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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Convenience & Nutrition Can Coexist

Often times our busy schedules make the siren-song of the drive thru seem irresistible.  But with less time than it takes to wait in that line of cars, you can enjoy a meal with your family at home – the way it should be – around the dinner table. 
Here are some overlooked convenience foods that you can have on-hand for a quick go to meal or snack. 

 First off is a quick fix from the protein category. 

Often, it is cooking the protein that takes up a lot of our time.  Tofu.  It’s been a bit misunderstood lately, but I’ve chosen one of my favorites: House Foods Organic Tofu is non-GMO, grown in the U.S. , and full of health benefits.  Cholesterol free, low in saturated fat and is a complete protein containing all 9 essential amino acids. With the new dietary guidelines emphasizing vegetable protein sources, tofu makes for a convenient quick way to go meatless.  I’ve used a soft tofu in this strawberry orange smoothie and a firm tofu in this manicotti.  I’ll have links to the recipes on my website.

Next, don’t overlook the freezer-section.  

Frozen produce is harvested and flash-frozen at peak ripeness, so you’ve got all the great nutrition of seasonal produce anytime of the year. The benefit of frozen is that it is real food,  frozen for convenience in preparation plus you have single servings that cut down on food waste and that always helps your food budget.  In the time it takes to round up the family and set the table, you can have your entrée and sides ready to go.  Now more than ever, there are more global-ethnic flavors to choose from that helps cut back on takeout. 

Lastly, don’t forget the whole-grains.  

My favorite convenience whole-grain is minute or quick-cooking brown rice.  You may be able to throw together a stirfry in a matter of minutes, but if often is the rice that slows you down getting dinner on the table.  So try a quick-cooking whole grain, or cook a batch ahead of time and freeze it.  You can pull out a bag of frozen brown rice and heat it in the microwave while you stirfry those frozen veggies and tofu.  Better than takeout any day! 

What about the inevitable convenience store stop?

On the road, if my car wasn’t stocked with some good go-to snacks and I were to go into a gas-station convenience store for a snack, I’d buy a bottle of water, nuts or trail mix.  With a little thought, good nutrition and convenience can coexist. 

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