Carrot Cayenne Elixir

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It was 3 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon, and it was time to face facts: my throat hurt. In spite of six hours of optimism—”it’s allergies, it’s dust, it’s because I sang Girl Talk too loudly in the shower last night”—I could no longer deny the discomfort when I swallowed, nor the stuffy nose, nor the the fact that I was just a bit too hot to the touch. With a heavy heart, I returned home, and woke up the next day with a good old fashioned sore throat. Awesome.

I’ll confess something: I’m not a good patient. I hate being sick. It’s the injustice of it all—I can’t exercise, I can’t enjoy my food, I can’t get anything done at work, I can’t enjoy a brisk city walk with my iPod. At the least, I can’t do any of these things with my usual enthusiasm. Being sick makes me feel as though I’ve been benched from the biggest game of the season: the world goes about its merry way, and I’m watching listlessly from the sidelines.

But I am a mortal, and we mortals catch seasonal colds. I suppose I ought to be grateful that it doesn’t happen often, and when it does, it’s typically pretty mild. Yesterday’s sore throat, while annoying, was hardly anything to call my mother and whine about (even though I did call my mother and whine), so I decided to muster up my courage and fight back with some sleep, some positive thinking, and—of course—some juice.

One of the first things the average American does when he or she is getting sick is to reach for some orange juice. OJ is full of vitamin C, which is why we tend to guzzle it (or slurp down packets of Emergen-C) when we don’t feel well. The problem with this logic is that Vitamin C isn’t actually a proven cold remedy: there are weak links between Vitamin C and reduced incidence of colds, but C hasn’t been proven to reduce either the severity or longevity of colds at all. Furthermore, lots of the commercial fruit juices people drink when they’re sick are loaded with added sugars or made from concentrates: fruit juice is naturally sweet, and there’s no reason to tax the body’s already fragile immunity with more sugar.

For that reason, I try to focus on juices that are fresh and nourishing—especially when I’m not feeling my best. Sometimes I stick to very simple combinations: grapefruit juice, orange juice, or a cranberry apple mix. My usual go-to when I’m not feeling well is carrot, celery, and ginger: the celery helps replenish sodium and electrolytes (especially good if you’ve got a stomach bug), the carrot has numerous vitamins (C, yes, but also Vitamins A and K, which support vision and lungs) and the ginger feels terrific if you’ve got the chills. Yesterday, I decided to try something a little different: orange and carrot together. And instead of using ginger for heat, I thought I’d be brave, and sprinkle some cayenne in the juice.

Bold move, yes, but worth it: this juice cleared up my nasal passages, warmed me up, and tasted amazing. I can’t wait to drink it when I’m not feeling under the weather!

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Carrot Cayenne Elixir (serves 1-2)

1 1/2 cups fresh carrot juice
1 cup fresh orange juice
Dash cayenne pepper

If you’re making this in a home juicer, you’ll need about 2 oranges and about 6 large carrots. If you don’t have a juicer, don’t worry! Try to find a local juice bar where they’ll make a carrot orange juice, and bring it home to mix in the cayenne. If worse comes to work, pick up some bottled OJ and carrot juice (Odwalla is pretty high quality) and mix in the cayenne.

I actually used a blender to mix the juice, since cayenne tends to settle, but you certainly don’t have to.

I drank the juice up right away before dinner last night:

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And repeated it first thing this morning:

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And guess what? My sore throat has steadily retreated all day long. I’m still a little stuffy, but the throat ache never erupted into a full blown head cold after all. Phew! Who knows if my new juice had anything to do with it—maybe not—but who cares? I have a favorite new concoction. And I also ended up with plenty of carrot pulp, which—as I mentioned recently in my Veggie Girl Power Series Interview—is one of my favorite snacks when mashed up with some avocado, lemon, and salt, like so:

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I’m partial to simple food when I don’t feel my best. Last night, I had my juice and juice pulp mush along with a new salad (which I’ll be posting this weekend—so tasty!):

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And tonight, with my appetite returning, I had the juice pulp mush along with kale salad and some simple quinoa:

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My juice mush looks disturbingly like tuna salad in that photo, doesn’t it? I assure you, it’s all veggie.

For other ideas on using juice pulp, check out this post. And for my top ten favorite juice recipes, check out this one! Finally, to read more of my tips on staving off or treating colds, check out my post on carrot fries.

Hope you’re all enjoying healthy weeks. But if you aren’t, you may want to give this juice recipe a shot–at the least, cayenne seems to be a much better decongestant than any Vicks concoction I’ve tried! Have a great night, guys.


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  1. I just bought two bags of organic carrots tonight so I could juice in the morning. I will give your recipe a ginger at home so I may try the cayenne too.
    Peace & Raw Health,

    • Update: I tried this for lunch and let me tell you I feel 75% better. Before I was droopy, sluggish, and just wanted to crawl into a hole and be left alone. After I feel amazing. Wow! Really pepped me up. Sore throat is hardly recognizable, where before it was on fire. I added an apple, just because I had one to use and upped the cayenne to give it a kick.
      Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

  2. I hear ya girl. I’m currently sick myself (got myself a ‘sexy’ hoarse voice) and crummy cold. I’ve been buying green juices (with ginger and lemon) and that glass of greenism gave me a burst of energy and ‘oomph’! I felt my body needed it, so I’m willing to fork over $5 for something healthy instead of digesting pills.

    Take care! It’s the flu season in NYC!

  3. Gena, would you be open to trying a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) herbal formula? There’s a blend called Yin Chiao that has been in use for umpteen hundred years which I find amazingly helpful when I feel like I’m getting a cold. The first sign of a scratchy throat and I start tossing down the herbal tablets. They’re the only thing I’ve ever found that actually seems to help one’s system fight off/heal from the sickness, instead of just masking symptoms.

    My husband and I have done side-by-side tests of it (because he was being too stubborn to take it, and I wasn’t). He spent a week and a half feeling like he was dying. I spent three days feeling run down and tired, and then was back to normal.

    The brand I take is Dr. Shen’s, because it’s manufactured in the US with close attention paid to safety, cleanliness, and wholesomeness of the ingredients, which may not always be the case with herbal formulas imported from China. (I have no financial connection with them, I’m just a very satisfied client.) This video gives an introduction (that’s my acupuncturist in the video — an awfully nice guy with an amazingly gentle and accurate hand on the needles):

  4. Love this carrot cayenne elixir recipe! its good to hear that it soothed your throat so well. i have tried celery, cucumber and ginger too, but i want to try this sick or not..looks delicious. This summer i had a nagging sore throat for a couple weeks and i took a couple doses of colloidal silver and it was gone. hope you feel better soon.

  5. Love this comment about the Vitamin C! I cringe when I see my sick buddies reaching for those pasteurized OJs and sucking on candy all day… eep! I mean, yes… I am guilty of drinking pasteurized carrot juice sometimes, (maybe more than sometimes), which is total sugar over load but… as you said, Vitamin C is not even a proven cold remedy, and I do not see bottle OJ being beneficial.

    My go-to “sick” remedy is… Carrot, Cayenne, Horseradish, Garlic… parsley. Spicy germ killer ;).

    Feel better!!

    P.S. you eat juicer mush? It kind of scares me… unless dehydrated…

  6. Your juice can also double as a beauty tonic, lol. I mean the carrots filled with vit a (to repair skin) and vit c (to build collagen). So you’ll be healthy with awesome skin!

  7. Hi Gena! Thanks for sharing your veggie juice recipe. Carrot-orange is one of my favorite association, and the dash of cayenne gives some health benefits from the capsaicin.

    To fight colds, I like oregano oil. It’s a natural powerful antibacterial. And don’t forget to get some rest!

  8. this looks so good! i let the stress get the best of me the last month so i’m dealing with some painful stomach woes post eating and always feeling full 🙁 i’ve been making alkaline smoothies in the am and will prob try this juice sans cayenne. i’m really loving peppermint tea post meal, it makes things so much more bearable! p.s. leaving after work today to drive to pittsburgh…girl talk tomorrow! 🙂

    • You’d better jump around like crazy and think of me when he gets to the Jay-Z/Modern English part of “Every Day.” HAVE FUN!

  9. It’s not as natural of a fix as a veggie juice, but when I had a terrible sore throat last weekend my mom bought me some Zicam and I swear the sore throat completely disappeared! And normally a sore throat ALWAYS means I have a full blown, 2 week long cold.

    Hope you feel better soon! 🙂

  10. Hope you feel back to normal soon. I just posted a carrot+orange smoothie on my blog – love that combo! I’ve read that juicing is best when you are sick, as it takes the least amount of energy from your body to digest, freeing up more energy for germ fighting. Do you know anything about that?

    Also – thanks for a new pulp use! I’ve made your falafels, but this looks like a good instant recipe.

    • Michelle,

      The idea of “digestive rest” is a huge thing in the raw/cleansing/detox community. I think there’s a lot of truth to it — digestion IS work, just as all bodily processes are, so it makes sense not to force our bodies into overtime with constant eating and heavy food (just the way we’d also want to avoid constant stress, constant sleep deprivation, or over-exercise).

      But digestion is like any other bodily process–it’s something we’re meant to do. Some raw foodies would have us believe that digestion is a mammoth task that our bodies are too fragile to handle. This is nuts! We’re supposed to eat, often and well. And our bodies are constructed to help us do it. So you don’t want to get too obsessed with the idea of “digestive rest” or saving your body the “effort” of digestion — that kind of thinking sucks people right into food restriction and heavy juice fast regimes that leave them weak. And, ironically, eating less can impair digestion in the long run, leaving chronic fasters and food restricters prone to bloating.

      Of course, it’s 100% true that, when we’re sick, we lose our appetites for a reason. At those moments, our bodies are in a sort of triage mode, trying to devote full resources to what’s most urgent, which is healing. If you’re sick and have an appetite, go ahead and eat well, but if you’re not hungry, this is indeed a good time to rely more on juice than you normally would.

      Hope this helps you! May re-post as a question of the week soon.


  11. I’ll def try this when I feel sick.

    My usual formula for squelching annoying flu symptoms is chopped raw garlic chased by fresh OJ with powdered wheatgrass. Gross but it works. I’m sure this cayenne elixir would taste better.

  12. Sorry that you got sick, or almost sick…but sounds like you fought it off like a champ. There are so many colds and viruses going around this time of year…and I love that you tried/did treat this ailment naturally, holistically, and with medicinal foods like cayenne!

    I am also super impressed that while sick you blogged, came up w/ a great new recipe, reminded us of your what to do w/ juice pulp post (loved that one) and took pics of your gorgeous dinner. Then again, I had a 101F fever on Thanksgiving Day, had worked 15 days in a row, and still cooked. So yeah, no rest for the weary or the sick around here either LOL

    Feel better!


  13. Love that juice! I think I’ll drink some this weekend as a preventative! 🙂 Question: how do you save the pulp? Do you use right away or could I store the pulp in a mason jar in the fridge and use up over several days?

  14. Glad you’re feeling better, Gena! Carrot juice is so gorgeous. I love just LOOKING at it (and especially love when it turns my lips orange).
    PS- I feel you, I’m not a good sick patient either, and will whine to anyone who will listen. Luckily, since changing my diet/lifestyle I don’t get sick often. Wahoo!

  15. Just posted about getting a little under the weather myself today. Read an interesting book about colds. There really isn’t much of anything to ward them off completely–although a few things have been proven to reduce them by a day or so.

    I always love carrot juice when I am sick. I have heard vitamin A is high in carrot juice and it’s great for you too.

  16. <>

    Fairy Juicemother, help me! I so want to make things with juice pulp, but I am not a juicer! Blast.

  17. Hope you get to enjoy it when you’re not feeling sick soon! Carrot and orange go so great together. And you can make the juice in a vitamix – squeeze pulp with nut milk bag and good to go, for those of us with no dedicated juicer.

    To your health!

  18. Mmm, just fought off the same thing you did– a terrible throat ache. Even if it’s not a full- blown cold, still takes all the energy out of you. Not fun at all!

    Love this elixir idea, with the addition of cayenne. So timely, too. Thanks, Gena!

  19. This is a great tip – I have a teensy cold and sore throat…and I’m running my first half marathon this Sunday. I had a big green juice this afternoon and will try this out tomorrow!

  20. I feel the SAME WAY about colds- I get them ALL the time and I always feel pouty when I do. I try to deny my initial symptoms, but that never works (who are those people who WILL away their sickness, anyway?!?). This carrot/orange/cayenne drink looks like just the trick. Thanks for passing the remedy along! Anymore cold/flu drinks or remedies would be greatly appreciated!

  21. WHen I feel sick with a cold, I have green juice and honey with lime 🙂 That juice looks terrific, I’ll give it a try even if I ain’t sick!

  22. I know you hate garlic, Gena, but for people who love it my favorite cold buster juice is celery, cucumber and raw garlic. It’s like an easily digestible salad in a glass that kills viruses. It’s awesome.