Nutritionists show what they are eating during the lockdown, and how to make it
- As lockdowns and social distancing measures continue to try to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, many people's normal meal routines and habits have been disrupted.
- It's still possible to enjoy healthy, nutritious, and satisfying meals whether you're cooking for one or for a family, even if dinner parties and restaurant dining are postponed for the foreseeable future.
- Here's what three nutritionists are eating right now and what they recommend.
- For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.
Don't feel pressured to follow a recipe perfectly — most dishes can be adapted to fit your pantry.
For Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, creator of BetterThanDieting.com, author of "Read It Before You Eat It - Taking You from Label to Table," more time at home means experimenting a little in the kitchen, throwing together new combinations for a twist on old recipes.
"I don't like to follow instructions, I like to follow my own," she told Insider.
Her advice is, if you're working from a recipe, feel free to swap out ingredients or add your own to incorporate what you already have in the fridge and pantry. Taub-Dix likes to garnish many recipes with chopped nuts, for instance, to add texture and protein.
Don't have ground beef for a pasta sauce? Use chicken or ground turkey, for example. Taub-Dix likes to use a chickpea-based pasta (available in many stores in the pasta aisle) for protein and top with veggies, but regular pasta works just fine.
"For people at home, don't feel like you have to have pressure to get it right or be an Iron Chef," Taub-Dix said. "Be creative, be inventive."
If you have kids, you can squeeze in more nutrients by adding grated veggies to ground meat.
For those with children, cooking can be especially challenging right now, but also a great opportunity, said Daub-Dix, who has three (now grown) sons.
"As a mom of three boys, none of my sons live at home, but I still cook like anyone could show up at my door and stay for a meal," she said.
To add value and make meals go further, she recommends adding extra veggies - what she calls "extenders" - to recipes. Chopped carrots and squash and cauliflower mixed with ground turkey, for instance, add flavour and fiber to turkey meatloaf.
The same applies for pasta sauces and soups - the more veggies you toss in, the longer it will last. For those on a budget, vegetables are often much cheaper than ingredients like meat, and as a bonus, can be frozen for a longer shelf life.
And don't hesitate to include kids (or other family) in picking recipes as well as the creative process of cooking (in an age appropriate way, of course) for activities like mixing, washing produce, and clean-up.
"That is a gift you can give to your kids. It's a tremendous opportunity for them to learn and you to learn," she said. "When you share a meal, you share so much than just food."
Salads can be a creative way to use ingredients you have on hand.
More time at home can also mean more time for the little details that can really improve a meal, Taub-Dix said.
Salads, for instance, are a common and versatile lunch option. She recommends getting creative about adding whatever you have on hand. You might be short on favourites like tomatoes or cucumbers, but dding chopped apple or pears, for example, can really freshen up a chicken or tuna salad, she said.
You can also incorporate whatever condiments you might have at the back of your cupboard. That balsamic vinegar you bought months ago could be used for a balsamic glaze to make a ordinary, simple meal into something that feels more extravagant.
"It makes a really welcoming dish that's super easy," Taub-Dix said. "It looks special in a time when things are crazy."
Oatmeal might seem boring, but it can be much more versatile than you think — for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
For registered dietitian and nutritionist Andy Bellatti, good old-fashioned oats are making a comeback in the kitchen.
"Oatmeal is a staple right now. Jazz up the flavour by cooking it in unsweetened vanilla non-dairy milk. For extra creaminess, add a splash of your favourite unsweetened flavoured non-dairy creamer, too," he told Insider.
An incredibly versatile food option, oatmeal can be combined with a variety of ingredients, spices, and seasonings - add maple syrup for a sweet version, or mix in garlic and veggies (spinach and peppers work well) and top with an egg for a savory variety.
It also has a long shelf-life. Stored properly, oatmeal will keep for a year or two in your pantry, making it a great choice for your stockpile.
Take the opportunity to make more time-consuming comfort food, like chicken and biscuits.
Meal planning in the stress of social distancing includes some complicated recipes that create a welcome distraction, but also a lot of simple comfort food, said registered dietitian Rachael Hartley.
"I'm either spending a lot of time in the kitchen cooking time-consuming, comforting meals, like chicken and biscuits from scratch, or throwing together something quick and easy, like scrambled eggs with sauteed spinach and toast, frozen pizza with a salad kit, or pasta with roasted vegetables," Hartley told Insider.
This includes a combination of frozen food and fresh produce, based on what's available.
Hartley said she has about two weeks worth of shelf-stable foods (and plans to make meals from those ingredients) but also goes to the grocery store weekly to stock up on fresh foods as long as she's able to.
Even nutritionists love takeout.
Even (or especially) if you're stuck at home, you shouldn't feel pressured to do constant meal prep, Hartley said.
Treating yourself to takeout from a local restaurant (if that's something that's accessible to you) can be a win-win situation - you're support local business, and get to enjoy a delicious meal without the effort of cooking (or cleaning up).
"One thing I've been reminding my clients is that it's OK of nutrition isn't utmost priority - there's more important things to worry about," she said.
"Right now the healthiest thing to do is stay inside and wash your hands, not eat more greens. Give yourself permission to eat whatever is comforting, satisfying and accessible to you right now."
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