Friday, March 4, 2011

A Healthier Frozen Meal!

Many of the clients I meet with for private counseling tell me they rely a lot on frozen meals for their dinners or lunches. I can understand this because they are incredibly convenient and often times very filling. Unfortunately, however, they are not very healthy.

Several months ago I won a giveaway on Missy's blog. The giveaway was for a free package of Macaroni Grill's frozen entrees. I requested the Grilled Chicken Florentine, and I dare you to click on that link and check out the nutrition facts! There is a whopping 1090 mg sodium (half of a day's worth) in one half of the package. Considering that the new Dietary Guidelines recommend no more than 1500 mg sodium/day for most of the population (see the executive summary of the new Dietary Guidelines, here), this meal could be disastrous!

Of course, a little (or a lot..) sodium didn't deter me from finally making this for dinner one night! I followed the directions on the package and added the contents to the pan. Next, I did what I tell my clients to do; "Add more veggies to the meal!". Yep, I poured an entire bag of frozen collard greens into the frozen dinner.


The collard greens added more volume, causing us to eat less calories, fat and sodium from the actual frozen meal. Nick and I were both pleasantly full from just 1/4th of the large bag, each (which means we each consumed 550 mg sodium). And of course this meal became much more nutrient dense with the addition of the collard greens.


The other half of this meal was a great addition to Nick's lunch the next two days. Imagine one frozen dinner making it through four meals!

QUESTION: Do you ever add extra veggies to frozen meals?

I also do this with canned soups or chicken broth. With the canned soups I always add extra veggies for better taste, more volume, and more nutrients. If I just buy broth (low sodium) I will throw in whichever vegetables I have prepared and also some protein, such as grilled chicken.


25 comments :

  1. It's a really great idea. I am so not a frozen meal type of person, but if I DID eat them, I would absolutely do the same :)

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  2. I encourage clients to add veggies to frozen meals, pasta dishes and soups but the collards are genius. I haven't used frozen collards but will now.

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  3. i never even thought of adding more vveggies!! but i dont eat frozen meals either-!! but I DO add stuff to soups! like noosh and veg!

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  4. I don't eat a lot of frozen food, but when I do, I always add extra veggies. It makes the food a lot healthier and filling.

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  5. Great idea to make a frozen meal go further, and healthier!

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  6. I don't eat a lot of frozen food, but occasionally I'll pick up some frozen burritos for a quick meal. I look for healthier options, but they do always have a lot of excess sodium. Since I don't eat a lot of packaged foods though, I don't feel the need to worry about my salt intake...but if I did, frozen foods would definitely not be good!

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  7. i don't buy frozen meals for that exact reason. the sodium content is always so high!! but i love your idea of adding the veggies for people who do enjoy them.

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  8. I like to add veggies to mac and cheese - I don't make many frozen meals, but if I did, I would probably add some veggies as well!

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  9. Awesome!! this is something that I love to do...I always bulk up my meals with lots of veggies. Helps me stay full. Plus..I do love my veggies=)

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  10. i can't even remember the last time i bought a frozen meal! but if i did i would for sure have to bulk that baby up! i hate frozen meals for that reason alone that they're always so skimpy haha i like some good ole gurrrrrrrrth

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  11. I feel like sodium is probably the top gross thing about frozen meals and I don't even like the taste of that much sodium. I would say I almost never really eat frozen meals- though Amy's frozen pizza is good and I like Trader Joes chicken dumplings steamed. However, I always add mashed potatoes to those to tone down the sodium amount, yikes :)

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  12. At least it's a free meal....I add stuff to canned soups, because I don't think they fill me up, and I think they can be way too salty. I don't usually buy frozen meals though, unless they are fries. :-)

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  13. I LOVE adding veggies to frozen meals--broccoli especially!!

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  14. I can never let anything just be, I love to add peas or broccoli to frozen meals or soups when I use them.

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  15. I always add frozen veggies, spices, cheese, etc. to soups or broth. I can't ever just let it be and it adds some nice volume and makes me feel like I cooked.

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  16. Great tips and tricks. I would do the same to any packaged dinner. A lot of people I see also do the whole packaged thing. It's definitely hard to eat healthfully (aka real food and not ready prepared) when you're busy, but I always say it's an investment in your health! :)

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  17. I totally add extra veggies to frozen meals, among other things, LOL. If it's a mexican type meal, I'll usually add some chopped avocado on top, makes a HUGE difference!

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  18. Great idea to add it to this meal. I do that too sometimes depending on what the item is. I usually only by Amy's now and I find I am so full and they have lots of veggies already. The other meals here are usually meat options so I can't buy them.

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  19. I'm so glad I found your blog! This is a great idea---I'm a wellness coach and always trying to "meet people in the middle." I'm definitely going to suggest this :)

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  20. I do this a lot too. I actually don't find frozen meals that filling. They seem like they have a TON of sauce and not enough veggies! So yep, I cook them and add them right in :) It is very impressive to make "one meal" stretch for 4, though!

    P.S. Thanks for your well wishes! I am feeling better each day :)

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  21. The only thing I eat that's ready made is the occasional pizza and I always add extra veggies :-) Aubergine, onions, basil, peppers and sundried tomatoes :-)

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  22. yes i always add lots of extra veggies to my frozen meals. my main reasons are ..

    1. disperses the sodium contect a bit i feel

    2. volumizes the meal

    3. add some nice color to the dullness that most frozen meals have when they are heated up.

    xoxo <3

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  23. Love this idea. Never would have thought collards. Thanks for expanding my thinking.

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  24. I always, always bulk up frozen meals, soups, stews with extra veg. Broccoli is my veg of choice with a frozen meal...

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  25. well, it Doesn't matter what diet you're on, the hardest obstacle in dieting is control hunger pangs and cravings.
    You might like to try out a product that does exactly that: fresh-frozen Hoodia (a well known appetite depressant) in the form of small and convenient ice cubes – hence its name, the ice cube diet.
    It just helps you eat less and makes your dieting easier.
    http://www.icecubediet.com/
    Good luck to you all and for those who do try it out, please do share your experiences with me – John - icecube.john@gmail.com.

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