We’ve been adapting to COVID-19 restrictions for awhile now. Although I try to be optimistic, not being able to get together with friends and family like we used to has not been easy. Refraining from giving big hugs to someone you haven’t seen for a time is hard, too.

I miss seeing my students and coworkers in person, walking the halls to say hi or catching up real quick to get needed information. However, with less travel time and being home, I’ve had more time to brush up on my tech skills so that I can teach and work from home. I’ve also had more time to keep a garden and make more homemade meals with my family.

It’s been fun trying new recipes or experimenting with new flavors. Like my older daughter who loves to cook says, “There’s more seasoning besides salt and pepper.” She really loves getting creative and using a variety of seasonings when cooking. I love using garlic. From minced garlic for added flavor in recipes or roasted garlic to use as a spread on homemade bread, it’s my favorite, so I always have it on hand.

Being able to enjoy growing cucumber, greens, snap peas and tomatoes has been an easier way to incorporate more vegetables on my younger son’s plate. He’s a picky eater but will eat what we grow. He will also eat anything he cooks or bakes.

The big test was when I decided to show him a list of cast iron skillet bread recipes. I had him choose which one he’d like to try. He chose the herb skillet rolls recipe. The recipe called for several herbs (dried rosemary, dried basil and dried parsley) and garlic. He normally does not like one speck of seasoning on any of his food, so I was surprised he picked that recipe.

I didn’t question him and just proceeded to help him make the recipe. Hours later, when the rolls were finally done, he proudly ate one.

Having my son enjoy eating vegetables and trying new foods is a huge success, because, even though I have exposed him to a variety of foods, he likes food that is simple. Not everyone likes adding a bunch of seasoning on their food. For some, sticking to simple items or familiar foods and tastes provides comfort and that’s OK. We have found that the more we have our son participate in the process of growing food and preparing food for meals, his interest and willingness to try new foods increases.

Here’s a great recipe from 4-H for making bread in a bag with kids. It’s an easy cleanup too! See bit.ly/breadinabag

I also wanted to remind everyone that with fall coming, there are still opportunities to get active, both online and in person. Check the following regarding group fitness classes, but remember to get out and enjoy the outdoors, too!

UAF Community and Technical College offers recreational classes from swimming, yoga and Zumba, to rock climbing. Classes start Aug. 24. You can call 455-2800 for information or check out the recreational classes at www.ctc.uaf.edu/academics/course-schedule/. Most gyms and/or instructors offer the first class or visit free before having to commit to buying a punch card or membership.


Reina Hasting is a coordinator with Extension’s Family Nutrition Program, which is administered by the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. For questions, she can be contacted at rhhasting@alaska.edu or 907-474-2437.