superfood chef Gupareet Bains did an unofficial trial on fenugreek in particular and found that people with colds who took a teaspoon of fenugreek seeds in a curry twice a week saw fast and sustained relief from symptoms of runny nose, cough, sneezing, sore throat and tiredness.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1348818/Curry-fenugreek-help-winter-cold-bay.html#ixzz1psaQBJYj
Now, I live in this fantastic part of East London called Green Street. As well as being home to Upton Park Football Stadium where my dearest West Ham Football Club (experiencing a renaiisannce of trendiness in itself right now – Keira Knightley, Russell Brand, Ray Winstone are among fans spotted in the stands), it also makes Brick Lane look positively lightweight in terms of supermarkets, restaurants and massess of residents from the sub-continent. It means I have the best spices in the world available to me, providing I am prepared to fight through the determined men and women who are serious about the quality of their ginger, garlic, coriander and curry leaves. And it’s oh-so-cheap. I stocked up on plenty of strange sounding ingredients after falling in love with Indian cuisine on a trip to South India last year. Here’s my little larder.
I used to be so intimidated by Indian spices and cooking but then discovered the books of Monisha Bharadwaj. She makes it so easy and explains what the main staples of the cuisine are – green and red chillies, garlic, ginger, curry leaves, black and brown mustard seeds, yes fenugreek and some stranger ones such as asoefoetida (a seasoning), dried pomegranate seeds and mango powder and of course every kind of lentil (red, black, brown, yellow and green). It’s all as easy to find as a carton of milk in Green Street and once you have the main spices at home you only need get the fresh veggies and meat you fancy on the day. My favourite book of hers is Healthy Indian In Minutes
that eliminates the acres of fat that comes with some Indian dishes without skimping on taste.
Today I made her Methi Dal: lentil soup with fenugreek and tomato to zap my cold and Oh. My. God. It was amazing.
Here is how I made it – had to adapt it a bit to what I had
220g spilt red lentils (handy as they don’t need soaking)
2 peppers, one red, one yellow, chopped into rough squares
4 onions, roughly chopped
1 head of garlic (about ten cloves)
2 tbsp grated ginger (Indian people tell me you grate it with the skin on as the skin contains nutrients)
t tbsp ghee (you can replace with sunflower oil)
1 tsp brown mustard seeds
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tbsp veggie stock powder
large pinch asafoetida
1 tsp hot chilli powder1 teaspoon turmeric
4 ripe tomatoes chunkily chopped
salt to taste
handful fresh coriander chopped
1. Start by putting the lentils, chopped onions, peppers, ginger, garlic and stock powder in a large deep pot and cover with boiled water. Once it’s come to the boil, simmer it for 25 minutes.
2. In another pan, heat the ghee or oil on a high heat, add the mustard seeds and wait for them to pop then add the fenugreek seeds, asafoetida, chilli powder and fry until the fenugreek seeds go a bit darker brown.
3. Add the turmeric and tomatoes, season with salt and then cook, stirring for another 3-4 minutes until the tomatoes go soft.
4. Pour the cooked lentil mixture into this and stir, add extra water if you want a soupier texture and season if it needs it. Garnish with the fresh coriander.
stuff the mess, the deadlines, the phone calls. Get thee to a sofa.
As the immune system kicks into action it releases substances called cytokines which cause the symptoms we experience when we catch colds – one of which is to feel sorry for ourselves. It’s an evolutionary, survival thing; our bodies’ way of making us take care of ourselves and forcing us back to our caves to get better. Another hard one for Type As to digest. But what would you prefer, one day’s non-productivity or five, when you get sicker (now I just sound like your mum, right?)
No reason, it just makes me feel better. Nothing fancy, just a good Builder’s brew – or ten.
5. MIND-NUMBING DAYTIME TELLY
Forget the news, quiz shows or anything that exercises the mind. Oprah or even TOWIE re-runs – the more mindless the better. My guilty pleasure is old Jezza.
at the end of the day, yeh...
Ok, not novocaine or heroin or even weed, we’re not in need of that kind of medicinal help. But though docs have told me to let my symptoms out, I do need to take some of the OTC’s finest for the time I am not on the sofa, lest my coughing turn me into a miserable mess that makes other people wish I would just go away. For me, it used to be Lemsip all the way but I have this week discovered Beecham’s All-in-One cough medicine, it tastes like, well cough medicine – with a slight hint of white spirits actually – but by George it works (NOT on payroll, paid full price).
Oh and Berooca at OD levels.
Get well soon peeps.