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November 19, 2008

Healthy Convenience Foods

Jen’s Perspective:

When we (Jess and I) decided to talk about healthy convenience products, my first thoughts were of the basic items that are in my kitchen no matter what: canned pumpkin, shredded carrots, microwavable brown rice, Eggland’s Best Eggs, and an assortment of Amy’s organic food products.

Canned Pumpkin: Make sure that you buy the “plain variety” rather than the pie filling. I use this in oatmeal, pancakes, and muffin batter. Canned pumpkin is cheap, full of vitamin A and beta carotene, and easy to incorporate into meals for a nutritional punch. Morgan loves his pumpkin oatmeal with cinnamon and a bit of vanilla. Jeremy and I add walnuts or flax for extra nutrition.

Shredded Carrots: These are easy to use in EVERYTHING. I add them to salads, sandwiches, omelets, casseroles, meatloaf, tuna salad, canned soups, you name it! They are sweet, crunchy, and kid friendly. You can even combine with peanut butter to make “Bunny butter” sandwiches. The natural juices in the carrots add moisture to lean meats—making them ideal for lean meatloaf or burgers and the fact that they are peeled, shredded, and ready to go makes them easy to use. Another use is the simply steam these or sauté to use as a side dish. I will do this if they are close to expiration and I haven’t used them all.

Microwavable brown rice: These vacuum sealed packs heat up in 90 seconds and are a fast side dish when you don’t have time to make the real thing. I will heat them for breakfast as a hot cereal with milk and fruit, add them to soups that need thickening, or even mix with chopped veggies/dried fruits for easy side dishes. For the baby, all I need is some brown rice, shredded cheese, and some chopped veggies for a fast meal.

Eggland’s Best Eggs: These gems provide lots of omega 3 fatty acids and are a quick source of protein. Morgan and I often make omelets on the nights that Jeremy works at the hospital. You can boil these ahead of time and slice for a finger food for the little ones as well. Even though eggs contain cholesterol, they a perfect protein and very low in saturated fat, which doctors believe is more important than cholesterol!

Amy’s Organic Food Products: This Company makes everything from frozen vegan breakfast burritos to canned soups, frozen meals, pizzas, and other items. I use their refried beans on taco night—which are vegetarian and do not contain lard. Morgan and I share their frozen enchiladas, tofu scramble, and chili with cornbread when we need a fast and easy meal. I love that the entire company philosophy was founded on providing healthy and convenient meals for the founder’s own daughter, Amy. You can also visit their website for helpful nutrition information on topics such as gluten free or low fat diets and organic foods.

Also—don’t forget that every day fruits, vegetables, and yogurt can be healthy “convenience foods!”

Jess’s Perspective:

We all know processed foods are not the best for us, but food companies are starting to get a clue and bringing us some new, healthy choices. Here are a few favorites around our house that you might want to give a try…

Fav Juice-
V-8 Fusion…Lots of great flavors with a full serving of fruit AND a full serving of vegetables in each 8 oz glass. No added sugar or high fructose corn syrup. Low in sodium. Gluten free. And it tastes super good! It runs about 4 dollars for a 46 ounce bottle. Unfortunately, it is not organic. Here are the flavors and the goodies in each…
Strawberry Banana: sweet potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, beets, white grapes, oranges, apples, strawberries, bananas, banana puree.
Tropical Orange: sweet potatoes, carrots, yellow tomatoes, white grapes, oranges, pineapple.
Peach Mango: sweet potatoes, yellow tomatoes, yellow carrots, carrots, white grapes, oranges, peaches, mango puree.
Pomegranate Blueberry: sweet potatoes, purple carrots, tomatoes, carrots, apples, white grapes, pomegranates, blueberries.
Acai Mixed Berry: sweet potatoes, purple carrots, carrots, apples, white grapes, açai, blueberries, limes.

Fav Product Line-
Annie’s Homegrown Naturals…instead of goldfish brand crackers, try organic cheddar bunnies. Instead of kraft mac and cheese, try Annie’s organic version. Annie’s also offers healthy alternatives to teddy grahams, fruit snacks and various cereals. We’ve tried most of their stuff, and it tastes just as good if not better then the old unhealthy junk. It isn’t that much more expensive either (you’ll pay around a dollar more depending on the product).

Fav Snack-
Veggie Chips…we all need our salty fix now and then and these chips are great choice. They contain whole potato flour, expeller pressed sunflower, safflower and/or soybean oil, tomato and spinach puree, garlic and sea salt. That’s it. There are a few different brands out there, but most of them are great for dipping and yummy!

Fav Dairy Alternatives- So I am lactose intolerant and it bites. Luckily, more things are being offered to offset my constant craving for dairy (I mean, I live in the Midwest…they put cheese in/on everything). If you can tolerate dairy you should know that soy products are lower in fat and cholesterol free…so they are still worth looking into…and maybe even TRYING!

My favorite brand is Tofutti. I think their products taste most like the real thing.
Let’s start with ice cream. My issue with most soy imitations and frozen yogurt is that they lack substance and that yummy creaminess of ice cream…but Tofutti is CREAMY! I like their Totally Fudge Premium Pops and Cuties. Yum.

I really love Tofutti because they have soy cream cheese and soy sour cream (in several flavors, no less). YES, I can have sour cream on tacos again, praise the Lord! Seriously, after going years without, it means so much to me! Paul loves his dairy, but agrees that these substitutes are “not bad.” For him that is a rave review.

Hope we’ve given you some food for thought 🙂

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Laura permalink
    November 20, 2008 4:07 am

    I’m being lazy and copying and pasting my comment. LOVE Amy’s! I’ve been addicted ever since I was diagnosed with celiac over three years ago. Matty loves Cheddar Bunnies, Honey Bunnies, and just about all of their healthy snacks. On the rare occasions he gets Mac n Cheese, it’s aways Amy’s. Anyway, I love the new ideas, too. Thanks for another great post.

  2. lee permalink
    November 20, 2008 1:56 pm

    nice work ladies!trader joe’s has frozen organic brown rice. clip the corner, micro for 3 minutes, it’s great.:D

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