by Nikita Senthil | April 6, 2020
If you were lucky enough to get to Costco before the shelter-in-place ordinance took effect, you would have seen a good number of shelves empty as you rushed to stock up on the necessities. Your cart piled high with toilet paper, hand sanitizers, and lots of water bottles, you finally arrive home, thankful that your family is prepared for the next few months, or years if need be, in shelter-in-place. So you’re ready for the apocalypse, but are you ready for the abundance of free time you now have on your hands? You’ve finished your homework for the week, attended the math Zoom call, and discovered that you are completely and utterly bored. Well, there’s only one thing to do. Bring out the pots and pans: get ready to cook up a storm!
First on the menu: the good old smoothie. Breakfast can’t get simpler or healthier than this easy-to-make drink, which one can serve with an optional side of scrambled eggs for extra protein. Add half a banana, strawberries, blueberries, oranges, and an apple to your blender. Make sure to also add in a liquid ingredient, such as milk, water, or lemonade. Then you’re ready to serve!
Next, if you’re feeling a little more fancy but still want to eat healthy for breakfast, try avocado toast. Cut an avocado in half, remove the pit, and spoon out the flesh. Mash the avocado in a bowl and serve on top of toasted bread, adding salt and pepper to taste. Got a sweet tooth? If regular pancakes drowned in maple syrup don’t cut it, try Nutella pancakes. Regardless of whether you’re making your pancake batter from scratch or not, this addition is quite simple and very worth it. An hour before you plan to eat breakfast, or even the night before, place 6 dollops (1 tablespoon each) of Nutella on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spread each dollop into a thin circle, and transfer the baking sheet to the freezer. When you’re ready to make breakfast, ladle the pancake batter onto the pan, and place one Nutella dollop in the center. Spoon a little more pancake batter on top, and cook until both sides are golden-brown. Serve with syrup.
On to lunch and dinner! The following recipes can be used for either or both of these meals and are sure to be enjoyed heartily. First up: tuna salad. This meal is budget-friendly and perfect for this shelter-in-place situation because it does not require fresh fish. Start with a base of cooked farro (or any other whole grain, like brown rice or couscous), then toss it with canned tuna, arugula, chickpeas, olive oil, lemon juice, cumin, and salt. Finish with a sprinkle of feta (a mildly salty cheese) and celery if you crave a satisfying crunch in your meal.
Another uber-healthy and flavorful meal that can be created in no more than 20 minutes: black bean soup. Pour 1 can of black beans (if you choose to drain the beans, add in a cup of vegetable or chicken broth as well), 1 cup of salsa, ¼ cup of chopped cilantro, 1 teaspoon of cumin, and ½ a clove of garlic into a medium saucepan. Leave the soup to simmer for at least 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Garnish with fresh cilantro, and serve on a rainy day, savoring each sip.
And finally, nothing can end a meal better than homemade brownies fresh out of the oven? Start off by melting butter in a glass (microwave-safe) bowl, then add sugar, cocoa, eggs, vanilla, flour, and salt. After stirring thoroughly, feel free to add in chocolate chips, M&Ms, or marshmallows, then bake for about 20 minutes, so that the center is slightly set but still gooey. Allow the brownie to cool completely and cut into smaller chunks before serving.
If you’ve got a lot of time on your hands during the shelter-in-place, I definitely recommend experimenting with some of these recipes. Who knows, you may find a new family favorite! Whichever recipe you pick, make sure you practice good hygiene and social distancing—because not even Nutella pancakes are worth falling ill for.