Foodie Friday: Non-Favorite Foods

Canned food left behind in the pantry

Many people rushed to the stores to stock up on their favorite foods in preparation for COVID-19 home quarantines. Not everyone was able to do this though. For some people, there wasn’t enough money in the budget to build a stockpile of food. For others, it was difficult to get away from work or maybe fear of getting out.  Budgets and opportunities likely feel even more constrained now with announced business closures. Because of this, it is possible consumers will have to get creative with what is still on their shelves or available from food pantries. It is highly likely that these aren’t going to be your favorite foods.

If this is you, think about the foods and recipes you do like. Then, consider how you can incorporate these less-liked foods into new dishes with other ingredients you prefer. Finding a way to hide food in a recipe is a great way to help ensure you make the most of what already is on the pantry shelf.

For example, many canned vegetables mix well into soups, stews, or casseroles. Those underappreciated flavors and textures easily blend in with the other ingredients. For those who are not a fan of fruit cocktail or other canned fruits, consider blending the ingredients into a smoothie along with a banana, fruit juice, and ice.

Another way to disguise the flavor of a not-so-favorite food is to prepare it with other foods with strong flavors of their own. Foods can be sautéed with flavored oil and garlic, for example. Add some salsa or low-sodium soy sauce, lemon juice or ketchup to create a completely new dish.

If those tips are still unpalatable, consider taking smaller bites. When the food is cut into small pieces, it is easier to swallow and get it out of the mouth quickly. BUT be careful to not swallow too much at a time.

Another trick is to alternate between taking a bite of the less-desired food with a food that is more well-liked. Be sure to have a beverage to help wash down the food.

Probably the best take-away from this experience is the next time you restock your emergency food supply, make sure you’re adding not only healthy versions of foods with a long shelf life, but also stocking up on foods you actually enjoy. Emergency foods should bring people comfort and peace of mind, not more stress.

Co-Parenting During the Pandemic

coparenting pandemic

With the entire country now practicing social distancing, the Covid-19 pandemic has certainly disrupted the lives of literally everyone, but it’s creating additional unusual and often difficult situations for parents who share joint custody of their children.

Leaders from the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) and Association of Family Conciliation Courts (AFCC) have released the following adapted guidelines for parents who are divorced/separated and sharing custody of children during the COVID-19 Pandemic:
Be healthy.

Comply with all CDC and local and state guidelines and model good behavior for your children with intensive hand washing, wiping down surfaces and other objects that are frequently touched, and maintaining social distancing. This also means BE INFORMED. Stay in touch with the most reliable media sources and avoid the rumor mill on social media.

Be mindful.
Be honest about the seriousness of the pandemic but maintain a calm attitude and convey to your children your belief that everything will return to normal in time. Avoid making careless comments in front of the children and exposing them to endless media coverage intended for adults. Don’t leave the news playing 24/7, for instance. But, at the same time, encourage your children to ask questions and express their concerns and answer them truthfully at a level that is age-appropriate.

Be compliant with court orders and custody agreements.
As much as possible, try to avoid reinventing the wheel despite the unusual circumstances. The custody agreement or court order exists to prevent endless haggling over the details of time-sharing. In some jurisdictions, there are even standing orders mandating that, if schools are closed, custody agreements should remain in force as though school was still in session.

Be creative.
At the same time, it would be foolish to expect that nothing will change when people are being advised not to fly and vacation attractions such as amusement parks, museums, and entertainment venues are closing all over the US and the world. In addition, some parents will have to work extra hours to help deal with the crisis and other parents may be out of work or working reduced hours for a time. Both parents may need to work outside the home and new child care arrangements must be made. Plans will inevitably have to change and there is going to be a need for compromise. Try to minimize conflict and keep the best interest of your children at heart. Encourage closeness with the parent who is not going to see the child through shared books, movies, games and FaceTime or Skype. With all this going on, both parents should remain actively engaged in their children’s lives as much as possible because your children need you right now!

Be transparent.
Provide honest information to your co-parent about any suspected or confirmed exposure to the virus, and try to agree on what steps each of you will take to protect the child from exposure. Certainly, both parents should be informed at once if the child is exhibiting any possible symptoms of the virus.

Be generous.
Try to provide makeup time to the parent who missed out, if at all possible. Family law judges expect reasonable accommodations when they can be made, and concerns raised in later filings about parents who are inflexible in highly unusual circumstances will be taken very seriously.

Be understanding.
There is no doubt that the pandemic will pose an economic hardship and lead to lost earnings for many, many parents, both those who are paying child support and those who are receiving child support. The parent who is paying should try to provide something, even if it can’t be the full amount. The parent who is receiving payments should try to be accommodating under these challenging and temporary circumstances.

Adversity can become an opportunity for parents to come together and focus on what is best for the child. For many children, the strange days of the pandemic will leave vivid memories. It’s important for every child to know and remember that both parents did everything they could to explain what was happening and to keep their child safe.

Be forgiving.
When our normal routines are disrupted and uncertainty about the future increases, this can cause stress and flared tempers. Be careful to manage your own stress appropriately and to be patient with others when they don’t. Your children will be more likely to act out, argue, and misbehave during stressful times. This is natural for children who are experiencing stress. Helping to maintain routines like regular bedtimes will help. Children also need regular exercise and to occupy their minds doing something purposeful. For example, have children make cards and write notes to friends and family to cheer them up.  Remember to be slow to anger, quick to listen, and quick to forgive.

Together we will get through this. Don’t forget, there are resources available out there if you need them, so don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Check out these additional OSU Extension fact sheets to learn more about helping children cope with divorce and ways to improve communication. 

Helping Children of Divorce Understand their Feelings

Helping Children Deal with Stress after Divorce

Using I-Messages to Communicate

OSU Extension has a web page dedicated to additional useful resources:

Coronavirus Resources

QuickTip Tuesday: Avoid Covid-19 Scams

scam photo

Scammers never seem to miss an opportunity to take advantage of natural disasters and other major life disruptions. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic is no exception.

Several scams have already been reported. One example involves a telephone call from someone claiming to be with the IRS. The caller asks for bank information in order to auto-deposit the upcoming stimulus check.

While it may sound legitimate, this is a scam. Congress just approved the stimulus checks and the IRS will send checks to the address they have on file from your 2018 tax return. The IRS will not call to ask for this information.

Many rip-offs take similar approaches, typically promising a benefit in exchange for personal information. They also tend to target older people, who may have health concerns to prey on.

In another scam, a fake Medicare authority will ask for data so that the victim can receive the COVID-19 vaccine or other medicines.  The thief can then make false charges to the victim’s Medicare account or even an insurance company. Keep in mind, no vaccine currently is available and likely will not be for at least a year.

A variation on this is that someone may actually show up at your home to administer the alleged vaccine and once inside your home, they will try to rob you. Never let people into your home whom you don’t know.

Fake email addresses can seem authentic, appearing to be from the U.S. Department of Treasury or other government agencies.

In an effort to help the public avoid such crimes:

  • Do not give any personal information about credit card numbers, banking information, social security numbers or insurance or Medicare accounts, even if the caller claims to be from the government.
  • Never let strangers into the home. Even if they have official-looking uniforms or badges, confirm their identities first.
  • Trust suspicions about anything that seems out of the ordinary.

Scammers are coming up with new ways every day to steal from us. If anything seems a little bit off, hang up the phone, close the door and don’t respond to the unsolicited email. Get someone you trust to help figure out the best thing to do. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Foodie Friday: April Menu

March brought my family a lot of really good food! I ate at Zoe’s Mediterranean Kitchen back in February and fell in love with their chicken kabobs and I had to learn how to make them, so in March, Amelia and I made chicken souvlaki. Sophie helped me make tzatziki sauce. Both recipes were surprisingly easy and tasted very similar to the restaurant version. Success! I served these with roasted vegetables (just whatever I had in my fridge) and cauliflower rice. The cauliflower rice was a first for our family and it was received with lukewarm enthusiasm. March also brought us some new challenges with grocery shopping, that the whole country is currently working through. Feel free to comment with your own grocery shopping tips and tricks to stay safe. Luckily, the Wal-Mart here in Chandler launched grocery pick-up right before the pandemic found us. Unfortunately, everyone is using it so getting a convenient time-slot is difficult.

I am excited to be switching from soups to salads on Mondays because that means Spring is finally here! We will also be grilling quite a bit and I hope to be sharing some cooking/grilling videos with you in the very near future.

Here is the April menu. Enjoy!

April 2020 Menu

April Menu Pinterest Board (where you can find some recipes)

April 2020 Menu

Cooking Videos

During the Covid-19 pandemic/social distancing era, the Lincoln County Extension office is looking a little different. We are still open, but we are rotating the staff. This means we are mostly working from home, each taking one day a week to be in the office to limit contact with other humans. During this time, I want to try my hand at making some cooking videos. Some will be with my kids, others without. What I need to know is this:

What do you want to learn? Are there any recipes you have wanted to try but haven’t because you’re intimidated? Are there any skills on which you would like some instruction? Let me know in the comments section or via Facebook.

I am looking forward to this little project. It’s something  I have always wanted to do but couldn’t find the time. Now the time has been given to me in a little gift-wrapped box.

QuickTip Tuesday: DIY Sanitizing Solution

Covid-19 is keeping people at home as much as possible and causing quite a stir on the grocery shelves. Apparently, people are buying toilet paper and sanitizing wipes like crazy! I can’t help with homemade toilet paper, but I can give you a quick and easy recipe for a homemade sanitizing solution. This is for sanitizing surfaces in the home, not hand sanitizer!

sanitizing solution

And it’s important to note the difference between cleaning and sanitizing. Cleaning is the physical removal of dirt, germs, and other debris from surfaces using soaps and detergents (or just a plain wet rag.)  Sanitizing lowers the number of germs on surfaces by disinfecting and killing the microorganisms. It is important to do both of these tasks.

If you want to know more, I wrote about green cleaning a few years ago. There are more recipes in that post.


Foodie Friday: Yogurt Veggie Dip

yogurt dip

I know that when my kids are in school they can successfully go from breakfast to lunch without eating. I have never once received a phone call from the school urgently asking for a snack because my kid has wilted from hunger. All the same, when they are home, they think my sole purpose in life is to feed them snacks every 17.5 minutes. Today my Sophie asked what we were having for an afternoon snack while she was still eating lunch!

I thought I’d share this recipe for a healthy snack that is low fat, low salt, and low sugar. You can feel good about your kids eating this- and you’ll like it too!

Yogurt Veggie Dip

This is a dump and stir recipe. Just dump all ingredients into a bowl and stir.

3/4 C plain, nonfat Greek yogurt

1/4 C low-fat mayo

1/2 tsp dried parsley flakes

1/2 tsp dried minced onion

1/2 tsp dried dill

1/2 tsp salt-free spice mix (like Mrs. Dash)

1/2 tsp sugar

1/8 tsp salt

pinch of pepper

Serving size of 2 tablespoons has 32 calories, 2g fat, 110 mg sodium, 5 mg cholesterol, 3g carbohydrate, 1g protein