Friends! What a wild few weeks it’s been. I have had “BLOG” on my to-do list every week and still, I haven’t been able to keep up with it. I’m sorry! Between trips to and from Florida for Spring Training with the Phillies (no complaints here!) and a sick kiddo (this cold and flu season is nutty!), life has felt non-stop because it has been. What better time to talk about healthy hacks for packaged foods, right? My fridge has felt bare but we’ve still managed to get some healthy meals on the table. The trick, work with what you’ve got! When fresh foods are sparse, do a freezer and pantry inventory just to connect with your food stash. You’ll be amazed at what you find and what you can do with it!
You don’t need to make everything from scratch to eat nourishing foods. I used to put so much pressure on myself to do this and then I realized the pressure was doing me no good. It just made life feel more stressful and who need that. Here are some of my favorite kitchen hacks for on the fly meals and snacks that pack lots of goodness!
- Hummus: this popular packaged foods is pretty darn nourishing on it’s own. That being said, there is always room for extra vegetables, right? Put your favorite store-bought hummus in your food processor or blender and add some extra goodness. We love roasted peppers, roasted butternut squash (you can buy it frozen), sweet potatoes, and cooked or raw greens like arugula, spinach and kale are also yummy.
- Shopping Tip: Look for brands of hummus that use the same ingredients you would use at home. For example, I use Extra Virgin Olive Oil in my homemade hummus recipe so I look for a good quality oil in any store-bought variety.
- Granola: I advise my clients to think of granola as more of a condiment than a cereal as the sugar content can be a bit alarming. Then I share this little trick to makethe granola more satisfying. Buy your favorite low sugar granola and pour half into a large mason jar. Fill the other half of the jar with your favorite nuts and seeds. This simple hack adds more volume and nutrient density plus it decrease the amount of added sugar per serving. Use it to top yogurt, your favorite smoothie bowl or even pack it as a snack. It’s like trail mix!
- Shopping Tip: buy a granola will less than 5 grams of sugar per serving and opt for a product that contains ingredients you can buy in the grocery store!
- Tomato Sauce: a staple in most households, this family friendly sauce is an awesome vehicle for other healthy foods. Puree white beans, like cannellini beans, into your sauce for added protein and a hint of creaminess or blend in baby greens like spinach and or kale (frozen works well) for extra vitamins and minerals.
- Shopping Tip: When shopping for a tomato sauce, buy a product that uses the same ingredients you would use at home. For example, Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, Garlic, Onions, Tomatoes, Herbs and Spices.
- Frozen Veggies: I’m a huge fan of frozen veggies as they are convenient and fast. Plus, thanks to their softer texture, Hudson tends to eat more of them per serving than fresh! We always have broccoli on hand as well as a mixed veg, butternut squash, sweet potatoes and greens. You can use the frozen squash and sweet potatoes to make a simple soup or to add to your hummus (above). You can use the greens in smoothies, pasta dishes and soups. The broccoli, that’s a staple. We simple heat it up and add some butter or ghee and sea salt and serve it as a dinner side!
- Frozen Rice/Quinoa: My freezer saves the day once again. Frozen grains and a bag of frozen veggies make for a quick and simple fried rice. We tend to have eggs on hand which adds some protein in a pinch. Another great way to take a packaged food and spruce it up a bit!
- Oatmeal: a simple breakfast option that pleases a crowd, stick with the plain varieties to avoid added sweeteners. You’re better off sweetening it yourself. While oats are rich in fiber they lack in fats and protein which can prolong satiety and improve blood sugar control. Try this, add a tablespoon or two of your favorite nuts and seeds or a spoonful of nut butter which tastes really creamy. As for veggies, mashed sweet potatoes or pumpkin puree will blend right in and they pair nicely with spices like vanilla, cardamom and cinnamon. Another favorite in our house is coconut milk or coconut butter which is slightly sweet on it’s own and tastes really decadent. Craving savory? Stir in some frozen greens and top with an egg and even a dollop of tomato sauce!