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We’ve all been seeing blogs and recipe posts about using pantry staples during the COVID19 crisis. Tips for quick meals, ways to use beans and canned tomatoes are taking over the internet. And believe me, I embrace these recipes, too! I’m all for inexpensive, quick ways to get dinner on the table.

But lettuce not forget about perishable food, too! With stores still allowing people through their doors, or better yet- utilizing Instacart, Click List or Amazon Prime to continue social distancing, we can all continue to eat fresh and frozen food during this pandemic. And we should. Fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts/seeds and beans offer loads of nutrition from vitamins, minerals and fiber to phytochemicals, antioxidants and other compounds that help fight disease. Studies show that a plant-forward diet is linked with lower rates of cancer, obesity, heart disease and diabetes- several conditions that make people more vulnerable to getting the coronavirus.

Here are a few ways to get your plants on:

  1. Keep your produce in the frig. Yes, the apples and oranges look beautiful on your counter, but you’ll extend the shelf life if you keep them cool. Remember shelf life has the word SHELF in it, after all! Put them in a Zip lock bag if you have it.
  2. Add fruits or vegetables to every meal. Onions can be sauteed and used in multiple dishes like eggs, pasta, rice, beans or soup.
  3. Add fresh or frozen spinach to your dishes to get more vitamin C, potassium and antioxidants in your meals. A dose of daily greens has been found to protect your noggen!
  4. Add less than perfect fruit (wrinkled apples, browning bananas, soggy berries) to oatmeal, yogurt and smoothies or bake pears or apples with cinnamon for a healthy treat.
  5. Commit to whole grains. Enough low carb madness- trust that high fiber foods are necessary for bowel regularity, cholesterol reduction, blood sugar management and energy. Choose rolled oats, 100% whole grain bread & pasta, brown rice, quinoa and other hearty grains. These are plants, too!
  6. Have at least 2 (or more) meatless dinners per week. There’s a large variety of options with beans and lentils including Indian, Mediterranean or other dishes. Maximize your thyme and try new spices and herbs.
  7. Keep a variety of frozen fruits & veggies on hand. Veggies can be microwaved in 2 minutes and used as a side dish or added to soups, stews or leftovers quickly to boost color and nutritional value of your meals.
  8. Experiment with fruits and veggies in the same dish. Roast sweet potatoes with apples or add pears or citrus fruit to salads. There’s no rule that these need to be served separately.

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