Q&A: Natural Home Cold Remedies

  • October 24, 2012 9:13 am


Hey Alexandra,

Winter is creeping on us now, and I already have a cold. Was wondering if you knew any home remedies? Thanks.




You and me both — pass the sustainable tissues (or should I say reusable handkerchief?). I had a cold a few weeks back and reached out to my communities on Facebook and Twitter  to see if anyone had any recommendations besides the usual steam plus honey and lemon tea suggestions and I got tons of great ideas.

  • “Horseradish root. Grate the whole thing while breathing it in. Put some in a pot of boiling water, a towel over your head and breathe in. It hurts, but it works. Add the rest of the horseradish to what you are eating. Voila.”
  • “Have you discovered Fire Cider? Also, a neti pot can help, especially if you add a generous amount of salt and make it as warm as you can stand.”
  • “Green chile miso broth. Make it almost thick and as spicy as you can handle. Drink don’t spoon it, it will clear your head (not just your sinuses but also your brain).”
  • “A twist on honey/lemon tea works really well: Mix vinegar with the mother in it and raw honey in hot water. It’s great!”
  • Quantum Cold and Flu.)”
  • “Coconut chai does it for me every time. Simmer in coconut milk: a ton of fresh grated ginger, a ton of turmeric, some cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom. Add a caffeine free chai teabag as well if you’d like. Add some honey and drink often. This is my favorite under the weather drink and it’s saved me tons of times.”
  • “Shots of apple cider vinegar throughout the day and raw garlic.”
  • “Doses of elderberry syrup, fermented cod liver oil, coconut oil, raw garlic”
  • “I just rubbed eucalyptus, tea tree essential oils with a lavender infused carrier oil on my lil’ one’s feet, also with a cold. Sound asleep”

So take your pick and let me know what worked out for you. Feel better!



Savoy Is Closing!? We’ll Always Have Okra Pickles.

  • May 7, 2011 10:06 am

Peter Hoffman recently announced that his wonderful restaurant, Savoy, will be closing as of June 18th.  As one of the foremost farm-to-table restaurants, New Yorkers will certainly miss this landmark, but Hoffman’s promise of reopening in the fall with a new name and a more informal vibe sounds promising. And he still has Back Forty. (I’m there often).

When writing The Complete Organic Pregnancy I reached out to him for a pregnancy-themed recipe. He sent me a fantastic pickled okra recipe. Five and a half years later, I’m still not sure which is better–the pickles or the fun anecdote that goes along with them. Here are both.

Peter Hoffman’s Pickled Okra

“Caribbean folklore is that okra helps the baby come on and starts labor.  My wife decided that she had enough of being pregnant the second time around, so she ate a big jar of pickled okra (she also took some castor oil, which certainly didn’t hurt), and she started her labor fast and furious,” recalls Hoffman.  “One hour, to be exact.  And I delivered the baby on the front steps of our apartment.

1 pound small okra pods (cut off any darkened stems but leave whole)

3 cloves garlic, halved

1 cup cider vinegar

1 cup rice wine vinegar

1 cup water

3 tablespoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes

2 teaspoons mustard seeds

1 teaspoon dill seeds

Pack three 1-pint canning jars with the okra vertical and alternating stems and tips.  Put a halved garlic clove in each jar as well.  In a nonreactive metal pot, bring the liquids to a boil.  Add the salt and spices.  Allow to steep for 20 minutes.  Fill the jars with the liquid to within 1 inch of the rims.  Wipe the rims and put on the lids.  Put the glass jars on a rack in a deep kettle and cover with hot water by 2 inches.  Bring to a boil, cover, and boil for 10 minutes.  Remove the jars from the bath and leave to cool.  Let the pickles mellow for 2 weeks minimum before tasting.  Best at 1 month.

How To Make Your Own Cleaning Products (My Visit To Stone Barns)

  • April 15, 2011 6:11 pm

A few weeks ago I taught a DIY cleaning product class at the gorgeous Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture in   Pocantico Hills, NY. Before I got around to demonstrating how to make the cleaners, I chatted about what ingredients and materials to use, and, of course, about the reason(s) why everyone should want to minimize the use of harsh chemicals in their homes.

Did you know that in cities like L.A. home products (cleaning products, paints, stains, etc.) are the biggest pollutant after cars?  Or that more than 300 man-made chemicals can be found in our bodies that weren’t there just three generations ago?  We don’t know what effect these toxins are having on our health as they mingle around inside of us. Cleaning product formulas are currently government protected as trade secrets so you either have to buy from a natural product company going above and beyond and disclosing their ingredients on a label, or you can make your own. This way, you’ll always know exactly what’s in your “product.” There’s nothing you can’t make with vinegar, water, hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and castile soap. Lovely extras include lemons, olive oil, and maybe an essential oil or two.

Here are some of the DIY cleaner “recipes” I shared from Planet Home:

  • Tub Scrub: Baking soda + natural dish soap + a few drops of water = tub scrub. For a very soap scummy tub, use extra baking soda. Basically a 1 to 1 soap to baking soda ratio. (I tend to mix this in the palm of my hand with no measuring. I also, um, use it to exfoliate my face.)
  • Glass Cleaner: Make a 50/50 solution of white distilled vinegar and water. Just like your grandmother used to. Use newspapers instead of paper towels to wipe windows and mirrors.
  • Furniture Polish: Mix 1/4 cup lemon juice with 1/2 teaspoon olive oil in a glass jar. Dab solution onto a soft rag for use. Make only as much as needed; it doesn’t keep.

For anyone who hasn’t visited Stone Barns, go!  Here are some pictures of the farm from after the class and book signing. Yes, that is me trying to kiss a chicken. I wanted to give the photo as a present to my butcher. Thankfully the bird was smarter than me and wouldn’t come closer.