So, this is a very last minute post. I want to put it out to all of you in case I lose power due to Hurricane Harvey. Yes, I know, what am I doing, writing a blog post in the midst of a hurricane? The reason is because today when I went to the store to buy some provisions, I was trying to think of healthy options of non perishable food items, that would have a long shelf life and not require any cooking. I wanted to share with you some of my choices. Many of us are working on eating healthy which involves lots of whole foods, clean eating and fresh ingredients. But, what do you do if you are in the situation like I am where you are preparing for a significant weather event that may cause power outages to the point where you may not be able to cook for several days or weeks? How will I be able to tackle Eating Healthy When The Power Goes Out?
So, as I cruised down the aisles of the grocery store, I began to be way more mindful of the packed foods that I had to choose from. Reading the labels very closely, make choices from a variety of different food categories and buying produce in limited quantities, helped in my selections. Of course when we look at labels, we often look at the calories, fat, carbs and sugar content. But, one thing that is super important to look at is the amount of sodium in canned and packaged products. Many foods are preserved in high amounts of sodium to maintain a longer shelf life. So, just be careful with your selections, especially if you need to watch your sodium intake.
So, here is some of the finds I came up with. For proteins, I selected canned tuna, chicken, Turkey Spam, other fish varieties, and other options like canned beans and peanut butter and chili. There are many varieties of tuna that come flavored like Lemon Pepper, Sweet and Spicy and other yummy flavors. When it comes to the veggies and fruits, you can find a variety of canned fruits and vegetables that are low in sugar, salt and calories. Great choices are pineapple, mandarin oranges, peaches, even mangoes. Be careful you don’t grab the fruit in heavy syrup. Choose light syrup or fruits in natural juices. Canned vegetables offer even more of a selection. Some of my favorites are artichokes, asparagus, green beans, corn, beets, and even spinach. For fresh fruits and vegetables that stay fresh for about a week without refrigeration, choose apples, oranges, pears, peaches and bananas. If you want to keep some other vegetables on hand, carrots, celery, tomatoes, cucumbers and avocados are some of the best choices. Make sure they are not super ripe. This will allow you to eat at least some fresh produce for at least a week. Also, don’t forget about fruit and vegetable juices, dried fruits, and veggie chips for some added variety.
Next we will look at a few dairy choices. Most dairy products require refrigeration. But, there are a few like Laughing Cow that are great and come lots of flavors. Small Babybel cheeses do need to be in the fridge but can stay cool on ice for several days. For milk, your choices are either powdered milk (um, not very tasty), and boxed milks. These are awesome. You can find regular milk in a box along with almond, coconut, and rice milk.
For carb choices, it pretty much came down to bread, tortillas, wraps and crackers. It is very tempting in situations like these to want to buy comfort foods like cookies and other sweets. If you do want some sweetness in your food choices, look for breakfast or protein bars, granola or other cereals that are high in fiber. I decided to pick out a new flavor of crackers, whole grain wraps and bread. These will go well with my canned goods like refried beans, tuna and chicken. Also, nothing like a good old PB & J sandwich!
Last but not least, in our quest for Eating Healthy When The Power Goes Out, what do we do about flavor? First and foremost, I am grateful just to have an ample supply of food for myself and my family. But, being a cook, I love to experiment with flavors and creating recipes. If your power is out for several days, that canned tuna may start to lack its initial appeal. This is where you bust out those spices and seasonings you have in your cabinet, to give it a new kick. Try adding dill, garlic powder, or cumin. Then add some tang with vinegar or lemon juice. Finally for lots of extra flavor, try adding some hot sauce or salsa. Experimenting is part of the fun. Don’t forget to write down your new creation. It may just become a family favorite.
Well, lets say you are in a situation where you are without power for an extended time. What do you do for Eating Healthy When The Power Goes Out? One thing I want you to take note of is in the wake of an impending storm or other disaster, take an assessment of what is in your fridge and freezer. Cook and eat the food that may go bad in a day or two. Even if you roast or steam some veggies, package them and put them back in the fridge, they will be good for a day or two, once the power goes out. Next, try not to open you freezer too much. Turn up the settings on your freezer and refrigerator to prolong the proper storage temperature of your food. Once the power goes out, again, keep the doors shut, put what you can in a cooler on ice, but when in doubt to the freshness of your food, throw it out. Your health and safety come first.
Well, hopefully we will not lose power with Hurricane Harvey. Unfortunately some people already have. My heart goes out to them. I hope and pray for everyone that is being affected by this storm. I know situations like these can be stressful. You are stuck indoors possibly for several days, your schedule is turned upside down, you can’t exercise like you want. All we can do is make the most of it. The storm or situation will eventually pass. I hope to share some of my new creations I come up with while I am hunkered down. Be safe, stay positive. Hugs from the Memorable Kitchen!