Healthy Meals in a Snap
Whenever chefs, TV personalities and health experts talk about healthy eating, they almost always talk about the importance of eating fresh, natural foods. This is certainly important, but for those of us who are busy, always having fresh foods on hand can be a challenge. We can’t run out to the market every other day to purchase the freshest ingredients, and we can’t always cook “from scratch” every night either.
Don’t get me wrong, I love to cook with fresh ingredients. The aroma of freshly cut herbs, simmering sauces, or roasting chicken is fantastic. And, generally, fresh ingredients add a lot of great flavor too. But there are alternatives.
One way to make the most of your time while still cooking healthy meals is to use your freezer wisely. To be clear, I’m NOT saying you should resort to ready-made, highly-processed frozen dinners. And, I’m also NOT saying that you can just eat anything that comes frozen and still eat healthfully. What I am saying is that there are ways to use your freezer to both reduce cooking time and enhance the meals you prepare.
Here are some ideas:
Herbs: Did you know that you can freeze most fresh herbs? Dill, cilantro, rosemary, thyme, and basil, just to name a few, can all be frozen and used whenever you need them. Just wash them off and let them dry (this is important, so that water doesn’t freeze on them). Once dry, place them in a ziploc bag and put them in the freezer. You’ll find that, once frozen, the leaves will simply fall off the stems of herbs like rosemary and thyme. Softer herbs like cilantro and basil can be easily chopped when frozen.
Vegetables: We have discussed the use of frozen vegetables in this blog before (5 Diet Myths Debunked), so I won’t go into detail again here. In addition to simply steaming frozen veggies, you can add them to pasta sauce while you simmer it, put them in soups, or stir them into fried rice dishes. And, since you don’t have to shop, clean or prepare each vegetable, they can be great time-savers.
Meat and Fish: Almost any type of meat or seafood can be frozen. We like to save money by shopping for meat on sale, or buying larger “family-size” packages. Then, split up the larger package, placing each portion in a separate freezer bag and sealing it. When you need chicken, fish, shrimp, or just about any meat for a particular dish, just pull out one of the freezer bags. It helps to move frozen meat or fish to the refrigerator one day before you plan to use it, so it has a chance to partially or fully thaw.
Fruit: Frozen fruit doesn’t have the same consistency when thawed as fresh fruit. It’s usually softer and even a but “mushy.” But, it does have the same flavor. If you’re making a smoothy, adding berries to pancakes or baked oatmeal, or eating fruit with your ceral in the morning, frozen fruit is a great option.
Don’t be “afraid” to use frozen foods. You don’t have to use only fresh ingredients in order to cook healthy meals. You just need to use your freezer wisely.
Remember, healthy choices each day can transform your family for generations! What choices will you make today?
You may also want to read: Eating Right: It’s Not About Willpower Alone, Eat Right: Spend Less and Eat Healthier, Keep Healthy Basics in Your Pantry