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

Thoughts on Motivation & Will Power

Can you believe it’s only February 19th? Why do I say only? On our wedding day Steve and I made the day and the honey moon to follow (read more about that here) go by slowly and sweetly by saying, “it’s only 8:00 or it’s only Tuesday.” We have a tendency to wish or will our time away and with the buzzed feeling of the New Year most likely wearing off, it’s a great time of the year to start doing a self-check up. What is a self-check up? It’s when you reevaluate your goals, your life, your current situation and see if there’s anything you desire to reassess and readjust. A self check-up gives you time to praise, reflect (without judgement) and evaluate what you want to do moving forward into the next month.

Praising yourself is an important and often missed step of a self-check. We are so critical of ourselves and will say things like, I wanted to go to the gym five days a week and I’ve only been going once a week. Time to praise! You’ve not been going, “only” once a week – you’ve established a once a week routine that so far is working for you! Time to reflect on how you made this happen and how it makes you feel. Next, evaluate your goal of five days a week. Is it realistic? Can we work on two days a week instead?

I know what I need to do…I just need to do it!

Ever said that? I get it. It’s been a polar vortex out there which makes me want to cuddle up and binge on anything Netflix has to offer too.

But what about when it’s not a polar vortex? What about when it’s just February in a Michigan winter or July in the heat of summer and we don’t feel motivated to work toward our goals? Perfect example of where we can reassess and readjust. Do you “have to” workout or can you view it as, “I get to” workout?

Motivation is a feeling and will power is a fallacy. Change can happen inside and outside of your comfort zone.

Will power has nothing to do with making changes

It’s not easy to change our internal habitual language but a slightly different perspective can make a big difference. It’s also normal to not feel motivated. Motivation is a feeling and your will power has nothing to do with it. As human beings, we experience feelings. Sometimes we can experience many different feelings in one day…one hour even! To expect ourselves to feel motivated all the time and to rely on that feeling is simply unrealistic. Take the pressure off and remind yourself it’s normal that motivation ain’t in our hearts all the time. 

Secondly, ask yourself how you’re going to get through a certain task or work toward a goal without that feeling? Could you work on other feelings? I know myself enough that if I’m feeling happy, it’s easier for me to choose to move more or get exercise in that I enjoy. If that’s the case for you, what makes you happy? Is it playing with your pet or simply taking in a breath of fresh air or doing a Zumba video and not get on an elliptical? Finding a way to spark happiness instead of motivation might help.

Thirdly, break down your goal into a step-by-step process. If you know that you want to workout at least once before the week is up try writing a plan to accomplish this. For example: 1) Go to bed with my gym clothes laid out 2) wake up at ___ time and review the plan in your head with the idea that you GET to workout 3) relax and enjoy coffee for __ time 4) set alarm to remind me at __ time that I have fifteen more minutes until I get to work out 5) turn the volume up on some pump up music while I warm up

See how the goal gets broken down? Smaller steps help us see it more as a task oriented goal. While will power is helpful in very short term circumstances like crossing a finish line or taking the final step up a hill. Will power is not helpful in helping us not do something.

Build in time in the day to do what enriches you without judgement

It is very important to tell yourself you’ve built in relax time. I’m no stranger to scrolling through Pinterest or Instagram. Sometimes, when I planned in a work out I felt like I wouldn’t get my relax/screen time in…wrong! I always build it in. We all need some unwind time which looks different for everyone. For me, I enjoy watching shows (ahem, The Bachelor & Seinfeld lately) and reading positive messages on Instagram. I give myself time in the day to do that without judgement so I don’t feel deprived.

What do you think? Have you been waiting for motivation or will power? Do you know what you “need” to do but just “need” to do it? Let’s talk below! It’s tougher than that, but I’m here to help.

Five Reasons to make a Go-To Meal List

This Sunday I had what felt like the entire day ahead of me to make a meal plan, prep most of the ingredients, seasonings, and pieces/parts to make my week go smoothly. I had extra time to peruse the grocery store aisle and my husband continued to do dishes while I cooked this, that and the other thing. I realize that without children or truly much responsibilities this day, it allowed me plenty of time to calmly cook and prepare to my heart’s desire.

When I don’t have time to look for new recipes, plan meals and budget all in one day, I find it’s helpful to use my list of go-to meals. You can download my template,HERE, but it’s basically a list of three to five go-to breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks that I know the ingredients, outcome, and approximate budget as well. These are meals and snacks that get rotated in each month at some point, so I usually have their shelf stable ingredients on hand. Here are five other reasons to have a go-to list.

  1. Budget – When money is tight your go-to list can have ideas on it that cost less and it might leave room in the budget for one new food product or recipe that week.
  2. Healthy – Most everyone wants to deliver healthy and delicious meals for themselves and their family. A list of healthy go-to’s can help you stay nourished and satisfied all week.
  3. Known Items – I know what is in the recipes and where everything is, making grocery shopping easier and faster. It also allows me to change up one ingredient every so often, if the recipe calls for cheddar cheese but colby jack is on sale, I can make a quick swap that doesn’t take much thinking time.
  4. Coping with stress – If you have a crazy week ahead and you come home exhausted, I find that sometimes coping with that stress is easier if I don’t have to think about what to make for dinner. I’ve got my go-to ideas and by having at least three to five (or more!) listed, I can find something that sounds good and won’t take me much time.
  5. Goals – There are so many things that can knock us off the wagon when we’re trying to make changes. A list of meals and snacks that are helpful for your goals can help when you’re standing in the kitchen or pantry not sure what to eat. Or it can come in handy when your stomach is on empty and you’re ready to eat everything and anything in the fridge!

The go-to template can be downloaded here, 5 Go-To Meals, if you missed it above. Can you relate to needing some good go-to ideas? Don’t get me wrong, cooking new recipes and meal prepping is great, but when there simply isn’t time my go-to list is my saving grace.

Cheers!

Visiting a Local Farm

Hi everyone and happy Thursday! I got to go on a tour of Brechting Farms yesterday so I thought I would share the experience with you. Through a personal connection, I was invited to come and see the farm, tour the barn and silo, and I chatted with the farmer over some hot cider. Hello, perfect fall day!

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Have you ever wondered why barns are most often painted red? I quick did a google search and the first reason that popped up was because rust was plentiful on farms (it killed fungi and mosses that might grow on barns) and it was an effective sealant. Then when paint was more popular, the red color barn tradition carried on. You can’t believe everything on the internet but I thought that trivia info might come in handy!

We spent a lovely afternoon walking the apple orchards, pumpkin patches and driving around the acreage. I heard about some of the amazing parties they’ve hosted (just had their 150 year celebration this summer!) and learned what a unique and awesome part of the community this farm is.

I picked some kale, gourds, pumpkins, and chose some squash, apples, and giant sweet potatoes to fill my car with. I posted on my Instagram story to help a sister out with some kale ideas…I don’t buy it too often! If I use it, it’s most often in soup or casseroles so any ideas are welcome.

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Picking food grown in such a loved and tended to farm made me so excited and connected to this family. Not only that, but supporting a local food is said to reduce CO2 emissions, aids our local economy, it tastes fresh and I could literally see where it came from and it creates community and connection. Right now, many of us most of us thrive online – shopping less in person and more on Amazon (though I do love Amazon!). Yesterday was a nice change of pace to make a meaningful, in person connection with a great family company.

But seriously, any kale recipes you love?? Have you visited your local farms? How does it feel to shop more locally? 

Tell me in the comments below or visit me on Instagram or Facebook

Cheers!

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