Saturday, April 22, 2017

Using food pantry staples to make filling meals

Food is a big part of my life. For me, it’s almost like art. I love looking at it, learning about it, and of course consuming it. I follow a lot of food blogs and restaurants because I love looking at everyone’s creations.

That being said, it can be so easy for me to forget that food is a painful topic for some people because it’s not always available and they have to worry about when they’ll get their next meal.

The amount of people that suffer from food insecurity in Indiana alone is heartbreaking. According to Midwest and Gleaners Food Banks, more than 1 million people in Indiana suffer from food insecurity, and one out of every six Hoosiers don’t know where their next meal will come from.

When I was in elementary school, my mom would pack me big lunches everyday. I remember in the fifth grade, one of my classmates would ask me for my leftovers. I never thought anything of it, and I gave them to her. One day when we were at computer class, she left to “go to the bathroom.” But in actuality she went back to the classroom to get in my lunchbox, and my teacher caught her eating my food.

We had a private meeting with the teacher about it. Our teacher asked her why she stole my food. She said she stole it because she was hungry. It made me so so sad for her. 

That’s why the recipes in this blog post are a little different. This week FOX59 teamed up with Midwest and Gleaners Food Banks to raise money to fight hunger. They asked me to create a few recipes using items at the food pantry to give patrons an idea of what they can make. So I visited Old Bethel & Partners Food Pantry, and these are the recipes I came up with! I really wanted to focus on filling recipes that can be stretched out to feed a lot of people.

When I visited the food pantry, I learned that yogurt and frozen fruit are most always available for patrons. There's also usually a fresh fruit option and granola. That's what inspired me to makes these yogurt parfaits. Use any frozen or fresh fruit you want, and if granola isn't available, use dry cereal!

Fruit & Yogurt Parfaits
  • 1/4 cup granola, plus 1 Tablespoon for sprinkling on top*
  • 1/4 cup frozen blueberries, plus 1 Tablespoon for sprinkling on top*
  • 1 cup yogurt, any flavor
  • 1 strawberry*
  1. Add 1/4 cup granola to bowl or mason jar. Layer 1/4 cup frozen blueberries and yogurt on top.
  2. Finish off by adding another Tablespoon of granola and frozen blueberries. Finish with a strawberry on top.
  3. Can be made up to three days in advance.
*You can substitute dry cereal for granola, and you can use any frozen or fresh fruit.

Eggs are obviously a good breakfast choice and a good source of protein, and they're available at the food pantry. However, patrons are generally limited to only taking one dozen. On the other hand, they had an abundance of English muffins, in fact, you could take as many as you needed. That's why I decided to make Egg "McMuffin" Style Sandwiches. It's more filling than just one egg, and you can make your egg supply last longer.

Egg Breakfast Sandwich
  • 1 English muffin
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 Tablespoon cheese, if available
  1. Split your English muffin with a fork and toast it by laying both sides face down on a skillet for about 1.5 minutes. Add cheese to 1 muffin half and set aside.
  2. Lay the ring of a mason jar lid onto the skillet crack an egg, and pour it into the ring. Use a fork to break the yolk so it flows into the white but it's not completely scrambled. Cook the egg for about 2.5 minutes or until the white firms up.
  3. Remove the mason jar ring and carefully flip the egg. Cook for an additional minute and remove from skillet. Place egg on the muffin half with the cheese.
  4. Eat immediately or make ahead up to 3 days in advance.

The pantry always has a meat option available. Sometimes it's canned chicken, sometimes it's beef. But lately the pantry has been getting in whole frozen chickens. Some patrons may be overwhelmed by a whole chicken, but they're very easy to cook. 

Also, canned vegetables and rice are generally available, and this is a good way to use them up! I even added eggs for added protein to make it more filling. 

And they most always have lettuce which can be used with the chicken fried rice to make chicken lettuce wraps. This is great for leftovers. It's also a good idea because anytime you add a leafy vegetable it's going to be more filling.

Chicken Fried Rice
  • 2 Tablespoons oil
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 3 eggs
  • 4 cups rice
  • 1 pound chicken, cooked
  • 1 can mixed vegetables
  • 5 Tablespoons soy sauce
  1. Prepare rice according to package instructions and cook chicken ahead of time.*
  2. Heat oil in large skillet on low and add green onions and garlic and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring intermittently.
  3. Push onion and garlic to one side of pan with spatula, and add eggs to empty side. Scramble eggs and cook until no longer runny. Stir everything back together so it's evenly distributed throughout pan.
  4. Add rice, chicken, and mixed vegetables, and drizzle soy sauce evenly on top. Stir until everything is combined and heated through, about 2 minutes.
  5. Serve immediately or keep in airtight container in refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  6. *If using a whole, frozen chicken let thaw before cooking and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 1.5 to 2 hours. Remove chicken meat from bones and dice into bite-size pieces.

1 comment:

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