Many families are home struggling to cope with the COVID-19 outbreak and seeking ways to find a new normal, said Easter H. Tucker, interim family and consumer sciences program leader for the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.


Some parents are trying to figure out how to work from home and be educators to their school-age children.


“This new routine can cause much anxiety and stress for the whole family and can disrupt healthy eating,” she said. “In order to ensure everyone’s nutritional needs and take their mind off the stress, families could try cooking together. Getting the family together in the kitchen can be a fun, educational way to spend time.”


When cooking together, Tucker recommends family members:


• Choose a recipe everyone can agree on.


• Check the food pantry, refrigerator and the freezer for ingredients on hand.


• Make a grocery list for things not on hand.


• Let the children help with each task.


“To kick off a new routine of cooking together, families can try out the U.S. Department of Agriculture MyPlate recipe for chicken vegetable soup with kale. Kale and carrots add lots of Vitamin A to this hearty recipe.”


Ingredients: 2 teaspoons vegetable oil, 1/2 cup onion (chopped), 1/2 cup carrot (chopped), 1 teaspoon thyme (ground), 2 garlic cloves (minced), 2 cups water (or chicken broth), 3/4 cup tomatoes (diced), 1 cup chicken, cooked, skinned and cubed, 1/2 cup brown rice, cooked (or white rice), 1 cup kale (chopped, about one large leaf).


Directions: Heat oil in a medium saucepan. Add onion and carrot. Saute until vegetables are tender, about 5-8 minutes. Add thyme and garlic. Saute for one more minute. Add water or broth, tomatoes, cooked rice, chicken and kale. Simmer for 5-10 minutes.


Source: USDA Choose MyPlate.