Meals Made For You: They’re Fast AND Healthy

April 20, 2010 at 5:36 pm , by

We’ve all done it: Nuked a few frozen dinners at the end of a crazy work day. As much as I’m sure we’d all like to live the ideal of preparing meals from scratch, sometimes it’s just not doable. So we talked to Dr. Susan Mitchell, PhD, RD, FADA, (the health and nutrition expert for Target) who gave us tips on how to choose the healthiest frozen or prepared foods:

Look for meals high in fiber with zero trans fat and low saturated fat. Fiber helps lower cholesterol and keep you fuller longer. It’s also important to watch out for the sodium content in packaged foods. Take a glance at the ingredient list to find flavorful but natural substitutions for sodium, like herbs and spices. “The ingredients should also appear closest to the way they occur in nature,” Dr. Mitchell says. Whole grains and real veggies and fruits are the way to go.

If you snack in between meals, be sure to check the labels—even for things you think are healthy like granola bars, which can often actually contain super-processed, less-than-healthy ingredients. Again look for whole, natural ingredients, and if your favorite bar has chocolate, steer clear of chocolate that’s been blended with high saturated fats like coconut oil.

Reading labels is a good habit to get into, but if you need a little help we made a cheat sheet of our favorite pre-packaged entrees. They’re tasty and healthy!

Target’s Archer Farms brand (our favorite!) has new “better for you” entrees. The Simply Balanced varities have zero grams of trans fat and no artificial flavors, synthetic colors or sweeteners. Curry Apple Chicken for the family or Cajun Style Beans and Rice are our top picks.
Amy’s Light in Sodium Organic Burrito is low sodium and comes in non-dairy or cheddar cheese.
Pacific Natural Hearty Artisinal Soup (5 varieties) is certified organic as a bonus. Savory Chicken with Wild Rice is delish and has only 120 calories per can.
Healthy Choice All Natural Entrees are high in fiber, low in fat and saturated fat, and have antioxidants to boot. The Portabella Spinach Parmesan is our fave!

Eco-Friendly & Healthy Nonstick Pans

March 10, 2010 at 10:46 am , by

pansI love to cook with my stainless steel All-Clad, but I’ll be honest, at home I mostly use my inexpensive nonstick pans. Why? Because clean-up is SO much easier. But am I damaging my health? Well, maybe.

While nonstick cookware touts an easy way to be healthy and cook with less fat, its biggest draw is that it’s a breeze to clean. But there have been some health concerns surrounding the chemicals used to produce PTFE (the material that gives nonstick it’s properties), such as Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). This and other chemicals are being linked to thyroid disease and infertility. Basically, if your traditional nonstick pans aren’t cared for properly, it can be hazardous to your health.

Many companies have responded to this new information by introducing a nonstick ceramic-based surface. They have none of the worrisome chemicals and can outlast traditional nonstick. An added bonus? They’re earth-friendly!

We tried out a bunch of the new ceramic nonstick varieties and found that our favorites were also among the most affordable: (1) Earthpan II Sandflow, $25; (2) Cuisinart Green Gourmet, $50; (3) Todd English GreenPan, $50; (4) Starfrit Alternative Eco-Pan, $34.

Are you in the market for new cookware? If your Teflon pans are all scratched up, you should be—seriously, go toss them right now!