Vegan-Friendly Wellness Foods & Cold Season Facts.

This year I decided to ditch Halloween. Yup, that's right. While you were gleefully handing out candy to trick-or-treaters or out gallivanting through the streets in your sassy, scary costume I was at home. In bed. Wishing I was you.

...because I was sick.

At least once every year I get the same old common cold that knocks me out for a few days. And every year I turn to the same wellness remedies to get me back to the land of the living as soon as possible. Check out my vegan cold season wellness tips and learn a few cold hard facts about cold and flu season. Such as..

FACT: There are over one billion colds in the United States each year. And over 200 viruses that can cause a cold. When one finds you, be ready..

While I was laying in bed, with a fuzzy head, tired eyes and that overall feeling of, "I feel like crap." I decided to do some googling about "cold season" to find out what wellness tips the professionals have for getting better and staying well.

"Don't Forget the Chicken Soup" grandma whispers to my subconscious.

A lot of the same advice I heard as a kid is still around and thriving. Chicken soup, sleep, salt water gargle, liquids, sleep, honey, tea, garlic, orange juice, and again, lots of sleep. However, many of those tips aren't vegan..

I won't be asking for my mom's lovely soft-boiled egg with soft bread, the way I did as a kid, or the Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream to 'ease my sore throat'.

But that's OK with me, because I know my vegan line-up of eat-when-I'm-sick foods are more than capable of making me feel better. Here are ten of my favorite wellness foods that I ask for when I'm knocked down by a cold - or worse.

Sidenote: Everyone needs.. Sleep! It won't matter what you eat if you aren't giving your body the proper rest it needs to heal...

Before I give you my list of feel-better foods, here are a few of the facts I found on my "cold season" googling escapade...

Cold Season Facts:

1. "There are over one billion colds in the United States each year." -nih

2. "Children average three to eight colds per year." -nih

3. "Researchers also have shown that using aspirin to treat colds increases the amount of virus shed in nasal secretions, possibly making the cold sufferer more of a hazard to others." (Nat'l Institute of Allergy..)

4. "Rhinoviruses can survive up to three hours outside the nasal passages." (Nat'l Institute of Allergy..)

5. "Once you have "caught" a cold, the symptoms usually begin in 2 or 3 days, though it may take a week. Typically, an irritated nose or scratchy throat is the first sign, followed within hours by sneezing and a watery nasal discharge." -nih

6. On Treatment: "Get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids. Over-the-counter cold remedies may help ease your symptoms. These won't actually shorten the length of a cold, but can help you feel better. Chicken soup has been used for treating common colds at least since the 12th century. It may really help. The heat, fluid, and salt may help you fight the infection." -nih

NOTE: see in #6! It's not the actual chicken that makes you feel better. It is the combo of heat, fluid and salt. You can certainly get the same effects from 100% vegan soup.

7. "Healthy people with normal immune systems are highly susceptible to cold virus infection once the virus enters the nose. In volunteers studies, approximately 95% of normal adults became infected when virus was dropped into the nose...Of people who become infected, only 75% develop symptoms with a cold...The other 25% have virus growing in the nose but have no symptoms."

8. "Those who slept an average of fewer than seven hours a night, it turned out, were three times as likely to get sick as those who averaged at least eight hours. Sleep and immunity, it seems, are tightly linked" -NYT, Archives of Internal Medicine.

Here is my personal list of Wellness Foods and Tips (when I'm sick):

1. Fresh Juice with extra ginger.
I crave a tall glass of fresh-pressed juice. My favorite combo includes orange, apple, carrot and cucumber with extra extra ginger. That ginger spiciness always makes me feel better. Other juices I love are pear and pressed melon juice like cantaloupe. When I am feeling well, I like to add spinach and other dark leafy greens to the mix.

juice. just drink it..

2. Hot Tea with soymilk and agave syrup.
My classic mug of hot tea with milk and honey is easy to veganize. I like to use green tea, peppermint tea or Sleepytime tea which has chamomile and peppermint. I stay away from black tea when I am feeling sick. I like to add vanilla soy or hemp milk - just a touch - but for straight up green tea I usually leave out the soy milk and keep it clear.

3. Hot Brothy Clear Soup.
Clear salty vegetable broth is a must when I am sick. I crave it in giant bowlfuls. A few veggies and maybe some soft noodles like rice noodles or udon. I also love soft tofu in my veggie broth soup. I usually order takeout from an Asian restaurant - they always seem to have the perfect get-better veggie noodle soup. When I am feeling better, I add spicy soups with curry-style broths to my diet.

4. Lots of Liquids.
Staying hydrated when I am sick is a must. I reach for purified water, coconut water and ginger ale. Coconut water is rich in potassium.

5. Fresh Fruit.
When I was little I used to love those low-brow fruit cocktails that came in the can. I tried one a while back and couldn't believe how horrible it tasted to me now. Nowadays when I am sick I crave a fresh fruit cup filled with soft sweet melon, papaya, banana, light berries and maybe even a few canned soft mandarins. Fresh fruit is my preference because it is rich in enzymes, potassium and vitamins (like vitamin C) - all of which may aide your immune system in getting better.

6. Hot Cereal w/ Toast.
Hot cereal is my favorite breakfast when I'm well enough to crave breakfast! I reach for a childhood fave: Cream of Wheat or Cream of Rice. Oatmeal with soy milk is also a nice option. Here is one Cream of Wheat recipe I love. Extra dry toast on the side - part of the BRATT diet (see #10).

7. Soy Yogurt.
Yogurt is a great immune system food to eat before you even get sick! Having a digestive system that is rich in probiotics can help keep you feeling healthy year round. And even if you do catch a cold, you can still reach for soy yogurt which is easy to digest and filled with good stuff like protein and vitamins.

8. Ginger Chews or Crystallized Ginger.
Ginger, again! I love anything with ginger in it when I'm not feeling well. Ginger is warming and stimulating. Those simple ginger chews from the grocery store are great to have on hand - or you can seek out gourmet crystallized ginger pieces for a sweet, spicy feel-better treat.

9. Lean Protein.
Every 'wellness foods' list seems to have lean protein on its list. And usually, the author points to meat products. Well, for my lean protein of choice I like silken tofu. I like it over a bit of unseasoned rice. Simple, healthy and soothing. You can also choose beans, nuts, lentils, quinoa, peas, hemp or other veggie sources of lean protein.

10. BRATT Diet
In Nutrition 101 classes, you always learn about the BRATT diet. What it is: the BRATT diet is prescribed to anyone who is having trouble with digestion, is too ill for heavy foods or simply needs simple, bland foods. BRATT stands for: B-bananas R-rice A-applesauce T-tea T-toast. Now the lovely thing about the BRATT diet is that these easy-to digest foods are all vegan-approved!

And don't forget!..

When you're feeling under the weather .. bright, cheery juice may make you feel better!..

Other wellness ideas:
-Netti Pots to clear nasal passages naturally
-Gargling with salt water (to ease a sore throat)
-sleep ***** (gets five starts from me)
-nix the caffeine
-herbs or natural cold remedies (consult your doctor!)
-Vitamin D (more light)
-Steam Shower
-spices like cumin and curry
-sleep,sleep,sleep, did I mention, sleep?

*And remember, when it comes to wellness and health advice, always consult your doctor first.

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