By Rachael Richardson, RDN, LDN Originally Published 10/2018, Updated 8/2019
For us coastal folks, the threat of a hurricane during these late summer and early fall months is in full effect. As a native and lifelong Floridian, I've had my share of hurricane experience including evacuation, preparation, devastation, and hurricane parties too!
Though many of us get lucky and end up avoiding the worst case scenario, it's always better to be prepared and this is why I wrote a "hurricane surthrival" article. As a dieitian/ nutritionist, my goal is to get through a storm without feeling overweight and undernourished (or worse) when it's all said and done. In case the power goes out, I want to relax in the knowing that I have healthy, delicious foods that I can easily whip up. Also, I love knowing that I can help a neighbor with natural food/medicine remedies or another type of medical emergency, if needed.
In this article, I've detailed some of my favorite healthy hurricane recipes, functional food ideas, and key survival supplements, as well as a few other tips for not just surviving, but thriving through a storm. Let's start with the recipes...
1- Vegetarian Tacos
What you'll need? Refried pinto or black beans, jarred salsa, canned olives, pickled jalepenos (homemade or store bought), onion, fresh grape tomatoes, taco shells, an avocado, lime, garlic and salt.
What to do? Simply pop the cans of beans, olives, and salsa; chop tomatoes and onions, smash avocado with lime juice, add salt and chopped garlic. Put it all together in any order you like, and enjoy this relatively quite healthy hurricane crowd pleaser.
What I love about this meal?
These ingredients require zero refrigeration to keep, and no power to make. So they are a perfect meal to keep handy, or even double up. This rendition of tacos is also vegan and filled with nutritive veggies, healthy and blood sugar stabilizing fat from avocado and olives, and other enzymatic and functional plant foods such as garlic, jalepeno, lime, and tomatoes.
2- German-style Potato salad
What you'll need? Red or other favorite potatoes, hard boiled eggs, fresh herbs such as parsley, dill and scallions, pickles (homemade or store bought), chopped celery, vinegar, sea salt and cracked pepper. Bacon, if desired.
What to do?
This one needs preparation before the storm. Boil potatoes and eggs. Slowly cook the bacon until fairly well crispy, then crumble. Once potatoes are cooked, place in a large bowl, add white, ricewine, or apple cider vinegar, and roughly mash, leaving some of the potatoes chunky. Drain any excess vinegar, peel the eggs, chop the white part of the eggs, and smoosh the yolks into the potato mixutre. Now, add chopped herbs, pickles, celery, bacon, and salt and pepper to taste, mix it up, divide into containers and keep cold!
Why I love this?
I love this German style potato salad as a hurricane food for a few major reasons. One, it's inexpensive and uses up a lot of groceries that you may already have and need to turn into something before the power goes out. If you're like me, you always have a dozen eggs in the house, usually a bag of potatoes, onions, pickles, celery in the fridge, and bacon in the freezer or fridge. So this dish helps you use up a bunch of groceries before they risk going bad.
Second, I love this salad because it can be eaten at any time of day, and straight out of the cooler. Also, notable, this dish is a really balanced meal, adding some complex carbs, lots of protein, some fresh veggies like celery, onions and herbs, all of which are healthy for keeping up fiber, vitamins and more. Even though it's "just a potato salad" this dish functions as a complete meal when you can't really cook. It's also a crowd pleaser; and, post storm, if you're grilling out meats and vegetables, it's the perfect side dish!
3- Kim Chi
I recently made this for the first time and posted about it on Instagram. Kim chi is one of my favorite food obsessions. It's much simpler than you may think to make, plus it's inexpensive, andcan really be helpful for digestion, and general health.
The recipe is available at the link, with photos on Instagram (click on link above).
What I love about this in particular reference to hurricanes is that it can sit out of refrigeration if needed, for many days. The ingredients (cabbage, carrots, fish sauce, scallions, ginger etc.) themselves can also be at room temperature for a while, so you can have them at home, the power can go out, and you can then decide to make kim chi! The worst case if it's out of a refrigerator for too many days (more than 4 or 5) is that it becomes "extra" fermented. But, it's excellent for digestion with loads of fiber and rich in probiotics, it's truly a "functional food" supporting digestion and immunity, especially during a hurricane.
4- Fish or Shrimp Ceviche
I realize this is an unlikely food to consider for a hurricane. However, consider this. One of the reasons ceviche was invented was as a way to preserve and store fish without refrigeration. And this is one of the main reasons it's included in my top five hurricane foods. In addition, there's a liquid called "leche de tigre" which translates to to "milk of the tiger" which results from the marinading of fish in lime juice. This liquid is used in Peru as a cold remedy and immune booster, so again, you'll have a functional healing food in case someone gets sick during a hurricane.
What you'll need? Any good white fish or shrimp, chopped in small similarly sized pieces; a LOT of squeezed limes, chopped cilantro, scallions, and jalepeno, thinly sliced onion, and sea salt.
What to do? Simply cover the fish and shrimp in lime juice, add the sliced onion, and chopped cilantro, scallions, jalepeno and sea salt. Toss gently, and place in the refrigerater. It will be ready to eat in 3-4 hours, and will last for 2-3 days in the fridge or cooler. Add to your plate some chopped fresh avocado and tomato, and serve with chips for an unexpectedly gourmet, delicious, and super healthy hurricane food. You can thank me later ;-)
5- Fresh shelf stable fruits
While shelf stable fruit require no cooking or prepping, I will never underestimate the value and perfection of fresh fruit. Here are some ideas of fruits that can sit on your counter for quite some time, and be handy for hurricanes: watermelon, papaya, cantaloupe, pineapple, apples, oranges, tangerines, limes, lemons, jackfruit, lychees, mangoes, kiwi and bananas. There are so many things I love about fruits, but overall they provide fresh enzymes, fiber, vitamin C, minerals and lots of high quality water, depending on the fruit. Plus, everyone loves fruit. And in all truth, most healthy people can live off of and actually benefit from eating just fruit for many days if needed.
Not to mention much of it can be squeezed or chopped into a yummy margarita or sangria. So stock up and eat fruit anytime, before after or during a hurricane.
Other foods & hurricane considerations:
- Nut milk and granola or cereal- cashew, coconut, rice, almond milk all are shelf stable, so you can keep them in the cupboard. Match up your favorite vegan milk with a granola, sliced or chopped nuts and fruit, and you've got the perfect continental breakfast or snack. It's all shelf stable and there's no risk of food borne illness. And it's vegan, decent for blood sugars if you use lower sugar granola, unsweetened milk, and add some nuts to provide healthy fat and a blood sugar stabilizing macronutrient.
- Fruit Snack Idea- a fruit such as an apple, thinly sliced and dipped in nut butter (almond, macadamia nut). Just make sure not to double dip to avoid bacterial contamination!
- Coconut water - a great way to stay hydrated, and delicious!
- Real cranberry juice - In case of urinary tract infection, you'll be happy you prepared. Add real cranberry juice to water for a prophylactic and natural & effective UTI treatment. D-Mannose, the active ingredient in cranberry juice, actually cleans bacteria off the urinary tract making it unlikely that they will grow and cause an infection.
- Other handy hurricane foods include beef or turkey jerky, canned tuna, salmon or sardines, nuts, gluten free pretzels, veggie chips, dehydrated fruits, canned beans, pickled vegetables, applesauce, dark chocolate, hard boiled eggs (kept cold!), and boxed or canned soups.
- Remember to get plenty of ready to go fluids!!! This may be the MOST important tip. Lots of water, freeze your little water bottles and make extra ice AHEAD of TIME!! Also, get things like natural lemonades, iced green teas, cold brew coffee, sparkling mineral water, juice- perhaps sip ups, cranberry and lime juice.
- I was also a licensed EMT in 1998/9, so from that perspective, keep in mind, having alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, gloves, band aid, tape, and clean guaze, sizzors, and creams and emolients. Even consider having some colliodal siver if needed to help with any kind of toxic injestion situation.
MORE! Important supplements to have in the house:
- HLC probiotics - these probiotics are the best on the market and extremely important to have in your freezer for a hurricane. If you accidentally consume a food that has some bad bacteria, you can immediately take these to fight off the potential infection. It could save you days of Food Borne Illness misery, by working on the bacteria, BEFORE it can grow. Also pair with Allicillin listed below.
- Paleomeal protein powder - As you know, protein is essential to all life. However if you happen to be pregnant, nursing, recovering from surgery or an injury, you may need to an extra non-perishable high quality protein source, to ensure you are getting enough. Paleomeal is one of my favorite protein powders, which has whey protein from grass fed free range cows, and also contains added vitamins and minerals, equivelent to a multivitamin. This low-heat filtrated (not ultrafiltrated nor heated about 100 degrees, so legally "raw") protein powder comes in chocolate, vanilla and strawberry and is delicious when shaken up with nut milk, or blended with fruit and your favorite milk or water.
- Vitamin C+ Biofizz powder - This is a powdered formula that can be mixed into water for a boost of vitamin C and electrolytes. This drink powder tastes like Tang! It's citrus flavored (all natural) and sweetened with stevia and xylitol- no sugars or artificial flavors at all, making it diabetic and weight maintenance/loss friendly. It's great for someone needing to replenish after sweating or suffering dehydrated (in case of vomitting or diarrhea.) It's a small plastic jar of powder, so can be packed in a bag or kept on the counter, for a quick electrolyte drink. Great for kids and adults alike!
- Oil of oregano - This is a powerful natural antibiotic; it's helped me heal almost instanteously from the worst of colds. It's helped clients of mine with respiratory infections, asthma and more. Plus, it doubles as a powerful cleaning agent. For example, it's an amazing disinfectant in the case an animal has an accident in your home. Bacterial contamination can be life-threatening in disasters, so being prepared and knowing how to treat things before they become life-threatening can literally save lives. I always keep Oil of Oregano handy for trips, hurricanes and every day life. It's just one of those items that you want to be prepared with. Look for the spray, Oregaresp, to use for cleaning. Take the caps for your own respiratory health, and not catching an airborne infection.
- Allicillin - this product comes in capsule form and could literally be a lifesaver during a hurricane or any situation with limited access to healthcare and high potential threat of bacterial contamination. It works together with HLC Probiotics (mentioned above) to kill gut bacteria. Since one of the greatest threats of a power outage and potential water contamination, is food borne illness. It can happen if foods are not held at proper temperatures, or from cross contamination, lack of handwashing etc. While I recommend having the oregano oil spray to wipe things down, I also recommend having Allicillin so that if you eat something questionable, you can take this to prevent bacteria from replicatating. Allicillin selectively kills bad bacteria in your gut before it can populate and seriously hurt you. Remember to take allicin with the HLC mindlinx probiotics for the most effective bacterial remedy in the case of a storm, or anytime.
In summary, a lot of things can go wrong when it comes to staying nourished and bacterial infection-free with limited access to medicine.
While it's granted that we all love hurricane parties and the community building that occurs during a potential disaster. It's equally or moreso important that we have the supplies on hand needed in case of a situation. Plus it's so much easier and more fun to relax and enjoy hurricane parties when you know you've got your home stocked with the neccessary food and natural medicine supplies. And, if the potential disaster becomes a true catastrophy, being prepared could literally mean survival!
Remember this is NOT the last storm to affect the coastal United States and other countries too. If you aren't as prepared as possible this time, don't wait to get prepared for the next time. Most preparedness items last for several years, so it's not a waste of money or time.
We hope this is useful, and have many more ideas; let us know if you'd like further support. We are available for consultations, including a new disaster prep consultation, in which the money spent on the consultation gets applied to the preparation products recommended.
I'm also "The Healthy Florida Realtor" and you can find me on Facebook or Instagram. - Thanks and be safe! Rachael