Disclaimer: While I believe it’s important to find humor in even the most challenging circumstances, I do not want to diminish the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic. Food service workers are risking their lives to feed others, people are unable to access needed nutrients and some with eating disorders are suffering due to changes in their routines. Here are some ways to support those affected.
While I’m not at “home home” making wholesome dinners with my family, I am having a blast eating popcorn all day long here in Ithaca. I’ve also had more time than ever to experiment with new recipes. Equal parts total control freak and impulsive wanderlust (a walking dichotomy, if you will), I’m very committed to healthy eating, and I will go very far out of my way for the perfect meal.
Here’s a typical day of my quarantine meal plan.
10:00 a.m.: I walk to GreenStar Collegetown to pick up some groceries, most notably a fresh-pressed juice with kale, cucumber, green apple, celery, lemon and ginger. I always feel refreshed and ready to conquer monotonous self-isolation when I start my day off with a green juice. This one might even give me the energy to shave my legs or empty the trash can. Wow!
GreenStar Collegetown is out of the key ingredient for my dream lunch, but thankfully I’m informed that the West Buffalo location has it in stock.
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12:00 p.m.: Home from a very necessary three-mile hike in slippery frozen rain to purchase an 18-ounce tube of polenta, I realize that I’m truly in my element today. My appreciation for any and all types of weather and general inclination toward extremism (again, a walking dichotomy) has made this day a personal heaven.
I wipe the now-melted hail off my sweatshirt and briefly contemplate how one might go about forging a career as a weatherwoman, but my growling stomach reminds me that it’s time to make my other dream come true: Vegan Kale Caesar with Garlic Polenta Croutons. Click *here* for my recipe and others from Sun dining writers. Dressing highlights include: White miso, tahini and coconut sugar. So much natural sweetness!
This is inspired by a dish at Candle Café, one of my favorite restaurants from my neighborhood in New York City. I’m always reminded of dinners out with my family whenever I eat this salad while binge-watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine in my Collegetown apartment. Which culinary experience do I prefer? No comment. (Love you mom!)
~ Literally all afternoon ~ Lesser Evil Popcorn with Himalayan Pink Salt and Coconut Oil
If you haven’t been demolishing family-sized bags of popcorn on the daily, are you even self-isolating? It’s so cute how I put an individual serving in a bowl as if I wouldn’t head right back to the kitchen for another one (or three, or four). I give myself a self-control gold star each time I wait until my next bathroom excursion to get more (or is that somehow more lazy than the alternative?).
I cut pieces of a Clif Builder Mint Chocolate protein bar into two of my five bowls over the course of the day. It’s like butter popcorn with M&Ms at the movie theater, but for trendy quarantine girls with addictions to glorified health food.
4:30 p.m.: Pineapple Salmon Skewers marinated in homemade Thai sweet chili sauce featuring: Sesame oil, rice vinegar, chili pepper, minced garlic, grated ginger, wild honey and red chili flakes. Some smokey grill marks would’ve been dreamy, but the singular flat pan in my apartment did the trick. Top with toasted sesame seeds and more red chili flakes.
Is she dinner? Linner? Who cares! Days of the week and meals of the day are just meaningless constructs now.
8:30 p.m.: I hypocritically scold friends on the importance of ordering in for dinner and supporting local restaurants. An act once deemed lazy, now heroic, and yet I accidentally pass out surrounded by popcorn bits and wake up the next morning with a wad of ABC gum stuck to my hair. Speaking of which: Orbit Wintermint Gum, a staple in my quarantine diet. Chewing has never felt so eventful!
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With all this time on my hands, I’ve fallen back in love with food in a way I hadn’t in recent years since becoming a busy college student. Taking far more time than usual to nourish myself with my favorite foods has been my single most impactful form of self-care during these uncertain weeks. If you’re able to spice up your typical diet or learn a new recipe you never thought you’d have time to master, I highly recommend it. You might even accidentally eat seven servings of two different forms of corn in one day like I did!
Nicole Rovine is a senior in the Cornell School of Hotel Administration. She can be reached at [email protected].