By Natalie Foote
It can be easy to relax healthy eating habits as quarantine drags on. Without sports, school, or in-person interpersonal interactions, the motivation to have a well-rounded diet can dwindle. But it’s important to bring joy into cooking and healthy eating. Here are a few ways to do this and add variety to your life.
Stay fueled throughout the day. Sometimes, three meals a day won’t cut it. Snacking between meals increases energy, reduces stress, and increases productivity. Fruits and vegetables are the best and prevent overeating during meals. Combined with protein, the perfect healthy snack will keep you full throughout the day. Here are ideas to try, and experiment with different snacks to see what you prefer.
Desserts can be healthy and fun. Yes—dessert. Desserts can be a healthy part of a well-rounded meal and are fun to assemble. Fruit-based desserts are best, such as all-fruit ice cream, chocolate-dipped banana pops, fruit pizza, and others. Alternatively, homemade traditional desserts are less processed than store-bought desserts, and recipes that substitute unhealthy ingredients for better ones are available. A common example of this is substituting honey for sugar or applesauce for eggs. Whatever you make, have fun with it and try out your own healthy dessert combinations.
Food art brings creativity to your meal. No need to be a kid to play with your food. Toast can be boring, but what about toast faces? Spreading peanut butter over toast and making a face out of fruit can be fun. Other varieties of food art include pancake or waffle decorating with fruit, turning sandwiches into animals with vegetables, and dozens of other creative methods. If all else fails, eat it.
Experiment with online cooking classes. Instead of reading a recipe, go online to watch someone successfully make the recipe, and follow along with a visual to see how each step should go. YouTube offers helpful tutorials for any recipe you could think of. And this is a great article if you’re looking for a structured virtual cooking class. Cooking combines fun with healthy and is much more satisfying than getting takeout.
Grow your own food. This takes more effort and patience but is worth it. Research what kind of plants you want to grow—many plants commonly used in cooking can be grown indoors, so space shouldn’t be too big of a hurdle. When the plants are ready for harvest, picking them right before cooking ensures the freshest taste. Looking up the plants you grow in recipes can help you decide what to make of your homegrown produce, but if you need inspiration, here’s a great stir fry to try.
Make food staples from scratch. This is a great challenge for those who are bored with simple recipes. To start off simple, try out butter. All you need is heavy whipping cream and a jar. Too easy? Make your own mozzarella cheese. Stretching the pale creamy cheese at the end is worth the longer recipe and goes great on grilled chicken Caprese. Even harder is bread. You can even make it healthier by using whole wheat flour. No matter which challenge you tackle, you’ll be able to say you’ve made a food staple that most people buy at the store.
Make food fun in whichever way works for you, whether that means dressing up pancakes, following a cooking video, or making your own fruity dessert. Healthy food can be delicious, and making it yourself makes it even better. So, what will you cook this week?
Photo by Natalie Foote.