Wednesday, March 25, 2020

5 Tips For Coping With The Covid-19 Pandemic

Tip #1 - Make lots of soup and freeze it!

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Sheltering in Place
At this writing, as the pandemic is spreading across the world, a third of the United States has been told to stay home and isolate. The stress of waiting in isolation might naturally drive us to sit on the couch, watch the news 24/7 and eat "comfort food." Since we might be in this for the long haul, here are a few things to do to get you off the couch.

TIP #1 - Make Soup
A large percentage of the population will get the virus but not all will become seriously ill. That said, many of us will get sick, be home alone or with another family member who is also likely to be sick.  And since we are all isolated, no one will come over and take care of you. So while we are feeling good, make soup. Make LOTS of soup and freeze it. Just start with some sautéed onions, celery, and garlic. Add lots of water or broth and spices like 1 or 2 bay leaves, some thyme, oregano, salt and pepper to taste. Fresh ginger is a good addition or sometimes I just steep in a few ginger tea bags. Add your favorite beans. (If you eat meat, throw in some chicken thighs and cook for 20 minutes.) Then start adding vegetables like carrots, peas, corn, kale, green beans, a can of tomatoes, etc. Simmer until the vegetables are soft but not mushy, squeeze some fresh lemon juice into the pot. Cool and freeze. Do not add pasta or rice until you defrost and serve it. 
I have dozens of soup recipes on this blog that you can try also.

TIP #2 - Develop a Routine
After a week of total paralysis, thinking every sniffle and allergy symptom I had was the virus, I finally resumed my daily work schedule. I have a business I do from home and I also help my daughter with her business remotely. Cooking, exercising, and gardening also takes up my time. So I put a to do list together after my morning tea and schedule my day. The schedule keeps me busy and lessens my stress. Give it a try.

TIP #3 - Plant a Garden
If you are lucky enough to have a little yard, start growing your own food. This pandemic will not completely go away until a vaccine is developed and everyone is inoculated. That could take well over a year. Growing food will lessen your need to go to the grocery store and expose yourself to others who may be carrying the virus. If it's still too cold in your area, you can start seeds at home under a grow light.


TIP #4 - Self Care
It's more important than ever not to get sick or hurt yourself. Why? Because doctors and hospitals are too busy with Covid-19 patients to see you. So do everything you can to stay healthy.
  * Consume Immune Boosting Foods and Herbs - Include mushrooms, raw garlic and ginger in your diet as well as antioxidant-rich colorful fruits and veggies. Culinary herbs such as oregano, thyme, and rosemary have great antiviral and immune system boosting properties. 

  * Gentle Movement - You're home or out getting some fresh air while social distancing. So you may be thinking, "what a great time to get in shape!" Please avoid overdoing it. If you haven't been running or doing vigorous exercise before the pandemic, start slowly. Remember, if you sprain your ankle or pull your back out, your doctor is not available! Gentle movement will help pump your lymphatic system and boost the production of immune cells that actively protect us against viruses and bacteria. 

  * Dental Care -  Many dentists have temporarily closed their offices during the pandemic so take especially good care of your teeth. You are home so it's easy to brush after every meal. Floss every day and try not to chip a tooth on hard foods. Doug made popcorn the other night and I was super careful not to eat the unpopped kernels for fear of knocking out a crown!

TIP #5 - Try to Disconnect
It's very important to stay informed but don't do it 24/7. The news is grim as the cases skyrocket and you worry about your loved ones spread across the world. Catch up on it periodically but try and detach a bit. I have an especially hard time with this one.

Of course you have heard about keeping your distance, washing your hands often, and not touching your face so I don't need to harp on that. But I will say, TAKE THESE MEASURES SERIOUSLY! And please everyone, STAY SAFE. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Avoid The Grocery Store With Pantry Chili

Easy recipe with simple pantry ingredients.

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What a Time This Is
Are you feeling like our world has been turned upside down? With the fear of you or a loved one getting ill or facing the inevitable economic toll of this pandemic, and the necessary social isolation, how could you not? 

There are so many implications from this crisis that effect us. This week, my daughter had to cancel her wedding. It was devastating to both of us. But so far, we are all healthy so putting it in prospective, we will have the wedding in better times - the most important thing is to stay well and stay positive.

So how do we cheer ourselves up? It’s not easy but one way is to focus on things that you enjoy doing or attack this situation as an adventure. The biggest thing that calms me and brings me joy is cooking. Food is comfort and stocking our pantry and planning for less frequent visits to the grocery store takes some planning and can be a fun challenge.

I stocked our pantry with lots of beans, both canned and dry. I bought rice, pasta, quinoa, polenta, oats and other grains. Canned salmon, anchovies and sardines can provide lots of omega-3 and canned clams provide a high amount of vitamin B12. If you have room in your freezer, buy frozen vegetables as they have nutrients as potent as fresh and less sodium than canned. Of course buy fresh vegetables if they are available and you are still able to get to the grocery store. But keeping a stocked pantry and freezer is important in this time of uncertainty.

Here’s an easy recipe where, except for the onion, has ingredients that are readily found in your pantry. I made this for lunch today with pinto and great northern beans but feel free to substitute those with black beans, kidney or any of your favorite beans. Beans are a great source of protein and fiber!

The spice in this chili comes from the Rotel tomatoes. They come in three flavors – original, mild and hot. I prefer Rotel original since it has just enough spice for me. You can enjoy a bowl of this chili as is or serve it over a grain, pasta, or a baked potato.

Use two cans of your favorite beans,
a can of corn and Rotel tomatoes

Don't drain the beans or the corn.
Their liquids add to the base of the chili

Vegan, Dairy and Gluten Free
Makes 6 Servings

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1½ cups chopped onion
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 can pinto beans with its juice
1 can great northern beans with its juice
1 can corn niblets with its juice
1 can Rotel tomatoes, original flavor

In a 5-quart Dutch oven, heat the olive oil. Add the chopped onions and sauté on medium-low heat until they soften, 5 to 8 minutes, but do not brown. Stir in the garlic powder and chili powder.

Add the cans of beans and corn with their juices and the Rotel tomatoes. Stir well and bring to a simmer. Cook uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes until the chili is heated through and slightly thickened.

Serve as is or over rice, quinoa, polenta, your favorite pasta, or a baked potato. I like to add a dollop of vegan Tofutti sour cream.