Hi everyone, and welcome back to Wellness Wednesday! Have you been participating in the ‘One Thing for Wellness’ challenge with me? If not, there’s still plenty of month left. You can join in on my Facebook page, https://facebook.com/hopereclaiming. You can also download the challenge calendar by using the form below. Speaking of challenges, have you found it challenging to eat healthy during these last few weeks?
If you’re anything like me, you may be eating some things you wouldn’t normally eat. To avoid going out as often, I’ve been filling my freezer and pantry with things that will last for awhile.
These days, we have more healthy choices when it comes to some prepared foods, but even with those things that might not be quite as healthy, we can still improve their nutritional profile with a few additions or little tweaks.
Although some things are opening up more, some of us may still choose to avoid going out unless it’s absolutely necessary. I thought I’d share some tips to help make our quarantine foods a little healthier.
Stocking Your Freezer and Pantry
Having some healthy options to begin with can help us build meals that are good for us. Remember, junk food isn’t the only thing we can stock up on. There are lots of healthy options out there.
Let’s start with the freezer. What many people don’t realize is that frozen foods can be as nutritious as fresh ones. In the case of fruits and vegetables, some can be even more nutritious because they’re frozen almost immediately after they’re picked. This preserves freshness and nutrients.
The Well-Stocked Freezer:
Some of the things you may want to keep in your freezer:
- Frozen vegetables (go with plain veggies, not the ones swimming in sauce)
- Frozen fruits
- Fish filets (you can find wild-caught salmon, halibut, and others in your grocer’s freezer)
- Lean meat
You can also freeze some of the healthy meals you cook if you have extra.
The Well-Stocked Pantry
Some great pantry staples to have on-hand are:
- Canned wild-caught seafood
- Nuts and nut butters
- Whole grains and seeds (things like oats, quinoa, brown rice, chia seeds, etc.)
- Canned tomatoes
- Beans and legumes **
- Canned vegetables **
- Pasta (whole grain or gluten free pasta are some great options)
- Fruit in 100% fruit juice (this cuts down on the added sugar you get in the heavier syrups)
- Healthy oils, vinegars, and condiments
- Dried fruit (dried fruit is good in moderation, but does contain more sugar than fresh fruit)
- Whole-grain or nut flours
** Canned vegetables and beans can have a lot of sodium, but if you rinse them, you can reduce the amount of sodium by about half.
‘Doctoring Up’ the Not-So-Healthy Ready-Made Meals
Let’s face it – sometimes we just need something quick and easy to fix, and we may turn to some ready-made meals.
For example, one thing we use in our house are the Rana pastas. These are pre-made refrigerated pastas. You just pop them in some boiling water for a few minutes, drain, and then add sauce or whatever you want.
When you use these types of meals, you can always ‘doctor them up’ (that’s a southern term that loosely means to improve things in some way) to make them a little healthier.
Some ways to add nutrition to ready-made meals:
- Add vegetables. Whether fresh or frozen, vegetables added to a dish can make it more nutritious immediately. If you have children who don’t like veggies, a little trick I used to use is to put some cooked veggies in the blender, puree them, and add them to spaghetti sauce for your pasta. They can’t see or taste the veggies, so they eat it right up.
- Add healthy oils. A little drizzle of high-quality olive oil can not only add flavor, it can give you some healthy fats that your body needs.
- Add fruit and nuts to things like oatmeal or cold cereal.
- Reduce portion sizes. Sometimes we want those things that are easy to prepare, or comfort foods, and that’s fine. We may just need to eat a smaller portion size than we’d use for some other things.
- Add a side salad. This is a fantastic way to add some freshness and nutrition to a ready-made meal. Just remember to go light on the toppings and dressings.
There are always going to be times that we don’t have the ideal conditions for healthful eating. Sometimes we just have to be a little creative and find ways to improve the nutrition of what we have available to us. These are just a few ideas to do that.
Have you had to get creative with your meals lately? What are your tips for making our quarantine foods healthier? Please share!