Nutrition News You Can Use
August 2011
 
Freezing and Other Ways to Make Eating Healthy Easier!
 

Need Great Ideas for Recipes and Meal Plans?
Click here to buy Kara's Healthy Weight Eating Program and Cookbook! 
 

cmclass

Greetings!

   

Well, there's no ifs, ands or buts about it...it's really hot here in Central Texas this summer! What a perfect time to talk about something really cool. Freezing! Freezing food that is. Of course I am constantly hearing from my clients that they hate having to come home after a long day and have to cook. They often forgo the healthier option of eating a home cooked meal and wind up picking something up or going out instead, usually choosing a less healthy option. Or maybe they just decide to eat half a jar of peanut butter with half a box of crackers instead, consuming approximately 2000 calories in one sitting because they had also skipped lunch and were so ravenous when they got home it was all they could do not to faint from hunger. 

 

The reason this happens is because we often don't make the time to plan. The most helpful way to improve this situation is to make preparing ahead a priority. The key word here is PRIORITY. Think about what you prioritize. Meal planning should not be on the bottom of the priority list if you want to make lasting changes in you health. I know the task of planning meals can seem daunting but once you start doing this, it gets easier and then it can become second nature. As with everything I recommend you start small. Plan for one or two meals a week to start with. This is better than where you were before and you can build from there. 

 

So lets get back to the freezing. People often find success when they choose to prepare 3-5 dishes at once on a free day in which they have more time. This usually only takes about 2-4 hours and if you have more than one person prepping and cooking it is often even less. These meals can then be portioned out and placed in the freezer leaving you prepared to eat a healthy home cooked meal every evening if you so choose. It also sets you up to have delicious and healthy meals to take to work or send with your kids to school.

 

Below is the vital information you need to get started. I have also listed all the freezable recipes from my cookbook, The Healthy Weight Eating Program & Cookbook. Buy your copy here!

 

Also, please consider attending my class at Central Market on October 8th where I will demonstrate how to prepare a number of tasty meals for the freezer and give more tips for making it easy. A previous class is pictured above. See class details and menu below. 

 

I hope this information is helpful and remember I am always available for private and group cooking lessons if you and/or your friends want to learn how to plan ahead more efficiently and cook delicious healthy meals for yourself.

 

 

Thanks and take care,

Kara Kroeger
Certified Nutritionist & Culinarian
www.KaraKroeger.com
512-567-5206  
Knowledge to Nourish & Sustain

 

Freezing and Other Ways 

to Make Eating Healthy Easier

 

Organized Freezer      

Glass Tupperware

 

Cooking Equipment

 

The following is a list of some necessities for making cooking less time consuming and freezing meals.

 

Food processor - ideal for shortening your time in the kitchen

Crock pot - allows you to prep and walk away coming back to a tasty well-cooked meal

Toaster oven - the preferred method for reheating small portions

Storage containers - glass or freezer safe plastic

Freezer bags - keep various sizes on hand

Heavy weight foil - protects against freezer burn

Freezer paper - protects against freezer burn, place food on shiny side

Wax paper - to separate individual portions

 

Food Storage Containers

Plastic Vs. Glass

 

Plastic containers pose less of a problem for breakage but may come with the danger of leaching unwanted chemicals into your food by the effects of the cold temperatures in the freezer. They are also not ideal for reheating unless you are using a microwave, but once again you run into the problem of releasing chemicals into your food by heating the plastic.

 

Plastic containers are good if you will be thawing the dish completely and then reheating in the toaster oven or on the stovetop. Low quality plastic can become brittle at freezing temperatures and crack. Many plastic containers have a snowflake symbol on them if they are ideal for freezing. 


Although the microwave is convenient, its effects on our food quality are questionable. Some are of the belief that cooking in the microwave rather than through regular heating methods depletes more nutrients. And it has been proven that using many plastics in the microwave is not safe. If you choose to use the microwave always use glass or ceramic for reheating. A mini toaster oven is a great alternative to a microwave or reheating a dish on the stove often takes just about the same amount of time. The texture of the food is often better by using one of these two methods and the questionable nutrient and molecular structure loss is of less concern.

 

Pyrex and Simax brands of glass containers are made of boro silicate glass and must be set out at room temperature for 30 minutes before going into a hot oven. The food stored in tempered glass dishes, such as Anchor Hocking and Duralex must be completely thawed before placing them in a hot oven. Quick temperature changing can cause these dishes to shatter making a very large mess.

 

If using glass containers be sure to leave about 3/4-inch space at the top to allow for water expansion. If you do not, the glass could crack.

 

Portioning

When using freezer bags it is faster to thaw a few small batches than one large one so divide your contents amongst a few small bags. It is ideal to lay freezer bags flat when freezing for easy storage and faster thawing.

 

Freeze prepared raw items such as hamburger patties, meatballs, and meats in marinade to pull out for quick last-minute meals. All the prep is done you just have to cook it. Add a quick salad and voila, you have dinner!


Separate hamburger patties, sausage patties, salmon or bean cakes, and veggie burger patties with wax paper for ease in separating and thawing. Many of the items can go straight into the toaster oven still frozen.

 

Freeze complete meals in sectioned containers for easy on-the-go meals that you can take to work. These dishes can be thawed the night before.

 

Freezing Tips

Cool foods close to room temperature before placing in the freezer so as not to raise the temperature of the freezer substantially. This also helps to freeze foods faster, which can prevent large ice crystals from forming that can pierce the cell walls of the food and affect the flavor and texture.


Keep your freezer temp as low as possible for long, safe storage. 0 Fahrenheit is ideal.  A temperature of 21 F will only keep foods for 3-4 days.

 

Date and label everything so you do not wind up with a mystery dish, unless you like a little mystery!

 

The more liquid covering the ingredients the better it will be protected during freezing. Making extra marinade or sauce to cover what you will be freezing is ideal.

 

What Foods Freeze Well

Protein & fat - meats, poultry, seafood, raw eggs removed from their shell or cooked eggs like those in a frittata (not fried or poached eggs), most hard cheeses, butter, nuts and seeds

 

Non-starchy vegetables - broccoli, green beans, spinach, collard greens, kale, many fresh herbs, cooked tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, garlic, onions

Starchy carbohydrates and vegetables - most of these foods such as grains, beans, potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, peas, beets, carrots, winter squash, celery root, berries, bananas, mangos, pineapple all freeze well


Foods that do not freeze well - cucumbers, celery, raw tomatoes, lettuce, endive, fennel, avocados, apples, watermelon, mayonnaise or other emulsions, milk, cream, buttermilk, sour cream and yogurt. Some of these foods can be successfully added as an ingredient to dishes for freezing but are not best frozen by themselves.

 

Some foods freeze well in a pureed form but not in their whole form because they will become mushy. Examples are things like pureed soups that contain vegetables like eggplant, asparagus, and summer squash or fruit juices like watermelon, orange and apple.

 

Mixing Frozen with Fresh

Freezing sauces that can be used over meats and veggies to dress them up with flavor takes away a lot of prep time. Making a batch of pesto, freezing it in ice cube trays, and then storing it in freezer bags for later use allows you to pull it out and flavor steamed vegetables like green beans or squash with it. Another example is a tomato Bolognese sauce that can then top some freshly baked spaghetti squash or pasta.Freezing raw meats in amarinade for stir-fries can then be added to fresh vegetables.

 

Thawing & Reheating

Refrigerator thawing is the safest form of thawing but requires that you think ahead since some frozen foods can take 24 hours to thaw in the fridge. See the thawing times below for various foods.

 

8 hours per pound of meat

4 hours per pound of poultry

6 hours per pound of fruit and vegetables

12 -24 hours for stews and casseroles

 

Soaking frozen items in a bowl of cold water is often the fastest form of thawing but precaution must be taken so as to prevent contamination. First of all you want to be sure the food you are thawing is in a watertight sealed bag. The water should be cool (not cold 70+ F) and not too hot. Hot water can foster bacteria growth.  Change the water every 30 minutes or allow a steady stream of water to drip into the bowl to keep the water circulating. Do not continue this process for more than two hours.

 

Avoid the microwave if possible for thawing but if you do have to use it be sure the items you are defrosting are small batches. If you try to defrost large batches in the microwave you will wind up with uneven cooking if the item is raw or overcooked food if the item is already cooked.

 

Slow Cooking

There are an unbelievable amount of cookbooks available on the market that are specific to cooking in a crock-pot. This is a great way to cook if you have a family to feed and you are short on time. It is simple to place a few ingredients in a crock-pot in the morning and come home to a perfectly cooked hot meal in the evening.

 Recipe of the Month
 
  
Coconut pancakes
Coconut Flour Pancakes 

 

3 large eggs

1 tsp. olive oil

1 tsp. vanilla extract 

2 tsp. honey 

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. baking soda

2 Tbs. coconut flour

1 tsp. olive oil or 1 pat of butter for cooking

Sauce:

2 cups frozen blueberries cooked down with Truvia

  

In two medium sized bowls, separate the egg white into one bowl and the yolks into another. Add the oil, vanilla, honey, cinnamon, baking soda and coconut flour to the egg yolks and whisk together until well blended. Whip the egg whites with a whisk until stiff peaks have formed and fold them in with the other wet ingredients until well mixed. 

 

Heat a frying pan on low to medium heat and let warm for a few minutes. Add 1 tsp. olive oil or butter to the pan once it has heated. Next, spoon the batter into small circles in the frying pan without letting the edges of each circle touch. Keep the heat fairly low and let the pancakes heat up slowly and rise - about 3 to 5 minutes. Wait until the edges are cooked, and then flip each pancake to cook the other side. This will not take long, so watch them carefully, and then move the pancakes onto another plate. Continue this until all the batter is gone.

 

Note: the best way to insure fluffy pancakes is to separate the egg whites, whip them until you have fairly stiff peaks, and then blend the egg whites back into the batter. The directions above reflect this process. If you are in a hurry you can skip this process by mixing the whole egg with the wet ingredients and whisking. Then add the dry ingredients and proceed.

 

To make the blueberry sauce heat 2 cups of frozen blueberries with 2 tsp. of Truvia and allow to cook for 5 minutes. You may need to add a little water to the blueberries to make the sauce a little juicier. Top the pancakes with the cooked blueberries. Makes 4 small to medium sized pancakes.

 

After you have cooked these you can separate them with wax paper and freeze them. When you are ready to eat one pull it out and heat it in the toaster oven.

  

Freezable Healthy Weight Cookbook Recipes 

 

You may want to double or triple the recipes to have some to eat right away and some to freeze.

 

Week 5

Red Snapper Fish Tacos - marinate raw snapper and freeze for a last-minute meal

Lentils - cook and freeze

Breakfast Seed Cereal - prepare in large batches and keep in the freezer for up to 6 weeks

Ground Turkey Marinara with Spaghetti Squash - cook and freeze in individualized small portions to pull out for a quick take to work lunch or dinner

Chicken Fajitas - rub the raw chicken breast with spice rub and freeze for later use

Charro Beans - cook and freeze

Nut Loaf with Rich Tomato Sauce - cook and freeze in individualized small portions to pull out for a quick take to work lunch or dinner

Cauliflower Mock Mashed Potatoes - cook and freeze

 

Week 6

Split Pea Soup - cook and freeze

Citrus Brussels Sprouts - prepare and freeze raw to be cooked later or cook and freeze to reheat later

Buffalo Guisada - cook and freeze

Pesto Baked Salmon - prepare and freeze raw to be cooked later or cook and freeze to reheat later

Tilapia Almandine - cook and freeze

Green Chicken Enchilada Casserole - Cook and freeze

Coconut Flour Pancakes - cook and freeze, separate each pancake with wax paper, easily reheated for breakfast by placing frozen pancake into toaster oven

Steak with Chimichurri Sauce - chimichurri sauce can be prepared ahead, frozen in ice cube trays and then kept in a freezer bag to be thawed and used on a freshly grilled steak

 

Week 7

Mustard-Marinated Pork - prepare and freeze raw to be cooked later or cook and freeze to reheat later

Roasted Winter Veggies - prepare and freeze raw to be cooked later or cook and freeze to reheat later

Pasta-Free Veggie Lasagna - prepare and freeze raw to be cooked later or cook and freeze to reheat later

Mint, Pea and Yogurt Frittata - cook and freeze

Chicken, Jalapeno and Cranberry Meatballs - cook and freeze

Dill and Green Onion Potato Pancakes - cook and freeze, separate each pancake with wax paper, easily reheated for breakfast by placing frozen pancake into toaster oven

Saffron, Chickpea and Spinach Stew - cook and freeze in individualized small portions to pull out for a quick take-to-work lunch or dinner

 

Week 8

Cauliflower Curry with Baked Tilapia - double curry ingredients and spoon over cooked tilapia. Freeze in individualized small portions to pull out for a quick take- to-work lunch or dinner

Broccoli Soup with Lemon-Dill Cream - cook and freeze the soup. Make lemon-dill cream at the time of thawing

Caramelized Onion and Rosemary Lentil Cakes - cook and freeze, separate each pancake with wax paper, easily reheated for breakfast by placing frozen pancake into toaster oven

Gluten-free Buckwheat Crepes with Blueberry Filling - cook and freeze. Separate with wax paper, thaw and warm in a skillet or flat top griddle

Indian Coconut Fish Curry - cook and freeze

Cooking Class Schedule
MAKE-AHEAD HEALTHY MEALS
 
If you are a busy individual who wants to eat healthy gourmet food but do not have the time to be a chef every day, this is the class for you! Nutritionist and Culinarian Kara Kroeger will show you the ins and outs of how to prepare, cook, freeze, and store low-glycemic meals that can be frozen and quickly defrosted for quick breakfasts, on-the-go lunches and delicious dinners.  
 
Menu includes: 

Turkey Breakfast Sausage and Egg Meatballs

Mint, Pea, & Yogurt Mini Frittatas

Broccoli Soup with Lemon-Dill Yogurt

Grass-fed Beef & Black Bean Chili 

Nut Loaf with Rich Tomato Sauce

Indian Flavored Greens & Spinach Saag

Green Chicken Enchilada Casserole. 

 

Saturday October 8th, 2011

Class time 10 AM - 12:30 PM

Registration for this class will be available at this link starting in September.

$45

 
Contact Information
phone: 512-567-5206
Join our mailing list!