10 Essential Freezer Foods for Short Cuts

Consider this part two of the series…. this time I’ll focus on foods that I have to keep in the freezer at all times to make weeknight meal prep a breeze.  (Click here for part one – pantry foods for short cuts).

Keepin’ it real for you guys…. I do have some processed-ish foods that I always have on hand (**Gasp!**).  I won’t add them to this list because they aren’t what I’d consider essential for food prep.  For example, our Wednesday nights are crazy in our house.  So, nearly every Wednesday we have Trader Joe’s black bean taquitos.  Everyone likes them, they are tasty and fairly healthy.  So, there you go.

Here are 10 freezer foods that I keep on hand at all times…

  1. Lemon Juice Okay, I admit, this is an easy one for me.  We have a lemon tree that produces about 200-pounds of lemons every year.  Yes, 200-pounds.  We give them away to anyone who will take them!  But, we are fortunate to have lemon juice on hand all year round.  Freezing it in ice cube trays and then dumping the cubes into a large gallon freezer bag works great.  Always ready for sauces, recipes and lemonade!
  2. Frozen Berries If there is a killer sale, I buy a ton of berries and freeze them.  If I am running low on frozen berries, I buy them to have on hand.  Delicious in smoothies, for baking, or a cold side dish in the summertime.
  3. Sliced or Chopped Onions It’s no secret that I hate onions.  I hate them cooked, raw, fried, and any other form you can fathom.  BUT, it is indeed true that they are necessary in certain recipes, and my husband loves them. So, I buy about 5-6 at a time, slice or chop them in the food processor, and freeze them in quart-size bags.  Problems solved.  And, my fingers stink and eyes drip only once, instead of frequently.
  4. Grated Zucchini – When friends’ gardens are at their peak, or there is a great sale on zucchini, or there’s a huge offering at Produce on Wheels Without Waste (POW-WOW) here in southern Arizona, I stock up on zucchini.  Whatever we can’t eat right away gets grated in the food processor and stored in the freezer.  Perfect for baking or stir fry later on.
  5. Shredded Cheese My family goes through tons of cheese.  Too much, truthfully.  So, I commonly stock up on the 2-cup bags of shredded cheddar, colby-jack, monterey jack, and parmesan cheeses when there is a bargain.  Always ready for quesadillas!
  6. Peas – Frozen peas are SO much more flavorful than canned.  I mean, it’s like night and day.  They are a great addition to pasta, soup, salads…. nice to have those sweet babies ready to go.  My favorite new recipe uses them as a base for pesto.  Yum….
  7. Hash Brown Potatoes Frying these may not be the healthiest way to eat them, but if you get the minimally processed variety (with just potatoes and salt listed as ingredients), these are super to have ready for soups or breakfast-for-dinner.
  8. Homemade Wheat Pancakes If we are having a yummy pancake breakfast on the weekend, I always make more than we need.  They freeze great and make hearty breakfasts for a busy morning.  Whole wheat pumpkin spice pancakes is my favorite variety, but my daughter prefers chocolate chip pancakes!
  9. Veggie or Black Bean Burgers Yes, I love these.  No one else in my house is as crazy about them, so this is basically all about me.  I eat them often on days I’m working from home.  They are also tasty atop a salad/veggie bowl.  The black bean burgers from Costco are my new favorite kind.  Economical, nutritious and delicious.
  10. Freezer-to-Crockpot MealsAs I said in a previous posting, my girlfriends and I like to get together to make these meals as a group/party.  They have saved me many a busy weeknight!  Chili works best, but other favorites are beef-barley soup, beef and broccoli, and red lentil soup.

There you have it!  What is your go-to freezer staple?

 

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10 Essential Pantry Foods for Short Cuts

No doubt you have ALL heard the “no processed or packaged” foods statements out there.  Or, “avoid the inner aisles of the grocery store” recommendations.  Remember, I’m your down-to-earth dietitian.  We all have busy lives and go at a frantic pace.  Sometimes, short cuts are necessary.  Face it, some partially processed foods help us to avoid fast-food drive-thru lanes.  Definitely worth it.

Avoiding HIGHLY processed foods packed with sugars, partially hydrogenated oils, and preservatives is certainly a good thing.  But, letting the food manufacturers do a little of your prep work will save you time and allow your family to eat healthier.

Here are 10 pantry foods that I keep on hand at all times…

  1. Canned Beans of ALL Kinds – High in fiber and protein!  I always have black beans, pinto beans, and garbanzo beans.  Yes, I love my homemade beans with chilies or ham…. but, canned beans are a great quick alternative.  Salads or wraps for lunch.  Burritos or ingredient in skillet dinners.  Highly recommend beans!
  2. Vegetable Broth – I like the reduced sodium, organic variety in quart-size boxes.  Super flavorful, ready to go for soups.  Definite necessity!
  3. Popcorn Kernels – My favorite simple snack!  Did you know you can pop these in a paper lunch bag, little drizzle of olive oil, in the microwave for about 2-1/2 minutes?!  I buy the jumbo container at Costco.
  4. Canned Diced Tomatoes – Just like the beans, these are such a time saver when it comes to soups, sauces or skillet meals.
  5. Brown Rice – The dried version tastes so much better than the quick minute-rice variety.  Yes, the cooking time is longer.  If you will be serving a rice-based dinner during the week, just cook up your rice over the weekend.  Cooked rice keeps well in the fridge or freezer.
  6. Whole Wheat Pasta – Such a quick weeknight meal option!  Pasta gets a bad rap lately with the low-carb craze.  Remember, portion control!  Whole wheat pasta with fiber helps your gut, fills you up, and is super versatile.
  7. Almond Butter – Quick lunches and breakfasts are so much simpler with this staple!
  8. Lentils – Because they cook quickly, red and brown lentils lend a fiber/protein-packed addition to your weeknight meals.  Try in soups, tacos, salads…. options are endless!
  9. Albacore Tuna – Super high in protein!  Highly recommend the low sodium version, packed in water for a satisfying lunch.
  10. Light Coconut Milk – Turn ordinary chowders or stir-fry into unique knock-off take-out Asian delicious-ness!  I prefer the light version, as it’s not so heavy and rich, but still packs the tasty coconut flavor.

There you have it!  What is your go-to pantry staple?

Stay tuned for essential freezer foods for short-cuts, coming soon!

 

Healthy Pumpkin Spice Muffins

img_6049Pumpkin Spice has been the autumn rage for several years now.  Confession: I LOVE ALL THINGS PS!  I adore going to Trader Joe’s & stocking up on pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin tortilla chips, pumpkin butter, pumpkin coffee, pumpkin yogurt, pumpkin beer….. well, you get the idea.  I may have a pumpkin problem.

ANYWAY, I decided to revamp a tasty pumpkin bread recipe that I have that is super high in sugar and fat, yet very tasty.  This is the result and I hope you enjoy!  Just baking it makes our house smell fall-like and delicious!

Healthy Pumpkin Spice Muffins

Makes about 18 muffins

Ingredients

  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup white flour
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Prepare muffin tins with cooking oil spray or muffin liners.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together pumpkin, oil, applesauce, sugars and eggs.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients.  Combine into wet ingredients bowl.
  4. Scoop batter into muffin tins, filling each about 2/3 full.  Top with nuts, if desired.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
  6. Serve warm.  Delish!

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Recipe: Poblano Roasted Corn Chowder

img_6024A couple of months ago when delicous sweet Olathe corn was on sale, I bought a LOT of ears… grilled them up, stripped the kernels off the cob, and froze it in plastic bags.  Boy, was that genius!

Now, if you don’t have that delectable grilled corn hanging out in your freezer, this can easily be made with frozen corn.  Either way, this is a warm and comforting meal!  Your family, friends, co-workers, kids, pets…. well, you get the idea…. they will all LOVE it!

And the best part?  It was on my table ready to eat in 20 minutes!  Enjoy!

Poblano Roasted Corn Chowder

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 3 poblano chiles, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 28-32 ounces of frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • 2 cans cream corn
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 cups milk
  • Optional garnishes:  shredded cheddar cheese, diced jalapeno, chopped cilantro, chopped green onion

In a stock pot, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add chiles and onion and cook until tender, stirring often.  Add corn, cream corn and vegetable broth.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer.  Stir in milk.  When heated through, serve in individual bowls and garnish as desired.  YUM!

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5 Habits Sabotaging Your Diabetes Control

Make sure you steer clear from these eating habits ruining your glycemic control.  Check out this recent article I wrote guiding you away from those negative choices!  #client

5 Diet Habits To Avoid

10 diabetes snacking mistakes to avoid

8 Meal Box Delivery Comparisons – Part Two

Finishing the round-up of reviews for popular meal box delivery companies.  If you missed part one, you’ll want to check it out to have the full picture.

It was not possible to personally review all companies out there, for a variety of reasons, unfortunately.  In these two posts, I summarize some basic facts about each service, the cost, and any available discounts.

Similarities – MOST of these companies offer a vegetarian option.  All support fresh, locally sourced produce and meats.  Many have a Registered Dietitian on staff.

 1. Plated 

  • Website – Plated
  • Plans -2 person or 3 person, with 2, 3 or 4 meals per order
  • Pricing  -Smallest plan is 2 person, 2 meals = $48.  Largest plan is 3 person, 4 meals = $144.  Shipping costs vary.
  • Per Meal Cost – All equate to $12 per meal
  • Discounts – Website offers free 2 dinners with first order.
  • Unique – Desserts available!

2. Home Chef 

  • Website – Home Chef
  • Plans – order 2, 4 or 6 servings per order.
  • Per Meal Cost – $9.95 per dinner serving or $4.95 per breakfast serving.
  • Discounts – $30 off first order using this code: FB30FREE.   Referral program.
  • Unique -Two breakfast choices offered each week.

3. Green Chef

  • Website – Green Chef
  • Plans -2 person or 4 person plan.  Order as many meals per week as you want.
  • Per Meal Cost – Depends on the type of meal.  Cheapest is Vegetarian ($10.49 per meal) and most expensive is Paleo ($14.99 per meal).  Other options include Omnivore ($11.99 per meal), Vegan ($11.99 per meal), Gluten Free ($13.49 per meal) and Carnivore ($13.49 per meal).
  • Discounts – Website offers 2 meals free for the first order.
  • Unique – Organic ingredients.  Eco-friendly packaging.

4. Blue Apron

  • Website – Blue Apron
  • Plans – 2 person or 4 person plans available.  The 2 person plan offers 3 meals per order.  The 4 person plan offers 2 or 4 meals per order.
  • Pricing  – 2 person, 3 meal plan = $59.94.  4 person, 2 meal plan = $69.92.  4 person, 4 meal plan = $139.84.  Free delivery.
  • Per Meal Cost – Ranges from $8.74 per meal to $9.99 per meal.
  • Discounts – Website offers $30 off first order
  • Unique – Blue Apron is definitely the largest and most well-known of the meal delivery companies.  They also sell wine.

11 Healthy Eating Habits for Diabetes

Eating with diabetes can be daunting, confusing, and frustrating.  Figuring out carbohydrate contents, glucose levels and medication dosages on a daily basis is overwhelming.  Take some of the stress away by following these healthy habits.  These lifestyle changes won’t cure your condition, but they’re a great place to start heading in the right direction for healthier eating.

11 Healthy Eating Habits Article

10 diabetes snacking mistakes to avoid