Make Nourishing Meals During Quarantine With These Easy Tips

image courtesy fair fare

Plus, a recipe for a 5-ingredient Chickpea Provençal.

Faryn Thompson, founder of an online food resource called Fair Fare, has just released an e-cookbook titled Nourish filled with, yes, nourishing recipes that are uncomplicated enough to make with ease during quarantine.

“The whole point of the e-book is to keep things simple, not feel intimidated, and encourage people to be inspired and confident to create on their own, and use these recipes as a guideline,” says Thompson.

Based in Toronto, where she grew up cooking and gardening, Thompson travelled to Bali in 2019 to study permaculture, a design system for ecological and sustainable farming. The experience renewed her interest in growing her own food and exploring the connection between gardening and eating, leading her to launch Fair Fare in February 2020.

“Growing your own food, cooking simple meals, and using more natural products is a way to care for yourself,” says Thompson. “A lot of us are disconnected from the the products we buy to eat, but there’s something so powerful about growing your own food. You don’t need a huge garden—you can even just start sprouting your own seeds in a little Tupperware container or mason jar. It’s as easy as buying seeds from your local grocery store or garden centre, planting them in soil as per the package instructions and finding a sunny spot on your counter for them to thrive.”

Read on for more tips from Thompson on how to provide and experience nourishment during this challenging time, as well as a recipe from her e-book, which is available for purchase here (and is donating 44% of the proceeds to food-based charities in Toronto until June 1).

1. Keep it simple
“It is very natural and a little too easy to get caught up and overwhelmed by lengthy, multi-ingredient recipes, which can often result in throwing in the towel and eating a bag of chips for dinner. The truth is, we are just overthinking it. Take things back to basics and make yourself something truly simple (think: scrambled eggs and toast, roasted vegetables or a salad with all the vegetables in your fridge and whatever nuts and seeds you have lying around). When we give ourselves permission to keep things simple, we avoid the inevitable feeling of settling for snack food when faced with the task of determining what’s for dinner.”

2. Use what you’ve got
“Rather than seeing recipes as a formal set of rules, look at them instead as a loose roadmap to follow while cooking. Many recipes can accommodate a simple swap based on what you have on hand. If, for example, a recipe calls for a yellow onion, often it will taste just as delicious with an equal amount of red onion, Spanish onion, shallot or even leeks. Similarly, if a dish features white beans but all you have is chickpeas or some other type of legume, give it a try! When we give ourselves permission to play around and get creative, we open ourselves to a whole new world of possibilities and often find a delicious new rendition of a recipe in the process.”

3. Listen to yourself
“With so many definitions of what it means to eat “healthy”, we’ve lost the ability to listen to ourselves and what we need. How many times have we reached for a salad or green juice when really our body is calling for something totally different? Quiet the noise and listen to what your body is telling you. If you feel like a salad, wonderful! If you feel like a box of macaroni and cheese, great! It is all about the process of how we enjoy it. Rather than scarfing it down over the stove, serve it in your favourite bowl or plate, add some fresh herbs or ground pepper and savour every bite.”

4. Get the most out of your ingredients
“To maximize the use of my produce and minimize food waste, I keep a large zip-top bag in my freezer and every time I cook, I add my vegetable scraps to it. Everything goes in there – garlic and ginger peels, kale stems, carrot tops etc. Once the bag is full, it’s time to make vegetable stock! In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat a few Tbs olive oil, empty the contents of the bag and sauté for 3-5 minutes until fragrant. Add a few cloves of fresh smashed garlic, a roughly chopped onion, any woody herbs you have on hand and a generous seasoning of salt and cracked black pepper. Stir and add enough water to fill about ¾ of the pot, or until the vegetables are just floating. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for at least 45 minutes (the longer it simmers, the more flavourful it becomes). Strain and store in the fridge or freezer until needed.”

5. Add fresh herbs
“The simplest thing I can suggest for novice gardeners is to buy a few pre-potted herbs to nurture for the summer season. Fresh herbs are very simple to maintain, don’t take up a lot of space and it is remarkable what a difference they make in terms of flavour and freshness. They can dress up simple pasta dishes, add amazing flavour to salads and bring vibrancy to any meal. Basil and parsley alone will transform your experience in the kitchen. Stir them into sauces, rice, marinades or to top soups, salads and fish. I also love to add a big handful to smoothies for a hit of herbaceous flavour. The possibilities are endless!”

image courtesy Fair Fare

Chickpea Provençal (from Thompson’s e-book Nourish)

¼ cup olive oil, used separately
3 cloves garlic, minced
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
1 (398ml) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 (796ml) can diced tomatoes or 8 large tomatoes, diced
2 very thick slices sourdough bread, torn into small pieces
1 bunch flat leaf parsley, including stems, roughly chopped

1. Preheat oven to 375F.
2. In a large, oven-friendly heavy-bottomed pot, saute garlic in 2 Tbs olive oil until fragrant, but not browned (2 minutes). Season liberally with salt and pepper.
3. Add chickpeas and stir to combine. Saute for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Add tomatoes and stir to combine. Remove from heat. Top with sourdough, parsley and remaining 2 Tbs olive oil.
5. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the tomatoes are bubbling and the sourdough is golden brown and crisp. Enjoy immediately.

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