When Opportunity Knocks

When Opportunity Knocks

Hurricane Irma hit our community hard. Luckily, we had some time to prepare but there’s really only so much a person can do. What a mess! Now that we’ve hugged our kids, checked on our neighbors and assessed the damage, it’s time to roll up our sleeves.

If you’re like most Floridians, you spent days without electricity, and may even still be waiting, which means that in addition to hauling off yard debris, you’re probably also due for a complete refrigerator clean out.

I had hoped our power outage would only last a couple of days but by Thursday, even the freezer was sweltering. Aside from a few condiments that I felt safe holding on to, pretty much everything we hadn’t managed to eat, had to go... well, almost everything.

What did survive the intense heat and humidity? Whole plant foods, of course! Onions, carrots, potatoes, cabbage, yams, broccoli, cauliflower, apples, oranges, watermelon, mangos, papaya... even the bell peppers and zucchini were only slightly worse for wear. Along with some dry staples like pasta, beans, rice, grains, nuts, seeds and a few well-chosen canned goods, our family enjoyed healthy meals all week long.

Don’t get me wrong. I did not love having to cook by flashlight and cleaning out the fridge was definitely NO fun... but on the bright side, there’s now a squeaky clean empty slate to work with – and a chance to mindfully restock. For me, that means keeping it simple. Less processed foods and more whole, fresh ingredients.

How about you? Have you been thinking about embracing a healthier lifestyle? Want to kick your diet up a notch? Maybe this is the perfect opportunity to follow up on those good intentions.

If you’re feeling inspired to refill your pantry and fridge with the healthy plant foods your body needs to thrive, here are a few suggestions:

Start with the BASICS. Traditional fruits and vegetables like apples, bananas, tomatoes, potatoes, peas and carrots are great building blocks for a variety of dishes. Stick with what you like and then, when you’re ready, try something new.

Keep it WHOLE. Unprocessed plant foods offer a premium balance of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrate, protein, fat and health-promoting phytochemicals PLUS fiber and water. This nutrient-density keeps your body full and satisfied without the processed fats, sugars and excess calories regularly found in manufactured products.

Eat the RAINBOW. All those gorgeous hues of red, green, yellow, orange, purple, even brown and white are hints to the healthful antioxidants hiding inside. They are ready and waiting to feed your body and defend against illness and inflammation. When you open the fridge, you should see a kaleidoscope of color!

Don’t forget FLAVOR. Choose seasonings that perk up your taste buds! Peppers, onions, garlic, ginger, pickles, berries, corn, dried fruits, herbs and spices, along with your favorite condiments, will lift those meals from ordinary to extraordinary.

Are you beginning to see Irma’s stormy aftermath as an opportunity for change? Ready to make lemonade from all those lemons? Then it's time to plan that food shopping adventure... assuming refrigerator clean up is complete, of course. Explore your grocery store’s produce department. How about a day trip to the farmer’s market? A visit to one of Central Florida’s many u-pick farms? The fall harvest is just around the corner... a perfect time to restock and reinvest in your family's health and wellness!