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Neighbors Growing Together | Apr 21, 2014

Perfect portions — Think frozen

By DEE SANDQUIST, Hy-Vee dietitian | Mar 28, 2013

Frozen entrees are not what they used to be. You’ll find a variety of frozen entrees that look close to what MyPlate guidelines suggest: one quarter of the plate lean protein, half the plate veggies and/or fruit, along with one quarter of the plate whole grains.

A bonus from these frozen single-serve meals is that they have portion control, which helps prevent overeating. Since Americans consume too many calories which can lead to being overweight and obesity, a simple solution to reduce calories is to consider frozen entrees.

The convenience from a frozen entree does not sacrifice nutrition. According to the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), there is virtually no nutritional difference between fresh and frozen vegetables and fruits.

Those frozen vegetables many times go from the farm to freezer within 24 hours, preserving the nutrition content in those veggies.

Also, consider that many single-serve frozen entrees have fewer calories and less sodium and saturated fat than a typical meal selected by a consumer.

Another advantage to a frozen entree is the convenience. There is no need to wash, peel or cut, making them truly a timesaver and solution for busy consumers that need to put a healthy meal on the table in minutes. And it’s a great option for those with limited cooking skills or those cooking for one.

A simple strategy to control portions may be to consider a frozen single-serve entrée in place of your usual lunch or dinner.

• Portion control is key for weight management.

• A single-serve entree helps identify what a correct portion size is.

• You may consume fewer calories — a typical meal when self-selected is around 700 calories. Frozen entrées can average average 280-300 calories.

• Controlled research studies have found people who ate single-serve frozen meals were better able to maintain reduced calorie diets, resulting in greater and more sustained weight loss.

• Use these guidelines when choosing a frozen entrée (per serving): Calories: 450 or less; sodium: 600 mg or less; saturated fat: not more than 10% calories or 45 calories in this example. Total fat: not more than 30% calories or 135 calories from fat in this example. Include a wide variety of vegetables and fruits.

Making small changes one at a time can make a big difference in eating healthy and improve overall health. On your next visit to the grocery store, remember to visit the freezer section and consider adding frozen entrees in your cart.

This information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.

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