10 Healthy Comfort Foods to Get You Through Flu Season

These top-rated recipes comfort completely while also boosting your immune system. They'll keep you on your feet this cold and flu season.

Rosemary Chicken Noodle Soup
Rosemary Chicken Noodle Soup | Photo by Andrew T.

What should you eat to keep common colds and the seasonal flu away? Recently, CNN asked that question of Dr. Sharon Horesh Bergquist, an internist at Emory University. Dr. Bergquist recommended "a diet rich in high-fiber foods, vitamins A and C) and antioxidants."

Also, stay hydrated. When the aching and fever kick in, that's your signal to up your intake of fluids -- at least 8 ounces per hour, according to experts. As Kate Murphy smartly summarizes in The New York Times: "Drinking fluids will diminish your headache and bolster your immune response because your [immunologic] soldiers are conveyed via bodily fluids," which need to be replenished.

Replenishing fluids is another reason why soup is such a smart choice when the the flu gets you in its clutches.

And what should you avoid? "High-fat foods," said Dr. Bergquist, "especially those with saturated fat, because they may skew the body's balance of good and bad bacteria."

These healthy comfort food recipes fit the Dr.'s prescription. Enjoy them any time -- whether you're under the weather or above the fray and hoping to stay that way.

1. Slow Cooker Chicken Mole

Chipotle chile peppers in adobo sauce, peanut butter, garlic, and crushed tomatoes get things off to a healthy start. And let's never forget the healing power of dark chocolate.

Slow Cooker Chicken Mole
Slow Cooker Chicken Mole.

2. Pho Ginger and Lime Soup

Fresh lime juice, chopped fresh jalapeno pepper, carrots, leeks, and fresh ginger keep this Vietnamese-influenced soup on the way healthy side. Here's the word from the recipe submitter, K. Hamel: "Very healthy soup! It is somewhat spicy and is very, very good if you have a cold, would like to warm up in the winter, or to clear your nose." -- K.Hamel

Pho Ginger and Lime Soup
Pho Ginger and Lime Soup | Photo by DetectiveL.

3. Slow Cooker Chicken Marrakesh

Turmeric has been all over the healthy-foods news lately. It has a polyphenol called curcumin that scientists are studying for its beneficial effects on certain diseases. Here, turmeric combines with cinnamon and cumin to season slow-simmering chicken, garbanzo beans, sweet potatoes, and carrots in a Moroccan-influenced recipe. Diced tomatoes, garlic, and onions, complete the healthy picture.

Slow Cooker Chicken Marrakesh
Photo by berlin85. berlin85

4. Mexican Chicken Quinoa Salad

The super foods really queue up for inclusion in this healthy recipe. You have avocado, fresh jalapeno peppers, spinach, red bell peppers, quinoa, cubed chicken breast, and fresh salsa. Chile peppers, by the way, are packed with nutrition, including loads of vitamin C, plus vitamin B6, iron, potassium, and magnesium.

Mexican Chicken Quinoa Salad
Mexican Chicken Quinoa Salad | Photo by Sherri.

5. Chef John's Chicken Satay Burger

Burgers are one of our great comfort foods. This recipe takes the burger idea and fuses it with a chicken satay concept to arrive at a very healthy, happy conclusion -- the Chicken Satay Burger. The key here is the quick pickled veggie slaw and peanut sauce that go on top. Watch Chef John get it done:

6. Chicken with 20 Cloves of Garlic

Not just for keeping vampires away, garlic has a long history as a folk remedy for countless ailments, from the common cold to the plague. Berkeley Wellness has more fun facts about garlic. And it's not just garlic doing the healthy heavy lifting here; red wine vinegar, olive oil, red pepper flakes, and herbs will do their best to keep you on your feet all season.

Chicken with 20 Cloves of Garlic
Chicken with 20 Cloves of Garlic | Photo by Millie. Millie

7. Arugula Salad with Cannellini Beans

Arugula is a dark leafy green with a pleasantly bitter edge. It brings vitamins A and C to this recipe, which also features olive oil, garlic, white wine, fresh basil, and healthy cannellini beans. If your beans were canned in a salty solution, knock out some of the sodium by rinsing them thoroughly under running water.

Arugula Salad with Cannellini Beans
Arugula Salad with Cannellini Beans | Photo by Buckwheat Queen.

8. Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

We wouldn't forget the chicken noodle soup! It's the reigning champ of flu-fighting comfort foods. Lean over the steaming bowl; the hot broth helps open up nasal passages. The veggies, meanwhile, deliver vitamins and antioxidants. Soup has the added benefit of helping to keep you hydrated, which is even more important when you have the flu and/or a fever.

bowl of homemade chicken noodle soup

9. Lemon Chicken Soup

There's nothing sacred about the noodles in chicken noodle soup. This chicken soup gets it done without them, and boasts a couple superstar ingredients: fresh spinach and vitamin C-rich lemon juice.

10. Double Chicken Tea

Crush your cold or flu with chicken in a tea cup. This is a seriously concentrated version of chicken broth. "Chicken in liquid form," as Chef John calls it. The broth is strained and simmered gently until it's super concentrated and clear as tea.

Check out our collection of Chicken Noodle Soup Recipes.

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