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Frozen Food: Quick, Convenient, and Nutritious!
March is a busy month with it being National Nutrition Month, National
Athletic Training Month, St. Patrick’s Day Month,
and let’s not forget National Frozen Foods Month! The National Frozen and Refrigerated Foods Association (NFRA) is encouraging consumers to visit the frozen foods aisle this month. You can not only save money by doing so, but you can also find some quick and healthy options to serve your family. While it is often confusing to determine what is healthy and what is not, here are a few guidelines to follow when navigating through the frozen foods section.
1) Keep frozen foods in mind as an excellent choice and option: An advantage of frozen produce items is that they are picked and packed at the peak of nutritional value and ripeness. That means that they could actually taste better and have more nutrients than fresh!
2) Check the packaging: Do check for ice crystals because if you see them or feel them, it probably means the contents inside were thawed and refrozen.
3) Proper Storage: Shop for your frozen foods last when going through your grocery list. This is especially important as the weather warms up. Another thing to be sure of is that you are not leaving them in the hot car, risking them defrosting. Defrosting them will affect taste, texture and may affect cook time. Also, try to avoid putting food on the freezer door because it’s the warmest part of the freezer’s space.
4) Read Labels: Food labels are important to look at when selecting a frozen meal. One of the most important things to look at is the fat content of the meals. Aim for meals that have 10-15 grams of fat or less per serving. Otherwise, try to keep the fat content to <35% of calories coming from fat. Make sure you also check how many servings are in a meal. Some look like they are packaged for one serving, but there may be two or three in the entire box or bag.
5) Check the sodium per serving: Many frozen foods have a high sodium content. The recommended daily intake is 2,300 milligrams. It is best to look for meals that have between 500 to 1,000 milligrams or less per serving. You don't want to take in all your sodium in a single meal.
6) Find meals with nutritional balance: If you’re looking for the right ingredients to fit your diet, don’t turn away from the frozen aisle too quickly. You’d be surprised at all the solutions you can find. Some dinners are now organic, made with whole grains, low-fat, low carbohydrate and low sodium or vegetarian. Choosing frozen meals that have a good amount of vegetables will help you meet your nutritional needs. Try to stick with whole grains, like brown rice or whole wheat pasta. Meals that have 5 grams of fiber or more will be considered an excellent source of fiber!
Take a stroll down the Frozen Food aisle and try something new!