The COVID-19 pandemic has severely disrupted our ways of life including how we shop for food. Many grocery shelves have become bare due to panic buying which can be distressing when trying to prepare a delicious and healthy meal- but it doesn’t have to be that way. There are many items available which can be easily incorporated into everyday meals to add a boost of flavor and nutrients.
Some prices for fresh foods and vegetables have surged due to increased demand. However, frozen and canned foods are just as nutritious and often come at a less hefty cost. Frozen fruits and vegetables are often picked during peak harvest and flash frozen. This means that at the point in which the fruit or vegetable had the highest amount of nutrients, the nutrients were immediately preserved.
Frozen fruits such as berries, bananas, and mango are great choices to add to oatmeal or smoothies. Frozen vegetables such as broccoli, spinach and kale are versatile ingredients that can be added to pasta, rice and even smoothies as well. Supermarkets have recently added a new fun addition- frozen avocado. This can be easily added to both sweet or savory dishes.
Canned foods are another option that can add an interesting twist to meals. The usual items such as canned beans, corn and tuna come to mind. There are also canned Spanish seafood including squid and razor clams which can provide a boost in mineral intake. Canned Asian foods such as bamboo shoots and water chestnuts can add fiber and also another dimension to texture and taste for salads and stir-fries.
There are many different herbs and spices on the market. This is the time to explore and challenge your taste buds. Investing in a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle can be a useful tool to create spice blends that can take meals to the next level. This can be a creative space where you can play with sweet, sour, spicy, and salty flavors and become your own Masterchef.
Supermarkets also now sell herb blends in tubes which are convenient to use and also provides a longer shelf-life. Using fresh herbs are also a good option. If worried about the short shelf-life, store them in a glass of water in the fridge loosely covered with a plastic wrap. This helps the herbs retain moisture and keep longer to up to 2-3 weeks. Another option is to grow your own herbs either in a garden or in a kitchen windowsill. This can also be a fun activity for the whole family.
It can be easy to get into a routine when grocery shopping in the same stores. Venture out to a new local grocery store and you might be surprised at the plethora of new items you come across. Some farmer’s markets are still ongoing. Your local butcher may also have cuts of meat or minced meat that the supermarkets lack.
Given the “new normal” we are now living in, many businesses including restaurants have transformed their businesses by adding meal-kit and grocery delivery services. This can be a great way to explore different dishes you might have not tasted or made before.
Dietitians have a wealth of skills in both nutrition science and meal preparation. Consult your LifeShape Clinic dietitian if you need new recipe ideas or would like to brainstorm fun and nutritious recipes to try.
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