Has anyone ever told you that you HAVE to eat fresh foods to be healthy???
The truth of the matter is that frozen foods are very convenient for our busy schedules and some nights we need a quick + easy + nutritious meal in a matter of minutes. In my household, we keep our freezer STOCKED.
Don’t be fearful of frozen foods because they don’t uphold to “diet culture” standards. You can still get nourishment from frozen foods.
Here you will find some of my favorite freezer find foods that I keep on hand for fast, nourishing meals.
But frozen isn’t as good as fresh? WRONG. Frozen vegetables are fresh vegetables that have been washed, cut up, blanched, then frozen…meaning they are still in their complete, WHOLE food form making them a great food find to stock your freezer. What I like most about frozen veggies? They don’t spoil as quick as fresh veggies and are economical. Now, I do love my fresh vegetables–but frozen are so convenient! My favorites include broccoli, cauliflower, spinach and the mixed vegetable blend (usually with broccoli, cauliflower and carrots). How to use? Follow directions on package for preparation and add to stir fry’s, pasta dishes, bake, saute or steam for an easy side dish to accompany any meal.
Where all my Trader Joe’s fans at??? These are so yummy and take less than 10 minutes to make. My favorite way is to lightly saute in a frying pan and add basil pesto + Parmesan cheese. Perfect little side dish! Add a lean protein (like baked chicken or grilled fish) for a complete, satisfying meal!
*Check out your local grocery store vegetable freezer section! Different brands are coming out with their own “Cauli Gnocchi” line.
Cauliflower Crust Pizza
By now, y’all know I love me some cauli-crust! Yes, I have a GREAT recipe that I make + freeze from time to time, but nothing quite beats the convenience of an already prepared crust. There are tons of brands to choose from. My favorites have been Caulipowered and Mama Cozzi’s from Aldi. Bonus? You can buy plain crust and add your own toppings OR buy one already assembled for you. Take your pick!
I LOVE to have veggie burgers on hand. Veggie burgers get a bad rap nowadays because a lot of people seem to be against soy–but unless you have an allergy, intolerance or a medical condition that is affected by soy, it is perfectly nutritious and a great protein source! Soybeans are the only true plant based protein that contains all 9 of the essential amino acids making it a great protein source. I’ve tried many brands and can honestly say I like them all equally. Try what sounds best to you!
There are tons of frozen meats to choose from–precooked, uncooked, ground, strips, etc…I usually buy ground turkey fresh and then freeze until a later use. Pre-grilled frozen chicken strips are also a great one to have on hand to heat up and add to salads, wraps, or bowls. You can do the same with raw chicken breasts, steak, or fish. Recently, I’ve been a HUGE fan of the Mahi Mahi burgers from Trader Joe’s.
Much like frozen veggies, frozen fruits have also gotten a bad rap. “They’re not fresh”…nope, but they are produced in a similar fashion to frozen veggies, just make sure you’re buying the “100% whole fruit” versions–no added sugars or additives. Fruits are perfectly sweet on their own. Frozen fruits are great to make smoothies, add to oatmeal, mix into baked goods, or eat on their own!
While I DO indulge in the “real deal” occasionally, Halo Top gives me the frozen, sweet fix I need to power through my cravings. Is regular ice cream bad? NO! The beauty of intuitive eating is that you can choose what you want based on what will satisfy YOU. Some days it may be Halo Top. Other days it may be Ben & Jerry’s. You do you!If you haven’t tried Halo Top, I highly recommend it! It’s still creamy, sweet, and satisfying. My favorite flavors are PB&J, Mocha Chocolate Chip, and Strawberry Cheesecake.
What foods do you keep stocked in your freezer?? Let me know in the comments!
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I’ve written a lot on grocery shopping tips, ways to save money, and overall hacks to live a better life. My life is centered around food…that is why I became a registered dietitian!
Throughout the years, I have learned so much about food, where it comes from, and what ingredients to be weary of when shopping. Did it become obsessive at one point? Maybe. Was it helpful in the long run? Absolutely.
Today I am going to share with you some of my favorite food products and why I choose them opposed to others.
Simply Chunky Garden Vegetable Pasta Sauce (RAGU)
I LOVE this grocery store find–and it is one that I stock up on when it is on sale. Containing 100% Olive Oil, chunks of tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, and celery, and NO added sugars! For 1 1/2 cup serving, there are 70 calories, 2.5 grams of fat (no saturated OR trans fat), and 2 grams of protein. *This item is higher in sodium content (Americans suggested to not exceed 2400 mg sodium daily). Why I love this product: Simple fact that there are NO added sugars and it is made with wholesome ingredients.
Really I like sprouted bread in general, but this bread is definitely my favorite brand because it contains wholesome ingredients and no added sugar. Would you believe this bread contains lentils…making this bread a little bit higher in protein than others. 1 slice contains 80 calories, 3 grams of fiber, no added sugar, and 4 grams of protein. There are many different types and variations of the brand, but this one is my favorite.
While I love Ezekiel bread, it can be a little costly. I probably buy Dave’s Killer Bread more frequently just because it is more within my budget range. The Thin-Sliced type is my favorite at 60-70 calories per slice, 3 grams of fiber, and 2 grams of sugar. This product does contain organic cane sugar, so my “bread guide” is for it to contain 2 grams or less of added sugar per serving. I typically store it in the refrigerator to prevent quick spoilage–generally lasts me up to two weeks.
Cauliflower, broccoli, butternut squash, sweet potato, beets…the list goes on! My favorite brand is Green Giant, although many of them are similar. Key to look for is that it only contains the vegetable. Steer clear of the ones containing added sugars. I love using these in cooking from mixing with brown rice or using the butternut squash spirals for banza and cheese.
Honestly, I am not a pasta lover in general…however, my husband is. And while there is nothing wrong with whole wheat pasta (as long as you aren’t allergic to gluten), I love the Banza chickpea pasta because it is literally made of just chickpea flour, tapioca, pea protein and xanthum gum. This pasta is higher in protein AND fiber than traditional whole wheat pasta, and it tastes just as good. Simply cook according to box directions and add your favorite sauce to it.
While sure, it is best to make your own from scratch…it is so convenient to buy one at the store! There are many brands out there–I’ve tried several, but my favorite and most affordable is the CAULIPOWER brand–you get two crusts for the price of one. There are 3 grams of added sugar in the whole crust–that’s a win for me!
Despite the whole “La Croix” scandal of the brand falsely advertising using “natural” flavors, I am still on the sparkling water bandwagon. It is an unsweetened bubbly beverage I can enjoy without all the additives found in regular soda and juices. My favorite brands are Food Lion (shocker) and Deer Park because they have a more intense flavor, but I won’t turn down a La Croix or Bubbly brand! I really love them all.
I don’t eat this on the regular and I typically only buy it when it is on sale, but it is my sweet treat a couple times a month. My favorite flavor is the Chocolate Mocha Chip containing 80 calories per 1/2 cup serving, 3 grams of fat, 6 grams of sugar, and 5 grams of protein. Stick with 1-2 servings–don’t let the tag line of “320 calories, 20 grams or protein” fool you…while it is less calories than traditional ice cream, it is not good moderation practice to eat the whole pint of ice cream.
Do you get discouraged when you go to the grocery store and end up spending twice as much as you usually do when purchasing “healthy” products? I’ve been there.
Many people think buying healthier food items is always expensive…think again.
Sure, if you are purchasing the high end organic products it could get pricey…but if you are looking to eat more WHOLE foods and less processed items, healthy grocery shopping is totally doable AND you can stay within budget.
And you want to know something even better? You don’t have to shop at the trendy grocery stores to get a good deal on healthy foods…of course I would LOVE to have a Whole Foods or Trader Joes to shop at weekly, but I live in the rural foothills of North Carolina…where our “fancy” health food stores are quite expensive…
I do most of my shopping at Food Lion-I can get good produce and shop sales. If I’m feeling spunky, I sometimes venture to the local Aldi, but I’ve found that a lot of their pricing is comparable to Food Lion.
Here are some tips on how to buy healthy foods AND stay within budget.
1. Make a List
My biggest money saver tip to you! Go in the store with a planned, detailed list and do no stray from that list. When I do this, I stay within budget. When I stray from this list, I spend way more than I planned on.
2. Shop Sales!
This is my biggest saver. We already talked about making a grocery list (for more info on grocery store tips, see The Grocery Haul blog). While making my list, I head on over to my grocery store’s website, type in my store location, and a brochure of sales pops up. I am most interested in produce sales, although every now and then they will have my favorite whole-food based products listed.
3. Stock up on sale items
Anytime I see my favorite products on sale, I stock up. Usually these items are in the frozen section, so I can buy them in bulk and save money in the long run. Freezer section items can be stored for long periods of time (if you have freezer space, of course!), so I am not afraid of losing money by the items spoiling and having to throw them in the trash.
4. Dirty Dozen or Clean Fifteen
The dirty dozen is essentially a list of 12 items that is recommended you buy organic (farming without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or other artificial agents) while the clean fifteen are items that are deemed “okay” if not organic. I will be honest, I do not always shop organic–nor do I think you have to in order to eat a healthy diet and consume adequate nutrition. However, if I see some of these items on sale, I generally do purchase them. If I notice produce items starting to go “bad”, I will freeze them and use them in smoothies, jams, and baking. You see, you can still save money outside of the store by not throwing away the items you bought a week ago. These items can still be put to good use! See this article by Produce Retailer to see the full 2018 list of Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen for more information.
5. Buy in Bulk
Things like nuts, flours, seeds, and nutritional yeast are all things I like to have stocked in my pantry…but buying them at the local grocery store in a small bag is pretty pricey. I like to buy those items in bulk at Sams or specialty health food stores–buying in bulk seems pricey at the time, but it pays off in the long run.
6. Realize that you don’t have to buy “clean products” to be healthy
What I mean by this is–you do not need to buy the marketing schemes businesses use in order to live a better life. Many of those items coined as “healthy” don’t use the best, wholesome ingredients…and even the ones that do, they cost a lot (and rightfully so–the ingredients cost more). Just because something says gluten free does not make it healthy. However, I am here to tell you that you do not need them to eat healthy! Shop more whole foods, cook more from scratch, and read your labels. What labels to I pay most attention to when shopping for processed items? Added sugars, overall calories, and ingredients list.
What healthy grocery store hacks do you recommend? Comment below–I’d love to hear your ideas!
Until Next Time,
Katrina Detter, RD, LDN
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
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It is officially summer, if you couldn’t tell by the sweltering heat and humidity (if you are on the east coast), which means our gardens will be spitting out fresh produce for us once again. I have to be honest, I get excited about summer produce initially, but by the end of the season, I am sick of corn and zucchini! Have no fear! I have chosen 5 popular summer crops to research the history, nutrition, and cooking ideas to beat the boredom this season.
Fun fact: Did you know that all squash in general are native crops of North America? The Wampanoag Indians cultivated winter and summer varieties in the early stages of America. Summer squash such as yellow squash and zucchini are relatives of winter squash such as butternut, acorn, and pumpkin.
Nutritionally, summer squash are rich in Vitamin C, an antioxidant which aids in collagen production, wound healing and iron absorption. In just one ½ cup serving, squash contains 15% of the daily recommendation for vitamin C. In addition to that, summer squash contains 1 gram of fiber per ½ cup serving. Fiber aids in digestion and helps you have a healthy colon.
Make no mistake, I love some squash, but I get tired of eating it sautéed for 2 months straight. You can grate squash and add to your baked goods or salads for some extra nutrition and flavor. Or, you can boil, microwave, sauté, roast, and of course-fry this delectable veggie. Most recently, my favorite way is grilled, thanks to my husband.
Directions: First, prep your veggies. Wash the squash and cut the ends off. DO NOT PEEL! Most of the nutrition is in the skin. Chop your squash in whatever form you like best. I prefer circles. Second, grab some aluminum foil and make a “foil packet” as shown above. Add another sheet of aluminum foil to the top forming a pouch to enclose the veggies. Add in your chopped veggies with a little drizzle of canola, grape-seed, or avocado oil. Sprinkle some salt and pepper over the top. If you want to get a little creative, add herb of choice: rosemary, oregano or basil would be good options for a burst of flavor. Third, place foil pack on your grill for about 20 minutes or until tender. You will be AMAZED with how delicious this is. I could eat a mountain of grilled summer squash!
An herb used in many Italian and Thai dishes, basil is another fun summer plant. The origination is debatable as the plant has been cultivated in many different areas for many years, but it is thought to originate in India6. Oddly enough, in ancient Egypt times, basil was used as an embalming agent and has been found in tombs and mummies since then. With virtually no calories, basil is a great addition to foods to achieve flavor without extra sodium. Adding fresh basil to soups, pastas, curries, and even fruit can add a burst of flavor. Below is my take on basil pesto.
Directions: Gather your fresh, clean basil (1 cup) and add to food processor or blender. Add: ¼ cup olive oil, 3 tablespoons of walnuts or pine nuts, a dash of parmesan cheese, and 2 fresh garlic cloves. Pulse mixture together until smooth. Serve over pasta, spread on toast or sandwiches, or use as a dip for veggies. Make a double batch to have on hand for whenever you want it!
“How do you put water in a watermelon?”
“You plant it in the spring!”
(go ahead, laugh at my corny joke.)
It’s a hot summer’s day, you are chilling at the pool and want a refreshing snack. What better way to enjoy a nice chunk of watermelon! Watermelon is the definition of summer, and quite possibly my favorite summer crop.
Cultivated in South Africa, watermelon quickly made its way to Egypt, to Europe, to the Mediterranean, then to India and finally to China. Interestingly enough, China is the world’s largest producer of watermelons5. Watermelon later made its way to America through the slave trade.
Watermelon is a very nutritious fruit made mostly of water (91%) with 6% sugar. This fruit is loaded with vitamin C while low in fat and sodium. Another fun nutrition bit on watermelon is that it is full of fiber! Yes, fiber which we know aids in digestion. One cup of watermelon contains about 50 calories and 1 gram of fiber.
Recipe time! One thing I think pairs well with watermelon is feta cheese-you get a little bit of salty/sweet action. Below is my recipe for Watermelon-Feta Salad.
Directions: First, prep your watermelon by cutting it in half and using a melon baller to form melon-balls. You will want to spoon out about 3-4 cups of watermelon. To the watermelon, add ¼ cup of feta cheese crumbles. Mix together. If you want to get a little spunky, add some freshly chopped basil. This fruit salad is a great dessert option for a patriotic holiday cookout.
Did you have that one vegetable growing up that you absolutely loathed and begged your parents not to make you eat? Yeah, beets were that vegetable for me, and of course my father made me eat at least one each time it was on the menu. They say your taste buds change every seven years-must be true because I love them now!
Originally from the Mediterranean, the actual beetroot was generally used medicinally. That’s right, people generally ate the greens from beets before discovering the fleshy, earthy part many of us enjoy today7. Due to their strong staining effect, beets were used to dye clothing in the olden days. Beets are highly nutritious for the fact they are good sources of antioxidants. Antioxidants are generally in substances containing vitamin C and remove potentially harmful oxidizing agents in a living organism, which potentially can decrease the amount of cancer cells8. Per 1 cup of beets, there are about 60 calories, 13 grams of carbs, and 4 grams of fiber. Beets are rich in vitamin C and potassium, which help maintain our natural acid-base balance in the body.
Beets are mostly canned or pickled, but my favorite way to cook beets is by roasting in the oven.
Directions: Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Peel and wash your beets. Chop beets into bite sized pieces. Drizzle oil of choice-I choose one with a high smoke point like canola or grapeseed oil. Add: ½ tablespoon of honey, 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon of onion powder, and 1 teaspoon of garlic salt. Bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes or until tender. Add to a nice spinach salad with your favorite goat cheese for some extra flavor. Roasted butternut squash or carrots would be a nice addition to that salad, as well.
When I think back to my childhood and helping my dad in his garden, corn was always something we had an abundance of, and to be honest it was my least favorite summer crop (and still is). However, the history behind it is very neat!
Corn was actually nonexistent in the wild until it was cultivated in Central Mexico many, many years ago. Eventually when the Mexican culture migrated to America, they cultivated this crop in the Americas. Later when the Europeans came over, it was the Native Americans job to teach them how to cultivate many grains-especially corn. There are many varieties and colors of corn out there-blue corn, yellow corn, sweet corn, popcorn…which is your favorite? Corn can then be processed into many things we eat today from chips to grits (if you are a Southerner like me) or polenta.
Though is does contain calories and carbs our bodies need, corn is actually one of the least nutritious grains. It contains poor quality protein (mainly because it is incomplete, as most grains are) and there is no niacin in this grain. Niacin is the precursor to tryptophan, an essential amino acid in our body. Essential amino acids are those that are not naturally made by our bodies. We have to eat foods that contain essential amino acids to make proteins in our body. Without niacin, our bodies will not make tryptophan. Corn does have some benefits though as it contains numerous vitamins and minerals to aid in processes in our bodies.
Wanna fight the boredom with this starchy grain? You can do many things with it-saute, boil on the Cobb, creamed…the recipe I am sharing with you is corn salsa. If I have to eat it, I prefer it with the Mexican flavors.
Directions: First, obviously, get to shuckin’! Once you have gotten all the silk off the corn, wash thoroughly. Next, cut corn off the Cobb and add to a bowl. Add: 1 can of black beans (drained and rinsed), ½ cup of diced tomatoes (I like using Roma or grape), a bundle of finely chopped cilantro, lime juice, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon of cumin, salt and pepper to taste. Then just mix it all up! Refrigerate for at least an hour to allow the flavors to integrate. Serve with your favorite tortilla chip or top a salad with it for some extra flavor.
What’s your favorite summer crop?
Jumpstart your mindful eating journey by downloading my 6 Steps to Mindful Eating guide here – it’s free!
Until Next Time, Happy Chewing! Katrina Detter, RD, LDN Follow me on social media!
“It’s that time of the week again: No food in the fridge. I feel like I just went to the store! Has it really been a whole week?”
Do you all ever feel this way? You’re out of all your fresh produce and proteins and feel like there is nothing in the house to eat. I totally get that feeling.
Today I am going to give you an idea of how I tackle grocery shopping. Call me crazy, but I LOVE grocery shopping. I find enjoyment in taking my time to go through the store, look at the sales, and score some trendy food-finds.
Ø Make a list.
This step is 100% necessary for me because nothing is worse than coming home to cook dinner and realizing you are missing an ingredient. Not only that, but you want to also make sure you have all the food you need for the week. With my husband and I both working full time jobs, the last thing we want to do after a long day is go to the store.
Ø Know what to put on that list.
I am not a “meal prepper”, but I am a “meal planner”. I try to get an idea of what we are going to eat throughout the week for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. I also like to have quick go-to ingredients on hand in case of emergencies. Neither one of us are big on snacking, but sometimes I need something nutritiously satisfying to get me through the afternoon before my workout. I also think about if we will be dining out any that week, in which case I will not have to plan as many meals.
Ø Check sales.
Being recently married and paying for all of my own stuff, this is something I never take lightly! I love to save money where I can. Most grocery stores list their weekly sales online, so take a look. Otherwise, grab that pamphlet with all the deals as you walk inside the store. It takes an extra minute, but you will be happy you checked.
Ø Do not go shopping while hungry.
You. Will. Regret. It. Take it from a person who gets hangry, shopping while hungry never turns out well. A few things can happen. On the one hand, you could potentially stock up more on foods you typically would never buy because they “sound good”. News flash: Everything sounds good when you’re hungry. On the other hand, if you get hangry like me, chances are your grocery shopping experience will result in aggravation, irritation, moodiness-and quite possibly may ruin your day.
Those are some key things I keep in mind before going shopping. Now let me tell you what a typical shopping trip looks like for me!
What are some of your go-to items at the grocery store? Do you have any tips you’d like to share?
Jumpstart your mindful eating journey by downloading my 6 Steps to Mindful Eating guide here – it’s free!
Until Next Time
Happy Chewing! Katrina Detter, RD, LDN Follow me on social media!