It's 7:30 p.m. and you're just just getting home from a 10-hour day at the office. And your stomach? An angry dog has nothing on the growls coming out of that thing. Your fridge is the opposite of stocked, so you reach for a frozen meal, knowing very well it's riddled with chemicals, salt, and unrecognizable ingredients. It's not the best meal choice, but you have no other choice. Or do you?
With each passing year, Americans become busier and more wary of shady ingredient, a problem that leaves many of us looking for clean eats that can be made in a snap. In response, many major food producers have committed to removing artificial ingredients from their most popular products. At the same time, lesser-known brands that make clean eats continue to pop up more and more in conventional grocery stores. There's so much in the freezer section these days, it can be difficult to know what's what. But luckily for you, we've tracked down a few that won’t make you cringe at the ingredients list.
Are you an alarm snooze-button pusher? These frozen morning eats can help you get out the door in time—without sacrificing the quality of your diet.
SOUTHWESTERN VEGGIE BREAKFAST BOWL
Per bowl: 190 calories, 8 g fat, 4.5 g saturated fat, 430 mg sodium, 16 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 4 g sugar, 15 g protein
Leave the spatula, pan, and cutting board in the drawer and kick off your day with this veggie scramble instead. Made with egg whites, potatoes, veggies, cage-free egg whites, salsa, cheddar cheese, black beans and roasted corn, this heat-and-eat meal is a nutritional powerhouse. One bowl provides more protein than two whole eggs, 45 percent of the day's vitamin C, and 20 percent of the recommended daily intake of calcium. Pair it with a Greek yogurt and a cup of tea for a filling and healthy breakfast.
Per 8 oz serving, depending on variety: 73-184 calories, 2-10 g fat, 0-9 g saturated fat, 1- 75 mg sodium, 3- 26 g carbs, 2-5 g fiber, 5-15 g sugar, 2-7 g protein
Love smoothies but hate the prep work? Daily Harvest is the solution you've been looking for. The company delivers frozen, ready-to-blend whole ingredient smoothies to customers' doorstep so all you have to do is hit the blend button. With delicious flavors like Mornin' MoJoe (cold brew coffee, green coffee beans, banana, cacao powder, almond butter, coconut oil, vanilla bean and pink Himalayan sea salt), Matcha Colada (kale, coconut, matcha, coconut oil, vanilla bean, and lime juice), and Strawberry Shorty (strawberries, raspberries, coconut milk, cacao nibs, cashew butter, pink Himalayan sea salt, and vanilla bean), there's something for everybody!
PJ'S SKINNY BREAKFAST BURRITO
Per burrito: 300 calories, 8 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 570 mg sodium, 41 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 15 g protein
If the thought of cooking a healthy yet hearty breakfast while you're still in your PJ's makes you cringe, PJ's Skinny Breakfast Burrito is sure to be your savior. Filled with feta, muscle-building spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, and an array of delectable spices, this organic portable breakfast is is one that will put a smile on your face. For the mornings when you have a little more time to spare, consider making one of these quick and healthy breakfast ideas!
DR. PRAEGER'S ROOT VEGGIE HASH BROWNS
3 hash browns: 170 calories, 8 g fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 290 mg sodium, 22 g carbs, 7 g fiber, 5 g sugar, 2 g protein
Traditionally made with potatoes and far too much oil and salt, hash browns aren't typically thought of as a "health food," but Dr. Prager set out to change that—and knocked it out of the park! His Root Veggie Hash Browns contain a medley of carrots, beets, Yukon Gold potatoes, rutabaga, yuca, and taro, a fiber-filled root vegetable, American's don't often consume. Their flavor comes from a dusting of sea salt, parsley, garlic, rosemary and black pepper, a blend keeps the sodium content low, all while giving the side dish a complex, savory flavor you're sure to love!
Whether you're in need of a quick zappable meal, and we understand the microwave can be your friend, to bring to the office, or just want to take a night off from cooking dinner, these clean meals are all tasty options.
FIRE GRILLED STEAK
Per bowl: 400 calories, 18 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 520 mg sodium, 40 g carbs, 8 g fiber, 3 g sugar, 20 g protein
Move over Chipotle, a new burrito bowl has arrived—and you can find it at your local grocery store! Made with iron-rich beef, protein-filled black beans, rice, veggies, cheese, and a flavorful cilantro lime pesto, this meal gives the Tex-Mex chain a real run for its money!
DR. PRAEGER'S BLACK BEAN QUINOA VEGGIE BURGER
Per burger: 140 calories, 0.5 g saturated fat, 7 g total fat, 280 mg sodium, 16 g carbs, 7 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 5 g protein
Most veggie burgers are filled with questionable ingredients and also sort of taste like cardboard—but not these bad boys! Not only do these burgers pack 7 grams of satiating fiber, they also serve up 5 grams of protein, the majority of which comes from black beans and quinoa, a mild-tasting grain that's filled with the amino acid L-arginine, which has been shown to promote muscle over fat gain in animal studies, explains Gina Consalvo, RD, LDN. We'd like more of that, please!
LUVO CHICKEN & HARISSA CHICKPEAS
Per pouch: 310 calories, 12 g fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 460 mg sodium, 32 g carbs, 6 g fiber, 6 g sugar, 19 g protein
We all know that chickpeas or garbanzo beans as they are really called, are more than good for you. These carbohydrate and protein packed nuggets can fuel your body all day long!
Chicken, broccoli, chickpeas, brown jasmine rice, wheat berries, butternut squash, and kale join together to create this flavorful and filling dish. Topped with harissa, a spicy paste made with hot chili peppers, garlic, coriander and caraway seeds, harissa is a staple of North African cuisine—and a source of smoky, mellow heat that can blast away body fat. Capsaicin, the compound that gives the chili sauce its powerful kick, has proven to suppress appetite and boost metabolism. And recent research into caraway seed has found regular consumption of this spice can alter gut microbes and improve weight loss. Sounds like a great reason to give this microwaveable meal a try!
EVOL SHREDDED CHICKEN & CARAMELIZED ONION STREET TACO
Per package: 240 calories, 5 g fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 320 mg sodium, 33 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 14 g protein
If Chipotle or Taco Bell are typically your go-to's when you're short on time, it's time to change that. Sure, some of their menu items won't harm your waistline, one wrong order and you could set your progress back faster than you can say "Olé!" Evol's gluten-free soft corn tacos, come filled with spicy guajillo chicken, roasted tomatoes, caramelized onions, and roasted corn. Yum! The best part, though? The side of guacamole is 100 percent free! You know avocados are your friend, right?
Per pouch: 270 calories, 10 g fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 460 mg sodium, 39 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 9 g sugar, 6 g protein
Never tried bibimbap before? It's time for you to give it a go! The traditional Korean dish consists of rice, sautéed vegetables, chili paste, and a protein-rich meat. Though nothing beats a fresh bowl of the stuff, Luvo's meal is a solid second best—and an option that's not too abundant in the freezer section. Pick this up if your taste buds are tired of the same old, same old.
Have leftover chicken or pasta, but not quite enough to make an entire meal out of it? Bulk up your leftovers in just minutes with these trust zap and eat side dishes.
QUINOA SIDE DISHES
Per 5 oz serving: 180-270 calories, 6-10 g fat, 1-1.5 g saturated fat, 320-520 mg sodium, 23-48 g carbs, 2-3 g fiber, 0-2 g sugar, 5- 7 g protein
To make a batch of quinoa, you need a solid 45 minutes and it's not often we have that much time to spare. We're fans of Path of Life because their steamable bags bring grain prep time down to just minutes. They also come in a variety of yummy flavors like Mediterranean (spinach, tomatoes, feta cheese, sautéed garlic, extra virgin olive oil, and basil) and Southwest (mango, corn, black beans, extra virgin olive oil, tomatoes, poblano peppers, cilantro, and lime juice).
TOMMY'S SUPERFOODS BRUSSELS SPROUTS
2/3 cup: 70 calories, 1 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 125 mg sodium, 11 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 3 g sugar, 4 g protein
Like quinoa, Brussels sprouts take their sweet ol' time to cook. Tommy's blend of sprouts, mushrooms, onions, pepper, olive oil, and spices is a flavorful time-saver that's reminiscent of the flavor profile we'd drum-up in our own kitchens.
DR. PRAEGER'S TARO PUFFS
13 pieces: 160 calories, 4.5 g fat, 290 mg sodium, 28 g carbs, 5 g fiber, 7 g sugar, 2 g protein
If the only vegetable you can get your kids to eat is a potato (in French fry form) then these taro puffs may just be the secret weapon you've been searching for. Packed with fiber and low in calories and sodium, this tater-tot alternative is a must try for picky little ones and fast-food-loving grown-ups alike! Where else can you get a taste of the Hawaiian islands for so cheap at a sitting?
Satisfy your sweet tooth without sacrificing your weight loss progress or health with these clean, better-for-you treats.
GOODPOP COCONUT LIME POPSICLES
Per pop: 120 calories, 8 g fat, 45 mg sodium, 12 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 11 g sugar, 1 g protein
Organic coconut cream, lime juice, agave, coconut, sea salt, vanilla. These are the ingredients that star in this new margarita-inspired GoodPop flavor that's really delicious—addictive even. Looking for a pop lower in calories? Check out the brand's watermelon agave variety. It has just 40 calories and 11 grams of sugar. The best thing about this type of desert is that they are easy on the waistline..
ARCTIC ZERO SALTED CARAMEL BARS
Per pop: 80 calories, 5 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 100 mg sodium, 7 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 5 g sugar, 3 g protein
Arctic Zero, best known for their low-cal ice cream that tastes anything but, is making a splash with their new healthified ice cream bars! One of the favorite of the bunch is the salted caramel flavor because anything that's both salty and sweet always seems to satisfy
HALO TOP ICE CREAM
Per 1/2 cup: 60- 70 calories, 2-2.5 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 109-115 mg sodium, 14-15 g carbs, 5 g fiber, 4-5 g sugar, 6 g protein
Trying to describe how amazing Halo Top ice cream is to someone who's never tried it is like trying to describe a field of wild flowers: near impossible. It doesn't taste like "diet" ice cream or "off" in any way, it just tastes perfectly sweet, and magical, despite the fact that an entire pint is less than 280 calories—which is less than what you'd find in a ½ cup of Ben & Jerry's Peanut Butter Cup.
So, just because this food comes from the deep chill of your grocer’s freezer, don’t count them out until you’ve sampled some of them. We feel you’re going to be pleasantly surprised at the taste. And with the nutritional value not to mention the small amount of prep time. Prep time?? What prep time. Most go right from the freezer into your microwave or conventional oven. The ones that do require some simple prep and reg. stovetop cooking time can all be accomplished in just a few short minutes. Remember, all the ingredients are already prepped and ready to for you.
So, don’t reach for the phone and order a Chinese or pizza delivery. Get out to the supermarket in advance and put in a supply of healthy frozen alternatives for when you DON’T have the time to cook up in advance!
The majority of the information was provided by Dana Leigh Smith with our thanks.