While I typically prefer meals that are freshly prepared, I realize that we are all busy and sometimes need to rely on frozen meals for ourselves and our families. Usually most frozen meals contain large amounts of sodium, fat, high-fructose corn syrup, trans fats, and other additives but there has recently been a push toward more healthful options in the frozen aisle. Here is a list of some companies that are providing healthier options.
• EatingWell. Made with whole grains and vegetables, EatingWell offers eight meals with flavors, including Korean Inspired Beef and Moroccan Inspired Chicken. Most items in the line contain 500 or 600 mg of sodium.
• Good Food Made Simple. Known more for breakfast, Good Food Made Simple is now expanding into lunch and dinner options with entrée burritos, wraps, and macaroni and cheese. Items include antibiotic-free meats, farm-fresh cheese, brown rice, whole wheat tortillas, and organic sautéed veggies. The Chicken & Black Bean Burrito is 350 kcal per 6-oz serving. It offers 18 g protein and 3 g fiber, with 420 mg sodium.
• Red's Natural Foods. Currently the fastest-growing brand in the frozen Mexican category. Red's recently introduced its first vegan product, the Organic Bean & Rice Burrito (270 kcal per burrito, or 143 g, with 9 g protein, 7 g fiber, and 640 mg sodium). Another item is the nondairy Chicken & Rice Burrito, aimed at consumers with milk aversions or allergies.
• Luvo. Luvo offers a variety of healthful breakfasts, entrées, and burritos based on whole foods and fresh flavor combinations, including Kale Ricotta Ravioli. Luvo uses whole foods, whole grains, and herbs and spices to keep sodium and calorie counts down. All meals have less than 500 mg sodium and are between 250 and 370 kcal.
• Saffron Road. Saffron Road has been focusing on increasing protein and decreasing sodium counts in their items. Saffron Road recently launched a new line of fish bowls that uses only wild-caught fish, including a Lemongrass Basil Fish With Rice Noodles Bowl (240 kcal, 14 g protein, 4.5 g total fat, 2.5 g saturated fat, and 400 mg sodium) and Sesame Ginger Salmon With White Rice Bowl (280 kcal, 17 g protein, 6 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 410 mg sodium); both are 9-oz servings.
• Blake's All Natural Foods. All of Blake's meals are made completely from scratch in small batches using organic and natural ingredients.
• Amy's Kitchen. Family-owned Amy's Kitchen, which uses ingredients that are sourced from organic-certified farms, and Non-GMO Project Verified, has been a trailblazer in its healthful frozen options for decades. A favorite is Amy's Light & Lean Quinoa & Black Beans With Butternut Squash & Chard, because it's made with all whole grains, plant protein, and vegetables. An 8-oz serving has 240 kcal, 10 g protein, and 11 g fiber.
It’s always important to remember if a package states all natural or organic, it doesn’t automatically make it healthy. You still want to check the saturated fat content on the label, keeping in mind the 20 g limit per day on a 2,000-calorie diet. So if a meal contains more than 10 g saturated fat, keep looking for other options. Sodium also can get high with frozen meals, so check the label for sodium: 700 mg sodium or less per serving could be considered reasonable for a frozen entrée serving for healthy populations. In general, it’s important to recognize that there are options in the frozen category that are healthful choices to have on hand when you are busy and can't make it to the market to get fresh ingredients. If you are still unsure, call Bodymetrix to make an appointment with a Registered Dietitian to answer your questions and set you on the path for a healthy lifestyle.
Source: Today's Dietitian