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My Favorite Healthy Frozen Foods

Hi friends! Happy Friday! I am traveling for work today, but I wanted to post this for you guys before your weekend grocery shopping.

Over the past few years, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the variety of healthy foods I’ve found in the freezer aisle. For years, all you could find were Lean Cuisines and Healthy Choice frozen dinners that disguise themselves as “healthy,” but in reality are swimming in sodium and added junk.

I’ve tried A LOT of frozen foods at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods and below are some of my favorites. As always, make sure to check the ingredient lists on the items you pick up. General rule of thumb: if you can’t pronounce an ingredient or you’ve never heard of it, put the item back on the shelf.

 

My Favorite Healthy Frozen Foods // littlechefbigappetite.com

 

  1. Udi’s Gluten-Free Margherita Pizza // This is one of our favorite options on a night we don’t have time to cook. This gluten-free crust tastes REALLY good and it’s SO much healthier than traditional frozen pizzas! For an added nutritional boost, we sometimes add chicken or extra veggies.
  2. Whole Foods 365 Vegetable Medley // Whoever said frozen fruit and vegetables aren’t healthy is totally wrong. In fact, frozen fruit and veggies can actually be more nutritious than their fresh counterparts because they’re flash frozen to lock in nutrients. I love having a bag of these veggies in my freezer to heat up alongside any protein. So quick and easy.
  3. Van’s Whole Grain Waffles // A healthy and fast breakfast option. I even like these as a mid-day snack with a smear of almond butter.
  4. Dr. Praegar’s California Veggie Burgers // These burgers are packed with veggies! I like to stick mine under the broiler to get it extra crispy. Then I top it with sliced avocado and a little bit of all-natural ketchup.
  5. Trader Joe’s Brown Rice // On busy nights, who has 40 minutes to wait for rice to cook? This pre-cooked brown rice is the easiest thing! Just plop it in the microwave and healthy whole grains in minutes.
  6. Australis Barramundi // I find this at Whole Foods and it’s A+++++! This is what I use to make my Barramundi with Balsamic Tomatoes
  7. Beyond Meat Beefy Crumbles // A meat alternative that doesn’t contain soy!? I’m in! I love using this “Beefy Crumble” in place of regular ground beef to make pasta sauces or tacos!
  8. Alexia Sweet Potato Fries // While maybe still not as good (or clean) as my homemade sweet potato fries, these fries are GOOD. Get them extra crispy by baking them on a single layer and then sticking them under the broiler for the last few minutes. Delicious with chicken, a veggie burger, the list goes on.
  9. Whole Foods 365 Blueberries // Same thing as a veggie medley – there is NOTHING wrong with frozen fruits and vegs! I defrost these in the microwave for 30 seconds and then add them to yogurt. Fresh berries in the middle of winter, yes please!

 

While I absolutely love fresh, homemade meals, sometimes it’s just not an option, so I love having a few of these items in the freezer for when I am in a pinch.

I’d love to know if you guys have any favorites that aren’t on this list!

 

 

Meal Plan

This Week’s Meal Plan 12/7/15

Hi guys! I hope everyone had a great weekend. Mine was jam packed with holiday shopping, organizing our apartment, and planning for a Hanukkah party we had with friends last night. The holidays are in full swing and I couldn’t be happier! I love this time of year.

Keeping with my November goals, I am going strong with meal planning this week. The last two weeks I fell off track because we were away for Thanksgiving and came back in the middle of the week last week, so from Wednesday – Friday we pretty much ate whatever we had in the freezer / what was easy to pick up. Not the best, but that’s why I made a point to stay on track this week.

Meal Plan

Here’s this week’s meal plan:

Sunday (last night): Hanukkah Party with friends! (Chicken, Challah, Kugel, Latkes, Brussels Sprouts + more!)

Monday: Thai Green Curry with Shrimp and Kale + Black Rice

Peeled and deveined shrimp was on sale at Whole Foods, so I bought 2 lbs. and will freeze what we don’t use for this recipe.

Tuesday: Orange and Tomato Simmered Chicken Thighs with Whole Wheat Couscous

Wednesday: Asian Turkey Meatballs with Sesame-Lime Dipping Sauce

I am planning on adding some romaine to this recipe based on the reviews I read.

Thursday: Grilled Chicken with Thai Basil Salad

Friday: Caramelized Onion, Olive, Goat Cheese Whole Wheat Pizza

We have leftover homemade whole wheat pizza dough in our freezer, so this should be an easy one to throw together.

Saturday: Slow Cooker French Onion Soup + Sweet Potato and Apple Potato Pancakes

Keeping with the Hanukkah festivities, I am going to try a variation of the classic latke recipe and use sweet potatoes and apples!

Meal Plan

Many of the recipes above I haven’t cooked before, so I am excited to add some new dishes to this week’s dinner menu. If any of them turn out well, I will be sure to make them again and photograph them for you guys.

Hope you have a great Monday!

Life Lately

Memorial Day Weekend in Numbers

Hello! How was your long weekend? Mine was an absolute blast, filled with friends and delicious food.

I haven’t done a weekend in numbers post in awhile, so I thought it would be a fun way to round up the weekend.

 

2: Inches cut off my hair on Friday. I was in desperate need of a haircut and I feel so much better (and lighter!) now. Erin, my hair stylist, has the sweetest dog, Gracie, who she sometimes brings to the salon. Gracie recently stayed with us when Erin went out of town, so she was especially excited to see me on Friday, knowing that I would rub her belly nonstop.

Gracie

 

3: Slices of Stella Barra Margherita Pizza I ate on Friday night. This was the perfect way to kick off the long weekend! Not pictured: a shared arugula salad, glasses of rose, and the MASSIVE chocolate chip cookie that Travis bought me after the meal. My tummy was quite content.

Pizza

 

12: (approximate) number of times I told Travis to throw out this grey t-shirt over the years we’ve been dating. He’s had it since high school, but insisted on keeping it (despite the massive holes) because it was incredibly soft. Saturday morning he finally gave in to my wishes and agreed to get rid of it. He then proceeded to tear the shirt into shreds…which we both found way too amusing.

Shirt

Any other ladies out there have to convince their guys to get rid of old clothing? What is it that makes them so darn attached?

 

2: Bottles of champagne consumed by four of us ladies during brunch on Saturday morning. We went to Courtyard Kitchen in Santa Monica (which I’ve mentioned plenty of times on the blog), and I finally took advantage of their BYOB option (no corkage fee!). We all loved our meals and we had SO MUCH FUN together!

Brunch

 

20: Minutes waited in line to get into The Bungalow in Santa Monica after brunch. I’d say this was a record because sometimes it can take up to two hours! Personally, I could never wait that long to go anywhere, so I was glad our group decided to get there early to hop on line before the masses.

The Bungalow

 

1: Matcha Green Tea Latte made by me on Monday afternoon. It was my first time making one at home and it was a great afternoon pick-me-up.

Matcha Green Tea

 

1/4: Pound burger grilled on Monday evening. I ate my burger on a gluten-free bun with caramelized onions, homemade date ketchup and guacamole. We also enjoyed some charred broccoli and pinot noir on the side. What a perfect way to cap off such a fun weekend!

Burger

 

How was your MDW? Did you grill? Tell me one delicious thing you ate!

Travel

Hawaii Vacation Part III (Final Recap!)

Hi guys!

I am back today with the final recap from our amazing Hawaii Vacation in Maui. We left off last time after a delicious and romantic dinner at the Ferraro’s restaurant at the Four Seasons. On Thursday Travis and I had plans to go on a zip line tour. There are lots of zip line companies in Maui, but we found that Kapalua Zip Lines had incredible reviews on Trip Advisor and it was the only course that had parallel lines so Travis and I could zip side-by-side. Neither Travis or I had ever zip lined before, so we knew were in for a treat! Kapalua Zip Lines is located in Lahaina, which was about an hour from where we were staying in Wailea. We were instructed to arrive by 8AM, so that morning we had to wake up very early in order to arrive on time. The 7-line course was AMAZING – we had the time of our lives. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures to share with you because we chose not to bring a camera or phone with us for fear that it might fall while we were zip lining. Some people brought GoPro cameras, which I bet made for some awesome video footage!

I was by far the smallest person in our 10-person group, which invoked a lot of laughs throughout the tour. Some of the zip lines were LONG and the instructors on the tour (who were all hilarious and made the experience a blast!) kept joking with me that I might not make it all the way across because I was too light! They were kidding, of course, but on the longest line I actually did get nervous because I started slowing down dramatically and I thought I was going to get stranded in the middle of the zip line! NO. THANK YOU. I am pretty sure that has never actually happened to anyone, but I can be pretty gullible…

The tour lasted until about 1PM. Afterwards, Travis and I were really hungry so we decided to hang out in Lahaina for awhile and grab some food. One of the waitresses at our resort had recommended the Cool Cat for great burgers and drinks, so we decided to check it out on our way back to the hotel.

Pineapple Cocktail

I started with this delicious Pineapple-Tini. The pineapple in Hawaii is soooooo fresh, so I felt obligated to eat it any chance I could get! Our burgers were both really good, too. I was so hungry that I completely forgot to take a picture when it arrived!

Unfortunately, in the middle of our vacation I caught a very bad cold, so we kind of laid low for the rest of the week. I guess if you are going to be sick, laying by the pool in Maui isn’t really the worst place, is it? One of the final highlights of our trip was the luau we attended on our last night. After hearing many family and friends recommend that we attend a luau close to our resort (because all luaus are buffet and open bar, so you mind as well enjoy it!) we decided to reserve seats at the luau at the Marriott because it was walking distance from our hotel.

Maui Luau

Around 4PM on Friday we walked the path along the ocean between our hotel, the Andaz, and the Marriott. When we arrived we were greeted with beautiful leis and got our picture taken in front of the ocean.

Maui Luau

It was VERY hot out, so Travis and I decided to hang out in the shade as we waited for the show to start. About an hour later the buffet opened up, so we walked over to get in line.

Maui Luau

To be perfectly honest, the food at the buffet was not so great. I read a few negative reviews beforehand that mentioned that food was poor, so I knew not to go into it with high expectations. I didn’t really care because I was more there to see the show and just enjoy the overall experience. This was my first luau, so I just wanted to soak it all in!

Once most people had their food, the show began to start. The outfits and dancing were both beautiful.

Maui Luau

Yet again, I couldn’t get over the amazing colors in the sky as the sun began to set over the performance. I loved how the women’s dresses matched the gorgeous pink sunset behind them in the picture below.

Maui Luau

The fire show at the end was also very impressive. As someone who is pretty much scared of lighting a match, I was in awe of how this performer was able to manipulate these giant torches.

Maui Luau

Maui Luau

I am so glad I got to experience an authentic Hawaiian luau! I know it is something I will remember for a long time.

On our final day in Maui, I was so congested and sick that I basically didn’t want to move. I felt terrible because Travis really wanted to drive the Road the Hana, the full day road trip that takes you on a narrow winding road to the beautiful town of Hana, but I just couldn’t imagine being stuck in the car all day with that awful cold. Instead we decided to have a slow morning around the hotel. Once it was time to check out, we packed up our bags and sadly said goodbye to our amazing room and staff at the Andaz. I didn’t want to leave!

Since we had a few hours to kill before our redeye flight back to LA, I told Travis we should do a little bit of the drive to Hana just to see what it was all about. We had already said multiple times during our trip that we had to go back to Maui soon because there was so much more we wanted to see, do, and eat! The first stop on the Road to Hana is the Twin Falls Farmstand, which we read had delicious smoothies and banana bread.

Road to Hana

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Travis and I waited in line and scoped out the menu. While the majority of people around us were ordering smoothies and coconuts to sip on, we opted for the banana bread. It was the perfect mid-afternoon snack.

Road to Hana

We walked around for a little bit and enjoyed the beautiful scenery, but we headed back to our car before too long because there were signs everywhere warning us about car break-ins. Since we had ALL of our luggage and belongings in the car, we wanted to be extra cautious!

Road to Hana

We continued for a few more miles on the Road to Hana, but eventually had to turn around because we wanted to grab a bite to eat before our flight. I read that Flatbread Company in Paia had some seriously delicious pizza, so thought it would be a perfect pre-flight meal.

Flatbreads, Paia

We actually had three hours before our flight, so we told our waiter we were in no rush and would probably be there for awhile. All of the staff at Flatbread Company were so chill (think surfer-dude level chill), so our waiter definitely didn’t care that we just wanted to hang.

Flatbread Company, PaiaI have to admit that my taste buds weren’t exactly on point that day, but everything we ate really hit the spot. We started with their Organic Salad which was served with a Maui Pineapple Vinaigrette. Flatbread Company actually has locations all across the country, but every location serves food based on what is local to that particular location – I love that!

Flatbread Company, Paia

For our flatbread, we ordered half Margherita and half Punctuated Equilibrium, which had kalamata olives, goat cheese and other fresh veggies. They made a mistake and made the flatbread half cheese instead of the Punctuated Equilibrium, so they said they were going to bring out another WHOLE pizza for us in a few minutes. All of a sudden we had so much pizza on our table and we didn’t know how we were going to eat all of it! We even offered a few slices to our waiter, but he turned us down (admittedly, he probably can’t eat on the job).

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Everything we ate was SOOO yummy and I was in carb heaven. Before we knew it, it was time to pay our check and head to the airport. Luckily, the airport was only 10 minutes away from the Flatbread Company and since the Maui airport is tiny, we were through security in a matter of minutes. We decided to grab a drink at the airport bar, hoping it would knock us out on our flight home.

Our waitress was a little….kooky….and she kept telling me I looked waaaaay too young to be over 21 even after she checked my ID. Every time she passed our table she made a comment about it. Usually this is one of my BIGGEST pet peeves. I am small. I look young. I get it. Now bring me my glass of wine, please! But surprisingly it didn’t bother me this time because I was on vacation mode!  Travis and I just kept laughing about it all the way until we boarded our plane.

Sunset, Maui

I was so, so, so sad to leave Hawaii. It is a magical place and I hope I get to go back soon and experience it all over again! I hope you liked my vacation recaps. I will be back to posting recipes soon! Aloha!

Grilling Main Meal

Grilled Pizza with Spinach, Tomatoes, and Pine Nuts

Sometimes there is nothing better than a slice of pizza.  Even when you have it 3+ times a week…which is what I have been doing the past few weeks.

Too much? Nahh, I haven’t grown sick of yet because it has all been homemade and I’ve tried so many different dough recipes and topping combos.

During the summer vegetables are so fresh and taste delicious raw. For this pizza I used fresh tomatoes from my neighbor’s garden.  They were so sweet and tasted perfect without any salt or pepper.  If you don’t have great tomatoes where you are , or if you are making this during an off-season I recommend roasting the tomatoes in the oven first to maximize their flavor.

Grilled Pizza with Spinach, Tomatoes, and Pine Nuts Recipe

This is so easy and requires very few ingredients. This time, I bought pre made whole wheat pizza dough, because I was in a hurry, but usually I like to make my own and I will be posting my recipe soon!

Grilled Pizza with Spinach, Tomatoes, and Pine Nuts Recipe

In the summer I avoid turning on the oven so, I decided to put this pizza on the grill. However, if you choose to use the oven, the pizza will be just as great. Just make sure to use a pizza stone or cast-iron pan.

Grilled Pizza with Spinach, Tomatoes, and Pine Nuts Recipe

The end result tastes so fresh and the combo of parmesan and mozzarella makes this extra yummy!

 

Grilled Pizza with Spinach, Tomatoes, and Pine Nuts
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 package or recipe whole wheat pizza dough
  • Olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 package (8-10 oz) baby spinach
  • 3 Tomatoes, sliced
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup Mozzarella cheese, cut into slices
  • ⅛ cup pine nuts, toasted
  • Leaves of fresh Basil (for serving)
Instructions
  1. In a pan, heat a small amount of olive oil and saute the baby spinach with the minced garlic. When completely cooked, take the pan off the heat and allow the spinach to cool. When cool, squeeze the spinach dry of any excess liquid.  Then, move the spinach to a cutting board and chop.
  2. Roll the pizza dough into your desired thickness, using a rolling pin or an empty wine bottle. Placing extra flour on your surface and on the rolling pin will prevent the dough from sticking. Move the dough onto a lightly floured baking sheet (that will fit on top of the grill). If using a pizza stone, put the dough on the stone and heat the oven to 500 degrees.
  3. Sprinkle the dough with a small amount of olive oil. Place the chopped spinach on the dough, then the tomatoes, then the parmesan, mozzarella, and pine nuts.  Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Place the baking sheet with the pizza on the grill and bake for 8-10 minutes, until brown, crisp, and bubbling. Remove the pizza from the grill / oven, and place a few leaves of fresh basil on top. Cut into slices and serve warm.