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  • Writer's pictureBetsy

Quarantine Kitchen Inspo

I look forward to 6PM every day during quarantine. Breakfast and lunch are catch as catch can, but we have decided to make dinner an event over here. Three adults with healthy appetites and full work loads and high metabolisms make up the population of our house, so a bowl of instant mac and cheese is not going to cut it (although, this may be my favorite comfort food of all time). Here are a few sources of great recipes to help nourish your body (and your housemate's/family's) and may just give your soul a little boost, too. These are exhausting times and we have a lot on our plates (sorry, terrible pun). Treat yourself and those you love, well.

1. Giada's Kitchen by Giada de Laurentiis

Pretty sure I purchased this book for my mom for Mother's Day in 2008 and I've been "borrowing" it ever since. Giada is the queen of modern American/Italian food. This book heavily brings in California influences, like fresh fish and citrus flavors, while still paying homage to the classic pasta and Parmesan we have come to associate with Italian cuisine. I especially appreciate the Just for Kids section; not because I have any at the moment (that I know of!) but rather because these simpler recipes have fewer ingredients and things like Sweet and Sticky Chicken Drumsticks and Parmesan fish sticks are just plain fun to eat! For more Giada recipes, visit:

2. Run Fast Eat Slow by Shalane Flanagan and Elyse Kopecky

Homegirl Shalane has won the 2017 New York City marathon, earned the silver medal in the 2008 Olympic 10k run, and a bronze at the 2011 IAAF World Cross-Country Championships (and she grew up in Northern MA - wicked awesome!) To all that I say, "I'll have what she's having."

This is basically a food diary with what an elite runner eats to stay healthy and energized. Flanagan co-wrote and developed the recipes with her former teammate from UNC/Chapel Hill, Elise Kopecky, who is also a nutritionist and gives insights into the very intentional food choices in each recipe. Most recipes either are or can be made gluten-free and dairy free, as well. Favorite recipes: Soba Noodles with Runner's High Peanut Sauce (p. 87), High-Altitude Bison Meatballs with Simple Marinara (p. 120), and Shalane's Breakfast-Meets-Dinner bowl (p. 128).

3. Cravings Hungry for More by Chrissy Teigen

Chrissy Teigen is a creative genius in the kitchen. Her mother is Thai and her father is of Norwegian descent, and Teigen herself never had any formal culinary training, so no one would fault you if you thought this book may be a hot mess of food suggestions. But, dear reader, you would be so wrong. Everything I have made from this book has been so delicious and always brings me out of a food rut (making the same 5 or 6 dishes on rotation). One of the things I love about cooking for others is when they ask "what is in this!?" (in a good way, mind you). When you cook with Chrissy, people will want to know what is in that. Favorite recipes: Pulled BBQ Chicken Sandwiches (omg. so good), Thai fishcakes, Red Chicken Curry. Teigen also gives the most helpful hint ever on how to cook bacon on page 16. Game changer.

4. My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes that Saved my Life by Ruth Reichl

This book reads like a novel and was one of my favorite books of 2019. Reichl tells the story about how she went from one day holding her dream job the Editor-in-chief of Gourmet Magazine for over a decade, to suddenly being out of a work the next (the 69-year-old institution abruptly shut down in 2009). Feeling completely unmoored, Reichl "did what I always do when I'm confused, lonely, or frightened. I disappeared into the kitchen". This book, divided into the four seasons of that year, takes us through Reichl's journey to essentially cook herself back to life. The recipes range from a simple (but very yummy) PB&J sandwich to Gluten-free egg wrapped dumplings from Yangshuo to Thai American Noodles (which, I am planning on making for dinner this Wednesday). The book is also peppered with Ruth's poetic tweets. Get a load of this gem from July: "Outdoor shower. Water splashing onto mint. Hot coffee in the sunshine. Sour cherry crostata. Summer. Happy." -Sigh-

Aaannnd.... if you are more of an online recipe finder. Here are two websites that have been getting a lot of use around these parts lately:

Hope these suggestions help inspire you to make your quarantine dinners more of a celebration than a chore. And if that doesn't do the trick, a cocktail usually helps, too.

Stay well, FitFooters!


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