As Hurricane Zeta swept through Atlanta this week, many of us are finding ourselves without power. I encourage you use power outages as an opportunity to get creative with the food you have on hand rather than letting it go to waste! Unfortunately, some have reported that their power will be out until Sunday. I pray it comes on sooner, but if that is not the case, below are some ideas to make use of the food in your house without electricity.
Take yogurt and top with granola and fresh or canned fruit. You can also used thawed frozen fruit. Add any toppings such as chia seeds, nut butter, chopped dried fruit, coconut flakes, etc. This will be one of the first things you want to eat, since the yogurt can go bad after 4 hours inside the fridge without power. Non-dairy yogurts will last longer. It’s a convenient and delicious breakfast or midday snack.
Oatmeal is one of the most nourishing kitchen staples. Mix the correct proportions of oats with water- it’s okay if the water is cold. Leave it overnight (covered) and add toppings to it the following morning. Some of my favorite toppings include fresh fruit (bananas and apples) and cinnamon. I also add a TBS of almond or peanut butter for extra protein.
·Whole grain cereals with shelf-stable milk such as almond or oat
Choose cereals that are high in fiber and low in sugar. Two of my favorite brands include Nature’s Path and Kashi. Almond milk or oat milk will be safe to store for long periods of time but once it’s opened, it must be refrigerated. Top with fruit, such as bananas or blueberries and 1 TBS of nut butter for protein.
·Bread, butter and jam
If you are really in a bind, simple whole wheat bread with butter and jam is a safe bet. Butter will not go bad if it’s left outside the fridge so at least it’s a safe food option.
Your recipe will depend on what fresh veggies and fruit you have on hand. Chop up what you have (kale, spinach, tomatoes, onions, etc) and toss them together with a dressing that doesn’t need to be. A simple dressing can be made with the oil and vinegar of your choice, salt and pepper. Lime or lemon juice can replace vinegar. To add more sustenance to this salad, pair it up with bread, or top with canned corn, beans or chickpeas (rinsed), canned tuna, avocados, mixed nuts.
In a pinch, you can put together a hearty taco filling using mostly canned goods. Open a can of chopped tomatoes, canned beans (rinsed), canned corn, avocado and fresh cilantro (if you have it). Toss everything together with this dressing: whisk together 1/4 cup lime juice with 2 tablespoons of a mild vinegar, 3 tablespoons honey, 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, and garlic salt / pepper to taste. Place into a tortilla and eat it like a salad or with pita bread/ chips.
· Tuna and bean salad
One of the best ways to add extra protein and sustenance to a plain tuna salad is with beans. A few of my favorite choices are white kidney beans, garbanzo beans and cannellini beans. Choose one of these options and mix it in with a can of tuna (drained), a little bit of chopped onion, lemon juice, olive oil, spices of your choice, and salt/ pepper- to taste. If you don’t have tuna, you can mix together different kinds of canned beans and make a bean salad.
· Lettuce wraps
If you have romaine or iceberg lettuce, use them as lettuce wraps to add a fun twist to a chicken or tuna salad. For a simple filling, combine canned chicken or tuna/salmon (drained) with chopped celery, onion, salt, pepper and mashed avocados to taste. If you have bread or tortillas, you can make this into a sandwich or wrap..
· Rice paper spring rolls
If you have the ingredients, they’re super easy and fast to make, and require no electricity. You can use any veggies you have on hand, such as carrots (julienned), green or purple cabbage (thinly sliced), lettuce (shredded), bell peppers (sliced), cilantro (chopped), beets (in thin slices), etc. Follow the assembly instructions on the rice paper container. For the best flavor, dip these into a peanut sauce. To make the sauce, whisk together 1/2 cup peanut or almond butter, 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce, 2-3 tablespoons maple syrup or brown sugar, 1/2 medium lime (juiced), 1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger (grated/ optional). If it turns out too thick, thin it out with water.
· Peanut/ almond butter with sliced fruit
Bananas and apples are a couple of my favorite fruits to pair with peanut and almond butter. Any fruit you have with any nuts on hand will make for a balanced snack! · DIY Trail Mix
This would be fun with kids. Every member of the family can choose an item to put in the trail mix to make a large family snack. Here are some ideas of what to put in your trail mix: Nuts, seeds, dried fruit, coconut flakes, cereal, chocolate, marshmallows, pretzels, granola, etc.
· Chunky hummus and veggies/ chips
With a fork, smash up a can of rinsed chickpeas (for a bean dip use canned beans). Add lemon or lime juice, salt, pepper, spices of your choice and pair it up with chips, pita bread, or fresh veggies.
Most people love PB&J. For the sake of a little comfort in difficult times, this is a great option.
I hope this blog can be useful for those without electricity. If you are in need of food or items, please don't hesitate to reach out to me for help. If you see a Georgia Power employee, thank them for all of their hard work to get your power back on asap. I pray you and your loved ones continue to stay safe and well during this time.
Christina Ellenberg is a Registered Dietitian and Strength and Conditioning Specialist located in the Atlanta Metro Area.