I understand there's lots of uncertainty centred around so many things at the moment. The world feels topsy turvy, and we're each becoming accustomed to a new reality.
Last week it was toilet rolls, this week my local supermarket is low on pasta, cereal, bread and beer. Fortunately fresh fruit and veg still seems to be in plentiful supply. I guess people are stocking up on dried goods and things that they can store for weeks and months as oppose to thinking about short-term health.
Whilst there's absolutely no indication that supermarkets will need to close, I'm still receiving lots of concerned messages from people asking how they can stay healthy and keep their skin healing plan on track when the foods I recommend might not be available over the coming weeks.
It's important not to panic. Stress can have as much of a negative impact on our skin as poor diet. If you are feeling anxious about the impact coronavirus might have on your ability to consume fresh veg, here are my favourite tips to keep you stocked up on fresh nutrients throughout;
Freezing is a natural preservation process. Frozen veg contains just as many nutrients as fresh. Special machinery is used to get the produce to minus 18 degrees Celsius in minutes. The nutrients are 'frozen-in' during this process, therefore the vitamin content of frozen fruit and vegetables is generally on par with (or in some cases vitamins are better retained than) their fresh counterpart. Frozen vegetables also maintain their minerals, fibre, and carbohydrate content. Spinach, broccoli, carrots, garlic and even spices such as ginger, can all be bought frozen.
Fermentation is the breakdown of carbohydrates such as starch and sugar, by bacteria and yeast. It's a well known, ancient technique of preserving food. Common fermented foods include kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, tempeh, kombucha, and yogurt. The great thing about these foods is that not only do they keep for a long time, they're great for replenishing good gut bacteria known as probiotics, and have even been shown to reduce heart disease, aid digestion, boost immunity, and balance weight. Whether you're into cooking or not, fermenting is a whole new way to prepare food. Check out Janice @BeNourishedByNature for lots of simple fermentation ideas.
Store Fresh Veg Correctly
Squash and root vegetables should be stored in a cool, dark, dry place outside the fridge. Somewhere like a cupboard or cool cellar. You can store garlic, onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams and pumpkins this way.
Parsnips, celery, cauliflower and cabbage also last longer than most vegetables. They should be good for a couple of weeks in the fridge.
Most veg, like carrots, potatoes, broccoli, cabbage and celery are best kept stored in a silicone container in the crisper at the bottom of your fridge. Mushrooms however are best stored in a paper bag. Vegetables should ideally be stored in a different part of the fridge than fruit. This prevents them from ripening too fast.
Most vegetables need to be blanched before they are frozen. This means that you should boil the whole or sliced vegetable for a couple of minutes, and then immediately place in ice cold water to halt the cooking process. This will keep your vegetables from getting freezer burn. Frozen vegetables will be fine for a whole year. Freezing is not recommended for artichokes, aubergine, lettuce, potatoes, radishes, sprouts or sweet potatoes.
Grow Your Own
Growing your own vegetables is a fantastic way to keep a fresh crop to hand all summer long. Many salads are cut-and-come-again. This means you can chop leaves off and a week or so later they will grow back. You really don't need a big garden space for this. A container full of growing compost will do the trick nicely.
If you're interested in learning more about growing your own .. check out my blog post on planting peas for beginners.
Don't Let Old Vegetables go to Waste
If you've got some veg that's looking a little past its best in the fridge at the moment, don't immediately presume it can't be used. Great to boil up for vegetable soups or stews, fantastic as a home made vegetable stock, there are plenty of tasty recipes for those slightly wrinkled parsnips and toughened out carrots. If they really are past their best, throw them on the compost heap so that they rot down to provide nutrients for next years grow.
Juice & Freeze
If you've stocked up on juicing fruit and vegetables such as spinach, kale and apples these typically haven't got a massively long shelf life. In some cases, such as the leafy greens, just 3 - 5 days and they don't freeze too well. In this instance it would be better to make a fresh green juice straight away, bottle it and store it in the freezer before the veg goes off.
Dehydrated fruit takes up very little storage space. It’s lightweight enough to take with you on the go. To maintain its long shelf life, it should be stored in a cool, dark, dry area. You can use an electric dehydrator for fruits and vegetables or switch your oven to its lowest setting with the door ever so slightly ajar. It might take a good 6-8 hours to dehydrate something well, but it tastes so delicious it's definitely worth it.