Classes and Recipes, Just For Fun

The Not-So Common Cold

Photo of Sneezing Cat “I am at the moment deaf in the ears, hoarse in the throat, red in the nose, green in the gills, damp in the eyes, twitchy in the joints and fractious in temper from a most intolerable and oppressive cold.”
~Charles Dickens

I’m a little late but hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season and thanks for reading the first blog of 2012!

It’s official, I’m tired of winter and tired of being sick! Ugghhhh! Has anyone else been fighting with the cold that will not die? I have been sick for a month. Did you know that studies show most adults have two to four colds a year and children easily double that figure?  Despite the name, colds are not caused by cold weather but by warm humans.  Rhinoviruses, the most common cause of the common cold, have more than 100 different varieties. Acquiring immunity to one type does nothing to disarm the others – which means finding a cure is nearly impossible. For now, the only way to ensure that you never catch a cold to avoid all other human contact.

Hmmmm…not ready to try the hermit lifestyle or move to the moon? Yeah, me either (plus, at this point, it would be too little too late for me anyway.) Obviously, I’m not a doctor but I am a nerd and nerds LOVE research. In the last three weeks, not only have I been researching how to detox and take a wellness approach to disease treatment for upcoming classes (if you’re interested check out our website,) I have read more articles on colds and the causes and cures than I ever want to again. Here are some excerpts from a “traditional cures” blog that I found hilarious:

“My grandma fried onions and plastered them on your chest, gave you an enema and then you could only wish you could die. The cold didn’t seem too bad after that.” (I should think not! The cure was much worse than the illness.)

“My grandfather preferred bitters for a cold. Just the name made me cringe. It was black and kept in the fridge in a gallon jar. God only knows what was really in it.” (Note: this same site also mentions several people who used to EAT Vicks Vapor Rub!)

Let me pass along some of my newly gained knowledge. Let’s start with some of my favorite wives-tales.

Tale: You’ll get sick if you go out in the cold with wet hair.

The truth: Sorry Mom but exposure to viruses—not skipping the blow-dryer—causes cold and flu. Scientists have studied this thoroughly. They’ve put cold viruses in the noses of two groups of people( so gross!). One group was then exposed to cold/wet conditions, and people who were chilled were no more likely to get sick than those who weren’t.” Being outside can make your nose run (cold weather dilates blood vessels), but it doesn’t make you more susceptible to viruses.

Tale: Feed a cold, starve a fever.

The truth: This is half right.

When you’re congested, nutritious food will fortify your immune system. But when you’re feverish, your metabolism is revved up and you need more energy—not fewer calories—to fight off infection. Bottom line: Stay hydrated and eat well, no matter what your symptoms.

Tale: You lose most of your body heat through your head.

The truth: Mom wins on this one. It’s wise to keep your head covered with a cozy hat.

Although technically you don’t lose more body heat through your head (about 10%, which is proportional to the body surface area) it may feel that way. That’s because your face is about 5 times more sensitive to temperature than other areas. It’s an early warning system that alerts you to put on a sweater or turn up the thermostat long before your core body temperature gets too cold.

Tale: Rest, don’t exercise, when you’re under the weather.

The truth:  Drat – no more postponing my New Year’s resolution to hit the gym (because I’m toooooo sick…boo hoo!). You do need to rest, but a little exercise might help you feel better.

In a study from Ball State University, volunteers with severe colds were divided into two groups, one of which exercised for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. The other group simply rested. In both groups, cold symptoms lasted for about 8 1/2 days (8.36 for the exercisers; 8.45 for the resters) and peaked during the morning hours. But as a group, the exercisers felt better during the afternoon and evening than the resters did. Oh…but be careful..while some exercise is good for you, don’t overdo it when you’re sick. The same Ball State study showed that intense workouts (lasting more than 90 minutes) can actually weaken immunity.

Tale: Cover your mouth with your hand when you cough.

The truth: Sorry Mom…wrong again! Although this might look polite and germ preventing, it’s anything but.

When you capture a cough or sneeze in your hand, you’re likely to pass the cold on to someone else. Cold viruses exist in large quantities in the nasal fluid (i.e. snot) of sick people and are easily transferred from their hands after even the briefest contact. (How many times a day do you shake hands…ewww!) You also leave viruses on doorknobs, phones, countertops, and elevator buttons. To sidestep such icky transmissions, be sure to wash your hands frequently, and use a tissue or, if one isn’t handy, cough and sneeze into your inner elbow.

Tale: Snogging, kissing, smooching (whatever you call it) can transmit the cold virus

The truth: This is half right. Don’t rub your eyes and no French or Eskimo kisses, but go ahead and smooch. Cold viruses love eyes and noses but rarely leap mouth to mouth. And if a peck on the lips improves your mood, it may do more good than harm…just avoid swapping spit (sorry if that takes all the fun out of it!)

Tale: Have some chicken soup when you’re sick.

The truth: Mom takes this round! There’s something to this age-old comfort food remedy.

Researchers from the University of Nebraska Medical Center found that chicken soup prepared with lots of veggies mitigates some of the inflammation responsible for cold symptoms, like a runny nose and congestion. Oh, be sure the soup is good and hot as the steam also helps clear blocked sinuses

Speaking of chicken soup, did I mention that I have been eating it for almost a month now? Don’t get me wrong, I love traditional soup just like Mom makes (carrots, onions, celery, egg noodles..mmmmmm) but there is a limit to how much I can eat before my taste buds die of boredom. To save them from certain death, I had to seek out new and creative recipes and I have decided to share two of my faves! Enjoy!!

Photo of Coconut Lime Chicken Soup

I cheated and used a Rotisserie chicken boil a chicken if you must

  • 2 cups of chicken stock
  • 1 ( 15 ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk
  • ¼ cup lime juice (2 medium limes)
  • 3 medium carrots, thinly-sliced (about 1-1/2 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Thai seasoning blend (I also made it again with curry…yummy)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Fresh grated ginger to taste
  • One stalk of lemon Grass (if you can find it at your local market)
  • Thai seasoning blend (optional)
  • Fresh cilantro (optional)
  • Lime wedges (optional)

Coconut Lime Chicken Soup

  1. Remove and discard skin and bones from chicken. Shred chicken. In large saucepan combine shredded chicken with coconut milk, water, lime juice, sliced carrots, soy sauce, fresh ginger, lemongrass, Thai seasoning and salt. Bring to boiling; reduce heat and simmer, covered, 8 minutes or until carrots are crisp-tender.
  2. To serve, sprinkle bowls of soup with additional Thai seasoning or curry and cilantro. Pass lime wedges.
  3. The second time I made this I wanted a more hearty soup so I added rice (1/2 cup) it was great.

Chicken Tequila Soup

Photo of Tequila Chicken

This seriously might be one of the simplest, tastiest soups EVER. For real. If the tequila is scarin’ you, don’t let it. Just leave it out.

  • 1 small onion, cut into 8 wedges
  • 1 cup frozen corn, thawed
  • 2 cans {14 oz.} Rotel (with Lime if you can find it)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 lbs. chicken breasts
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp Cilantro (or a handful of  fresh leaves chopped fine)
  • 3 tbsp. tequila
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • Avacados/grated cheese/chips or other garnishes
  1. Cut onions into large wedges and spread on the bottom of a crock pot.
  2. Add corn, tomatoes, and garlic.  Mix well to combine and place chicken on top of tomato mixture.  Pour broth over chicken & tomato mix. {If you’re adding the tequila, mix tequila & broth together and pour over chicken}  Cover with a lid and cook on low for 8-10 hours.  Remove chicken and transfer to a cutting board to shred.  Return to crock pot and stir.
  3. Serve with a dollop of sour cream, avocado, cheese, or whatever else tickles your fancy! Sooooo Good!

About semochristy

I am the Assistant Director of Extended and Continuing Education at Southeast Missouri State University.I love what I do and look forward to sharing the fun with you!


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