The freezer aisle gets a bad rap, but frozen foods aren’t always unhealthy. Still, these items are red flags for nutritionists. Learn which other quick and healthy alternatives they’d choose instead.
Smoothie base mixes
Smoothies can start your morning on the right foot with an immediate serving (or more!) of fruit, but be careful when shopping for base mix in the frozen aisle. Ones that are just portioned-out fruit and veggie mixes are A-OK, but others don’t deserve their health halo, says dietitian Susan Bowerman, RD, director of worldwide nutrition education and training at Herbalife Nutrition. “Some are just a ‘base mix’ for your smoothie, which means they have no fruit at all, but instead are loaded with sugars, gums, flavorings etc.,” says Bowerman. She recommends skipping those mixes and hunting down another freezer aisle staple: whole, unsweetened fruits. Add some veggies if you’d like, along with protein powder and milk (dairy or non-dairy), for a healthier start to the day.
“I can’t understand why people would spend money buying frozen cooked brown rice—it’s so costly when compared to what it costs to cook it yourself,” says Bowerman. Keep it cheap by cooking a big batch of rice when you’re not in the dinner rush, then pop it into freezer bags so it’s ready when you need it, she suggests. Time and money saved! Spend that cash on the 25 best frozen foods at Trader Joe’s instead.
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Those ready-made spaghetti Bolognese and creamy pasta dishes are comfort foods at their finest, but they’re not the best for your body. Skip the frozen dishes, which tend to be loaded with sodium and fat, and throw your own together, suggests Jodi Greebel, RDN, pediatric dietitian and founder of Citrition. Not only is boiling pasta quick and easy, but you also have more control over what goes into the sauce and sides. Load yours up with nutritious veggies for a healthier twist on your guilty-pleasure pasta.