Thursday, June 28, 2012

Convenience Foods

Convenience foods often get a bad rap but in all honestly we all need a few go to foods in our pantries to turn to when time is of the essence.

While eating processed foods every day is not something that I would be recommended it is something that I do believe can be part of everyday nutrition within moderation. 

When it comes to comparing typical drive through fast food and a home cooked meal I think that we all know which would be nutritionally superior, convenience foods however, are somewhere in the middle.

There are a lot of healthy convenience foods out there, such as Healthy Choice frozen meals, but there are also quite a few other products whose fat, calorie and salt contents could rival many drive through options.

One convenience food that I often keep on hand are ramen noodle bowls.  Yes, they are filled with salt and fat and without much nutritional value, but the way that you prepare them can increase their health potential while still giving you the quick and healthy meal that you are looking for.

I start by preparing the item as directed on the package with a few slight changes.

1.) Only use half of the salty seasoning packet
2.) Omit the oil

Once the noodles are cooked I then add some shredded chicken to up the protein content and turn it into more of a meal.  Cooked chicken breast is something that I keep on hang pretty regularly.  It is easy to cook a few extra pieces when I am making it and it stores nicely for add-ins when making a quick meal.

Original recipe prepared per package instructions with added chicken:
Calories-  640                   
Sodium-  1335mg

Modified recipe prepared as above with added chicken:
Calories- 540
Sodium- 700mg

A typical fast food meal consisting of a burger, fries and coke:
Calories-  1142
Sodium- 1000mg

While, healthy home made food is preferred, convenience foods can be part of everyday nutrition and often has less calories and sodium as if you had made a trip through the drive through!

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