Sprinkle Some Extra Health into Your Day

By Brandy Carrillo, UC Davis Healthy Aggies Peer Counselor

With everything going on in the world right now, maintaining a healthy lifestyle can seem very overwhelming and out of reach. Healthy living isn’t confined to how many hours you worked out this week or eating salad for every single meal, it’s composed of simple small things we can do daily to improve overall wellness.

Today I’ll be honing in on the nutritional component of healthy living and sharing 5 tips and tricks to help boost the nutritional value of our food and improve your overall health.

Tip #1: Hydration is Key

We all know that it’s super important for you to enough water throughout the day, but it’s even better to start off your day with a full glass of water. As we sleep, our bodies can lose a fair amount of water through breathing, sweating, etc., so when get up each morning, we’re essentially waking up from 8 hours of dehydration. Hydrating first thing in the morning before any food can help curb any pseudo-hunger, aid your digestion and rehydrate your skin.

Tip #2: Incorporate Some Super Seeds

Seeds are the starting point for complex adult plants, so it makes a lot of sense that they’re extremely healthy and nutritious. Seeds are little pockets packed with fiber, unsaturated fats, minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. Incorporating seeds is super simple and easy and can help improve the nutritional value of your meal! You can add any of these to a salad, oatmeal, smoothie, cereal… the possibilities are endless!

  • Flax seeds are a great source of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids! (But make sure to grind them first because of their fibrous outer shell)
  •  Pumpkin seeds are a really good source of minerals like phosphorous and manganese, unsaturated fats, and omega-6 fatty acids
  • Hemp seeds are great source of plant based protein and are one of the few plant foods that are a complete protein (they contain all the essential amino acids)

Tip #3: Use Veggies as Your Food Foundation

When cooking a meal, a good rule of thumb is to fill up half your plate vegetables. But to take this tip to another level, you can use vegetables as the focal point and build the rest of your meal from there. This not only increases your vegetable intake, but also helps with portion control and intuitive eating. Some of my favorites include using spiraled zucchini, spaghetti squash, and cauliflower rice. Doing this for one of your meals will definitely help you achieve the daily recommended intake of 2 to 3 cups of veggies for the average adult.

Tip #4: Vitamin C and Iron are Best Friends

Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in the U.S. Iron is crucial to your body’s ability to transport oxygen throughout your body and a deficiency  can eventually result in anemia. One tip I have is to pair vitamin C rich foods with iron rich foods as vitamin C helps improve our body’s absorption of iron.

Some foods high in vitamin C include:

  • Strawberry
  • Orange
  • Lemon
  • Bell pepper

Foods high in iron include:

  • Spinach
  • Legumes
  • Beef
  • Shellfish
  • Quinoa

Tip #5: Chew Your Food

I know this tip may seem a bit silly and obvious… but hear me out. Something as simple as taking the extra time to chew your food for a bit longer can maximize the nutritional value of your food and aid digestion. Chewing more thoroughly essentially helps increase your food’s surface area and makes it easier for the enzymes in your body to break down your food and absorb those nutrients a lot more effectively. It also improves digestion since we’re not eating large chunks of food and eating quickly.

Healthy eating isn’t about swearing off specific foods but more so about incorporating smaller steps into your usual eating habits to create a healthier eating pattern over a period of time. You can definitely tweak a few things here and there in your typical eating habits that will build up your nutritional health in the long run.  What things have you tried lately?

Out With the Smoke, In With the New

By Rebecca Rinck, Healthy Aggies Intern

About a week ago, I got up early, got my coffee, and did my usual morning routine intending to have a relaxing but productive day. I had just moved into my new apartment in Davis, so I wanted to take a long walk outside and do some exploring, and maybe even visit the campus cows! However, much to my dismay, the familiar smell of wildfire smoke instantly hit me as soon as I stepped outside. While I have previously dealt with the side effects of smoke inhalation from wildfires living in California all my life, they were never in the volume, length, or intensity of these past few months. The unprecedented blaze of wildfires rolling through the west coast, plus the existing COVID-19 pandemic, brings about an urgency to protect our lungs!

The common effects of smoke inhalation include coughing, wheezing, dry throat, irritated sinuses, and headaches. I don’t know about you, but feeling ill is the last thing I want right now with school just starting. And while it is ideal to stay inside away from any possible contamination, this is unfortunately not realistic. So, while these do not claim to “cure” any side effect from smoke inhalation, here are some at-home treatments that helped me feel a bit better:

Wear a Mask – Start with prevention.

But not just any mask, as they do not filter out the small particles that are found in wildfire smoke. Instead, it is recommended to wear a particulate respiratory mask or an N95 mask, if available. I was thankful to have saved some for use during the pandemic.

Drink Water

I know this is what everyone tells you, but trust me, they’re right. The dryer your throat gets, the worse it feels. Drink plenty of water or use a cough-drop to help soothe your throat! Staying hydrated can also aid sinus irritation by keeping your nasal passages moist. Additionally, smoke inhalation can cause particles to get trapped in your lungs, and water helps flush them out.

Use a Humidifier or Vaporizer

I originally bought a humidifier to use for my houseplants, but it has been life-changing for my dry throat during the fire season. Breathing steam can also help moisten your throat and nasal passages. Additionally, putting the essential oils in thyme and eucalyptus into your diffuser or humidifier can help loosen phlegm so you can naturally cough them out. Don’t have a humidifier? Stovetop steaming is also an easy method to nourish the lungs. Fill a large pot with water and your preferred herbs, then boil!

Eat Extra Citrus Fruits

Citrus fruits have immune-boosting vitamin C, and Vitamin C is a natural antioxidant! These fruits also contain bioflavonoids that have anti-inflammatory and anti-allergenic properties that may help calm airways back down after irritation. Good thing I already have a stock of Cuties tangerines!


Ginger appears to have natural detoxifying properties; it can be prepared in numerous ways but my favorite is as tea or eaten as a ginger chew. It is a favorite in my family for just about anything because of its immune system boosting properties. My grandma always made me ginger tea, and my aunt still carries ginger chews in her purse!

Using any of the ideas above may help with the short-term effects and the long-term effects of wildfire smoke inhalation and also help with irritations that wintery air can bring! Let us know if you have your own for us to try!

Feel Comfort from “Comfort Foods” Without the Guilt


By Rebecca Rinck, Healthy Aggies Intern

As we all continue spending more time at home you may struggle with wanting to be productive, but also crave immersion into more fun projects. Creative or soothing projects allow us to forget the pandemic and allow stress to sit off to the side. Cooking and baking have been especially popular, and are clinically proven to provide comfort, allowing for de-stressing. I, for one, have lost count of how many baked goods I have made during my time at home. And with decreased movement from staying-at-home, I have a desire to feel the comfort from “comfort foods” without the guilt.

The ingredients that make comfort foods so inviting are usually high in saturated fats, such as red meat, butter, cheese, and cream. The USDA advises to limit intake of saturated fats to reduce risk of heart disease and decrease levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol.  Additionally, comfort foods typically contain rice, pasta, and noodles, all refined carbohydrates. While they are tasty, they may lead to quickly elevated glucose levels and a shortened feeling of satiety. Don’t be alarmed, limit does not mean eliminate! The idea is to be cognizant of the amount of these types of foods you’re consuming and making substitutions when possible, while combining them with protein rich foods.

Things to try:

  1. Try using whole wheat pasta or brown rice, or even replace them with vegetable versions like riced cauliflower or zucchini noodles. Maybe do half whole wheat, to start. Whole grains and whole-grain flours take longer to digest, have more nutrients, and will leave you feeling full for longer.
  2. Replace highly saturated fats with alternatives such as nonfat Greek yogurt, low-fat cheeses, or even vegan dairy products. Using vegetable oils to replace butter can provide essential fatty acids, vitamin E, and also improve levels of “good” HDL cholesterol. Another example – when you make brownies, play around with using a healthy fat, such as avocado, instead of butter.
  3. If Grandma’s recipe for Mac N’ Cheese is too good to change, reduce your serving amount and pair it with plenty of greens. The USDA recommends consuming 7-9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day to help reduce intake of fatty foods and keep you feeling full for longer.

If you’re like me, you’ve been finding yourself reaching for a second serving of mashed potatoes, but then maybe remembered you skipped your morning workout and decided against it. Wait, why did I do that? Why did I feel so guilty? Maybe those mashed potatoes aren’t the most nutritionally beneficial for me, but I think it would have made me feel good. Food plays many roles and comfort is one of them.  Don’t feel guilty for trying to make yourself feel better in times of extreme stress and unknown.  Recognize your feelings and cravings.  Allow yourself one or two snacks. Make adjustments where you can, and look to other activities such as meditation to help reduce the temptation to stress-eat.

Do you have a favorite comfort food?  Let us know!

Nutritional Benefits of Summer Fruit


nutr benefits summer

By Marisa Morales, Nutrition Peer Counselor, UC Davis Healthy Aggies

It is an undeniable fact of life that fruit is one of nature’s greatest gifts. This deliciously sweet, and at times sour, product can be used in a variety of dishes from smoothies to oatmeal to water to salad to much more. While some fruits are available year-round, other fruits have a prime season in which they are tastier, fresher, and cheaper. Look below at some of the fruits Summer has to offer and their many nutritional benefits!

  • Blackberries– This rich purple berry is the perfect addition to a bowl of yogurt or oatmeal. It is packed full of antioxidants to help prevent or slow damage to our cells, vitamin C to stimulate collagen production, and vitamin K to aid in blood clotting for wound healing. Blackberries are best between mid-May and late June but be sure not to rinse them until right before you eat to prevent them from getting soggy and moldy too soon.
  • Cherries– From yellow-red to very dark red, this small stone fruit contains very beneficial nutrients. Anthocyanin, a compound in cherries that gives its red pigmentation, is an antioxidant protecting us from damaging free radicals. They are also loaded with anti-inflammatory molecules and potassium, an electrolyte vital for water balance. Interestingly, cherries naturally contain melatonin -a hormone that aids in sleep. Make sure to grab a fresh bundle of cherries between the beginning of May and late June!
  • Mangos– There is no doubt that this tropical fruit tastes phenomenal, but it also does plenty for our body. Mangos are a great source of fiber (aids in digestion), vitamin A (aids in immune and eye function), and vitamin C. Plus, mangos have an abundance of potassium, even more than bananas! Now, most of the time we are able to tell when a fruit is ripe just based on sight, but there is not a way to determine the ripeness of mangos based on color -you can only tell by softness and a fruity aroma. Be sure to keep this in mind during their peak season (April through mid-July)!
  • Peaches/nectarines– These two stone fruits are often confused for one another and although they are genetically similar, peaches have fuzz on their peel while nectarines are smooth. Depending on how you like them, you can eat them while they are hard if you like the ‘crunch’ or you can wait until they get soft if you prefer them juicy. Whichever way you choose to eat them, they are still an excellent source of vitamin C, potassium, and antioxidants to protect against skin damage from that Summer sun. Be sure to snag a couple of these between mid-June to early September!
  • Strawberries– Did you know that strawberries are the only fruit with seeds on the outside! Their beautiful bright red color is due to the phytonutrients and flavonoids which also act as powerful antioxidants. Additionally, strawberries are a plentiful source of vitamin C and manganese, a key activator of many enzymes used in metabolism. Stop by your local farmers market between April and late June for a delicious package of strawberries!
  • Watermelons– Last, but not least, we have the most popular Summer fruit! Watermelons are extremely popular during this season because it helps keep us cool and hydrated; one single bite contains roughly 92% water and 6% sugar. This melon contains enough vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. It can be tricky trying to pick a ripe watermelon for the family. Here is a tip that may help: look for a white-yellow spot on the underside of the watermelon. This is where the melon laid on the ground in the sun while it ripened. A sound check is another way to determine ripeness: a deep, hollow sound after knocking on the watermelon means it is ripe.

As you can see, most of the fruit are full of antioxidants, vitamins A & C, potassium, and much more. Try adding a side of fruit to every meal for that extra helping of nutrients! Which is your favorite?

Quarantine and Snacking


By Hannah Squire, UC Davis Healthy Aggies Intern

As I was typing my essay in the late hours of the evening, I couldn’t help but think to myself…  “hmm tortilla chips sound so good right now.” Even though I already had dinner and wasn’t physically hungry, I simply wanted to snack. Usually, these thoughts always target those salty and sweet treats in the pantry and rarely run towards fruits and veggies. This urge to snack happens in the best times, let alone with the lack of usual routine.  Increased stress and boredom levels, and simply more access to our kitchen cupboards while being in quarantine, makes it more likely that we give in. Here are some tips and tricks to mindfully snack during these uncertain times:

  1. Mindful Eating

Being mindful around eating sounds complicated, but the idea is a lot simpler than it seems. When thinking about what to snack on while typing that essay, lecture zooming, or binging Tiger King on Netflix, first take a minute to notice a few things… first a quick self-assessment.  Think to yourself, how am I feeling right now? Am I physically hungry or emotionally hungry? By thinking of a number from 1-10 that represents your physical hunger, 1 being starving – and 10 being completely stuffed, you can then determine how much you need to make a trip to the kitchen.  Second, hold off for a couple of minutes…acknowledge the urge as that, an urge, then continue what you’re doing.  See if it persists, then make a decision to move forward.

  1. Create an Eating Routine

Quarantining at home has uprooted a lot of structured routines that have, in turn, affected eating patterns. It is important to find ways that work in our personal schedules to carve out specific meal times in order to prevent skipping meals, or just indulging in snacks for the day. Some examples of creating structure are:

  • Getting full 8 hours of sleep at night to prevent late-night snacking
  • Setting 10, 30, 60, or even 90 minutes to move and sweat once a day to maintain metabolism and appetite
  • Plan meals with housemates and family in your home….or sharing meals on zoom can create accountability to not skip meals or overeat
  • Create time for hobbies. This could involve morning walks, trying a new exercise video on youtube, or my favorite … puzzles! These can all keep the brain occupied before/instead of opting for processed snacks.
  1. Focus on what you’re Eating

Have you noticed that eating just a bowl of cereal, plain toast, or a piece of fruit leaves you hungry within the hour? Carbohydrate-rich foods are our body’s immediate source of energy, but result in an unsatiated feeling soon after a meal. This can be prevented by pairing carbs with fat or protein to feel full longer and avoid snacking soon after. Here are some examples of carbs + high protein/fat snacks to leave you satisfied for hours:

  • Peanut butter and apple
  • Carrots and hummus
  • Dark chocolate with almonds
  1. Let’s face it, snacking is inevitable as well as enjoyable!

Snacking in moderation is completely okay, there is no need for guilt to get involved. A pro-tip for regulating snacking is portion sizing. When getting your next snack, put it into a separate container to isolate the specific quantity you plan to eat.  Another tip could entail mixing your favorite salty or sweet processed craving with nutrient-rich foods such as berries, nuts, or carrots.

Bottom line: Indulge in your favorite foods by using mindfulness, implementing eating routines, having balanced meals, and watching portion sizes.  These practices are much more kind than restriction or feeling guilty about eating when quarantining at home.

How do you handle snacking during all the at home time?

Good sources to check out:




Healthy Aggies are here!!

By Haley Adel, UC Davis Nutrition Peer Counselor

Even though we cannot finish this Spring Quarter together on the Davis campus, the Healthy Aggies remain dedicated to providing you with nutrition content and advice! We have broadened our outreach by creating more virtual content. We would like to take a moment to share what new programs we have, and what original programs we are continuing.

Through this pandemic, we have been encouraged to adapt to these new circumstances. Our Healthy Aggies have stepped up to the plate by delivering a great variety of Youtube videos. The content of these range from providing step-by-step instructions for delicious recipes to sharing nutrition facts on subjects such as fat. If you are interested, click here to check out one of the videos!

Additionally, our Instagram account @ucdhealthyaggies has been busy with a new feature. Every weekday a Nutrition Peer Counselor shares a fun nutrition fact over the IG story. From vitamin D to water, questions about nutrition that you may have always had are being answered. There’s also a poll with each story to test your nutrition knowledge. See how much you know about nutrition by answering the poll each day; check in at 5pm when the answer is revealed!

Along with the new programs, we are still continuing old ones such as the nutrition consultations. As a bonus they are now provided at NO COST! If you want to get answers to nutrition questions or analyze what you’re eating, the Peer Counselors are here for you. If you are interested in a free consultation, please contact the UC Davis Living Well center at livewell@campusrec.ucdavis.edu to schedule your appointment. Here is the brief questionnaire to complete for the appointment.  We also have our monthly newsletter still up and running like usual! Subscribe by sharing your email here.

Finally, the Peer Counselors are currently finishing webinars on fun topics such as Ultra-Processed Foods and a Balanced Plate. These will be available on the Campus Recreation Youtube soon for your viewing!

We hope you are all doing well and safe, and that the last few weeks of this schoolyear are enjoyable. We look forward to you checking out any of these resources that you find interesting!  Let us know how you participate


Eating Disorders: About more than food.


By Maggie Zeng, UC Davis Nutrition Peer Counselor

Eating Disorders are characterized by irregular eating habits and severe distress or concern about body weight or shape. Even though, many people think an eating disorder is far away from them. According to research, “In the United States alone, an estimated 20 million women and 10 million men have or have had an eating disorder at some point in their life”. For the college student, the study shows ” the prevalence of positive screens was 13.5% for women and 3.6% for men”. Eating disorders affect your physical and mental health, leading to a negative effect on well-being as a whole. It’s helpful to know the common types of eating disorders and know where to get help.

Common Types of Eating Disorders

 Anorexia nervosa

The symptoms of anorexia nervosa include extreme limitation of food intake with resulting weight loss. Sufferers may also purge or excessively exercise to burn calories. Most people who suffer from this disorder are severely underweight but still extremely afraid of gaining weight and they generally view themselves as overweight. Anorexia is mostly developed in adolescence and young adulthood and women are more susceptible than men. There are two sub-types of anorexia. One is the restrictive anorexic who uses excessive dieting and fasting to maintain or lose weight, and the other is binge eating with purging. This type uses vomiting, taking laxatives or diuretics for weight loss or maintenance purposes.

Common symptoms

  • underweight for age and height
  • restricted eating pattern
  • afraid of gaining weight even though underweight
  • pursuit of and obsession with thinness
  • body weight has impacted their self-esteem
  • distorted body image

The consequences of anorexia are serious and include weakening in the bones, infertility, mental illness, brittle hair, heart disease, or even organ failure and death.

Bulimia nervosa

Bulimia nervosa is characterized by frequently eating large amounts of food in a specific time period which results in a painfully full feeling and a feeling of no control over eating behavior. Bulimia also usually develops during adolescence and early adulthood and women are more susceptible than men. Individuals who suffer bulimia also tend to compensate by purging such as forced vomiting, fasting, and excessive exercise even though most bulimia patient are in a normal weight range for height.

Common symptoms of bulimia nervosa include:

  • repeated patterns of binge eating
  • repeated patterns of purging behaviors to prevent weight gain
  • body shape and weight strongly affect one’s self-esteem
  • a fear of gaining weight

The consequences of bulimia include sore throat, tooth decay, and acid reflux; if the case is severe enough, an electrolyte imbalance can also occur causing, in extreme cases, stroke and heart attack.

Other Types of Eating Disorders

There are other types of eating disorders.  One example is called Binge Eating Disorder, which has similar symptoms to bulimia but with no compensatory behavior. Pica is another type which involves obsession with eating things that not generally considered food such as ice, paper, soil etc. Rumination disorder is characterized by regurgitating food that is already swallowed and re-chewing it. Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder is characterized by under eating due to lack of interest in food or the avoidance of certain tastes or smells.

If you know someone who is suffering, let them know you care.  Tell them they are not alone and help them locate resources to help. Although serious, there is a high rate of recovery from eating disorders. It’s best to treat as early as possible. Here is some resources available for yourself and your friends:

UC Davis Resources: Student Health and Counseling Service


National Eating Disorder Association:




Focusing on Mental Health during Quarantine


By Brandy Carrillo, Healthy Aggies Intern

In light of recent events, it’s important that we not only focus on how to stay safe and keep our bodies healthy but that we also protect our own mental health. With Mental Health Awareness month right around the corner, it is crucial that we keep this in mind given the very nature of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is highly unlikely that the Coronavirus will simply disappear overnight, so we need to be able to address how our mental health may be affected and possible activities and practices that can help alleviate this stress and negativity.

Keep a daily routine

A consequence of the shelter in place order has been the lack of routine in many people’s lives. Structure plays an influential role in our productivity. When we eliminate the ability to physically leave our homes to an environment of productivity (work, school, errands, etc.) it can be difficult to see the distinction between our work environment and our home environment. Develop and stick to a routine.

Get some fresh air and stay active

Taking care of your body and keeping some kind of fitness routine is not only physically but mentally beneficial. It can be as simple as going out for a short walk (while still maintaining social distancing- 6 feet apart!) or doing a quick 15-minute workout video on YouTube. I’ve been personally been making sure I get in my daily cardio and stretching in.

Stay in touch

Technology is truly our knight in shining armor during these uncertain times. We should make the most of our technological devices and stay in touch with peers, friends, family, etc. Keeping up a form of communication with people you love and trust can help alleviate feelings of loneliness.

Indulge in a hobby

Engaging in activities you enjoy and love can act as a mental breather and help you fight boredom while still keeping your brain stimulated. Partaking in fun leisure activities can help reduce stress while encouraging positive emotions. Right now we’ve been thrown into a situation that may feel out of control. This can be quite frustrating and scary. A hobby is something that we have total jurisdiction over and gives us a sense of accomplishment that can make us feel happy and whole.

Plan out healthy meals each week

When you eat well, you begin to manifest that within your whole being. The mantra “eat good, feel good” is no joke. Being stuck at home for a majority of the day can entice us to engage in unhealthy and stress eating. Planning easy yet healthy meals every week can give us a sense of normalcy during these stressful times while nourishing our bodies.

Take it one day at a time

We have to remember that all of these are temporary measures and that we are all experiencing this together. While it is important to stay informed and monitor news updates about COVID-19, we also need to ensure we’re focusing on the facts and not on fear alone. Talking with loved ones about your concerns and any hidden feelings can be extremely therapeutic and comforting.

Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. Social distancing may leave you with mixed emotions and feeling disoriented. Following just a few of these tips, can help you better cope with the current situation and protect your own mental health. What tips and tricks have you been following to power through?

Healthier Dalgona Coffee?

whipped coffee

By Kelly Kim, Healthy Aggies Intern

Are you a daily coffee drinker? If so, you may have heard of the latest homemade coffee trend. If you haven’t heard… let me introduce you to Dalgona coffee! It is a fun and simple recipe, especially when many of us find ourselves with time to spare. There are only four ingredients: water, coffee crystals, coconut sugar, and milk needed for this whipped coffee. As a daily coffee drinker myself, I watched a few tutorials and tried out the recipe at home. I realized that this velvety whipped coffee was a bit sugary and with the amount of coffee I like to drink, I was interested in finding a healthier ingredient while still maintaining the sweetness of the coffee.

In terms of coffee, adding sugar helps shift the bitter tang to a sweeter taste. However, you may want to reduce added sugar for health reasons. I have found that using coconut sugar as an alternative and reducing the amount works well.

Coconut sugar is a natural sugar found in coconut palm trees. The process requires cutting the flower of a coconut palm, collecting the liquid sap and then heating the sap until most of the water has evaporated. You are left with a granulated coconut sugar. No other processing is needed. It is no miracle replacement for table sugar, the two are quite similar, but coconut sugar does contain more nutrients even if only by a small amount. It contains nutrients such as zinc, calcium, potassium, iron, and fatty acids like polyphenols and antioxidants. It also contains a fiber known as inulin. Inulin tends to lower glycemic index, which is a measure of how quickly foods raise blood sugar levels; it may help prevent a blood sugar spike.

You may choose to replace the table sugar with a reduced amount of coconut sugar when making this dreamy Dalgona drink! Or try it with regular sugar, but add just as much as you need.


  • Milk of choice (unsweetened oat, soy, almond or low-fat dairy) [1-2 cups]
  • Coffee crystals [2 Tbsp]
  • Coconut or regular sugar (as desired) [½ -1 Tbsp]
  • Hot boiled water [2Tbsp]


  1. Whisk coffee, hot water, and coconut sugar with a mixer. Continue to whisk for 3-6 minutes until it becomes a foamy consistency and you have your whipped coffee mixture
  2. Pour cold or hot milk into an empty cup and then top with the mixture made in step 1. Stir well and enjoy!

Let me know how you like it!

What’s in your cabinets?

By: Haley Adel, UC Davis Nutrition Peer Counselor

What strange times we are living in with COVID-19 and quarantining! Our everyday lives are definitely different than usual. This, however, can provide a great opportunity to try something new. Whether it’s for the sake of productivity or just for fun, here are some ideas for entertaining yourself with what’s in your kitchen cabinets.


If you are up for a yummy challenge, try this idea: Make a delicious charcuterie board using only foods that you currently have stocked in your kitchen. A charcuterie board is an arrangement of meat and cheeses typically served on a wooden cutting board. The board can also include nuts, fruit and jams, bread, and the likes. But this is your creation so add whatever you desire! Be creative and choose foods that you think pair well together. Search your cupboards because you never know what you’ll discover!

If you are experiencing an itch for organization, organize your spice cabinet. If you are tired of always searching around for your spices, now’s a great time to change that. And it’s all up to you how you want to organize it. Whether you want to go the traditional route of alphabetizing them, or mix it up a little and pair off spices that are commonly used together, it’s your choice. Save future time by rearranging your spice cabinet now.

During this time, self-care is also important. One relaxing way to do that inside your home is by making a face mask. They only take a few items to make, and the ingredients can usually be found in your kitchen. If you want it to feel like a “spa day” with friends, have them make masks too and Facetime when you all have yours on. The following are some easy recipes from MarieClaire.com:

The Organic Banana Face Mask

  1. Mash one-half of a bananain a bowl.
  2. Mix in a tablespoon of orange juice and a tablespoon of honey.
  3. Apply the mask to your face (lumps are totally fine!) and keep the mixture on for 15 minutes.
  4. Rinse with lukewarm water and then moisturize.

The Breakfast Mask

  1. Combine one egg yolk,one tablespoon of honey, and one tablespoon of olive oil (yes, olive oil) with half a cup of oatmeal.
  2. Stir well, then apply it to your face for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Rinse with lukewarm water (make sure your drain is cool with oatmeal!) and then moisturize.

Finally, if you want an activity to test your creativity, try some food art. Look online for simple recipes that have an artistic twist such as Owl Oatmeal from Fork & Beans. If you don’t have all the ingredients, find substitutes or rearrange the art. It’s all up to you!




  • 1/2 c. rolled oats
  • 1 1/4 c. milk of choice
  • 1 strawberry, sliced
  • almond slices
  • 3 banana slices
  • 2 dried blueberries
  • 1 almond


  1. Combine the oats and milk together in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Stirring often, simmer on low heat for 5 minutes or until the liquid has been absorbed according to your preference.
  2. Assemble owl shape into a bowl of oatmeal and serve.

I hope everyone stays safe and healthy in the coming weeks! Please leave a comment if you tried any of these suggested activities and liked them!