There is a whole lot of chatter about eating whole, real and fresh foods.
Well, that's great, but you can eat whole, real foods a whole lot easier with the help of your friend, the freezer. Don't turn up your nose to frozen veggies, they may be the secret tool you need to stay on your healthy path.
Check out some of the things I always have on hand in my freezer:
- Frozen shrimp: This is a lean protein that is super fast to defrost. I take out and put in bowl on the counter to defrost then pan sear with veggies and add to rice for a bowl, or to tacos. Either way, you've got a healthy dinner in 10 minutes flat.
- Grass-fed beef: Keep steaks in the freezer for grilling, or ground meat for simple weeknight burgers. Grass-fed beef is a source of omega-3s, it's leaner than grain-fed beef and has 20-22 grams of protein in just 3 ounces.
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- Veggie burgers: I always like to have a plant-based meal on hand! I love Dr. Praeger's veggie burgers for a few reasons: They're soy free, non-GMO and they'll help keep you satisfied with a little protein (though not as much as you'll find in the above items!) and fiber to boot. I pop these in the toaster oven and top with a slice of whole-grain bread, mixed greens or even eggs.
- Butternut squash: Roast this veggie, which is rich in immune-boosting beta carotene, in the oven for a fast side dish, or throw into a morning smoothie.
- Frozen greens: Dark leafy greens like spinach, broccoli rabe and Swiss chard are my go-tos. Remember, since veggies are flash frozen at peak ripeness, they often have even more nutrients than fresh ones! The key is to buy frozen veggies that include no additional ingredients. Read those labels carefully. Also, if you ever buy too many fresh greens, you can freeze those too. Just toss in a Ziploc bag and then add to smoothies or stir fries.
- Frozen herbs in ice cube trays: Herbs amp up flavor and add antioxidants to any dish. Chop and freeze them with a little water into ice cube trays. You can add the herb ice cubes straight into a hot pan with spices and cook with your frozen greens, or add a few cubes to soups and stews.
- Mango: Just one cup provides you with 100 percent of your daily vitamin C needs and a nice change to your fruit routine if you're bored of citrus. Not only is this a delish, tropical fruit to keep around for a refreshing snack (you can pop 'em straight from the freezer like mini popsicle bites), but it's another staple smoothie ingredient.
- Berry mix: Ditto for berries. They're snackable and blendable, and you can add them into healthy-ish baked goods, or even into your overnight oats. They're another great source of fiber and antioxidants, and the ultimate nutrient-dense food to always have on hand.
- Chili: During the winter months especially, a hearty yet healthy soup or chili is perfect to have in the freezer to defrost at a moment's notice. If you prefer plant-based protein, this three bean chili is the perfect meatless Monday option to get in protein and fiber while enjoying a warming comfort food. For those warmer months? Make gazpacho part of your Sunday prep instead.
- Egg and veggie mini quiche: Batch cook these mini-egg muffins on a Sunday and keep some in the fridge for the week, and the rest in the freezer. Just when you think you've run out, the frozen batch is already on deck. Microwave for 30-45 seconds and you've got a gourmet breakfast that will keep you satisfied until lunch.
- Morning glory muffins: If you love to bake but don't know what to do with the leftovers, freezing is the answer. These muffins are grain-free, full of antioxidants from carrots, apples, chia seeds, cinnamon, coconut and pumpkin puree, and … Totally delicious. Microwave and top with 2 teaspoons almond butter and I promise, your day will be better.
The article "11 Food This Nutritionist Always Keeps in Her Freezer" originally published on TODAY.com.
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