Local food experts are serving up helpful tips on nutrition and dietary choices during lockdown amid COVID-19.
Although social isolation will be viewed as tiresome by some, this is the time to beef up your cooking skills and be aware of what you put in your body to keep your immune system in tiptop shape.
Tamara Whorms-Riley, a registered dietitian and nutritionist at the Cayman Islands Hospital suggests the public remain vigilant about what they consume.
She said cooking at home can go both ways – stressful for some and therapeutic for others.
“There are several ways to bring the love to the kitchen and find therapy for stress and anxiety whilst at home for an extended period of time,” Whorms-Riley said.
“Knowing your pattern and preference for your space is very important to understanding how cooking can help you with [coping],” she said.
If you like company, then having others who are home with you join in the food prep can bring joy and a sense of calm, she added.
Doing something good for your body can also provide a sense of well-being.
She also suggested trying new things from a recipe book that perhaps you’ve not had the time to attempt in the past, and that chopping vegetables and hammering meats are a good way to diffuse stress and anger.
Kristen Lomas, a dietician at Seven Mile Medical Clinic, said this this is a great time to take stock of what you already have in your homes – on your shelves – and use those items.
There are reference websites such as fridgetotable.com and supercook.com, where you enter the foods and spices you have on hand and they will present recipe options.
This can limit excess-buying in these financially uncertain times. You can also involve your children in the process, which can get them excited about cooking as part of an educational lesson, she said.
She advised not to waste money on any products or supplements that state they can treat or prevent COVID-19.
There is no data to suggest that certain items would prevent a person from being infected.
Of course, quality nutrition (a balanced diet) can assist if a person becomes infected, but at this time, there are no cures, although top professionals in the field are currently researching items.
Winston Sobers, founder of the nonprofit group Movers for Life and author of the book ‘90 Pounds Lighter: You Can Make It Happen’, says cooking in advance for more than one day’s meals ensures you are not spending all your time in the kitchen.
Proteins and starches, for example, can be cooked and used over two days, while veggies should be prepared daily.
Consider quick or easy-to-cook items, such as boiling green bananas and baking sweet potatoes.
Buy frozen vegetables that will last longer and keep you from having to go to the supermarket so often. Avoid eating meat at all meals while considering other options such as chickpeas and beans. Get creative and curry them, for example.
Use brown rice, utilise frozen fruits for shakes and smoothies, and watch excess sugar consumption.
Schoolteacher and avid baker, Anola Smith, said just being in the kitchen puts her in her best frame of mind and reduces anxiety. Her emotions and feelings come out in the taste of the food she lovingly prepares.
Due to the present government regulations, the demand for her pastries and small cakes are down.
“As my company is new, I am using the down time to work on branding my company policy, logo and looking at how to create a website and order forms,” she said, determined to make the most of the quiet.
In addition, Smith said she has been going through her baking supplies and notes, checking expiry dates on items; reassessing recipes she likes and uses weekly; and doing prep for local recipes.
Starrie Scott on Cayman Brac said she is content making her coconut cream pies with homemade crust and filling to occupy her time at home. Scott, 68, at home with husband Tenson, 81, in isolation from the coronavirus, said it gives her more time to cook for him and her daughter.
“I don’t find it difficult to be home cooking every day. In fact, my husband is my biggest fan of my food, therefore our household is good, currently,” she said. “Your cooking skills improve as you spend more time in the kitchen.”
Tanya Foster, Foster’s deli and bakery senior manager, has suggestions for cooking while at home.
She recommends slow-cooked stews, soups or sauces. “A pot of sauce cooking slowly on the stove is comforting and makes the house smell delicious,” she said.
Bake fresh breads or quick breads such as banana and blueberry zucchini, which are great to freeze and pull out when you need them.
She also suggests making cookies which can be stored and used at later times.
To get to some of Foster’s delicious, nutritious, and fun-loving recipes, visit tanyaskitchen.ky/recipes.
| For further information on food standards relating to the novel coronavirus, visit www.usda.gov/coronavirus and for diabetic patients, diatribe.org/preparing-covid-19-diabetes-friendly-shopping-list.