Cool Time Savers

— Written By Christine Smith and last updated by Kim Davis

With the holidays upon us, time is of the essence. Between wrapping presents, errands and last minute shopping it can seem as if healthy eating has flown south for the winter. With a few tips from the Eat Smart, Move More… maintain, don’t gain! Holiday Challenge, you can rest easy knowing fast, tasty and healthy meals are no further than your supermarket’s freezer aisle.

Frozen foods are a time saver and many (like fruits and vegetables) are packed with nutrients. Not to mention, they save money. But it’s not always easy to know which are the healthiest to buy. Armed with these tips from the Eat Smart, Move More… maintain, don’t gain! Holiday Challenge, you’ll be on your way to eating fast and eating smart.

Keep it simple: Stick with the basics – plain, bagged fruits and vegetables. Stock up on vegetables you can add to soups, lunches and dinners. Frozen fruits can be added to cereal or blended to make a quick breakfast smoothie. Add frozen berries to yogurt for a healthy dessert.

Watch out for sauces: Sauces add extra calories and can pack on the pounds. They also can have hidden sodium and sugar. Choose frozen fruits and veggies without any added sauces or syrups.

Choose lean protein: All you need are the basics for a quick weeknight meal. Leave the pre-made meatballs, fish sticks and chicken patties on the shelf. Look for grilled, baked or freshly-frozen chicken, fish, seafood and lean meats. These are all available in the freezer section and are great to have on hand for a fast dinner. Simply add vegetables and a side of brown rice or whole grain pasta.

Check out the label: Pay attention to the serving size – what may look like a serving for one (two enchiladas) may in fact be packaged for two. Look for frozen entrees that have less than 10-15 grams of fat, less than 5 grams of saturated fat and at least 7 grams of protein. Choose meals that include whole grains or brown rice and that are packed with veggies which helps you get the fiber you need to feel full – look for entrees with at least 7 grams of fiber per serving.

Go whole: Whole grain, that is. Frozen whole grain and multi-grain waffles, breads and sides are all available in the freezer case. Look for those made with whole-wheat flour and brown rice.

Right-size your portions: Watch out for ‘family-size’ portions. Whether it’s a frozen breakfast, lunch or dinner entrée these super-sized portions can make the right-sized portions seem small. At mealtimes, enjoy a right-sized portion with a piece of fruit, a side salad and a glass of low-fat milk to round out your meal.

For more information about the Eat Smart, Move More… maintain, don’t gain! Holiday Challenge, visit www.MyEatSmartMoveMore.com.

Thought to Ponder:

“Though ‘desserts’ is ‘stressed’ spelled backwards, it will not help to eat desserts when stressed.” ~ Unknown

Christine Smith, MS, is an Extension Agent in the department of Family & Consumer Sciences with N.C. Cooperative Extension, NCSU, Wayne County. Information on other services available can be found online at http://wayne.ces.ncsu.edu/ or call me at 731-1525 for additional information.

Upcoming Program:  We are now taking registration for Fit and Fabulous 2014. This 25 week program meets twice a week and provides a fitness experience that is fun, challenging and motivating. Classes start January 6, 2014 and meet on Monday and Wednesday evening from 6:00 p.m. till 7:00 p.m. at the WayneCenter located at 208 West Chestnut Street, Goldsboro, NC. Class fee is $35.00 and paid registration is required by January 6, 2012. Space is limited so please call Kim at 731-1525 for more details.