flu-tonic-recipe 2

By Gabrielle.

Back in September, within 2 weeks of school starting, the four youngest at our house had all managed to find themselves with sore throats, coughs, and that feeling of being generally run-down. Nothing dire, just a typical common cold. Honestly, at this point, I expect it. It’s like an annual back-t0-school tradition. Hah!

When they’re feeling crummy like that, Oscar and Olive both love it when I fix them a hot mug of water with lemon and honey. And keep it coming, please! They both find it so soothing. Plus Oscar happens to adore anything lemon-flavored, which is a nice bonus.

That last round of sickness left me curious about other drink-while-sick possibilities. So I ended up getting in touch with Liz, who I know has a bit of a crunchy-granola reputation, and asked her if she had any favorite recipes for hot drinks that she used when sickness found her kids. No surprise, she had a great one! Similar to mine, but with two other important ingredients — and better yet, she knows why the ingredients are helpful.

What about you? Do you have a favorite, comforting concoction that you make for your kids when they’re feeling ill? I’d love to hear your stay-healthy secrets!

homemade-flu-tonic 4

This is what Liz says:

Here’s the thing I’ve noticed about having young children in my life. Flu season somehow ends up spanning from January through December. Seriously, someone in my family has been sick since August this year because two out of the four of us do things like lick grocery store carts and sample used and discarded suckers at the playground. It’s like the germs know we’re weak and are skipping towards us with glee.

One of my go-to home remedies for sickness is this tonic. We drink this whenever we’re experiencing cold-like symptoms: blocked sinuses, sore throats, and coughs. And it’s one of the first things I turn to after a bout with the stomach flu (I’ve even found it’s brought me relief in the midst of pregnancy nausea!)

flu-tonic 1

Let’s break this germ-fighting home remedy down:

Ginger: This crime-fighter seems to do it all. Well known for its ability to quell nausea and other stomach ailments, ginger also has anti-inflammatory properties, which can help with a sore throat and that achy sick feeling.

Cinnamon: This spice is loaded with antioxidants and can help relieve pain with anti-inflammatory properties. Cinnamon also contains antibacterial components.

Lemon: Lemon provides a strong defense against germs. It’s high in Vitamin C and naturally antibacterial. Lemon can really help with a sore throat too!

Honey: You know how the dad in My Big Fat Greek Wedding used Windex to solve the world’s problems? That’s kind of how I feel about honey. Honey has strong antibacterial and antimicrobial agents. Plus, it can really coat your sore throat, providing relief, and even work as a cough suppressant, among many other super-powers.

Besides its health properties, this is such a comforting drink. The ginger gives it a little bit of a spicy kick — the kind that feels like it might be actually fighting the germs in your throat. But the combination of honey, lemon, and cinnamon completely mellow it out and taste like comfort in your mouth. I like to make a mega-batch of this at the first sign of feeling sick and store it in the refrigerator, reheating mug-fuls as needed. So whether you’re giving the elevator buttons a little taste or getting sneezed on while riding the subway, you know flu season is coming. And now you’re a little more prepared.

recipe-for-flu-tonic 3

4 Ingredient Flu-Season Tonic
(makes 1 serving / 2 cups)

2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and diced
1 – 2 cinnamon sticks (based on preference)
2 cups water
1 tablespoon honey*
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice*

*add more to taste

Place ginger, cinnamon stick(s), and water in a saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and keep at a rapid simmer for 15 minutes with the pan still covered.

Strain and pour into a mug. Add honey and lemon juice to taste.

Extra tonic can be kept in a covered container in the fridge for about 5 days to be reheated as desired.


Thank you, Liz! This sounds wonderful, and I appreciate you teaching us about the health promoting properties of each ingredient. I would tell you I’m excited to try this, but I hope we all stay healthy so that we never get a chance. : )

Credits: Images, styling & recipe by Liz Berget. Assistance by Amy Christie.