Leanne Ely, CNC: Is frozen food healthy? The deal is, it all depends on what you place in your cart ....
Yes, there's always a catch. And just when you thought it was time to party in the frozen-food aisle, too, right? But not so fast .... The bounty is plentiful; let's just make sure it's the right kind, so it won't end up on your booty plentifully, if you know what I mean! Here, then, is your shopping list:
1. Chests o' Chicken. You know the kind I'm talking about: the ever-present, almost-always-on-sale boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Yes, you want those.
2. Veggies Galore. The frozen-food aisle is full of frozen veggies of every kind -- great budget-savers, and picked at their peak. This is something to stock up on.
3. Wacky for Waffles. There are great whole-grain, ready-to-go waffles; even gluten-free ones, for those who need them -- terrific canvas for a swipe of nut butter for a quick breakfast.
4. Fruitopia. Bags of berries, peaches, mangos, pineapple -- the makings of a perfect smoothie. I buy these bags by the barrelful and keep my freezer flowing with fruit!
5. Garlic and Herbs. A particularly fabulous product? Little ice-cube-tray-like trays of fresh herbs (cilantro, basil) and garlic and ginger. These herbs and garlic are something I always have on hand for convenient cooking. They're made by a company called Dorot; check your local grocery store for availability.
There you have it: Five healthy frozen foods, ready to help you eat well. But look out -- there are four dangers to be aware of:
1. Mistaken Chicken. Don't get the breaded, fried and ready-to-go stuff that you heat and eat. Read the nutritional info on each pack. Not so bad? Go back and look at it again, this time with what a real serving size would be. Uh huh. See what I mean?
2. Vicious Veggies. Oopsie doo on the veggies that are afloat with sauce, goo and cheese! Talk about turning to the dark side! Run, don't walk: This is a case of veggies gone bad.
3. Botched Breakfast. Waffles with a bit of nut butter is one thing; the other breakfast stuff in the freezer section is cause for alarm! You don't need hundreds of calories and gobs of fat and sugar taking you down before noon. Keep it safe with the aforementioned waffles.
4. Felonious Fruit. The plain-Jane stuff is great, highly nutritious and naturally low in sugar (especially the berries). But juice is another thing, even 100 percent fruit juice; it can be hard on blood-sugar levels. If you do juice at all, go EASY. There's a reason why there are petite things called juice glasses -- because you don't need much!
That's it from your friendly Dinner Diva. I've got to go shopping! Go look in your grocery store's flyer this week for the deals. Now's the time to hit that frozen-food aisle and stock up!
Leanne Ely is the New York Times bestselling author of "Body Clutter" and the "Saving Dinner "series. Her "Dinner Diva" syndicated column appears in 250 newspapers nationwide. Learn how to cook great and save significant money with the Dinner Diva's menus, recipes and shopping lists at www.savingdinner.com.