Since I first began writing this series, it has been eight weeks. On one hand, the time has passed quickly but on the other, some days dragged on and on.
Now that states are slowly starting to open, I’ve noticed a lot of excitement. Restaurants are opening back up (although with several restrictions), parks and nature preserves are no longer off-limits and retail stores can finally open their doors. You may be excited to get back outside while you’re also trying to figure out what the new normal looks like.
As everyone figures out the next steps together, I have four pieces of advice. Although being cramped at home was very challenging, there were some positive lessons to carry forward.
During quarantine, everyone was forced to cook more at home. Oftentimes it’s hard to find joy in something you have to do. But with more options available, now that restaurants are opening, you can choose if you get to cook at home.
You probably learned a few new tricks to add to your culinary and/or baking repertoire. I encourage you to continue using them. The more you practice, the better you become!
Another reason to continue cooking at home is your health. When you take the time to plan meals, you can focus on creating a better balance of the food groups. Meals cooked at home also have less salt, fat and sugar.
Keep Weeknights Simple
No one, including your family, expects you to be a classically trained chef. Because you usually have more time on the weekends, use it to cook the fancy or more complicated dishes. In fact, double or triple the recipes and then you’ll have leftovers to freeze for later on.
For weeknights, use simple ingredients and quick cooking techniques, like grilling or sautéing. Choose whole foods, rather than processed, and opt for fruits and vegetables that are in season. They simply taste better and have more nutritional value.
In terms of simplicity, check out the recipes below for spice-rubbed grilled chicken and grilled Caesar salad. Prep takes a matter of minutes and everything is cooked outside so there’s not a lot of mess to clean up!
Involve Your Family
The best way I’ve found to get my family to eat what I prepare is to get them involved, especially my son. When kids get to choose foods and help in the preparation, they’re more likely to eat it. Plus, they’re learning valuable skills that will help them later on.
Even though restaurants are open, it’s still very important to practice good hygiene and social distancing when dining out. Most restaurants are doing everything they can to make their dining rooms safe for guests. This is one of the industries that has been hit the hardest, so I do think it’s important to support your local restaurant.
When dining out, instead of eating inside the restaurant, ask if they have outdoor seating. Or better yet, call in an order and pick it up yourself. Many restaurants offer curbside pickup where you don’t need to get out of your car; curbside also supports the restaurant’s bottom line since it doesn’t use a third-party delivery service.
Yes, this has been a very challenging time filled with ups and downs, it’s been an incredible opportunity to learn how to cook, make healthier decisions and develop stronger bonds with family members. Those are some pretty great achievements in my book. So, let’s keep these great habits and emerge from this time of adversity stronger and wiser!
From the kitchen of Chef Tse
Makes about ½ cup
1 cup packed fresh parsley
¼ cup packed basil
¼ cup chopped chives
3/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons ground cumin
½ teaspoon salt, (optional)
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ teaspoon dried crushed red pepper (optional)
Blend parsley, basil, chives, olive oil, vinegar, oregano, cumin, salt, garlic, and crushed red pepper in food processor or mortar and pestle until smooth. Alternately, chop herbs finely and mix with remaining ingredients. Keeps one week in the refrigerator.
Apple and Shallot Dressing
From the kitchen of Chef Tse
Makes about 1/2 cup
3 tablespoons finely grated apple
1 teaspoon finely grated shallot
1/2 teaspoon finely grated ginger
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Whisk together apple, shallot, ginger, vinegar, Dijon in a small bowl with a pinch of salt and pepper. Slowly whisk in olive oil. For a creamier dressing, blend together all ingredients except oil. Once smooth, keep the blender running and slowly add the oil. Serve over mixed greens.
Nutritional information per tablespoon: Calories: 64; total fat: 7g; cholesterol: 0mg; sodium: 13mg; carbohydrate: 1g; total dietary fiber: 0g; protein: 0g
Grilled Spice-Rubbed Chicken
From the kitchen of Chef Tse
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
4 8-ounce boneless skinless chicken breasts
Vegetable oil for grill
In a small bowl, mix together paprika, black pepper, cumin, cayenne, chili powder, and garlic powder. Rub all over chicken; wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.
Preheat grill for medium-high heat. Brush grill lightly with a paper towel dipped in vegetable oil. Season chicken with salt if desired. Sear on the hottest part of grill, about 1 to 2 minutes per side. Move chicken to the cooler part of grill. Close lid and cook, turning occasionally until internal temperature registers 160 degrees, another 7 to 10 minutes. Let chicken rest five minutes. Slice diagonally and serve.
Nutritional information per serving: Calories: 197; total fat: 3g; cholesterol: 97mg; sodium (not including additional seasoning): 119mg; carbohydrate: 2g; total dietary fiber: 1g; protein: 39g
Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad
From the kitchen of Chef Tse
Serves 4 as a side salad
1 egg yolk*
1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, divided
1/4 cup vegetable oil plus extra for brushing grill
1 anchovy filet, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, 1 peeled and grated, 1 peeled and whole
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 9-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut in half
1 large slice sourdough bread
2 heads Romaine, cut in half lengthwise
Salt and pepper
Preheat grill for medium-high heat. Mix together egg yolk, 1 teaspoon Dijon and a pinch of salt in a medium bowl. Once incorporated, add vegetable oil very slowly, whisking constantly. Mix in anchovy filet, grated garlic, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, and Parmesan. Slowly whisk in 2 tablespoons olive oil. Set dressing aside.
Season chicken breast on both sides with a small pinch of salt. Brush bread with remaining olive oil.
Brush grill with paper towel dipped in vegetable oil. Sear chicken on both sides on the hottest part of grill, about 1 minute per side. Move chicken to the cooler part of grill and cook another 7 to 8 minutes (internal temperature should reach 165 degrees). Remove and let rest.
Toast both sides of bread on grill. Rub lightly with remaining clove of garlic and cut into croutons. Brush cut side of each romaine with 1 tablespoon dressing. Reserve remaining dressing for another use. Grill romaine cut side down until grill marks appear and lettuce begins to wilt slightly, about 1 minute.
Slice chicken thinly and add to lettuce with croutons, and freshly ground pepper.
* This recipe uses raw egg yolk. When serving to young children, the elderly or women who are pregnant, use pasteurized eggs instead.
Nutritional information per serving: Calories: 234; total fat: 9g; cholesterol: 55mg; sodium (not including additional seasoning): 248mg; carbohydrate: 19g; total dietary fiber: 4g; protein: 20g
About Chef Tse
After 12 years in marketing and sales, Tse shed her corporate responsibilities and headed to France. There she studied both cuisine and pastry at Le Cordon Bleu Paris, finishing first in both disciplines. After graduation, she turned her sights on Parisian kitchens, completing a grueling internship at Le Restaurant Guy Savoy, a three Michelin-star restaurant. She then studied pastry at the internationally famous Pierre Hermé making macarons, cakes, and composed desserts.
When she returned to the U.S., Tse was a regular guest KATU Channel 2’s AM Northwest cooking seasonal ingredients with the hosts. Tse also became the Healthy Cooking Ambassador for Regence BlueCross BlueShield teaching cooking classes, filming videos, doing demos and creating recipes. She joined the Providence team in 2016, overseeing the operations at three cafes at Saint Vincent Hospital. Tse has also spent seven years teaching students at all three Portland culinary schools: The Art Institute of Portland's International Culinary Program, Le Cordon Bleu and Oregon Culinary Institute. She is now a Culinary Consultant for Sysco Portland where she helps restaurants with menu design, recipe development and staff training.
About the AuthorMore Content by Providence Nutrition Team