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Our society’s attention over the past few months have all been directed to safety measures in fighting the spread of the Novel Corona Virus that causes the worldwide-stricken pandemic, COVID-19. In times of need, the best shield we have aside from these protocols is to heighten our immune system by staying healthy, eating healthy. In order to achieve this, one should practice a healthy balanced diet or a nutritious diet that is enough to supplement the daily dietary requirements that our body needs.

Maintaining a nutritious diet during emergencies could get a little bit challenging and tricky. Surely, some of us would be alarmed on the reality that being under enhanced community quarantine doesn’t give that much time and choice on the food that will be served on the dining table, especially those families on the marginal social level. Understandably, families have to be more careful in budgeting their savings to get hold of accessible and affordable foods during this time of crisis.

 



That being said, it is inevitable for everyone to seek for food products with longer shelf-life that can last during the month-long home stay. Instant food products are goods that have undergone factory processing. They are convenient to consumers, and have reduced cooking time compared to regular whole foods in the market. Examples of these are instant noodles, canned goods, tight sealed and microwavable foods and the like. The food rations distributed to most households by their local government and other concerned sectors more or less included the aforementioned food items. Although, it is highly notable and commendable that local government units and other sectors included fruits and vegetables in their relief operations outsourced from the produce of their respective small and big scale farmers. Presence of community gardens and home gardens are now being appreciated as the most accessible source of high value and nutritious food.

 

So, how exactly do we make these instant and processed foods a little more nutritious without it entirely messing up our balanced diet and making us feel a little less guilty? Here are tips on how to eat rich on a tight budget while on quarantine:

1. GREEN IS GOOD! Yes, you read that right, greens are good for us. Greens could be any leafy vegetable we see around the market or our backyard. Adding some, or even generously, of these magic-makers could make that chicken, beef, or any other type of instant noodle soup taste far more interesting without depriving us with all the natural vitamins and minerals. Most common examples of these that could possibly be around your community are: camote tops, pepper leaves, sayote tops, spinach, malunggay, taro leaves, and many others. Oh, greens are also very rich in iron, calcium, and even vitamin C for immunity, just don’t overcook it!

2. HELLO YELLOW! Another trick to make your instant meals be nutritious is by adding some yellow, orange, and other bright-colored crops, fruits, or veggies to it. Examples of these are squash, tomato, carrot, beet, corn, potato and others. Unlike the green foods, these can actually last longer when stored well so these could be made as complimentary to the instant goods you are about to prepare when the good greens run out.

3. MORE IS ACTUALLY LESS! You might want to lessen the saltines and artificial flavours from your instant packets. Fun fact: most instant foods on the market contain high amounts of sodium that top off our daily recommended intake. So if you see more of these types of food products stocked on your cupboard during quarantine, better give yourself and your kidneys a break by throwing away the flavourings and substituting it with organic herbs and spices such as black pepper, ginger, turmeric, garlic, and others that add natural aroma and flavour. 

4. BOILING DOES WONDERS. Frozen products were processed with unholy amounts of preservatives and even artificial colorants. Now that is an actual huge red light to our precious organs. One trick to strip off some of the preservatives is by boiling it first for a certain amount of time as preferred and then proceed to the next cooking procedure as instructed in the pack 

5. WHAT’S THE CHEAPEST SOURCE OF PROTEIN? Three letters enriched with all good stuff shelled into one. You might want to get creative on preparing those canned meat loafs, corned beef, button mushrooms or even any type of canned goods that’s lined up for breakfast by baking it with eggs. No oven? Easy. Steaming comes in handy. You can also mash or dice all ingredients and mix it along with beaten eggs to make an omelette, you can even go a long way by adding vegetables into it. Place the mix in a pan or a heat resistant container and position it inside your regular steamer or if not available, make use of a wide pot and stainless strainer with grip arms where the pan can be positioned. Steaming can save up cooking time even more while still saving up the nutrient content of the food unlike other cooking methods. Now did you just save yourself some gasul and cooking oil for this meal? Yes, you did!

6.FOOD IS LIFE BUT WATER IS LIFER. Eating instant and processed foods especially on a regular basis already makes it harder for our digestive system to function as it does. Let us ease up its burden by staying more hydrated than ever. Drinking safe water, at least 8-12 glasses or so, every day does the trick by helping our digestive system breakdown the ingested food faster. On another note, sometimes, boredom during home quarantine makes our mind think that we are hungry. Drinking a glass of water can be handy in relieving the confusion on whether you are hungry, bored, or just thirsty.

So these are just some and possibly the most efficient and applicable tips and hacks on how to make instant foods be nutritiously rich without spending too much money while in home quarantine. But then again, natural-grown products such as freshly harvested produces are still the best nutrient providers that top all instant commodities and synthetic medicines around the market without slowly damaging our body organs and compromising our overall health in the long run but giving ourselves more points for stronger immunity especially in times like this. 

 

Ms. Wylibeth N. Lumpias

Development Management Officer II, NNC Region 1