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Cooking Tips for Quarantine and Beyond

While the novel pandemic has shaken up our lives, perhaps there is a silver lining. On a grander
scale, our environment is getting a well-deserved break from the overwhelming amount of
pollution. On a smaller scale, we’re cooking more from home. This is not to ignore the amount of
stress we’ve all been under as we’re attempting to navigate a new normal, but instead, to provide
some guidance in the kitchen and perhaps the adoption of some new healthy habits to nurture
after the stay-at-home orders have been lifted.

Today I’m going to share with you the concept of cooking with flexibility. What does this mean?
Well, it can mean a few things: using what you can easily source or what you already have,
cooking for more than one meal, or cooking one aspect of a meal to be used throughout the
week. In this article, I’ll cover the overall concept of cooking with flexibility and provide some
recipes so you can get started right away!

Supermarkets and grocers throughout the United States are having trouble keeping up with the
demand of their customers. What this means for many is that chicken, beef, and other protein
staples are not regularly available, and if they are, there is likely a limit on how much you can
purchase. The first aspect of cooking with flexibility is choosing a protein that you haven’t used
before or that is readily available. Let’s take ground lamb for example! It’s extremely versatile in
its use, incredibly delicious and nutrient-dense. Two of my favorite ways to use lamb is either as
a burger or atop veggies in a rice bowl. Don’t like lamb? No worries, this concept extends to any
other protein, including beans and legumes!

Beans and legumes are inexpensive, easy to cook in bulk, and truly an all-purpose protein. They
can be used as the main star in a dish (just like you would use the chicken, beef, or lamb), as a
side, as a dip, or even incorporated as they are into a soup, salad, or omelet.
There are mainly two ways to purchase beans and legumes, canned or dried. Canned is already
cooked, is a bit more expensive, and likely has lost some nutrients from the canning process (or
even exposure to chemicals from the can itself). Dried is less expensive and carries greater
nutrient-density, but requires soaking and cooking. From a health perspective, dried is the
superior choice. If you own an Instant Pot or pressure cooker, you can make a week's worth of
beans in about 30 minutes. If you don’t own a pressure cooker, they’re just as easy to make
stovetop but will take a bit longer. Regardless of how you cook them, I suggest you purchase
some beans and legumes in bulk (maybe a few pounds), soak them overnight, cook, and freeze in
mason jars.

Now that we’ve covered utilizing what you can easily source or what you already have, let’s
discuss how to cook for more than one meal. To demonstrate, here are three recipes you can use
as a loose guide for one meal or a few different meals throughout the week! Lamb burgers with a
side of yogurt sauce and a Greek-inspired spinach and rice mixture:

Lamb Burgers by Fork Knife Swoon
Yogurt Sauce by The Lemon Bowl
Spinach and Rice by Olive Tomato

For starters, this is an incredibly delicious dinner as it stands. But you can most definitely substitute anything you don’t have, can’t source, or don’t like. You’ll also find that each recipe recommends a variety of ways in which it can be used! Here are some examples of how to cook with flexibility:

– You can sub the lamb burger for any type of burger: bean, lentil, chicken, beef, turkey,
– You can sub the yogurt sauce for hummus or guacamole.
– You can sub the spinach-rice mix for a salad, quinoa, or any other vegetable.

Want to know how to use these recipes throughout the week?

– Make extra burgers for lunch the next day or to freeze for later use
– Use the yogurt sauce as a base in a chicken salad or as a stand-alone dressing
– Use the spinach-rice mixture as a side or base for an entirely different dinner with
ground meat, beans, or legumes

As you can see with this example, one kitchen session inspired a few different meals! I
encourage you to see what you already have in your house and use the concept of cooking with
flexibility to cook smarter, not harder. If you’re new to the kitchen or simply looking for a recipe
to spark inspiration, you can find many healthy options online or on Pinterest. Stay safe and
happy cooking!

 Jessica Stephens, FNTP…………… 774.377.5770
Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioner