Wednesday, June 13, 2012

15 Healthier Convenience Foods

So, I broke my foot. Yes, really. I feel really silly about it, as a matter of fact (aren't I too old... or too young... for something like that?), but it's reality none the less. For those who are wondering, I was playing tag in the house with my kids (yes, it turns out there's a very good reason our mothers told us not to do that) and stubbed it on a stool- hard enough to break a toe and a foot bone as well. Lovely.

My normal life (as I now must call everything pre-foot boot) calls for a lot of "on your feet" action. I cook. A lot. I do laundry in the basement. A lot. I run, skip, chase and generally coral kids. A lot. So this is a bit of adjustment for me.

One of the major areas of (temporary!) change is cooking. We ate from my freezer stash of meals last week because we were just home from vacation and I was so busy catching up on laundry and unpacking that I didn't really want to cook my meals from scratch. I was so thankful that I do freezer cooking...

But now that I really can't stand up in front of the stove for long periods of time, and have cleaned out my frozen meal stash, I am finding that I must turn to some convenience foods. The pre-packaged stuff that I swore off is making a comeback- brief, of course- but a comeback none the less, in our household. I'm not overly happy about this news, but I recognize that I need to embrace it, and make it as close to the nutritional guidelines I've developed.

There has to be some convenience food out there that isn't outrageously expensive nor nutritionally devoid, right? RIGHT?!

After much research, here's my list of things that our family is eating in the next few weeks. (By the way, none of these products are affiliates- I don't get paid for endorsing them. No one really cares that much what I think... yet, anyway. Smile.)

Top fifteen convenience foods that I will be buying and eating this week:

1. Bakery bread. It's no secret that I prefer to bake my own bread that is gluten-free and whole food friendly. Instead of sugar, I add a touch of honey. Instead of flour mixes, I use my own organic blend. But you know what? My local gluten-free bakery has some great options too- ones that I've relied upon in the past and are quite tasty. Yes, unreserved embrace here.

2. Pirate Booty. Yum. These are relatively good for you... OK, less bad for you... Cheeto-type snacks. Very yummy for snacking. Yum. Yum-yum. Yum. *Ahem* moving on...

3. Green Mountain Gringo Corn Chips and salsa nachos and Wholly Guacamole Classic Dip. For this meal I have to shred cheese (which I buy from a local creamery, but you can buy an organic variety if you don't live near one yourself) and put chips, a can of organic black beans, a cut tomato and shredded cheese into the microwave or oven. I can do that. The products listed above are only suggestions, but they are all gluten-free and are processed in dedicated facilities so no one around here will get sick. Nice.

4. Horizon String Cheese Sticks and fruit (whatever is local, organic and on sale- likely strawberries this time of year)

5. Cottage cheese with frozen organic blueberries. I would typically buy cottage cheese from the farmer's market because the processing is reduced, but since I won't be walking around the market any time soon, I'll have to settle for store bought for a couple of weeks. I still have blueberries frozen from last year's harvest, otherwise I'd be buying local and organic from a local grocery store.

6. Pacific soups with salad. While I prefer to make my own soups (and freeze them) because they are a great way to use up leftovers and are so darn easy, I do occasionally buy them. When I do, I often choose Pacific products because they're organic and many are labeled gluten free.

7. Cedar's Organic Roasted Red Pepper Hummus with veggies. It's marked gluten-free, which is nice, and although it's not a local product it tastes great with sugar snap peas, broccoli, carrots, celery and a host of other veggies. Win.

8. Nut Thins and goat cheese. Again, since I won't be traipsing around the market any time soon, I'll choose an organic, gluten-free goat cheese (which should have five ingredients or less) to put on the Nut Thin crackers or chips. (I haven't yet tried the chips- they're new and gluten free. If anyone tries them let me know how they taste!) I typically buy rice crackers, which have five ingredients as opposed to the seven ingredients in Nut Thins, but I'll be honest- I prefer the taste of Nut Thins and I'm going to buy them anyway this week. That's right- no holding back on ingredient lists this week!

9. Lara bars (not homemade) and Kind Almond Cashew Plus Omega-3 bars

10. Air-popped popcorn with butter and salt. I'll get my usual Amish butter because I'm obessed with it and my local farm store offers it without walking much. I'll buy the organic popcorn in bulk from the store as well as the sea salt. This isn't the healthiest of snacks on its own, but could be paired with apples and peanut butter or some other body-friendly option to round it out. I'll admit- it makes the list because it's my all time favorite snack. And that's the end of that.

11. Store bought polenta. I typically make this because it's cheap and easy, but to keep myself from standing in front of the stove and stirring, I'll happily buy this product for a little while.

12. Tomato Sauce. I'll buy the local organic store brand, and I won't feel badly about it. As long as all the ingredients are pronounceable (unlike many national brands today- yuck!) and the sugar is kept to a minimum, I'll be OK with it. Muir Glen is a brand I am fond of these days.

13. Locally caught shrimp with cocktail sauce. These babies are so tasty and healthy... but not if they are from a shrimp farm. They are a huge burden to the environment and your body if they are farmed, but if you get 'em out of the ocean they're a lovely little treat. Add horseradish to your favorite ketchup to make a lovely dipping sauce.

14. "Italian chicken." Bake chicken breasts or thighs for 40 minutes at 350 degrees, completely covered with italian or greek dressing. Delish.

15. Oatmeal. I use Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Oats to make mine, and I cheat by adding milk and microwaving for a minute or two. I add a touch of honey or whatever fruit the kids like and that's breakfast. I love a little greek yogurt on top, but that's a matter of preference.

So, that's it. My convenience foods that I'll be purchasing, rather than making, this week. Are you inspired to sit on your bum and pretend your foot's broken too? Smile...


  1. Just came across your blog via pinterest and am really enjoying it. You have a ton of great information. We are also trying to "live lightly on the planet" but have a long way to go, I think I will be able to learn a lot from you. I'm looking forward to reading more. Thanks!

  2. Hi Emily- thanks for the visit. I just *love* Pinterest... in a mostly constructive and healthy way... mostly. :) Glad you found some information here to help you on your "greening" journey. You'll have to stop back in and tell me all about how it's going!

  3. I'm so sorry about your foot!!! What a bummer. Loving this post though...I've gone back to gluten free and now am trying to also start eating more clean, less processed foods! Off to check your recipes!

    Katie at playing with words 365

  4. Hey, Katie! Welcome back to the GF world. :) Let me know if you have questions about recipes, or if you are wondering about something you don't see posted here. I always love some inspiration for a new post. :)



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