I think I made a terrible mistake. I’m one of those people who say, "I’ve never had the flu and I’m healthy, so I don’t need to bother with a flu shot."

The thing is, I may have had the flu last year. I will never know for sure, but I do know that if there’s a way to prevent that misery from happening again, I should probably get on board.

What if I contracted the flu from some thoughtless buffoon who didn’t get a flu shot? What if I passed my filthy germs on? What if I was the thoughtless buffoon? There’s a tickle in the back of my throat. I hope it’s not too late.

In the dreadful event you or someone you loves comes down with the flu or other miserable malady, there are foods that can help ease the symptoms. The list of foods isn’t surprising; they’re the usual suspects on many healthy-eating lists. Maybe if we stuck to the list all the time, our immune systems would be ironclad.

Ginger is known to help inflammation and to prevent nausea. Make triple whammy tea with sliced ginger, lemon and honey to ease aches and pains, plus it’s nice on a sore throat.

Garlic in any form can help with digestion because of its level of a specific type of fiber called fructans. If queasiness or diarrhea are symptoms, garlic can help make food easier for your inflicted body to digest.

Citrus fruits are no surprise; they’re known for having high levels of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Vitamin C won’t cure you, but it may help you feel better in less time. Smoothies are a great way to take in a lot of nutrients in a few big gulps. Pack the blender with citrus, as well as other produce high in vitamin C. Think kiwi, strawberries, kale and tomatoes. Add yogurt for the good bacteria. You need all the help you can get.

Soup is one of the most perfect dishes ever. Load a pot with veggies, beans, onions, garlic and water or broth. Meat is totally optional, but it adds rich flavor and protein. In a couple of hours or less, boom. Soup for days. Your body needs nutrients and liquids; soup has it all.

Try these recipes when you’re not up to par, or better yet, clip this column and give to loved ones when they say, “Let me know if you need anything.”

Bean and barley soup

4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 medium fennel bulb, cored and chopped

5 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 15-ounce can cannellini or other white beans, rinsed

1 14-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes

6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

3/4 cup quick-cooking barley

1 5-ounce package baby spinach (6 cups)

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, fennel, garlic and basil; cook, stirring frequently, until tender and just beginning to brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Mash 1/2 cup of the beans. Stir the mashed and whole beans, tomatoes, broth and barley into the pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the barley is tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in spinach and cook until wilted, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in cheese and pepper.

Recipe adapted from www.eatingwell.com

Strawberry balsamic bruschetta

2 cups strawberries

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon lemon olive oil

2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped

2 ounces goat cheese

1 baguette, sliced

In a small bowl combine the strawberries, vinegar, olive oil and fresh basil.

Lightly toast the baguette, then spread the goat cheese on each slice.

Top with the strawberry balsamic bruschetta and serve.

Recipe adapted from www.whitneybond.com

Orange almond waffles with cranberry syrup

1 and 1/4 cup whole wheat flour or brown rice flour

1/4 cup almond meal

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

2 eggs

1/4 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup orange juice plus 3 tablespoons orange zest (juice/zest of 2 large oranges)

1/4 cup melted coconut oil (not hot)

1 tablespoon honey

Cranberry syrup:

1 cup fresh cranberries

1 cup maple syrup

Combine the cranberries and the maple syrup in a medium-sized saucepan and bring to a low boil. Reduce to a simmer and allow to cook for 15 minutes then set aside to cool.

Meanwhile preheat the waffle maker and then combine all of the dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and sift together.

In a separate large bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients (egg to honey) and add the coconut oil last. Using a spatula, fold the wet ingredients into the dry until they are just combined. Grease waffle maker (if necessary) and then add the recommended amount of batter and cook as directed.

While the waffles are cooking, place half of the cranberries and maple syrup in a food processor and blend until smooth. Add the pureed syrup back to the remaining cranberries in the pot and stir together, then transfer it to a container for pouring. Serve waffles warm with cranberry syrup.

Recipe adapted from www.makingthymeforhealth.com

Amanda Stone is a food columnist for The Joplin Globe. Email questions to astone@joplinglobe.com or mail her c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802.

Amanda Stone is a food and gardening columnist for The Joplin Globe. Email questions to amandastone31@gmail.com or mail her c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802.