Algonquin Family Health Team

Therapeutic Nutrition Counselling – Healthy Eating During a Pandemic

Tips on how to eat healthy during a pandemic

food – dietitian

Be prepared in the event that you need to self-isolate by having a fridge and pantry full of nutrient-dense foods that will last you at least 2 weeks. The following tips will help you to have a balanced healthy diet whether you are in isolation or not. A healthy diet allows your body to function at its most optimal level to promote wellness and fight disease.

MAKE A LIST – Discard foods that have expired. Make space for new items and place items in front that have best before or expiry dates within the next 6 months to ensure they get used first. Record the remaining items that you have and their quantities to determine what you need to shop for. Prepare your grocery list (use our basic foods checklist for ideas and to make sure you don’t forget any important items).

PROTEIN FOODS – Include protein foods with omega-3 fatty acids such as fatty fish (salmon, mackerel and tuna) for their anti-inflammatory benefits. Choose lean meats such as skinless chicken breast, pork tenderloin, centre cut loin chop, inside/eye of round/sirloin tip beef roast or stewing beef (use slow cooking methods to tenderize leaner cuts of meat). Consider plant-based options such as tofu, tempeh, and texturized vegetable protein which can be used in soups/stews or stir-fry’s. Soy based veggie ground round can be used in pasta sauces, tacos, and shepherd’s pie. Try vegan burgers and simulated meats in place of meat to reduce saturated fat in your diet. Legumes such as beans, split-peas and lentils are versatile, an excellent source of fibre, and are low in fat. They can be used in soups, chili, wraps, grain & veggie salads, and made into dips. Frozen edamame beans (in pods and also shelled) can be eaten for protein-rich snacks and used in stir-fry’s and whole grain bowls.

WHOLE GRAINS – Brown rice, quinoa, barley, bulgur, buckwheat, and farro can be used for grain salads, sides or in soups. Include whole wheat pasta for spaghetti, tuna pasta salad or a pesto veggie pasta. Stock up on whole grain, low sugar, high fibre cold and hot cereals that have no added sugar or less than 6 g of sugar per serving and 5 g of fibre or more. Examples include: Shredded wheat, Fibre one, Natures Path cereals and Barbara’s puffins. Store whole-grain sliced bread in the freezer and take out a slice or two at a time, as needed.

PRODUCE – When selecting produce, choose a wide variety of fruits and vegetables to ensure a diversity of vitamins and minerals. Keep veggies and fruits separated, to prevent premature ripening. Be sure to include dark green and bright orange fruits and vegetables such as kale, spinach, swiss chard, beet greens, sweet potato, squash, apricots, and oranges.

FRUITS – Longer shelf-life fruits include oranges (3-4 wks in fridge), grapefruit (6 wks) and apples (4-6 wks) whereas green bananas will ripen in 2-5d. Choose canned fruits packed in juice or water and unsweetened apple sauce. Frozen fruits such as berries, pomegranate and mangoes, can be defrosted for desserts, added to smoothies, oatmeal or yogurt. Dried fruits such as unsweetened raisins, cranberries, cherries, apples, apricots and mangoes can be added to trail mix, cereal, yogurt or salads.

 VEGETABLES – Use up your fresh produce first and keep the following on hand – canned peas, corn, green beans, carrots, beets and pure pumpkin purée (add to smoothies and baked goods). Look for reduced or no sodium varieties where possible. Stock up on frozen vegetables, including leafy greens such as kale and spinach, as well as broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower rice and spiralized vegetables (beets/carrots/zucchini). Store longer-lasting fresh vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, hard squash, garlic, and rutabagas in a cool dry dark place such as your pantry (keep potatoes separate from onions). The remainder should be kept in the fridge. Eggplant, celery, peppers, peas, artichokes, zucchini, cauliflower and cucumber will last up to a week in the fridge. Carrots, parsnips, turnips, beets, and radishes can be stored in a plastic produce bag and will last up to 2 weeks. More delicate items such as mushrooms (store in a paper bag or pre-packaged container), brussel sprouts, green beans, and broccoli will last approximately 3 to 5 days.

HEALTHY FATS – Nuts, nut butters and seeds also add protein, fibre, vitamin E and minerals to snacks and meals. Try the natural variety with no added salt, oil or sugar. Buy frozen avocado chunks to add to smoothies and salads. Try guacamole as a snack.  Heart healthy oils include olive, canola, avocado, and safflower.

SNACKS – Include granola bars (choose brands with less sugar and more fibre) examples include Kashi and Fibre One. Whole grain crackers like Ryvita and Finncrisp pair nicely with hummus. Try roasted chickpeas, soy nuts, wasabi peas (if you like spicy heat) and whole-food energy bars such as Lara bars made from dried fruits and nuts. Simply protein bars are a good low sugar option. Harvest snacks green pea snap crisps and crispy minis rice chips can indulge a savoury craving and are low in fat. Dietitian’s fave go-to snack is always an apple with a handful of almonds!

Adapted by Nicole Kiss, RD from:

For the nutrient value of some common foods:

Web links for recipe ideas: (create a free account and search for healthy recipes) (search recipes)


Basic Foods Checklist

Knowing how to stock your kitchen can make meal planning much easier. Here are some basic foods to have on hand which will allow you to prepare simple meals. Adjust the list to include foods that you prefer.

In the Pantry

Breakfast Foods

  • Cereal (consider whole grain varieties with little to no added sugar)

Shredded wheat, Fibre one, All bran, Nature’s Path

  • Oatmeal (old fashioned or rolled, quick, or steel cut)
  • Pancake mix

Canned, Jarred, & Pouched Foods

  • Fruits and vegetables (choose options without added sugar or salt)
  • Meat, poultry, & seafood (fish, chicken, or other meats)
  • Beans / legumes (choose no salt added variety)

Pinto, kidney, black, garbanzo, lentils, split-peas

  • Soups (look for lower sodium varieties)
  • Nut butter (try natural varieties with no added salt or sugar)

Peanut, almond, hazelnut & cashew

  • Dried fruit
  • Sauces (tomato, spaghetti, pizza)
  • Salsa
  • Broth or stock (chicken, beef or vegetable, try the low or no salt added variety)

Grains, Pasta & Sides

  • Bread (consider whole grain varieties)
  • Tortillas (try whole grain for making wraps)
  • Taco shells
  • Pasta (consider whole grain varieties)

Whole wheat, ancient grains, bean or brown rice pastas

  • Rice (include some whole grain rice, such as brown rice)
  • Quinoa
  • Barley
  • Buckwheat


  • Onions
  • Potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams


  • Crackers (consider whole grain varieties)
    Ryvita, Finncrisp, Triscuit, Mary’s brown rice crackers
  • Popcorn
  • Nuts & seeds (choose natural without added oils or salt) Almonds, walnuts, cashews, hemp hearts (try on cereal, in a smoothie or yogurt), pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, ground flaxseeds (store in freezer)
  • Peanuts

Baking & Cooking Supplies

  • Instant nonfat dry milk
  • Boxed milk (plant based options include: soy, almond, rice)
  • Flour (consider whole grain)
  • Sugar (white granulated, brown)
  • Seasonings & spices (salt, black pepper, garlic, ginger, turmeric, chill powder, cumin, bay leaf, oregano, italian spice, paprika, dry mustard)
  • Oil for cooking (such as olive, canola, safflower)
  • Vinegar

Condiments & Salad Dressings

  • Ketchup
  • Mustard
  • Mayonnaise (choose a lower fat option)
  • Salad dressing

In the Refrigerator

  • Milk (fat-free, low-fat, or plant based including unsweetened soy, almond, cashew, or rice milk)
  • Cheese (block, shredded, sliced, or string and consider lower fat options <20% M.F.)
  • Yogurt (fat-free or low-fat and choose options with fewer or no added sugars)
  • Meat alternatives (tofu, veggie ground round, simulated meat products)
  • Eggs
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Hummus
  • Non-hydrogenated margarine

In the Freezer

  • Fruit (frozen blueberries, mango, mixed berries, avocado chunks for smoothies)
  • Vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower rice, stir-fry veggies)
  • Meat & alternatives, seafood (chicken breast, ground beef/turkey, pork loin chops, salmon, shrimp, veggie burgers, vegan products)
  • 100% fruit juice concentrate
  • Waffles (consider whole grain varieties)
  • Breads (consider whole grain varieties)

Adapted from:


Therapeutic Nutrition Counselling

Service includes one-on-one therapeutic nutrition counselling.

Patients are encouraged to speak to their Primary Care Provider for a referral to the dietitian.

Program available at the Howland Building.  For inquiries please contact Melanie Larkin, RD at or 705 787-0846 x205.

Canada Food Guide

We provide primary care services & programs in Huntsville, Dorset & local areas.
Call our helpful staff today.