Tips for Food Storage & Healthy Eating during Lockdown

By Jiahui Health

 

During this period, most of us are spending more and more time in our kitchens. We may be encountering foods that we haven’t used before, and plenty of us are worried that we may not be getting all of the nutrients that we need.

 

Our Clinical Nutritionist, Katrin Lee, provides insights into various different foods, how to make them last longer, how to use them nutritiously, and how to make sure you are getting the necessary vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.

 

How should I be dealing with different vegetables?

 

There are a few key vegetables that have been part of many people’s food packages. Here are a few tips on storage and how to make the most out of them.

 

Tomatoes

 

Storage:

  • If your tomatoes are fully ripened, place them in the fridge to make them last as long as possible.
  • If they need to ripen, let them sit in a cool, dry place at room temperature until fully ripened. After which, place them in the fridge.

 

Dish suggestions:

Tomato and chickpea/beef stew with carrots, shakshuka, Chinese-style stir-fried tomato and eggs, salsa, grilled cheese and tomato sandwich, tomato sauce.

 

Potatoes

 

Storage:

  • First, pick out any damaged potatoes and make sure to use them first.
  • To make your potatoes last longer, store them in a container or bag with holes, and keep them in a dark, cool, dry place at room temperature.
  • Always keep your potatoes away from other produce, and do not wash them until you are ready to use them.

 

Dish suggestions:

Vegetable curry, herb roasted potatoes, mashed potatoes and cauliflower (good for picky eaters!), scallion/spinach potato pancakes, sweet pepper potato hash, shepherd’s pie.

 

Cabbage

 

Storage:

  • It is best to store your cabbage whole, wrapped in plastic, in the fridge.
  • Once cut, wrap the cabbage tightly in plastic wrap as soon as possible after cutting, to reduce contact with air. Place it in the fridge, where it can be kept for up to a week.
  • If you would like to store your cabbage for longer, you can cut and wash it before storing it in the freezer, where it will keep for more than two months. If you blanche the cabbage before freezing, it can be stored for an additional few months.

 

Dish suggestions:

Sautéed cabbage with garlic and chili, hearty cabbage soup, cabbage rolls with ground meat in tomato sauce, cabbage and egg pancakes (okonomiyaki), cabbage fried rice, pickled cabbage with vinegar, peppercorn and chili.

 

Celtuce

 

What is it?

Celtuce is a hybrid between celery and lettuce. It’s very low in calories, is a good source of dietary fiber, and is packed full of a range of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A and C, folate, potassium, and magnesium.

 

Usage:

  • Cut off the rough ends, and then use a peeler to peel off the fibrous outer surface. Once you see the slightly translucent green part of the stem, can stop peeling.
  • You can then either slice or shred the peeled celtuce, depending on how you would like to use it.

 

Dish suggestions:

Stir-fried celtuce with mushrooms, shredded celtuce and apple salad, braised celtuce with meat, pickled celtuce, celtuce slaw with a soy sauce and sesame dressing.

 

Leafy green vegetables (Xiǎoqīngcài)

 

What is it?

Xiaoqincai is a leafy green vegetable, similar to bok choy.

 

Storage:

  • Before storing, thoroughly rinse your leafy greens, and pat dry with paper towel. In order to extend the storage life, ensure that they are as dry as possible.
  • Once clean and dry, wrap the greens in a slightly damp paper towel (you can reuse the paper towel that was used to dry the greens), and place in a sealed container or plastic bag in the fridge. They will last up to 4 days.

 

Saving wilted leafy greens:

Sometimes leafy greens can become damaged and wilted, but the good news is that they can often be saved! This method also works well for other leafy greens such as spinach, lettuce, kale, and herbs.

  • First, remove any parts that are mushy or too wilted.
  • Place the remaining leaves in a bowl of water with ice, and place the bowl in the fridge for 15-30 minutes.
  • If the leaves remain wilted, unfortunately it means that it’s too late to save them. If this is the case, you can either cook the edible (non-slimy, non-discolored) parts as soon as possible, or discard them.

 

Dish suggestions:

Boiled leafy greens with garlic and soy sauce, baked creamy spinach/greens, quick-sautéed greens as warm salad base, add greens at the end of cooking soups, omelet with mushroom and greens, ‘pesto’ sauce.

 

Have you run out of fridge-space?

 

Many of us may have over-stocked and have now run out of space in the fridge. Here are a few tips to make your fresh produce last longer, and prevent wastage.

 

  • Cut-up, or divide your fruit and vegetables into one-meal portions, and then store in the fridge or freezer.
  • Cook the fresh produce, and store it. For example, use your onions and tomatoes to make a tomato sauce, which can be used at a later time for your pasta or soup base.
  • Freeze your fruit and vegetables (if you have freezer space!). This can make your produce last up to three months. Different foods must be prepared in different ways:
  • 1. Freeze immediately: washed berries and grapes
  • 2. Cut-up: carrots, banana (peel first), ripe avocado (mashed and mixed with lemon juice)
  • 3. Cut-up and blanched: leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, sweet potatoes

 

Having difficulty getting fresh fruits, vegetables, and protein?

 

There are many different foods that will provide you with the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that you need… and many of these may be sitting in your pantry or freezer!
Dried fruits, including raisins, cranberries, dates, goji berries, and prunes. It is recommended to have no more than a handful a day, and anyone undergoing blood sugar monitoring should limit intake.

  • Dried veggies, including dried mushrooms, dried fungus, seaweed, and sun-dried tomatoes.
  • Dried beans, grains, nuts, and seeds all provide protein, healthy fats, and a source of fiber.
  • Frozen fruits and vegetables may actually have maintained more nutrients than the fruit and vegetables that have been sitting in your fridge for a while.
  • Cold cereal, particularly wheat flakes, cornflakes, or puffed cereals that have been fortified with multiple vitamins and minerals.

 

What should my minimum daily fruit and vegetable intake be?

 

Typically, when food resources are readily available, it is recommended that a healthy adult should eat 4 servings (2 small bowls of cooked/4 small bowls of raw) vegetables and 2 servings (pieces) of fruits. With limited resources, it is recommended to still maintain at least either 1 small bowl (1 fist-size) of cooked vegetables or 2 small bowls of raw vegetables, and at least 1 piece (1 fist-size) of fruit a day.

 

During this unique period, our clinical nutritionists are still available for nutrition consultations, either online, or in-person at Jiahui International Hospital.

 

For more tips on how to correctly store your food in the fridge, see our previous article:

Keep That Yogurt off the Door! (and Other Refrigerator Tips)

 

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