I initally tried to be a bit of a matyr and brave through a work day, but by lunchtime, I had to run - yes, RUN - to the bathroom and attempted (unsuccessfully) to dry heave whatever demon being was possessing me. Threatening to spew one's guts on a colleague is not a professional look, so high-tailing it home was the only option to save what little face I have.
However being an adult (and I say this with some amount of distain, since I am still a little sick and let's be honest, which sick person wouldn't kill to have their mother's nursing them back to health) with a gainfully employed husband meant having to take care of and comfort myself.
... besides, I'm not entirely sure the SO knows what to do with a sick me, besides leaving me alone to sleep.
So since flu season will be upon us in the southern hemisphere and in an attempt to educate the SO (and the many boyfriends/partners/husbands out there), who will one day have to nurse a sick woman (or child), this is what you can prepare for them. All recipes is for 1 large serve (since it's likely whoever's sick won't have much of an appetite), so if both of you are sick, double everything.
Whether you're Western and porridge means oatmeal, or you're Asian and porridge means watery rice or congee, porridge has to be on the top of the list of food for the sick.
Image and crock pot congee recipe by Shave Dice Sundays
Due to its liquid consistency, it goes down easy for anyone with a sore throat, easily digested and keeps tummies warm longer. Keep it plain for anyone with nausea, but as the invalid feels better, they are versatile enough for you to throw in other flavours.
Basic oatmeal recipe
- 1 cup quick oats or rolled oats (take longer to cook)
- 3 - 4 cups cold water (more if you like it creamy, less if you like it thick)
- Place ingredients in a pot.
- Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
- Turn down to simmer.
- Cook until thick and creamy, about 10 minutes, stirring a few times.
Alternatively, substitute the water for milk. You can also zap this in a microwave on high for 1-2 mins for quick oats, 5mins for rolled oats. Flavour with cinnamon powder, dried fruit, honey or brown sugar.
Basic rice porridge (gruel) recipe
- 1/2 cup rice (jasmine or pearl)
- 3 cups water
- Wash the rice by putting it in a strainer. Run the water on the rice until the water becomes clear.
- Add the water and rice in a small saucepan and turn on medium heat. Wait until it boils and turn it down.
- Let simmer on low for 15 mins.
Alternatively, substitute the water for any kind of stock for extra flavour. Serve with soy sauce, pickled vegetables, eggs (hard boiled, scrambled), pork mince, shitake mushrooms, slices of any white fish, bamboo shoots... just about anything savoury will work.
Basic congree recipe
Making congee is essentially the same as rice porridge, boiled longer. What you're looking for is a thick sludge consistency. Boil for 30 mins.
It breathes reassurance; it steams consolation;
after a weary day it promotes sociability,
as the five o'clock cup of tea or the cocktail hour.”
Louis P. De Gouy, ‘The Soup Book’ (1949)
Ah, soup. Just about everyone knows chicken soup as one of the best foods for someone ill, but really, any kind of soup can do: beef, vegetable, tomato, hot and sour, chicken noodle.
However, if like me, you're all alone, soup is hardly one of the easiest things to make from scratch. Unless you get it out of a Campbells can, which is great, but we probably want to avoid too much sodium when we're sick and in need of fluids.
So the next time you're making a batch of chicken/beef stock, keep simmering it till it's reduced significantly and freeze it. Wait till the stock is cool before pouring it into ice trays, muffin trays or even ziplock bags (removing as much air as possible) and sticking them in the freezer. Frozen stock will keep for about 2 months.
When needed, pop out as much stock as you need into a pot, pour in water, chop up whatever vegetables (potato, carrot, beans, frozen veg) and protein (leftover roast chicken, steak, tofu) you have in the fridge, bring to a boil and simmer for 25-30 mins before serving.
Photography by Ben Dearnley. Chicken noodle soup recipe by Delicious
Basic chicken soup recipe
- 200gm of chicken (breast, thigh, drumstick, whatever you got)
- 1 onion, finely sliced
- 1 small carrot, diced
- 1 small potato, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, whole
- 2 sprigs of thyme
- 5 peppercorns (black or green)
- 2 cups of water (remember the stock? Use that if you've got it)
- Combine everything in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to boil, before reducing heat to low and simmer, covered, for 40 minutes or until vegetables are very tender.
- Use tongs to transfer the chicken to a clean work surface and cut the chicken meat from the bones. Discard bones. Finely chop the chicken meat and add to the soup.
- Season with salt and serve immediately.
Your stomach is feeling queasy and your appetite has gone into hiding. Bread is about as plain and as simple as you can get. It is usually recommended that the sick nibble on dry toast to absorb excess stomach acids.
Obviously if you're a coeliac, regular wheat based bread is out of the question. Nonetheless, gluten free breads and crackers will offer the same effect.
There are dozens of recipes for making bread, but when you're sick, a regular loaf from a supermarket will most likely do.
It's a no brainer. Fruit are loaded with vitamins, phytonutrients and anti-oxidants, and they don't require any cooking. When you're sick, doctors advise you consume protein. But a diet heavy in protein requires the balance of fruit and vegetables.
For a quick fruit salad, cut up any fruit into bite sized chunks (or use a melon baller if you're feeling fancy) and pour in a can of tinned fruit. The sugars in the syrup will help prevent fruit like apple and pear from browning, and aids in the preservation.
So those are my top 4 foods to feed any invalid. Do you have anything in particular you must eat when you're sick or feed to someone who's sick?