We’re all trying to figure out this new world we find ourselves in. Here are some solutions that have helped my family and I feel well.
I hope they may be useful to you, too.
Cook with a sous vide.
It goes without saying that grocery shopping isn’t easy right now. The way my family utilizes this method of cooking (which involves putting items in a temperature-controlled water bath) requires minimal ingredients. It’s also easy, healthy and it cooks food to perfection. Sous vides aren’t cheap, but you can get a good one for $50-100. Keep an eye out for sales; we snagged one for $30.
I recommend starting with fish. Here’s how Sajid, my husband and our home’s resident sous vide expert, prepares salmon:
I suggest using frozen fish, both for convenience and because deep freezing kills the parasites common in wild fish. Fresh farmed salmon is also good but needs to be consumed within three hours of leaving a refrigerator. For fresh-farmed salmon, 140F is the minimum temperature needed to kill food-borne bacteria and parasites. If your fish was deep frozen, you can safely cook at a much lower temperature and achieve better taste and texture. In our house we prefer 120F.
Here’s a quick how-to.
For a 1.5 pound salmon: cut the fish into 4 portions. Generously salt and pepper the fish, and place fillets in a zip-top freezer bag (you’ll probably need two bags; the pieces should not overlap). Add herbsto the bags. Fresh is better but dried herbs work too. Sajid suggests 2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme, oregano, dill, or rosemary (if using dried versions, lightly coat the fish during the salt/pepper step). Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil per piece of fish to each bag.
Fill a large pot or container with water. Secure the sous vide to the side of the container. Remove all the air from the bag using the water displacement method: hold the bag (except the zipper) under water. Zip in a way that forces all air out, without letting water in.
Set the immersion circulator to the desired temperature. Place sealed bags in the water bath. Cook for 45 minutes (if the fish is thicker than 2 inches, cook for 60 minutes), then remove fish from the bags and either sear skin-side-down in a pan or serve right away.
Note that these cook times apply whether the salmon is fresh or frozen. Either way you’ll end up with a beautifully cooked piece of fish that is pasteurized and safe for immunocompromised diners.
We also love to sous vide chicken, beef, and even vegetables. You can find cook times and temperatures online.
It’s hard to be motivated to exercise right now. Fitness is one of my core values, and I’ve struggled to get moving. But it always makes me feel better.
Physical activity is massively helpful for physical and mental wellbeing. In coping with this moment, it may be more important than ever to do things that can help us feel good.
I know our options are limited. Gyms are closed. Classes are canceled cancelled. But, do what you can. Walk, run, bike, or do a home routine (I created a free 40-minute CARDIO CORE workout video that you can get on my website, marcisharif.com).
Whichever method you choose, exercise releases stress, stirs up feel-good chemicals, and elicits a sense of strength, resilience, mental clarity and even productivity. It is a critical part of a healthy and well-rounded life – and it’s even more vital as we try to stay sane and grounded right now.
Do some mental exercise too.
The unprecedented challenges of this moment are bound to elicit wavering mental and emotional states. Meditation can help. Even just a few minutes each day adds up and can help you feel steadier.
One of the biggest takeaways from my recent practice is the recognition that my fear is a choice. It’s a beautifully human choice — this how our minds work! We find problems and we laser in. So, without beating myself up, I attempt to respect this human quality and the feelings themselves, then take the load off. I usually find a lot of freedom and relief when I choose to set my afflictions aside.
There are wonderful meditation apps. I also have free guided recordings under the free stuff tab on marcisharif.com.
I hope these tips help you to feel well. I pray that you stay well, too.
Marci Izard Sharif is an author, yoga teacher, meditation facilitator and mother. In Feeling Matters, she writes about self-love, sharing self-care tools, stories and resources that center around knowing and being kind to yourself.