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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Snack Factory Fruit Sticks

Word of this newbie just came my way (and honestly, I suppose it was only a matter of time, given the popularity of veggie stix, right?!) I personally love fresh fruit because they are LOADED with fiber and good ol’ H2O, making for a filling snack.  But…sometimes you just want some crunch with your “sweet” and you don’t want to reach for a Nestle Crunch bar. . .

Enter these fry-shaped snacks, which come in three flavors:

  • Apple
  • Apple Cinnamon
  • Apple Strawberry

The stats for Snack Factory’s Fruit Sticks are as follows (for 0.75 oz. (about 2/3 cup)):

  • 80 calories
  • 0g total fat (0g sat fat)
  • 15mg sodium
  • 20g carbs
  • 3g fiber
  • 13 – 14g sugars, 0g protein
  • SmartPoints® value 4*

While they aren’t a sub for fresh fruit, they are – at least – a better option than grabbing some candy.  I am thrilled that companies are trying to be a little bit more health conscious these days, and offer more options for anyone wanting to proactively head off a craving. These are available in Walmart, Kroger, and Giant Eagle, among other retailers. You can also snag them on Amazon, which is always a great option when a product is new (and slowly making its way into stores!)

Nutrition Humor – Protective

Yes.  Yes, definitely how I get.  Not with cake, so much…but any food I DO want. 

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My father will tell you it’s pointless to try to abscond with what I’m eating (or WANT to eat) because it will turn ugly.  

And my husband would probably say that if you eat my chocolate muffins, the same look flashes across my face as the rather disgruntled baby above.  Always best to be sure I’m not in range of any sharp objects –  I never was great at sharing.  It’ll just go south.

The Brilliance Of Riced Veggies

The riced veggie trend is one of my favorite things to have happened to grocery stores yet.  Sure, I appreciate the sugar-free products, absolutely.  And I LOVE that there are “natural food” aisles with non-monster brands (once nigh impossible to find.)  But while riced veggies are a cinch to make yourself – if you have a food processor at home – there’s a massive convenience in being able to snag a pre-made bag at the store.  And when a trend hits, that’s what you get – convenience!

I don’t use riced vegetables as the base for my meals all the time – sometimes the larger pieces are a good thing because it feels like you are eating more.  More bulk = feels like more substance.  

BUT…

Riced cauliflower, for one, is a fabulous substitute for rice, pasta, or even mashed potatoes – you get the volume, and a similar texture, without as many calories or carbohydrates.  So it’s a perfect swap for a dinner side (“healthy” fried “rice,” anyone?!) or base, as an example, and can even work for a base for doughs and baked items. 

 

What recently came my way was an announcement about Green Giant’s Riced Veggies – not just the cauliflower, but mixes.  What on EARTH has taken companies so long?!  

The glitch for me is that I have never actually seen Green Giant’s Riced Cauliflower in-store – I’ve had to buy other brands.  So I don’t know if I will have the best luck tracking these down, and desperately hope other companies follow suit (they’d be wise to!) Or…of course…that someone near me jumps on board and ups the stock levels!

The doubly-awesome news? GG is also offering a whole bunch of other mashed and roasted options so definitely check them out (store location link highlighted in the paragraph above.)

YUM!

The Amazingness That Is The Grill

I never really had a reason to grill in the past, but I feel like it’s worth knowing and that I should at least learn…espeically if it means I can be more helpful every so often.  (That said, I’m always admittedly a little nervous about ruining the food – if it’s for anyone other than myself, I feel petrified of messing it up!) My husband is incredibly good at it.  I don’t think there’s anything he can’t make because everything he’s ever cooked, I’ve enjoyed immensely. (And if I like it, you know it’s good.)  

One of the key reasons I am so finicky, though, is that my system is ultra sensitive – I have to stick to basics, and keep my food free of the “extras.” In that case, I feel like cooking a good meal is even more of a task (no sauces to come to the cover-up rescue!)

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Truth be told, though, I think food tastes better without the extra jazz.  I definitely love various sauces but I remember when I had them more frequently that those were all I tasted – I missed out on the flavors of the foods themselves.  Shrimp for one thing are delicate – I love how mild and sweet they are (scallops are another favorite!) bust as such, they are easily overpowered.  My hubby grilled some the other day with nothing more than Old Bay and salt and pepper – amazing.  

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He grilled fresh bell peppers too (the red, orange and yellow are the sweetest varieties) which were incredible. 

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I feel like you don’t really need much – beyond knowing how to grill properly of course (and he definitely has that down!) It’s always a nice treat because I’ll generally stick to a skillet, an oven or broiler, or the microwave if left to my devices. The grill gives a tiny bit of blackened char, which you just can’t get any other way, and a little bit of crisp that makes the softer insides even more delicious.

 

Absconding With Shrimp

Seafood for dinner is always an entertaining event in our household.  Interestingly, while one of our black cats is essentially a vacuum cleaner when it comes to food, it’s the other – the smaller by 6 pounds, but older by a month or so – samurai cat who goes on high alert when shrimp are being peeled.

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I feel like we don’t even have to open the container – he just KNOWS.  He lifts his head in the air with staccato’ed sniffs, making certain that he’s smells what he *thinks* he does.  And if he is correct, by god, watch your limbs!  If he has it in mind that you’ve got a shrimp, he will – claws extended and all – reach out feverishly to check the scene.  No matter if you are friend or foe, he’s basically going to slap and growl until he’s fully devoured the thing.  Shrimp is the end-all-be-all favorite food of choice for Musashi…

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I also happen to love shrimp, as does my husband.  He makes the most delicious and healthy stir fry (one I daresay I could devour – in total – on the spot, were I not to stop myself after feeling full.)  It’s AMAZING. Full of protein…and incredibly filling.  For a clean eater, it’s a dream come true!

Despite the countless items he was keeping track of while cooking (the wok, the roasting vegetables in the oven, the vegetables that had to be added, the seafood that had to be cleaned…) he also took the time to boil a small pot of water to cook two shrimp for the boys.  The thoughtfulness of that alone warms my heart – who DOES that?!  I took a photo because, even then, he took them out and chilled them on ice…just to be sure they didn’t burn their adorable pink tongues. 

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Once they had chilled enough, he gave each of them one.  Needless to say, Musashi fervently absconded with one, and then managed to snag a less-than-interested Keku’s.  Given that Keku will inhale anything food-related, it’s entertaining to see him “pass” on the shrimp, only for the vehemently fixated Musashi to haul off with it, “grrrrr”ing as he goes.

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Fortunately, though I AM protective of my food, I didn’t bite or growl myself.  But I also – Musashi-like – thoroughly enjoyed my generously-prepared dinner, and felt incredibly grateful to have it. 

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Nutrition – The Easy Way To Add Volume

I definitely need to eat “volume” – a small snack will never cut it for me, despite that I am constantly snagging something to munch on.  I need to feel satisfied not only because I don’t want to feel hungry, but because my body doesn’t react well without the appropriate, and fine-tuned, amount of fuel.

The easiest way to add volume – the most obvious, also, but for some reason not as often as looked to as you might expect – is to load up on veggies.  A few sites are good about recommending this simple, incredibly effective “trick” but I feel like people still neglect to use it.  

One of my favorite recipes is an enormous sauté of vegetables and ground chicken – I use my Curtis Stone pans, with which I don’t need to use a stitch of oil.  (Yes, oil IS good for you, so a dash of olive isn’t the end of the world, but I try to be mindful, and not use it all the time if I don’t need to.)

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I sauté diced onions for a few minutes so they brown, then I add in fresh mushrooms (and, often, peppers too – red, yellow, and orange preferably, since they are the sweetest!) I later add diced tomatoes to it to make kind of a “sauce” – one, mind you, that is more vegetables than sauce! In a separate pan, I sauté the chicken, with nothing more than himalayan pink salt and spices.

Separately, I steam – in a BPA free microwaveable container, of course! – diced (or pre-riced!) cauliflower.  If I don’t have pre-diced (sometimes it is hard to find), I steam cauliflower florets – when they are done, and nice and soft, I use a potato masher to make little “diced” or “riced” type pieces.  You can use a food processor to do the same thing – this just takes less time and clean up to use a masher. 🙂 

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I have everything going at the same time, and will reduce the “sauce” to a simmer if necessary.  Once the cauliflower is ready, I mix it – and the “sauce” – into the pan with the chicken. And that’s it!

It makes a HUGE amount a food, and because of the volume of vegetables, each serving is less calories than it would be with just chicken…not to mention, it lasts longer, so you get more meals out of it. 🙂