We always look forward to mealtime, but now with so little on our plates so to speak, eating has become one of THE brightest spots in our day. And pandemic mealtime means dining in.
Along with the challenges of safely navigating the grocery aisles, we also want to make sure we’re eating healthy foods. Sure there’s room in our shelter-in-place diet for comfort meals and snacks but our physical and mental health depends on consuming more vegetables, fruits, fish and whole grains and less red meat, processed and fried foods and sweets.
Here are 5 tips for a healthy plate and a side dish of comfort.
- Before you head to the store or place a grocery order spend a fair amount of time planning meals and reviewing recipes.Think outside your recipe box and books, and go in search of some new and creative meals. The New York Times has put together a “Quarantine Cooking Recipe Page” (now free to nonsubscribers) with hundreds of recipes for all tastes, including children, soup and slow cooker lovers and “procrastibakers” (people who should be doing something else). Allrecipes has a quarantine page too, with recipes for solo and two diners, dried beans and breads.
- Since we’re trying to limit the number of shopping trips, don’t forget to peruse the frozen food aisle. “Frozen foods abound at the grocery store, but it’s important to choose the healthiest options. Keep frozen vegetables on hand along with fresh frozen lean meats, fish, and poultry. Consider cooking extra portions of food to make your own healthy freezer meals including lentil or minestrone soup with beans, healthy casseroles, lasagna, enchiladas, pizza dough, and hummus,” according to registered dietitian Becky Dorner.
- This is a stressful time so be sure to include foods that reduce anxiety and boost immunity. Writing for Harvard Medical School, Dr. Uma Naidoo recommends: Citrus fruit, red bell peppers, ginger, foods rich in zinc such as oysters, clams, mussels, cashews, liver, beef, and egg yolks, magnesium-rich foods such as nuts, seeds, leafy greens and whole grains, fatty fish like wild Alaskan salmon and probiotic-rich foods such as pickles, sauerkraut, miso and kefir.
- Foggy brain is common these days too, so shop for foods that promote cognitive functioning. Authors of the "MIND" diet (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) came up with 10 foods they say are “brain-health powerhouses:” dark chocolate (with at least 85% cocoa), turmeric, kale, sweet potatoes, berries (blackberry, blueberry, cranberry, raspberry, strawberry), garbanzo beans, walnuts, fish with omega-3 fatty acids (mackerel, lake trout, herring, wild salmon), red wine and green tea.
- Aside from mac and cheese and chicken noodle soup, we probably all have a different go-to comfort food. Some foods harken from our childhood days – buttered popcorn, a hot fudge sundae - or evoke memories of loved ones – mom’s pound cake or grandma’s pierogi. Just because we’re in between the winter holidays and the Fourth of July doesn’t mean you can’t whip up a comfort favorite holiday cookie or picnic concoction. Maybe one of your friends sent you a Quarantine recipe swap chain email. Why not share your favorite comfort food with friends? If any time calls for a comfort food fix, this is it, just do so in moderation.
Currently there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19. Here are a few reminders from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration on how to shop safely:
- Wear a face covering or mask while you are in the store;
- Wipe down the handles of shopping cart or basket before shopping;
- Keep at least 6 feet between you and other shoppers and grocery store workers;
- Wash your hands for 20 seconds after shopping and after putting away groceries.
Feed Your Body Right: Nutritional Needs After 50
As you age, having a healthy and balanced diet will help you look and feel your best while helping prevent many serious health issues. Learn how in our free guide.
In the past, Molly Kavanaugh frequently wrote about Kendal at Oberlin for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, where she was a reporter for 16 years. Now we are happy to have her writing for the Kendal at Oberlin Community.