Food as Medicine: Noodles with Garlic and Herbs

They’re everywhere right now, and oh goodness are they hitting hard. Everywhere I turn I see someone struck down with some minor illness. I rarely get sick, and even I have succumbed to the wicked rhinovirus.

I also hate cold medicine, which never fails to present a minor dilemma at times such as these. I will take it if I’m absolutely dying, but it takes a lot to get me there. Thankfully, food is amazing. Some foods specifically can really pack a punch when it comes to warding off illness. Sometimes I find the right kinds of foods can actually stop a cold from getting too terrible.

Garlic is one of those, and it’s been a longtime favorite remedy of mine. Taken raw, it can do some amazing stuff as a decongestant and cough remedy. It also has antiviral properties, which means it treats the root cause AND the symptoms. Sounds like a good option to me.

The only real downside here is that the garlic has to be raw. Cooking destroys the compounds in garlic that work their lovely, medicinal magic. But raw garlic can definitely be biting. I love garlic, but even I don’t like it straight when it’s raw. Thankfully, there are ways to mitigate that while still letting the garlic do its lovely work. I just made myself some of the recipe below, and great glorious gods of garlic, I can actually smell a again!

My general method is to mix the garlic with something fairly bland, and add a little fat to help tone down the burn. The garlic should still have some pungent zing (the slight burning sensation actually feels therapeutic to me) but it shouldn’t be unbearable. This can be as simple as mixing the garlic with butter and spreading it on toast, but this time I felt like getting a little fancier. I made this with leftover pasta, but you can easily use rice or bread or some other vehicle for your garlic.

The measurements in this recipe are thoroughly in exact, because honestly the point is for this to be so simple that even a sick person can make it. Feel free to leave things out or make substitutions as needed. The most important thing here is eating your garlic! 

P.S. This recipe is also just a delicious and simple way to make pasta, so you really don’t have to save it for when you have a cold.

Noodles with Garlic and Herbs


  • Leftover pasta (as much or as little as you feel like dealing with)
  • Raw garlic, crushed (1-2 cloves per serving)
  • Butter or olive oil (or both!) to taste
  • a pinch or so each of dried oregano and thyme (both have antiviral properties of their own)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat the pasta, then mix in all of the above ingredients. Eat, and feel your congestion and coughing calm down as the garlic burns away the virus.


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