Green Giant Keeping Healthy Food Fun, Functional, And Convenient

If veggies had a number one fan, it would be me. Yes, hands down, I’d be the one with the glitter and pompoms up front. That, or I’d be threatening someone in effort to secure some…

I’m the one with the hair dryer…

I’m not necessarily partial to brands when it comes to vegetables, though – I do prefer fresh, but for convenience (and a more likely guarantee of peak freshness) I tend to hoard the frozen kind. (“Hoard” is not an exaggeration, however slightly misleading (in that I consume them as feverishly as I amass my supply.))  

Anyway, I don’t have to have a certain name on the package, or even organic depending – it’s more about value in this case. That said, I do like the brands who innovate – frozen foods do not have to be unhealthy, number one… And number two, they can make life a whole helluvalot easier. Especially if you eat like a zoo animal (—-> ME.)

Although Green Giant is not alone in the pursuit, they were one of the first companies to make riced vegetables accessible. For those of us with limited counter space and / or those not wanting to clean the food processor every two minutes, these frozen, steamable packages are a godsend.

Green Giant launched the plain, riced cauliflower variety first, along with a basic, healthier take on tater tots, but have since added to the lineups. They also have a nice selection of roasted veggies, though I confess to not really caring for those as much. 

In addition to bulking up the options within each category, they have since come out with veggie spirals – not new if you like to cook or follow healthy eating trends…BUT…no one has come out with them for the freezer aisle until now. YAAHHSSSS!

I actually spotted – and purchased – the zucchini spirals recently (above.) Though I admittedly wasn’t a huge fan, I think it’s because I didn’t drain the water right away (which I would highly recommend doing.) Because I go through my veggie stashes so rapidly, I often steam them and leave them in the bag – for the riced variations, you’d be fine with that. For these guys, though…definitely drain.

What’s so great about all these seemingly fancy preparations? As I said earlier, the convenience can’t be beat. In addition to that, however, these are THE perfect way to bulk up your meal. If you love to eat, or enjoy larger portions (the brain *can* be tricked!), adding extra servings of vegetables is a healthy way to fill you up without adding too many calories. 

Now…all that said…keep in mind WHICH variety you choose – obviously the options with a sauce mixed in, or the comfort food remakes will have higher calorie counts in the nutritionals than the plain variants. Still, it’s better than housing french fries!

I applaud Green Giant for pioneering these ranges – I do buy other brands sometimes, and have seen a few come to market with newer options (such as a healthier stir fried rice option from Hanover, whose plain riced is good too.)  But Green Giant has the broadest mix, albeit not ALL the versions are as easy to find in every super market. Definitely worth trying for yourself if you haven’t yet!

Happy munching!

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Eating Clean All The Time

It isn’t as hard as it sounds.  There can be little treats here and there, absolutely…but clean eating “all the time” means it’s a lifestyle, not a fad or “diet.”

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Family gathering

I don’t take whole days off from eating well – it matters to me what I put into my body as fuel, and I know that if I get OFF track, getting back on will be much more of a challenge.  So I stick with it all year round, every day – it isn’t a “summer thing” or a “after-holiday revamp.”  When you maintain ANYthing, the difficulty drops substantially – less catching up to do!

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Breakfast and Snacks on vacay

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Breakfast and Snacks on vacay

A FEW TIPS for when you aren’t home, or you have a gathering?

  • Go for the cleanest preparations: Grilled, broiled, steamed, roasted, baked.  While you are at it, ask them to go light on (or eliminate) any oil or butter they might *think* they need to add. 
  • Instead of heavy dressings or condiments, ask for lighter substitutes: lemon, vinegar, olive oil on the table (so you can control the amount), coarse salt etc.
  • If the dish sounds enormous, ask for a smaller portion…OR, take half home. If you’re at someone’s house, just take a little – no one is forcing you to overdo it! 
  • Ask that any sauces be brought “on the side” so you aren’t at the mercy of the heavy-hand kitchen’s often have, or just skip it if you are at a party.
  • Drink your H2O – it will help fill you up!
  • Ask for a double order of steamed veggies on the side…another “fill you up” helper, or munch on some salad before you dive in.
  • Have fruit or berries instead of other desserts.  I know, I know, less fun.  BUT, it does help the sweet tooth (and you feel better about it later.) 🙂

If you do want to stay healthy, it’s a lot easier these days than it once was – most places (and people!) are used to it, so don’t be too hung up on that.  How you feel physically and otherwise is numero uno, so take care of YOU however you need to. I got a few looks ordering plain grilled chicken and steamed veggies at a bar while out watching UFC with grappling buddies…but whatever.  I even pulled an organic apple out of my bag.  No funny looks with that though, except for the jealous friend who wanted one too! 🙂

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Yes…even at a bar watching UFC fights…it’s possible!

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For more Nutrition posts…

Wait…120 Calorie LAVA CAKE!?

I came across this recipe on FoodieFiasco the other day and nearly fell over.  120 calories for the awesomeness that is lava cake?!  SIGN ME UP!

Let’s just be clear from the get-go…because my jumping for joy chocolate dance may seem a little strange, especially to those who regularly indulge in sweets.  For starters, I don’t eat sugary foods – Fresh fruit and maybe whatever is in my coconut creamer constitute the bulk of my regular intake.  I never order dessert when I’m out, and I haven’t in years – if it isn’t in front of me, it’s much easier to behave.

I have the kind of willpower that would have the Gods (take your pick of the Pantheons) emerald with envy, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to cuddle up to all things warm and chocolatey sometimes!  I also work my ass off when I’m in the gym, doing cardio, or attending my Martial Arts classes, so the idea that I’d be negating those efforts for short-term, short-lived deliciousness doesn’t balance out.  “It smells better than it tastes!” I remind myself.  

Often.

My crazy habit – and total “cheat” – is snagging a Dr. Praeger’s chocolate chip muffin in the middle of the night.  But the prospect of a lava cake for the same amount of calories?  I’m not going to lie, it’s more than kind of tempting to whip up the ingredients and have it ready when I wake up…

Anyway, this is designed for one person – I rather like that idea since you don’t end up with more than one serving (that will – make no mistake – be heard calling even when the fridge door is shut.  Amazing how those voices work!)  A little bit annoying from an ingredient prep standpoint but whatever – once you get the hang of the recipe, maybe it will be easier! 🙂

I don’t really cook much, but I might be willing to give this one a go… Volcano cakes are probably the one dessert I actually WOULD break down and have…were my Olympian self-discipline to falter.  Which (furrowing brow into a determined look) it won’t.  (And thanks to this rockin’ recipe, I don’t have to chance it either!)

PS, check out my Low Cal Yums board on Pinterest.  Ohhhh, the shenanigans! 

 

Healthy Father’s Day

Whenever a holiday or special weekend comes up, I always see people the following Monday in the gym dragging themselves and lamenting about how much they overdid it.  Family gatherings and summer get-togethers don’t HAVE to be bad for you, guys!

I think one of the biggest saving graces is staying in control of your shopping – you absolutely can stock up on unhealthy options while at the store (especially if you are shopping hungry!)  But you have control over what you put in your cart and end up with at home…so stay focused from the get go and you will avoid having leftovers or unopened boxes of cookies that you really don’t want around as a temptation later on!

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For us, the goal was to get a good, heathy variety that would keep everyone filled up…even the kids.  Surf and turf always works, giving everyone a few options for the bulk of the meal.  Corn on the cob is a fun, summer veggie, that is totally okay to have also – I have some friends who avoid corn completely but it isn’t going to kill you once in a while, so don’t stress.  

The benefit of the foods we grill primarily is that we don’t layer on sauces and dressings – Montreal Seasoning, or salt and pepper does the trick – it gives you a little kick, but still allows you to actually taste the food itself (which I always think is the point, no?!) 

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We didn’t actually buy desserts so we didn’t’ end up with them.  Instead, we had some sweet red grapes laying around – which definitely worked! – and later we took a walk to get some ice cream for the youngest of the group.  Adding a walk is always helpful, as is not having the extra goodies left over, so it worked out perfectly.  

I was definitely full after dinner but it wasn’t a feeling-guilty kind of full…which no one – truly – has to feel after a shindig.  Just remember that you have full control over what you buy and serve…and also what you eat!  

(PS – Don’t forget about having breakfast and regular meals during the day, prior to gatherings where food is served – if you go out hungry, you might set yourself up for a binge!)

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Keeping it CLEAN. . .

Healthy Choices – Summer

It is technically summer already (I kind of feel like I blinked – half the year over!?)  With the warmer months come tons of barbecues and outdoor shindigs…and with those, often a smattering of less healthy food options.  But there is always a way to stay clean (if you want to!), and to enjoy yourself.

A burger once in a while won’t kill you for sure, but when eating poorly happens consistently, it can start to weigh you down.  Literally.  

Not everyone is out to slim down for a bikini, but I think staying healthy, and at a healthy weight, is something that should be a priority for those of us with the ability to do something about it.  We have one body this go round!  

It’s also important if you have kids – not only do they eat what you provide, but they also learn by example!

The other day my love and I took a road trip to meet a new family member.  We had the wonderful fortune to spend time with family, and also friends of the family…and their four little ones.  It was one of those ultra hot summer days so we made sure to have water (and a slip-n-slide! 😉 ) in tow.  Hydration is HUGE when the sun is really beating down.  It has the added benefit of filling you up a bit too, which is great when in surroundings you don’t control. Perk!

Before we left, I had my usual poached eggs – a new market opened around the corner so we gave it a whirl.  What I really needed was some salt but…the seasonings otherwise were kind of neat (peppery powders and things – Looked mighty artistic!)  I appreciated the additional healthy-fat for a garnish…but I left it as a garnish because three yolks was enough for me!  Protein, in addition to the fat, is a great way to start the day as it keeps you fuller longer (and for a road trip, that’s always key!)

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My lunch was baby spinach, cherry tomatoes, sliced turkey and mustard – more protein, fiber, and water to hold me for another few hours.  In the afternoon, friends brought out a summer favorite – sliced watermelon.  The juicy, sugary treat was just what I needed – a perfect, deliciously refreshing pick-me-up to counter the draining effects of the hot sun.  It does, by the way, contain a nice amount of nutrients – vitamins, antioxidants, lycopene…  Great option to a popsicle for sure!

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There’s also nothing better than grilling on a bright summer evening, so that’s exactly what took place later.  I air on the side of being ultra clean, so I try to stick to plainer foods (for example, I prefer chicken breast that hasn’t been marinated.)  I don’t, however, like to make a fuss, particularly when someone is kind enough to have me as a guest!  In those cases, I will choose the cleanest food I am able, and work with that – it won’t kill you to have something off your plan once in a while, but you generally will have some choices.  

Just because you aren’t in your own home, you don’t have to feel like you are forced to make poor decisions.  You don’t have control over what other people offer, but you can always choose the foods with less sauce, have a smaller serving of more calorically dense foods, maybe have a little extra melon to fill you up…!  

For more of food I eat

Healthy Mother’s Day

I’m a firm believer that you can be healthy on “holidays” and at celebrations, and still really enjoy yourself and stay full!  

This weekend I had the fortune to be with my family, and the tradition is to go to this INSANE brunch (I’m sorry I didn’t take a photo of the dessert table – it is always outrageous!  Cakes, pies, truffles, candies, ice cream bar… It *could be* trouble…)

But there are also, among the countless buffet options, healthy choices too.  I prefer everything as simple and clean as possible – with a buffet, that often takes being a little bit more selective, but it is indeed achievable!

I headed for some of the best options this particular crew offers – shellfish, fruit, and grilled veggies.  A little olive oil can actually be a good thing, so despite that I don’t use much myself (or allow it at a restaurant, where they can easily be too heavy-handed) I certainly didn’t mind here.  Shrimp, lobster and crab are terrific options – high in protein, low in calories, and definitely filling.  

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Fruit is always a great option too – the volume from the water content helps to fill you up, and the natural sugar can help stave off that sneaky sweet tooth!  The latter is incredibly important because sometimes we don’t eat the goodies because we are even hungry – it’s a “oh-it’s-there-why-not” kind of thing.  If you do fill up with nature’s sweets, you help give yourself more reason NOT to go bingeing on the bad stuff!

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We also keeps fresh fruits around the house – my whole family snacks (me most of all!) It’s helpful to have healthy options around not only for those need-to-munch moments, but also sometimes as a pre-pigout-filler!  If you feel like you might go overboard when you go to a celebratory meal, event, buffet, etc…try having a little something healthy beforehand so you aren’t ravenous when you get there!  It’s a great way to stay on track, but to still enjoy the fun!

For more of my meals and deliciousness

 

Hungry Girl Cruise

So I’ve followed Lisa Lilien since she founded Hungry Girl back in the early 2000’s.  Having been through two eating disorders, as a result of PTSD, I was more mindful than ever about what I ate (to get WELL, that is.)  What I loved about Lisa’s blog was that she shared healthier options, but also kept things realistic.  She isn’t a nutritionist, but she likes to eat, she likes to eat on the healthier side of things, and she loves to share what she learns along the way.

I recently read that Hungry Girl is organizing a cruise with Royal Caribbean, aiming at January 2017.  I smiled because I DESPISE cruises.  There, I said it!  I know the many people love them but…I always felt uncomfortable about being confined to a space (albeit a large one!) with the predominant focus being on FOOD.  I mean…I have awesome willpower but let’s be honest…being surrounded by goodies makes it tough to have a good time – you feel this pressure to “be good” when all you see are delicious, not-so-healthy options!

But a cruise run by Hungry Girl?!  Holy smokes, that’s AMAZING!  The concept is one I absolutely love – for people who DO enjoy cruises, this offers them the opportunity to have the best of the islands, the onboard fun, AND healthy selections for their meals.  

All too often I hear people lament after a week-long vacation that they had “too much” and went “overboard” with the food.  Well…if this cruise comes to pass, you will not only have the great vacation you are looking for but you will also come home feeling great about yourself (and not overstuffed!)

Brilliant, Ms. Lilien!

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