As we celebrate National Nutrition Month and Frozen Food Month, I always take a closer look at what is in our freezer at home. Sometimes frozen foods get a bad rap for not being healthy, but there are a number of products I think are worth fitting in your freezer. Here are five:
1. Steamer Vegetables. Frozen vegetables have been found to be just as nutritious as fresh vegetables. Most frozen vegetables are harvested at their peak and go from farm to freezer within hours, keeping them packed with nutrients. For me, the vegetables in steamer bags are a must. They are quick and easy to make, which I find helps me as I balance mealtimes now for my family of four. My favorite part is that steaming in bags means no dishes, leaving me more time to spend with my kids.
2. Precooked Shrimp. Shrimp is low in calories and an excellent source of protein, which helps with appetite control. It is also a good source of Vitamin B12 which may support proper nerve function. Shrimp can be roasted, sauted, grilled, steamed or broiled, and cooks quickly - on average in about five minutes. Here are a couple ways to prepare shrimp:
Saut - Add a bit of olive oil or butter to a shallow pan and whatever seasoning you prefer. Cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally.
Grill Pierce shrimp with a skewer in two places. This ensures that all sides get exposed to the heat (and makes them easy to flip). Cook for about five to seven minutes on a hot grill, flipping once halfway through. As soon as the shrimp are white and opaque, they're ready to eat.
3. Healthy Choice Meals. Healthy Choice meals are better microwave entre option for a couple reasons. They are the perfect portion size. Studies have proven that weight loss with the use of frozen meals is greater than without. This is the case mostly because the meals are portioned out and provide less calories than meals from home or restaurants. Healthy Choice Meals are also sodium-controlled and contain less sodium than the average meal eaten out or at home. Finally these meals provide ingredients from a variety of food groups: vegetables, protein and whole grains. Eat them with fruit and a glass of milk and you have a balanced meal covering all five food groups.
4. Fruchi Smoothies. These smoothies are an easy way to get some extra fruit into your day. They are a true grab-and-go food, as you do not need to add anything to them or blend them. Just grab one, let it thaw for a little while and enjoy. I often use them in my lunch as an extra ice pack, by the time I'm ready for lunch it's thawed out just right. These also are a great way to hydrate in the summer or after athletic events.
5. Fruit. We always have some type of fruit in our freezer. When winters get long like this year, frozen fruits are a great way to get in some of those fruits not in season. Like with vegetables, you will notice NuVal scores for frozen fruits are the same as fresh fruits. We often freeze fresh fruit as well. I love snacking on frozen grapes and one of my 2 year-old's favorite snacks are frozen banana popsicles bananas on a Popsicle stick, covered in yogurt and frozen. It's a great way to save some of the fruit don't eat before they get too ripe.
This year's theme for National Nutrition Month is "Enjoy the taste of eating right." With these 5 frozen foods you can do just that.
Katie Wilhelmi is a registered dietitian at the New Ulm Hy-Vee. This information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.