Things have been non-stop around here for the past few weeks. There have been a few days, actually, where making lunch for myself was near-impossible due to such a hectic schedule. And as much as I’d try to avoid prepared foods because of all the unwanted added “extras”, I’m glad they’re there when you need them.
I recently had the chance to try some Healthy Choice meals. And with the way things have been lately, I think I may have found a new go-to lunch that definitely beats fast food or take out. I’ve always enjoyed the Healthy Choice brand, but it’s been awhile since I’ve had their frozen food. Apparently, I’ve been missing out.
I picked up two Healthy Choice Cafe Steamer meals at my local Target. As a sidenote: I noticed that my grocery stores also had them, as did Costco. I think I stood in the freezer aisle for 15 minutes trying to decide which meals to try. I was so indecisive, because all the choices sounded so good. I ended up grabbing two meals that sounded like a meal I’d make: Chicken Pesto Classico and Balsamic Chicken.
I was impressed by the ease, convenience and innovation of the Healthy Choice Cafe Steamers. There are other types of meals, but I was drawn to the Steamer variety, since that’s typically how we cook our veggies on a regular basis. After microwaving the meals, I found that the meals retained the flavor, shape and colors, unlike other frozen meals I’ve had in the past. The ingredients, for the most part, were acceptable and met my expectations. My main concerns were the plastic steamer used in the microwaving process and sodium levels. But overall, I would certainly stock my freezer with a few of these meals for lunch at home or at the office, or even for dinner when I can’t cook.
And as my 3 year old said: “the noodles are so yummy, they make my dance feet.” So, yeah, I think he enjoyed them too.
As part of my assignment to try these meals, I was asked to share some information from a study that Healthy Choice conducted. As part a 30-day research study, participants replaced 10 meals per week with a Healthy Choice meal for lunch or dinner.
As part of the research that Healthy Choice conducted, here are some of the findings that I found most interesting:
- Did you know that brands with “healthy” in their name are held to a higher nutrition standard set by the FDA. Healthy Choice is the only major brand in its category that can call 100% of its products “healthy” as defined by the FDA. This means that each meal must be:
- Low in fat
- Low in saturated fat
- Controlled in sodium and cholesterol
- Supply at least 10% of the daily value for three beneficial nutrients (calcium, protein, fiber, iron, vitamin A or vitamin C)
- Recent research shows that replacing 10 meals per week with a portion-controlled Healthy Choice meal, as part of a reduced calorie diet, can lead to improved quality of life and dietary quality.
- The study, conducted during 2009 and 2010, followed more than 60 participants for 30 days with one group primarily eating Healthy Choice meals for lunch and the other group mainly for dinner every day. Participants were also instructed to add 2-3 food items to their diet, such as fruits and vegetables, according to their caloric/gender needs.
- The research was presented by the Rippe Lifestyle Institute at the Experimental Biology Conference in April 2011 and funded by ConAgra Foods.
And since we’re talking being healthy today, I thought I’d share a few ways that our family is trying to stay healthy this Spring.
Like most of you, I love tech. My whole family loves tech. My son is on a strange kick where he insists on sleeping with his VTech Mobi-Go. So strange, I know. However, as much as we love tech and being plugged in, I can’t stress enough for our family how important it is to unplug. Unplugging means: NO devices at the kitchen table, EVER. Every time the phone buzzes, that temptation is always there to read/answer it. But, really? Is that Words with Friends game more important than face-to-face contact with your family? Also, we try to limit where and when we check/bring our devices. There’s nothing more heartbreaking than seeing a kid and parent in a public setting where one or both are on their respective gadgets and forget the importance of the personal bond.
2. You are What You Eat
We indulge in fast food like most families, but we’re trying so hard to wean ourselves from this convenience. There are SO many other better alternatives. I had a conversation with a few friends yesterday about fast food and other convenience food. I have to stress, it’s important to know how to research what you’re eating. Is that “healthy” option really all that healthy? If I have to question it, then I know that it’s really not as healthy as I think… Check those labels, weigh your options and do your own research. There’s no surprise, but there are quite a few apps out that can help with this!
3. Go Outside and Play!
To go along with disconnecting, we’ve found that getting outdoors on a regular basis is so, so important. Walk to the store, ride bikes, go to the playground, or like my guys like to do together: water the lawn! Is there anything more awesome than being outdoors and savoring every last bit of sunshine with the family? We love, love the park and can spend our entire day there if only time permitted. Since my guy isn’t officially in school yet, I consider going to the park a vital part of his socialization and interaction with kids. Also? He has to burn off all the energy somehow!
Aside from the park, as a special treat, we like to walk to our local ice cream shop. It’s less than a mile away, but is very walkable. It’s become one of our favorite things to do in our new town and an incentive to enjoy our treats as a family.
Whatever you do, just get out there and enjoy this amazing weather with your family!
Healthy Choice has nearly 70 varieties for fewer than 400 calories that provide positive nutrients such as whole grains, fiber, protein and antioxidants. For more information visit www.healthychoice.com.