Earlier this week I browsed the internet for a "polar vortex survival diet" and found none.
I did find some good common sense on various health sites about avoiding caffeine and alcohol, especially if you are venturing outside.
For instance, caffeine, as well as nicotine, narrows the blood vessels, making it harder for limbs to stay warm. Caffeine also speeds up heat loss, as does alcohol.
But other than stocking up on basic supplies, I found no dietary tips for keeping warm or the best foods to eat during a polar vortex.
So I decided to create my own.
Obviously a good polar vortex diet should be nutritionally sound and use common ingredients one might find at home, especially since even the thought of an impromptu visit to the grocery store for hemp milk or black currant juice makes one retreat under a warm afghan.
Recipes should also be REALLY simple to prepare. This provides the double blessing of leaving the recliner for as little time as possible and bringing any children or grandchildren who might be spending the day with you into the fun of preparing a meal.
BTW, these recipes are all tried and true (meaning my family and I have cooked them over the years and that's the truth).
1/4 cup heavy cream or milk
1 cup cheese
2 cups sauteed vegetables (fresh, frozen or leftover)
Whisk eggs and cream. Add remaining ingredients. Spray a baking pan or cast iron skillet (I prefer the latter) with non-stick cooking spray. Bake at 375 degrees until set.
2 cups milk (fresh or reconstituted powdered)
1 to 2 eggs
1/4 cup oil
2 cups flour (I prefer whole wheat, but while is fine)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 brown (preferred) or white sugar
Mix together wet ingredients separately from the dry ones and then fold the dry ones into the liquid and gently mix to combine. Spray pan with nonstick spray and drop batter by spoonfuls into pan. Cook until dry at edges and bubbles appear. Flip and cook a few more seconds. Serve with butter, syrup, fresh or frozen fruit or whatever you like on pancakes.
Homemade hot chocolate
¼ cup cocoa
½ cup sugar
1/3 cup water
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Vanilla ice cream (optional)
Combine cocoa and sugar; add water and stir. Heat until mixture simmers. Add milk, stir again, and heat until sugar/cocoa mixture is dissolved. Remove from heat, add vanilla, stir, and serve. Top with ice cream (any flavor you have in the freezer).
Chicken noodle soup
Boneless chicken breasts, cooked and chopped
Canned chicken broth or bouillon cubes
Noodles, cooked (any shape)
Frozen chopped carrots (or fresh carrots, chopped ) OR bag of mixed vegetables
Combine all ingredients to taste. Heat and serve.
Sausage and bean soup
1 to 2 pounds precooked kielbasa, sliced
Canned chicken broth or bouillon cubes
1 to 2 cans white beans, drained (or dried navy beans, soaked overnight and then cooked until soft)
1 small or medium onion, chopped
Frozen chopped carrots
Saute onion in oil until soft. Add sausage and saute until browned. Add remaining ingredients. Heat and serve.
1 (or more) packages of ramen (my favorite is creamy chicken)
Lean meat, cooked and diced (my favorite is boneless chicken breast)
Vegetables, cooked (my favorite is broccoli)
Cook ramen to package directions. Add meat and vegetables. Heat and serve.
1 box macaroni and cheese
1 pound ground beef, turkey, or chicken.
Cook macaroni and cheese to package directions. Meanwhile, cook meat in separate pan and drain. Combine, heat and serve.
Top any frozen pizza with sauteed vegetables, leftover meat and grated cheese before baking for a heartier meal.
Baked acorn squash with easy apple sauce
Peel, core and chop a few apples. Simmer on with a little sugar, water and (optional) cinnamon for about 20 minutes or so. Mash. Halve squash, scoop out seeds and discard. Fill cavities with apple sauce. Bake at 350 degrees until squash is fork-tender.
Peel, core and slice some apples. Saute in butter until soft. Add a little brown sugar. Serve.
Melt butter and brown sugar together; add cinnamon and oatmeal. Or skip the sugar and use instant flavored oatmeal. Place any type of fruit in a nonstick pan and sprinkle a little water over it. Crumble the dry mixture over the top. Bake at 350 until top is cooked and fruit is warm.
2 ½ cups warm water
1 tablespoon yeast
6 to 8 cups flour
Dissolve yeast in water (may add a bit of sugar to help it foam). When yeast bubbles, pour mixture into a bowl, adding flour a cup at a time until a stiff dough forms. Knead for ten minutes, shape into loaves (or bears, see photo), add yes, etc. with chocolate chips or raisins. Place in greased baking pans. Let rise for 1 hour, then bake at 350 for 1 hour.
Dress the dinner table
Here's an activity to keep the kids busy and make the food even more fun to eat.
Open all the junk mail lying around and remove the inside paperwork. Set the envelopes aside. We'll be using them, too.
Have the kids scribble over the papers with crayon, marker, colored pencil, water colors, etc. Then cut into strips and weave into place mats.
Tape the ends together with whatever tape you have (Used up all the cellophane tape at Christmas? Duct tape adds a nice silvery finish and masking tape a rustic one).
Now have the kids draw winter scenes on the backs of the envelopes. Tape the results together and use for a runner for the kitchen table.
But everyone eats in front of the TV? Fine. Place the runner down the coffee table and gather 'round. Suggested movies: "Frozen" or "The Day After Tomorrow."
And enjoy! For in a few months, we'll need "heat wave survival recipes."