Our lives have all been powerfully disrupted in the past few weeks. All signs indicate that they will remain so for at least the near future, and the adaptations can be exhausting! Access to food and household needs, both in person and online, can be a lesson in frustration. For those of us who rely on a healthy, whole foods diet for optimal health, or may have dietary restrictions such as gluten or dairy, the search can be both harder and longer. As a Functional Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist, I can really relate. If we choose not to stock up on pasta, rice and dry cereal, what are the options?
Here’s what I recommend:
YOUR FREEZER IS YOUR FRIEND
- Stock your freezer as full as you can with unprocessed foods, including animal protein, vegetables and fruits- minimize processed boxed items which take up extra room.
- Prep the items before you freeze them- for example, cook multiple chickens and cut the meat off the bone, and cut up fresh veggies, removing any parts you will not use before freezing to maximize space.
- Freeze eggs! Drop individual eggs in sections of an ice cube tray. Once frozen you can store in a safe freezer bag such as https://www.green-n-pack.com/. If separating whites and yolks, add some salt to the yolk before freezing
PACK THE PANTRY
We want to maximize the nutrient density of the items we are storing. Although I haven’t officially calculated the protein or zinc per square inch ratio, these suggestions should keep your cabinets rich in foods that keep you healthy and satisfied.
- While others are clearing the grocery aisles of white flour, don’t forget that nuts and seeds, their butters and ground meal are powerhouses of nutrition in small packages. Go heavy on these items.
- Canned or dehydrated vegetables can last a long time. In addition to the usual carrots and peas, add some seaweed, jackfruit (it has a meat-like texture), artichoke hearts, hearts of palm, and pumpkin puree. Forager is one of many companies that make a variety of veggie chips. Boxed or homemade vegetable soups like tomato, carrot or squash can round out the assortment.
- Dried fruits are another space-saving option to pack in the nutrients. Buy organic versions without added sugar. You can make your own trial mix or purchase a ready to eat option as well.
- If canned tuna is in low supply, select canned salmon. It is better to rotate tuna and salmon anyway. Choose wild or pole caught options when buying fish.
- Don’t forget legumes! Beans are rich in protein, fiber, and a variety of important nutrients. The dried versions are more cost and space friendly than cans, but either will work. Lentil chips, Brami snacking beans and Biena roasted chickpeas add textural variety to your choices.
- Think like a cowboy and stock up on jerkies and meat sticks (like CHOMPS and PRIMAL ) which have a long shelf life.
- Energy bars like EPIC, RX and Lara are made with only real foods, and only a few of them.
- Forget wheat pasta- bean pasta is readily available online and in many stores- try fiber and protein rich Explore Asian Mung Bean pasta, Banza chickpea pasta or Tolerant varieties which are organic and free of all major allergens.
- Who needs rice when you can grab up some quinoa and buckwheat? Richer in protein and fiber, gluten free and not sold out!
- Keep spirulina and nutritional yeast nearby. Just a spoonful of spirulina adds protein, iron and potassium, while nutritional yeast contains B vitamins and has a great cheesy taste.
- Make sure you have herbs and spices on hand. Stressful times tax our immune systems and we can use these ingredients to add more than flavor. Cinnamon, turmeric, thyme, oregano and rosemary contain compounds that boost our immunity, reduce inflammation and help kill germs.
- My go-to ready-to-drink shake is from Orgain. Organic, tasty and comes in a dairy and vegan option.
Many grocery chains are scheduling deliveries two weeks out, and stock varies widely.
- Neighborhood shops may be able to meet your needs more quickly, and allow you to help the local economy. Call your local merchant and see what they offer.
- Sign up for a subscription service and you will know you have a steady supply of nourishing options coming straight to your door. Some of my favorites include:
o Misfits Market supplies healthy, high quality produce at lower cost. It also reduces food waste! (Use code COOKME-BB6IJG)
o Walden Local Foods ships in the Northeast and supplies a wide variety grass-fed or cage free proteins (use the link to get some free eggs and bacon)
o Butcher Box delivers a variety of grass-fed, organic free range proteins directly to your door.
o Imperfect Foods https://www.imperfectfoods.com/ offers conventional and organic plans, which can be customized to your liking
In troubled times, nutrition becomes even more essential to support our immune system, modulate stress and keep us physically and emotionally resilient. Quarantine does not have to mean compromising on our well-being.
Vicki Kobliner is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist with over 20 years of expertise applying a Functional Nutrition approach to the care of children and adults. She utilized her wealth of experience with both traditional and integrative modalities, incorporating the power of food, herbs and targeted nutrition support for both prevention of and healing from both acute and chronic illnesses. Vicki sees pediatric patients and their families at Blum Center for Health, and has extensive experience in addressing a wide variety of childhood illnesses.