What you Need to Know about Frozen Food

If you didn’t know…today is National Frozen Food day! I feel like frozen food gets demonized quite a bit – like carbs and fat – and I thought it would help to put some clarity behind frozen foods and how I used them in my life. I’ll do this by sharing some pros and cons. But first! I shared this side-by-side on Instagram today to show how seeing that something was frozen/processed food might make you turn away…while the image on the right might be viewed as glorified food prep. I’m not about lying to you all, I want to share my reality and what works for me.

(I enjoyed this meal! If I made it again I would still add my roasted zucchini but maybe I’d throw in some flax meal or nutritional yeast to ramp it up even more)

PROS

  • Convenience is a beautiful thing. I will always keep frozen fruits and vegetables as staples in my freezer. They are picked at their peak freshness, frozen, and sent on their way. You will still get plenty of nutrients and benefits from consuming fruits/veggies in this form.
  • Convenience is a beautiful thing – for other frozen foods aside from fruits/veggies! While there are some frozen foods that might be considered healthier than others, keeping some things on hand is helpful. Especially for those moments when your meal plan doesn’t sound good or you have unexpected changes in plans.
  • You can always add something to a frozen food. We keep frozen burritos on hand and I’ll use these when we don’t feel like cooking or we need something quick but we’ll add some veggies and rice on the side. If you’re someone who keeps frozen pizza on hand, keep things you can add to the pizza that make it more filling like vegetables or proteins.
  • Some frozen food is not as “processed” as you might think. I made a pizza dough from scratch which nutritionally is comparable to a frozen dough I’ve seen on the market. I used half of the dough and froze the other, does that make my dough “processed” to the point where it’s all of a sudden unhealthy? Nope. We just tend to put blanket statements on certain foods that end up scaring people into eating the same things all the time or shaming them for choosing a frozen food.
These are some of our staples – from frozen veggies to fruits, to meals / partial meals, breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack/dessert. Frozen foods can fit in any meal plan.

CONS

  • Frozen food can have a lot of sodium. It’s not surprise that this is my first bullet point. But do you know how to read a label and tell whether or not it’s high in sodium? Miligrams and grams are confusing to most so check out the percentage. If it is 20% or higher, it’s a high source of a nutrient. So if you’re trying to watch out for high sodium foods, check the percentage.
    • Don’t forget to also check the serving size. If it is 13% sodium but but the serving size is 2 for the package and you’re planning to eat the whole thing…it’s now 23% sodium.
  • They’re sometimes low in fiber. Fiber is a nutrient that keeps us full and helps our digestion system run smoothly. Again, take a look at your nutrition label and if your goals it to feel full from the frozen food you’re choosing, check to see what percentage of fiber is in a serving. 20% is a high source, 10% is a good source, and 5% is a low source.
    • Remember the comment above about adding nutrients to frozen meals! If it’s a stir fry of veggies – use brown rice or throw in some flax meal! Any added fiber will help you feel full for a longer period of time.
  • The portion size is smaller than the packaging leads it on to be. I’ve often purchased a frozen food or meal and after I’ve cooked it I’ve thought, “that’s it!?” Sure one serving nutritionally does not look unhealthy, but are you going to eat one serving? The serving size is just a guideline it does not mean that serving size will fill you up physically or visually (both important!)

In short, can you make healthy choices when it comes to frozen food? Yes, absolutely! But can you also go into the frozen food aisle and use their meals as inspiration for something to make on your own? Hell yes! I used to do this a lot before I started taking a list to the store with me. I’d find a frozen meal that sounds good, look up a recipe online that’s similar, and make it from scratch. My cost might have been $10-$15 instead of $5.99 but I was left with a more nutritious meal and had leftovers too.

I will add that frozen food has come a long way from the TV dinners that so often come to mind when we demonize frozen food. I think what’s important to remember is that it’s your home and your choice. What works for me may not suit your needs/desires.

Do you keep any frozen food/meals? Or do you have any questions about frozen food that I didn’t cover? Ask below! If you’re a frozen food eater like I am, show me what you’re cooking up on Instagram and tag me @The_Beer_Dietitian. <3

Squash & Goat Cheese Dip

Squash has got to be one of favorite vegetables. Whether it’s spaghetti squash, summer, delicata, acorn, or butternut…I love finding ways to use it. It’s versatile, flavorful, and full of nutritious benefits like fiber, B vitamins, vitamin C, A, and magnesium. With lots of holiday parties last weekend, I thought I’d make a dip/appetizer with the acorn squash for you all to try at home too! 

I served my dip with Triscuit triangles at the holiday parties this past weekend
Another way to enjoy the dip was apart of this chartcuterie board.

Squash & Goat Cheese Dip

Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Keyword appetizer, dip, goat cheese, squash
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Author Jessi Holden

Ingredients

  • 2 squash Acorn squash – if you use butternut, you’ll likely need about 1 lb
  • 5 oz goat cheese
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp paprika (smoked paprika for extra good flavor)
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1/2 cup pistachios (shell removed)

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 425. Cut your squash in half and scoop out the seeds

  2. Line a baking sheet with foil and turn your squash face down, bake for 50-55 minutes

  3. Once squash is cool enough to touch, scoop it out, place in bowl and mix in the goat cheese, salt, and paprika

  4. Take about half of your pomegranates & pistachios and mix them into the tip. Use the remainder for the top. Serve warm or cold!

Recipe Notes

Did you make the recipe? Tag me on Instagram @The_beer_rd!

Hope you enjoy this appetizer at your next holiday party! It’s savory, sweet, healthy and hey, it looks beautiful with the pops of color. 

Cheers!

Stove Top: Cocoa Dusted & Maple Granola

Hi everyone and happy Wednesday! Today I thought I’d bring you a really simple recipe, homemade granola! It took me about 20 minutes total including clean up, has a bit less added sugar than some store bought granolas, and is modifiable to fit your personal preferences.

The other bonus? It’s cheap! Simple & cheap…can’t go wrong there. It makes a great topping to yogurt, is a nice grab-and-go type of snack, and can also be eaten warm with a little milk.

Stove top: Cocoa Dusted & Maple Granola

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 10 1/4 cup servings
Calories 120 kcal
Author nutritionbrewed

Ingredients

  • 2 cups old fashioned or rolled oats
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/4 cup reduced sugar craisins

Instructions

  1. Mix all dry ingredients right on in your skillet. Turn heat on low. 

  2. Measure oil first and add to your skillet. Then add your maple, this will make measuring and pouring the maple syrup easier. 

  3. Use a spatula or wooden spoon to routinely turn the mixture for 15 minutes.

  4. Allow to cool (to cool it faster, spread it on a baking sheet) or enjoy warm. 

Recipe Notes

Side note:

  • Enjoy with yogurt, whipped cream, or even ice cream!
  • Serve warm with milk
  • Or put 1/4 cup in a small container for a quick grab and go snack
 
Did you make the recipe? Tag me on Instagram @The_beer_rd!

Would love to hear if you would make any changes or swaps! It’s a very versatile recipe which is one of the main things I love about cooking it. I can change it up and add whatever dried fruit or nuts I have on hand. Happy Wednesday! 🙂

Cheers!

 

Slow Cooker Coconut Almond Oatmeal

I’ve been a bit obsessed with coconut lately. From coconut water mixed with some chocolate protein powder and almond milk (delicious quick snack!) to toasting coconut and to enjoying leftover almond joy candies from Halloween. There’s been a lot of coconut going on!

This slow cooker oatmeal could also be made over the stove top but I felt it was nice to just mix it together and leave it while I worked on other meal prep. I also feel like I get the question about what types of oats are best quite often. I personally like old fashioned oats, but you’re going to get a hearty amount of nourishment (lots o’ fiber too!) from any form of oatmeal. I do use the instant packets every so often, but since they have added ingredients they are not as filling to me as making your own oatmeal and flavoring it yourself.

My favorite things to top oatmeal with? Easy!
toasted coconut (since that’s what this post is about), nuts, fresh fruit, sautĂ©ed bananas, a little coffee creamer, peanut butter or almond butter, craisins, or savory things like in this recipe here.

Slow Cooker Coconut & Almond Oatmeal

Course Breakfast
Prep Time 5 minutes
Author Jessi Holden @Nutrition Brewed

Ingredients

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds (if desired, toast them on a skillet for an extra nutty aroma)
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup light coconut milk (canned)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup or honey
  • 1 cup almond milk

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together (except for the almond milk) and stir in your slow cooker.

  2. Side note: when adding honey, use cooking spray to spray your measuring spoon first. The honey will slide off much easier.

  3. Cook on low for about 45 minutes, add your almond milk. Cover and cook another 15 minutes

Recipe Notes

Top with your favorite toppings!

  • I chose fig and toasted coconut
  • Steve chose craisins and extra almonds
  • Choose any milk you desire

Did you make this recipe? Tag @The_Beer_RD on Instagram and hashtag it #theBeerRD

I topped it with figs, toasted coconut and a little almond butter too. During the week it was pretty thick so I added some extra almond milk when I heated it up. What are your favorite oatmeal toppings?

Cheers!

Root Veggie Pizza

As it continues getting colder out, I’m all about eating my vegetables warm instead of cold. While I’m semi-addicted to baby carrots, it’s so much more satisfying to enjoy them roasted with yummy seasonings instead of cold from a plastic bag.

On Sundays, Steve has become accustomed to the tradition of having pizza – this is a tradition his family did/does and we’ve begun to take part as well (most Sundays). After some consideration, we decided this past Sunday would be a pizza day but we would make our own! What better way to combine my love of warm vegetables and one of Steve’s favorite traditions?

I picked the following root vegetables to have on our pizza: beets, turnips, parsnips, and sweet potato. We’ll be roasting them (see below) and sprinkling them with truffle salt, garlic powder, sage and a drizzle of olive oil. When I explained that to my dad he said, “that’s not pizza, that’s salad on bread!” It made me laugh and I reminded him that everyone can make “pizza” or “salad on bread” differently! To save us some time, Steve and I used the whole wheat Pilsbury  pizza dough most often but you could also make your own, use english muffins (for mini pizzas) or any other crust you prefer. Pair the recipe with a pale ale and you’ve got a great beer/food combo. Recipe in full, below!

Ever thought of root veggies on your pizza? What are your favorite pizza toppings? If you make it, tag me on Instagram @the_beer_RD !

Cheers!

Root Veggie Pizza

Easy to make & easy to swap in or out ingredients

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword Root vegetables, pizza
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 8 slices
Author Jessi Holden

Ingredients

  • 1 pizza crust (any one / kind you want)
  • 3-4 types Root veggies (turnips, potatoes, beets, parsnips, etc)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbles

Instructions

  1. Pre-bake your root veggies by chopping them into desired sizes, drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil and toss in your favorite spices (we used garlic powder, truffle salt, and sage). Roast at 450 degrees for about 45 minutes

  2. Follow your pizza crust instructions, if you need to pre-bake it before you add toppings, do that next

  3. Add your root vegetables on top, 1 tbsp olive oil and spread your feta cheese across 

  4. Bake for about 10-15 minutes (follow instructions on your crust, OR 350 for 10-15 minutes if using alternative crust)

Cook's Ideas:

  1. Drizzle horse radish on top for a spicy kick or ranch 

  2. Add your favorite meat if desired; chicken sausage would be good with these foods

What to do with Halloween Candy

Are you having trick or treaters tonight? We live in a great neighborhood to have visitors but sadly Steve and I will both be working late and not able to pass anything out. This did not stop us from getting a little candy to have at home. We went to the Peanut Store in Holland this past weekend and stocked up on our favorites. I found myself practicing intuitiveness because while I’m usually someone with a mega-sweet tooth…each candy I looked at I was happy to just purchase one of. For example, I absolutely love bit-o-honeys…am I alone here!?! I normally would want tons of them around the house but when I held one, I felt I would be satisfied by just one. Hello saving money!

I’ve been asked a lot about what to do with all of the Halloween candy. Many people I work with struggle to have things like this in the house so here are some ideas.

  1. If you don’t want to hand out candy, handout a non-food item! I know, I know…but it is an option.
  2. If it’s too tempting and you’re not ready to have that candy bowl in your hands all night, purchase candy that you does not interest you.
  3. Practice telling yourself, “I can have this” instead of telling yourself, “I shouldn’t have this.” The “shoulding” will often lead to feelings of restriction, increased temptation, and guilt. Changing the internal language we have about food is MUCH easier said than done. As a suggestion, you could practice this with foods you feel comfortable with first.
  4. Enjoy a healthy, filling dinner with you and your family before trick-or-treating. If you’re like many of us, being hungry and grocery shopping means a lot of random extras magically find their way into the cart. Trick-or-treating is another event that could be more difficult to face if you’re hungry.
  5. Changing the focus of what you’re doing can help too. Focus on the costumes, festivities, and the enjoyment of seeing all the fun costumes. If our mind is focused solely on candy, candy, candy…you might get to the end of the night and not remember the costumes you saw.

Now, I do remind people that eating candy is not a bad thing and enjoying some is totally fine! Everyone has to do what works best for them and no matter what you do with the candy tonight, put on your best costume and have fun!

A question for you all, I’m tempted to do a common thread I see other dietitians post called, “what I ate Wednesday.” I do get asked quite a bit what a dietitian eats like, I assure you it’s probably a lot like yourself! Let me know if you would be interested in seeing that each week 🙂 Also, have you signed up for my weekly mailer? If not, you can sign up below!



 

Cheers!