It seems that there is a designated month for nearly everything these days, so there’s no surprise that there’s a month dedicated to frozen foods. The month of March hosts National Frozen Food Month as well as National Nutrition Month. It may be difficult to think about the typical frozen foods we see in the grocery store as being healthy, since many of them are filled with too much fat, sugar, and preservatives. But with a few extra ingredients and a little creativity, almost any frozen food can be turned into a well-rounded, healthy meal.
The idea when creating a healthy meal is to include fruits and/or vegetables, protein, whole grains, and sometimes dairy. The USDA’s MyPlate diagram is a great tool for creating a healthy plate at each meal. It not only helps show what types of food we should be eating, but the proper portion sizes as well. With this useful tool as a guide, it is easier to see how we can create better meals out of frozen foods.
Breakfast—Do you or your kids love frozen waffles? Instead of syrup, try these toppings to give yourself a power boost:
- Peanut butter and banana slices
- Peanut butter and apple slices
- Plain yogurt, fresh or frozen (thawed) fruit, and a drizzle of honey or maple syrup
- Make a waffle “taco” by placing scrambled eggs and turkey sausage on the waffle and fold it up
- Top the waffle with some fruit and have it with a quick scrambled egg on the side
Lunch—there are so many different frozen lunch options, particularly the microwave meals. If you’re like me, one meal isn’t always enough to fill me up at lunch time, and sometimes there’s too much sauce and not enough actual meat and veggies. Here are a few tricks to help a boxed meal go further:
- Add more veggies. Whether frozen or fresh, adding extra veggies right into the main entrée will help use up the extra sauce and give you more bang for your buck, nutritionally speaking.
- Add a side of fruit, low-fat yogurt with fruit, or a fruit smoothie.
- If the meal is comprised of only veggies and protein, add a grain such as whole grain pasta or brown rice. Carbohydrates are very important for our bodies to maintain a steady energy level.
- If the meal is lacking in vegetables, such as mac and cheese or lasagna, add a vegetable to the side such as carrots and sliced peppers with dip or any fresh/frozen vegetable you like, lightly steamed.
Dinner—Microwave meals can also be used for dinner, but there are a variety of additional options that may be better suited for feeding a family at dinner time. Here are a few options to help you create a well-balanced meal for the family:
- Create a healthy plate with frozen, breaded chicken or chicken breasts cooked to package directions, steamed frozen vegetables, and a healthy grain such as brown rice (available in the freezer section) or sweet potato fries.
- Add extra vegetables and chicken/steak/pork to the frozen stir-fry kits. This will help extend the high-sodium sauce so that you are getting more valuable nutrients and less sodium.
- Try frozen fish, along with steamed vegetables and wild rice for a healthy spin on protein.
- Add extra vegetables and/or grilled chicken to a frozen pizza to up the nutrient value.
- Make one of my favorites, chicken pot pie, with frozen mixed vegetables, chopped chicken, a can of cream of chicken or mushroom soup (or make your own), and pie crust. You get all of the food groups in one delicious piece of pie!
Snacks—I am big on snacking, and sometimes it’s hard to find something healthy to keep me going. Here are some great snack ideas from the freezer:
- Steamed edamame
- Frozen fruit smoothie
- Frozen fruit mixed with plain/vanilla Greek yogurt and granola
- Fruit popsicles
- Frozen blueberries (they take a while to eat helping you eat more slowly)
Eating healthy doesn’t mean you can’t utilize the convenience of freezer foods. With a few extra ingredients and some creativity, you can create delicious and healthy meals for your family while saving time and money.
I consider myself a healthy eater. For many years I have made it a priority to eat as healthily as I could and as a result many of my efforts have become habits. I have never followed specific diet trends or relied on diet products, I just made it a point to eat whole grains, fruits and vegetables and lean meat, while eating unhealthy foods in moderation.
But over the years, I have learned many new things which lead me to realize that a lot of the food I was eating isn’t as healthy as I had thought. I have learned that food marketing is extremely deceptive and food companies care only about making money. I have learned about the damaging effects of certain artificial ingredients and preservatives on the body. Because of my passion for and educational background in health, these realizations have led me to challenge myself to make the changes needed to truly have a healthy diet.
I don’t consider clean eating a trend as much as it is simply going back to the way our ancestors ate. They didn’t have the convenience of processed, boxed foods and microwave dinners, and many of them had gardens in which they grew their own produce. Combined with modern recipes that incorporate the healthiest foods without sacrificing flavor, clean eating can easily be the most effective health tactic yet. Choosing whole, natural foods whenever possible will not only lead to weight loss, but also will rid the body of unhealthy chemicals and preservatives and contribute to disease prevention. Even for someone who eats well to begin with, learning how to eat clean is not easy.
Here are five ways to begin incorporating clean eating into your routine:
- Cook from scratch. Whenever possible, make meals and baked goods from scratch. Do not rely on boxed cake or brownie mixes, canned soups, or packaged snack items. They are all loaded with artificial ingredients and preservatives. Most recently, my Instant Pot has been my best friend in helping me cook healthy meals for my family in a very short amount of time!
- Stock up on produce. Keep your favorite fruits and vegetables readily available at all times, but also try something new every so often. I recently tried kale chips and they were delicious! The internet is extremely valuable when it comes to finding new recipe ideas utilizing fruits and vegetables. Store your produce at eye level in the refrigerator rather than the drawers to remind you to eat it!
- Read labels on everything you buy. You’d be surprised by the number of unpronounceable ingredients in an item you thought was healthy. If you have staple items that you eat regularly, use the internet to look up how to make sure you are choosing the healthiest possible brand.
- Budget a little more for food, initially. Buying packaged foods often seems cheaper than buying all the ingredients to cook from scratch. But over time, the cost of buying individual ingredients will actually turn out to be cheaper! If you truly want to devote yourself to clean eating, plan to spend a little more at first for ingredients and healthier brands.
- Go easy on yourself. Don’t try to change your entire diet all at once. Take baby steps to avoid getting overwhelmed. Vow to make one change per week. I suggest cleaning up what you drink before anything else. Drink water as much as possible, soda as little as possible, and never drink anything labeled as diet. As the weeks go by, you will find that your clean eating choices become easier and even habitual. Allow yourself a break now and then and don’t beat yourself up over setbacks.
In the grand scheme of things, it may be impossible to have a completely clean diet all the time. Don’t aim for perfection, but just doing the best you can. Every step benefits your body that much more. Think of it as a shower for your inside. Your internal system gets dirty through chemicals and preservatives in the foods we eat and the best way to help clean out the gunk is to feed it the least processed foods possible.
Give clean eating a try for yourself and see how you feel!
Give Your Heart Some Love
February is well known for Valentine’s Day, but did you know that it is also National Heart Month? Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women. According to the American Heart Association, more women actually die from heart disease than men, killing more women than all cancers combined. Therefore, it is especially important for women to know their risks.
Heart disease includes conditions such as cardiovascular disease, in which plaque builds in the arteries causing obstructed blood flow, congestive heart failure, arrhythmias, angina, heart valve problems, heart attack, and stroke. Risk factors for heart disease include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, being overweight or obese, smoking, lack of exercise, and stress. Sometimes these conditions are genetic, so it is important for individuals to know their family history and discuss it with their doctors. However, many times risk factors can be controlled by making healthy lifestyle choices.
Stress, in particular, is sneaky when it comes to heart disease. Many people may seem completely healthy physically, but if they are under too much continuous stress their hearts will suffer. It is important to try doing something every day to stay calm. Some people like deep breathing or meditation. Others like soothing music or reading a good book. Anything that promotes a relaxed feeling will benefit the heart.
In addition to stress management, healthy lifestyle choices that help reduce the risk of heart disease include:
- Eat a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and healthy fats.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Know your Body Mass Index (BMI). Talk to your doctor about what is a healthy weight for you.
- Exercise regularly. Physical activity helps control blood pressure and cholesterol and helps control weight.
- Don’t smoke or quit smoking. A smoker’s risk of heart attack is significantly greater than that of non-smokers.
- Limit alcohol intake. Too much alcohol can increase blood pressure.
This February, while you are celebrating love with those around you, take extra time to give your heart some love. Learn more about the risk factors for heart disease. Learn your family history. Vow to make at least one lifestyle change that will benefit your ticker and practice stress management every day.
2 for 1 Special
Each Person Receives:
- Fitness Consult
- 6 Semi Private Training Sessions*
- 3 Week Fitness Membership
- Fitness Meeting
- Success Guide
- *Partners must train at the same time and share the session.
- Sessions cannot be split and used individually for this promotion.
The Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) is one of four major ligaments (ligaments connect bone to bone) of the knee joint that coordinate function and promote stability of the knee joint. The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is the most commonly injured knee ligament. In the United States there are between 100,000 and 200,000 ACL ruptures per year, with an annual incidence in the general population of approximately 1 in 3500, although the actual incidence may be higher. These numbers are steadily on the rise from year to year.
Sports that are more at risk for ACL tears are Soccer, lacrosse, volleyball, and basketball. Females are more likely than males. An estimated 70% of ACL injuries are sustained through non-contact mechanisms, while the remaining 30% result from direct contact. The classic ACL injury occurs during a non-contact event usually when decelerating, stopping suddenly, twisting, cutting, or jumping. Stretching, strengthening, agility work, and PEP programs are all preventative measures to decrease your risk of this injury.
There are many advantages to seeking help and guidance to prevent such a significant injury from occurring. At BREAKTHRU, we have developed a team of skilled Rehabilitation specialists and personal trainers to fit the needs of the individual client to decrease the risk of injury. We make sure that the patient has exceptional biomechanics and functional movement patterns to not only decrease the likelihood of injury, but to enhance the client’s athletic ability. We have a strong relationship between therapy and fitness that enhances the quality of treatment and provides an aspect of health and wellness you do not find at other facilities.
The staff here at BREAKTHRU provides a winning combination to get you back on the field and keep you at the top of your game!
–Dr. Kyle Hadden PT, DPT, Cert. MDT, OCS