Tips on Fighting COVID-19 and a Recipe for (a) Disaster

Recipe For Disaster

By: Monica Rosenberg, RN, BLOC Lead Intern

The author responding to the pandemic in Long Island, New York at a COVID-19 testing center. They are testing around 1,000 per day at this location.

My name is Monica Rosenberg. I am a BLOC Lead Intern Coach, Nutrition Coach, Youth Barbell Coach, as well as a Registered Nurse. I wear many hats and a mask at work when I have to. I live in Long Island, New York, about a 45-minute train ride from Manhattan. The city that never sleeps—one that is usually hustling and bustling with activity (plays, bars, protests, parades, concerts, restaurants, stores, and crowded subways) has gone silent. I had tickets for a Broadway show next week, and it turns out the show must not go on after all. 

Here’s why that’s a good thing: COVID-19 (Coronavirus) spreads by droplets containing the virus (from breathing, coughing, or sneezing), as far as we know. The less we are packed in like sardines, the less we will spread this disease from person to person. Any contaminated bodily fluids would have to make CONTACT with an orifice or opening such as the eyes, nose, mouth, or broken skin like a cut. I am not here to say whether or not you should wear a mask, but I do want you to know that once you touch your face to take off a mask (INCLUDING pulling it below your nose/face), that mask is dirty and can now spread infection. They are NOT reusable. Whatever you have TOUCHED between putting on the mask and taking off the mask now lives on the mask and is closer to all of those vulnerable openings mentioned earlier.

So, how else can we be proactive? We’ve taken the precaution of reducing crowds, which is a great step. Next is to reduce transmission with regular hand hygiene. 

The overt message has been to wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. I’m on board with this; it is a tale as old as time. There are two points that are commonly left out: water temperature and friction. You see, much like lasagna baked into your favorite cooking pan…you need warm water and some elbow grease in addition to soap to scrub that off. Running water over soapy hands alone will not get the job done. We have to rub our hands together well, which will not only create heat but help scrape the microorganisms off your hands. This is the key!

What else can we do? A great idea to reduce the risk of infection would be to keep nails trimmed short. Have you ever eaten hot wings or ribs and gotten sauce stuck under your nails? The longer the nails, the more guck you can harbor there. I don’t mean to put the “cry” in acrylics, but it’s an overlooked aspect of disease transmission.

Finally, when you sanitize—whether you are using hand sanitizer or wiping down your favorite bar at one of the few still-open commercial gyms—let it dry. When you wipe a surface with a sanitizing wipe,  before and after use, let the cleaner DRY FULLY before you are anyone else uses the surface so organisms can be killed. The same goes for hand sanitizer, gotta keep scrubbing until it’s completely dry.

In essence:

  • A mask is dirty as soon as it is removed from your face/pulled below your nose or mouth
  • Wash your hands with warm water and friction
  • Trim your nails neat and short
  • Make sure sanitizers dry completely

Stay-at-Home Broth and Lazy Soup

Not feeling well? Stay home. Let’s make some broth packed with vitamins and minerals instead. Will it ward off sickness? No, that’s silly. However, if you have a sore throat or congestion, liquids (water, tea, soup, etc.) may soothe the throat and thin the mucous, which may help reduce the organisms from spreading lower in your respiratory system. The broth is a skeleton that I use in other recipes for cooking but also good to use as a “lazy soup” base. (Lazy soup = the broth + some rice/pasta, and/or leftover veggies + leftover protein source of your choice.) Heat it up together and BAM. Soup with less sodium and more nutrients than in a can, and it’s mostly from leftovers! 

Here’s the broth recipe:

Ingredients

  • A handful of vegetable ends/scraps/stems saved through the week (Ex: onions, garlic, carrots, celery tops, cilantro/basil)
  • A potato
  • Some celery
  • Carrots
  • Bay leaf
  • Spices: a few dashes of black pepper, basil, red pepper flakes, parsley

Let’s start by filling a big pot about halfway with water. Then, salt the water as if you were making pasta. As it starts to boil, add in your scraps, spices, and other ingredients. You can leave the potato, celery, and carrots whole or sliced in half, keep it easy to scoop out for later. Boil for 45-60 minutes where it will turn dark and then let simmer for a few hours. Now, scoop all the scraps and peels out. Mission accomplished: a well-bodied vegetable stock. 

From here, you can wilt spinach, add beans, or whatever else you would like, but I typically store it as a basic broth. Later on, I add things to make it a complete soup on more of an individual basis. That way, not every container is the same old story and flavor. One day, you can have chicken and rice soup, the next a meatball and spinach, another day you can add noodles, meat, and veggies to make ramen, etc. It leaves more possibilities open while keeping the work and ingredients simple, which at a time like this, we could all appreciate. Lastly, you can freeze a few containers, so you always have fresh stock on hand for cooking or a soup base. It is low cost, low stress, but highly effective. If I end up freezing some veggie scraps when I have too many, I just take a hearty handful from each bag to make the broth.

Note: You can add some bones to beef it up while cooking (pun intended) if you have them, but this is more of a minimalistic recipe. It’s meant to be able for someone to use what they have at home to prevent them from running off to the crowded store during this tumultuous time. If you do have meat bones for soup, add some cooking time to really extract everything from the bones. Finally, be sure to strain carefully as the cooking process can break off pieces of broth into smaller pieces.

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