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Ideas for eating right when you’re staying in: Tips and easy recipes


These are trying times. Even though you may be stuck at home, however, you can still prepare nutritious meals, often with just a few, simple ingredients.

Juliann Mellen, a registered dietitian nutritionist at Upstate, advises that as much as your circumstances and available ingredients allow:

--Keep up a regular meal schedule.

--Try for healthy snacks with at least two food groups, such as whole-grain bread or crackers with peanut butter or cheese. Try to include a protein, vegetable and whole grain in your meals.

--Be flexible when food you would like isn’t available. Try eggs, beans or tuna if you have no meat. No rice? Try grains such as quinoa or farro instead.

--Be willing to make do with what you can get.

--Occasional sweets or less nutritional foods are OK, but don’t overdo them.

Natalie Antosh, a fourth-year medical student at Upstate, offers some simple, adaptable meals you can prepare using commonly available ingredients.

Her interest in nutrition helped create a nutrition class offered to medical students at Upstate.

Each of these meals serves four to six people. You can stretch the number of servings by adding more vegetables or water, as needed. And, if you are using frozen ingredients, thaw before cooking.

HealthLInk on Air logo(Hear Juliann Mellen and Natalie Antosh talk about nutrition and cooking simple, nutritious meals in this interview with Upstate's "HealthLink on Air.")



Pasta and Sauce

Cook a box of pasta, any size or shape, according to the box instructions, adding a bit of salt to the cooking water. In a separate pan, sauté a protein in olive oil for a few minutes till golden brown — this could be lentils or crumbled tempeh (a soy product) or a ground meat (turkey has less fat than beef), seasoned to taste with salt, pepper or maybe some paprika or cayenne pepper. Add a jar of pasta sauce and whatever vegetables you have and let the mixture simmer, stirring as needed to prevent burning. Serve the cooked pasta with the sauce mixture.


In a large pot, sauté in olive oil a chopped onion and garlic with whatever vegetables you have. Add protein, such as ground meat or tempeh, and cook until the vegetables are soft and the protein is browned. Add 3 cans of drained beans, such as 1 can of pinto beans and 2 cans of black beans, a large can (28 ounces) of diced tomatoes with the juice, and 2 cups of chicken broth, vegetable broth or water, plus whatever seasoning you like, such as salt and pepper, oregano, cumin or taco seasoning. Bring to a boil, then let simmer for a while to come together, adding a little lemon juice or vinegar for a bit of a kick.

Lentil Soup

In a large pot, sauté in olive oil a chopped onion and garlic with whatever vegetables you have, chopped small, until soft. Add 4 cups of broth or water and a cup of brown or green lentils, then boil with the vegetables. If you have diced tomatoes, add those, including the juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper and whatever spices you have on hand, such as cumin or curry powder. Cook until lentils are done. If you have a grain like barley, rice or quinoa, cook that separately and serve the soup over it in bowls.

Upstate Health magazine cover for spring 2020, special coronavirus editionThis article is from the spring 2020 Upstate Health magazine, a special edition dealing with the coronavirus.