A common complaint among individuals who exercise frequently is the difficulty of balancing good nutrition with delicious flavor. These attributes are too often seen as opposing, with one unfortunately getting sacrificed. But what people may not realize is that there is a valuable resource in your local grocery store that successfully balances these important elements: the frozen food aisle.
A ‘fitter’ frozen food checklist
The frozen food aisle is being reinvented, pushing boundaries to meet health needs without compromising on taste or convenience. New options incorporating ethnic spices and bold flavors, as well as “modern health” offerings such as gluten-free and high protein products, are changing the dynamic of the grocery store. But how does one incorporate frozen foods and maintain a healthy diet to fuel performance? The key is to look for items that meet your nutritional needs while using culinary cooking techniques and simple ingredients to deliver on great flavor. Below is a checklist of what to look for:
1. Track what counts: Ensure your selections are sufficient in protein and fiber with appropriate levels of other key nutrients. Extra time spent in the gym means additional opportunities to build lean muscle.
* Stouffer’s FitKitchen entrees all offer 25 grams of protein or more, balanced with whole grains, and colorful vegetables. The FitKitchen Cilantro Lime Chicken has a fresh Southwestern taste combining herbs with the tanginess of lime while delivering 27 grams of protein, 6 grams of fat, and 7 grams of fiber.
2. Keep an eye for simplicity: When seeking out frozen meal options, look for products that are easy to prepare and utilize simple, recognizable ingredients. But don’t be intimidated by every word that’s not part of your daily vocabulary. Ingredients like enzymes (required to make cheese) or citric acid (found in oranges) are safe for consumption and are part of our everyday lives — just not part of your typical watercooler conversation.
3. Pit stop in produce: Frozen foods are versatile, quick to prepare, and can easily be rounded out with fresh fruits and veggies to help you stay fuller, longer. There are many outstanding frozen fruit vegetable options that require one simple step to prep — heat in the microwave or blend with ice. The simpler the prep process, the more likely you are to partake so do yourself a favor and keep the barriers to healthy eating low.
4. Check for culinary chops: Find meals that are prepared using expert culinary techniques to provide delicious flavor without compromising nutrition.
* Preparation techniques such as braising draws out the rich flavor in meats while herbs and seasonings add great taste. Unique flavor accents like brightness from citrus or heat and smokiness from chilies can add much to the taste profile of a dish without substantially impacting the “building block” nutritionals (fat, carbohydrates, and protein).
* An example of this is Lean Cuisine’s Ranchero Braised Beef which offers mouthwatering slow-cooked beef with a spicy red chile sauce and delivers 15 grams of protein. Colorful, mashed sweet potatoes seasoned with smoky chipotle round out the entrée nicely.
By following these suggestions, even the most physically active can find meal solutions through frozen, freeing up more time to focus on that wonderfully active lifestyle that drives yet another personal best. For more healthy meals plans incorporating frozen, check out the Balance Your Plate website brought to you by Nestlé.