As a Certified Health Coach, I am nutrition focused. At the heart of it, I am a serious fan of the art of tantalizing my taste buds. I love food - and the experience of sharing food with others. More so, I have always been fascinated by how interwoven diet and culture are. And, if given the choice between buying a pair of shoes or going to the Strand or Cask & Larder I would choose the ladder. Without thinking twice.
However, the more focused on wellness I became the more the fascination turned to inspiration to find a way to live as balanced as possible - to have it all. Surely we can still have amazing meal experiences while being mindful of what we are putting in our bodies? I am convinced I can achieve the foodie experiences I am seeking, eat what I want, and still have it be healthy and clean. I am also a busy mom. Here are my 5 Must Have Freezer Staples that help this fit foodie get through.
1. Frozen Greens
Either chopped or whole leaf, and almost always a kale and spinach mix, or Swiss chard. With greens, you can add real nutritional bang for your buck. I add them to eggs - Omelets, Scrambles, Quiche, etc. Pasta, soup, beans, pizza, rice, etc. The possibilities are endless. We want to aim to keep 50% of our plate veggies - this is a super easy, economical and convenient way to do so.
2. Frozen Fruit & Berries
Fruit can be pricey! One of my biggest indulgences is Rainier Cherries. I love them, and I look forward to them every year. However, I keep frozen blueberries, cherries, and other fruits on hand. The blueberries are great mixed in yogurt, on top granola with milk, overnight oats, in pancakes or muffins, or for teething little ones to gnaw on. It also makes whipping up a smoothie, or smoothie bowl, on a whim easy to do. The thing I love most about frozen berries is that when frozen, they are at their peak. They are also an economical way to have fruit on hand at all times.
3. Frozen Peas
Always. Always. Always. The girls love them, and therefore anything I put them in. Stir fry, pasta, ramen, soup, or even just beefing up some mac 'n' cheese. Annies Vegan Mac 'n' Cheese with peas is our go to grocery shopping day lunch. In 10 minutes (including 2 for cooling) it's done. It's is dairy free, gluten free, and has a veggie with protein. Most importantly they love it. This one is a winner, guys.
4. Ezekiel Bread
I will take this opportunity to confess. I love carbs. I can't imagine the world without bread or grains. Without them, I am sad (seriously, carbohydrates regulate your mood), and cold (yep, temperature too). I don't want to, nor should I have to live without them. My body tolerates them, albeit it is not a fan of corn, but clean wheat in moderation seems to be no problem for me. Having tried nearly all gluten free and flourless bread brands, Ezekiel Bread is my favorite. Disclaimer, we are a house divided on this one. It's not Jose's favorite, but the girls and I enjoy it. It's perfect for avocado toasts, open-faced egg creations, or dipping into a hearty lentil soup.
5. A Whole Chicken
We are conscience omnivores. We don't eat much when we do, meaning it's not normally the star of our meal, and we try to increase our meatless meals (2-3 times a week). However, I always have something on hand. The most functional and versatile protein for me to have on hand is a whole chicken. First, it the most economical way to buy it. Second, it's large enough to serve extra folks if need be. You can roast it, make a soup or stew, quarter it, grill it, or crock pot it. It will normally yield leftovers and the meat can be and used in a multitude of dishes. Salads, tacos, pasta, etc.
6. Frozen Ripe Bananas
For the most part, I am not a huge baker. I find there is more attention to detail than is needed than in my regular cooking. However, once we hit December 1st, I am in baking mode. Full fledged, crazy focused, cookie and baked goods basket making, and delivering, baking mode. I blame my mother, whom I have wonderful memories of baking cookies with for this overachieving cookie holiday obsession. Cookies and Banana Bread are my specialties. Alas, we will discuss Banana Bread.
Save your ripe bananas all year long! Just toss them in the freezer as they become over ripe and then when you need them come December, thaw them a bit and just squeeze them out (think: toothpaste tube) and proceed as usual. It's incredible. I can't take credit for this game changer; we have my mother to thank for that. It is a genius idea, none the less. Of course, you can also use them in smoothies, or even eaten frozen. I vote, Banana Bread all the way, though.
7. Pizza Sauce
The girls love pizza. Despite Elena not tolerating dairy well, we do splurge with pizza regularly on the weekend. The only thing they love more than pizza is "making" pizza. As long as I have the sauce pre-made in the freezer we can put a pizza together and have it on plates to eat in about 30 minutes (I have timed this, several times). The kicker is having the sauce made. One batch will take you about 10 minutes and will make about four pizzas. I divide what we don't use between 3 mason jars and store in the freezer for up to a month.
Pizza night, for me, is an opportunity to pile on veggies under the cheese, which we use sparingly. Your average fast food pizza is loaded with MSG and other sodium. Use pizza night as an opportunity to re-create a fake food favorite in a healthy way. It also presents an excellent teaching moment with your kids about fake food vs. real food. I recommend getting the Publix pre-rolled fresh pizza dough. Lastly, it runs more smoothing to get everything prepped and set out in bowls before calling over the kiddos. It probably won't be pretty, and you might have to guide the distribution of toppings, but it will taste the same (better actually!), and my girls get into it.
Your chances of eating healthier and preparing healthier food for your family is going to be largely dependent on what you keep in your home. Life get's crazy, and we often find ourselves in a pinch about what to prepare for a meal. I know the scene. You get home, and you are hangry. Not only are you hangry but the tiny humans are closing in on the hanger line - if they haven't crossed it already. Food, now. Food, fast.
It's tempting to grab for the phone to order take out or delivery but I encourage you not to do it. Chances are by the time you decide what everyone wants, place the order, and have it delivered you could have already whipped something up and been eating. Take out is a temporary fix. One that will make you feel fat, sick, and tired. It's also 100% a WASTE of money (we'll talk about that in next week's post). Make sure you have healthy items on hand. You should be able to throw something, that you feel good about, together in 30 minutes.
It can feel like a lot to figure out on your own, but know that you don't have to. I happen to be very good at meal planning and budgeting. Fill out the form below and let's talk about it.