As we approach our sixth week of Lock-Down, I am sure many of you have become disinterested or fed up with preparing three meals everyday and may be running out of ideas, bored with the same foods, and generally losing interest in maintaining good nutrition.
Eating healthily is crucial at this time, to support immunity for increased protection on shopping and exercise trips, and especially once Lock-Down is over, to manage our weight, to prevent long-term effects on health, especially blood sugar regulation, and mental well-being and to emerge out of this extended inhibition in good shape.
Consuming nutrient-dense foods and keeping an eye on activity levels are two of the most beneficial actions you can engage in during this period. Both measures have a significant and positive effect on mental health, blood glucose regulation, and are a necessary investment in your future health too.
I would like to help motivate you to be at your best now and beyond; you should be thinking along the lines of “cooking and preparing your own food is half of the battle when it comes to eating well”, so grasp this rare opportunity to formulate ways of eating that you can continue with after lock-down.
Four Inspiring Tips:
Every meal does not have to be a show-piece! Keeping it simple will save time on food preparation and can often be delegated to older children as their contribution to family life (also for partners who have little experience in the kitchen because you have spoiled them!).
- Jacket potato with either baked beans, cheese or a left-over sauce (see later). My favourite jacket recipe: Preheat oven at 220C/200C fan/Gas 7. Wash 1 medium organic potato per person, smother in butter, and place on a baking tray on the top shelf of oven. After 20 minutes, turn temperature down to 190C/170C fan/Gas 5 and bake for a further 45-60 minutes (test by squeezing with forefinger and thumb protected with a clean cloth – should be firm but squash-able).
- Organic Eggs, Bacon and Sauerkraut
- Steak and Stir-Fry veggies
- Canned Wild Alaskan Salmon & Salad (optional: add left over boiled potatoes)
- Left-over roasted peppers added to an omelette (chuck in a few peas from the freezer if it takes your fancy)
- Organic Eggs and baked beans on wholegrain toast
- Mashed avocado (add chilli, garlic and lemon or lime juice) on rice cakes
Switch It Around
It is not a bad idea to practice intermittent fasting by skipping your first or last meal of the day (first meal is usually the easiest to skip). Two meals daily, if nourishing, are sufficient for those if us with a significant reduction in activity levels. It is a good practice for most of us to follow at least once per week, even when not locked-down!
- Eat your main meal at 2pm and have a bowl of cereal topped with berries, nuts & seeds at 7pm
- Breakfast at 10 am and Dinner at 5pm
NOTE: always drink plenty of fluids when following an intermittent fasting plan, especially clean water and herbal teas.
Get Creative With Left-Overs
You don’t have to cool every meal from scratch! If you make a bit extra at each meal you save time and effort on a subsequent meal.
- You can double the ingredients of a primary dish for freezing (examples: curry, bolognese, Coq Au Van, and soups). Cook in bulk if you have sufficient fridge and/or freezer space. This is a good habit to form which can be continued after lock-down.
- Good options for the fridge to use over the next couple of days: Fritata, Quiche, chicken, beef, vegetables are excellent meal fillers for next-day lunch or breakfast (all varieties) and let’s not forget the humble boiled potato to finely slice and add to Fritatas or omelettes. Most foods can be saved for later, it just takes a bit of creativity to whip them up into something new the next day.
- You can make a patty-type burger using leftovers chopped finely and mixed with beaten egg and a little flour; when you have a consistency of a thick lumpy purée, in a pan with preheated butter (medium heat), using a large spoon, carefully spoon in 3 or 4 ‘piles’ at a time and do not disturb until the edges solidify; then gently flip them over and press lightly into a burger shape. You may need to turn them over a few times to cook fully, depending on thickness. They are delicious served on a bed of lettuce with sliced onion and tomato.
- Left-Overs can also bulk up a basic pasta sauce using onion, garlic, fresh herbs (any), or dried herbs and/or spices and passata.
Be Daring & Add a New Items to your menu
- You can try out new recipes (share on your communication channels – ask about foods you have enjoyed that someone else prepared).
- Take that spice you found in the back of your cupboard and find a recipe to use it in!
- At each shopping trip, look around the vegetable section and locate one type that is not a regular for you, that you may remember not liking when you last tried it, and buy a small portion. When you get back home, search for a recipe using that item and give it a whirl! It is often the way a food is cooked that makes a difference to our preference for it, and with vegetables being the food group that offers the widest range of immune-boosting nutrients, it is one group you want to increase intake of at every opportunity. The more varied the diet, the more likely you will provide the nutrients that are essential for good health!
Lisa is a qualified Nutritional Therapist. She has been practising nutrition for 16 years across a broad spectrum of health conditions. She has a special interest in Rosacea, and her research, together with experience, led to the writing of her thesis entitled “The Nutritional Management of Rosacea”.