I find that the best way to come up with quick, healthy and easy meals and snacks is to have a well stocked pantry, refrigerator and freezer. I have previously posted my top seven items to keep in your refrigerator. So, today I am going to talk about the top five items to keep in your freezer.
I would love to say that I only buy fresh produce everyday for the meals I create. The truth is I have to make a concerted effort to buy fresh produce once a week! It is important to me that my family gets a good amount of fruits and veggies into their diet. However, it is not possible for me to continuously shop for these items. Even when I do have them on hand I never really know that I will be able to use everything I buy before it goes bad. If there is anything I hate, it is throwing out food! When I found out that frozen fruits and vegetables are almost as good nutritionally as their fresh counterparts I was sold.
Frozen Fruits – One of the great benefits of frozen fruit is that it is usually picked and frozen at the optimal time in their season. Many fruits have a short season when they are really good. Most fruits are not great year round, and if they are great then they are being flown in from half way around the world. Frozen fruits allow you to enjoy your favorite fruits any time of the year.
My personal favorites are frozen berries and peaches. I use them in smoothies, crumbles, tarts or sauces. I also eat them plain with a sprinkle of sugar or served with some frozen yogurt.
Frozen Vegetables – You can pretty much be guaranteed that the vegetables were picked at the height of freshness and frozen. This is a great thing! The main reason I love frozen vegetables is because of their convenience. Sometimes I do not have time to clean and cook the veggies that I want to serve. This is when I rely on the frozen. I also prefer frozen vegetables to canned as there is less sodium and no concern for exposure to the chemicals used to line the cans. You also do not really sacrifice on texture as long as you cook them properly (meaning do not over cook!).
Another positive of frozen vegetables is the price. They are often a lot less expensive than the fresh. Frozen spinach is the best bargain around as it takes pounds of fresh spinach to make one box of frozen!
Some of my favorite frozen veggies are asparagus, green beans, edemame, broccoli, peas, corn and spinach. I use them in side dishes, salads, soups and quiche. They also can be great steamed and on their own.
Frozen Yogurt – I could eat ice cream every day of the week. However, that is probably not the best idea for my waist line. A nice compromise for me is frozen yogurt. It is lower in fat and calories than regular ice cream and also has all those great cultures.
There are some really good quality frozen yogurts out there that really satisfy my craving for something creamy and delicious. I like all kinds of flavors, but my favorites are probably anything chocolate or Stoneyfield Farm’s Vanilla. You can actually see the vanilla bean dots going through the vanilla yogurt!
I will chop up a banana, or peach or throw some berries in the bottom of a bowl and top it with the frozen yogurt. If I really want to be decadent I will drizzle some buckwheat honey on top and add some chopped nuts. It is the perfect guilt free sundae! Frozen yogurt is a great snack in the summer when the weather is hot and you just want something cold and creamy.
Veggie Burgers – There are so many great types of veggie burgers on the market today. Where they were once poor substitutes for a real burger, I really think that they have evolved. There are some that mimic beef or chicken made of soy proteins. There are others that are more “veggie” and made up of mostly vegetables. They are a good source of lean protein and a major convenience food in that they normally take 1 to 2 minutes to heat up in the microwave. There is always the option to cook them on the grill for a more authentic feel.
My favorites these days are the Bombay Veggie Burgers by Dr. Praeger (they are spiced beautifully!) and the California Veggie Burger from Morningstar Farms. They have real pieces of avocado in them – yum! You can serve them on toasted whole grain bread or on a bun for a healthy lunch or dinner.
Vodka – I am not a total lush, but I do like to keep a bottle of vodka in the freezer. Of course vodka is just fine outside of the freezer, but I really like it ice cold. Because of the alcohol content you do not have to worry about it freezing. It is however, the perfect temperature for some celebratory shots, mixed drinks or martinis 🙂