A busy, busy foodie

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There have been many times in my life, especially now, that I’m just completely overloaded with work.  Lately, I’ve been commuting to and from Baltimore everyday for the clinical rotation of my dietetic internship.  I get home late.  I’m tired and sometimes rather cranky.  Generally, those types of feelings do not encourage me to spend an hour in the kitchen to whip up a gourmet meal.  All I want is food…and I want food now!  It’s hard to stay healthy when you’re stressed out and tired and spent for time.  But with a little extra planning and thought, you can still eat a delicious and well-rounded meal every night of the week.

One of the things I do to keep myself sane and eating normal meals regularly, is stocking up on some wholesome frozen foods and meals.  Although I usually try to stay away from overly processed junk from the grocery store, there are PLENTY of good finds out there in the freezer and canned good aisles that aren’t full of ingredients you can’t pronounce.  When I’m planning on stocking up on some pre-made items, there are a few key things I look for on the package to ensure I’m getting a healthy and nutritious product.

  • Serving Size – the rest of the information on the nutrition fact panel may as well be useless if you don’t look at the seving size.  This will give you a good idea of how much food you’re going to get and how much of each nutrient you’re getting.
  • Calories – I do look at calories, although they are not necessarily always the most important component.  I just look for reasonable calories.  If the serving size is 1/2 cup and the calories are like 600 per serving….eh I’ll look for something else.  My motto is I want the most bang (food) for my calorie buck!
  • Sodium – Oh sodium.  I have to admit I do love it.  It makes food taste good.  But it also causes a host of health problems, so I try to stay far, far away.  You’re look for “low sodium” products.  This means 140 mg of sodium or less per serving.
  • Fiber – I always feel great at the end of the day, if I’ve met the goal for daily fiber.  I dont know why I’m attached to fiber…just am.  But ladies need about 25 g a day and the guys need around 35 g a day.  The product should have a decent amount of fiber per serving.  For example, Thomas’s light english muffins have 8 g of fiber per muffin – great deal!
  • Ingredient List – This is the list of all the ingredients in the product – in super tiny print – at the end of the nutrition fact panel.  This is SUPER important to read for many reasons.  You really need to know what you’re putting in your body.  It can be healthy or not, but the nutrients you consume can either improve and maintain your health, or in the long run, have a negative effect on your health.  Be aware of what you’re putting in your mouth.  The ingredient list is organized so that the first ingredient listed is the one in highest amounts and the last ingredient listed is the one in the lowest amount.  If you can’t pronounce the ingredients – back on the shelf!  If it says “whole grain” or “whole wheat” and the first ingredient is white flour and the last ingredient listed are the whole grains or whole wheat flour – back on the shelf!  Sugar or any type of sugar should also definitely NOT be the first ingredient listed.
  • The Rest – I do scan over the percent of vitamins and minerals too.  I’m not as concerned with that because I know I’m eating at least 5 servings of fruits and veggies a day.  If you’re low on your fruit/veggie servings, you may want to look for products with at least 10-15% in vitamin C and A, Calcium and Iron.  I also do look at fat.  Though generally I’m not buying high fat products.  But definitely stay away from products with high saturated fat and any trans fat.  These are the bad guys and you don’t wanna eat ’em.

There are lots of products out there that can meet my “healthy” requirements.  You just have to spend some time reading over the labels and being aware of what you’re buying and what you plan on eating.  I have found some great new products recently in the grocery store that work wonders.  One such delicious and “BeanAFoodie approved” find is Pasta Wench’s frozen ravioli and pasta.  I originally heard about this new brand in my Cooking Light magazine, but it slipped my mind until last week.  I was strolling through the freezer aisle knowing that I needed a few things for this week’s pre-wedding stress and voila!  Pasta Wench’s frozen ravioli.  Ingredients looked great…flavor looked awesome….and preparation?  Simple – throw into boiling water and 5 minutes later you got great, home-made ravioli.  I got the smoked Gouda and spinach portabella ravioli and stuck them into my freezer for safe keeping.

What a life saver!  Today, I got home late.  I’m tired, very stressed out, very hungry (or was), and not in the mood to do anything!  Luckily, Pasta Wench was in the freezer.  A few minutes later, I had a bowl of really good smoked Gouda ravioli and a nice salad. And I literally did next to nothing to put the meal together.  I’ve never had smoked Gouda ravioli before.  And man, what a genius idea!  It was super creamy in the center and had just a hint of smokiness to it.  It was one of the best ravioli fillings I’ve ever had (beside Grammie’s ravioli’s of course!).  For any of you out there that have those days…the days that dinner generally does make it to the table, try out a bag of these delicious ravioli!  If you can’t find them in the grocery store, I know you can order them online at http://www.pastawench.com/.  Spinach and portabella stuffed ravioli are next on the list.  I’ll let you know how they turn out!

BeanAFoodie is a non-sponsored, non-paid blog – I receive no monetary compensation for mentioning any brands in this blog.  Any recommendations or suggestions are truly my own thoughts and feelings about products.  I do not support and recommend products that I wouldn’t use myself.  

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