Monday, February 17, 2014

The Freezer-Friendly Five

Using Your Freezer to Make Eating Clean More Manageable

Time and time again, I hear the excuse "I don't have time to eat clean." Well, I'm prepared to blow that excuse out of the water, because I fully believe that EVERYONE has time to eat clean! It's all about using your time wisely--- and making smart decisions! So, with that said, I present to you: the freezer-friendly five. For all of you people out there with busy lives (so, ummm, basically everyone), this list is going to be your go-to guide of things to keep on hand in your freezer. Whether you have a late meeting at work planned or a busy evening chauffeuring kids, having these five meals ready to go in your freezer lets you know that, no matter what, you'll have a healthy meal on hand to come home to!

# 1 Chicken Fajita Soup 
(Serves 2-4--- and it's low carb!)

8 Ounces cubed chicken breast
3/4 Cup cubed zucchini
3/4 Cup cubed yellow squash
1 Roughly chopped whole tomato
1/4 Cup diced green chiles
1/2 Cup strips of sweet pepper (bell peppers are fine)
1/2 Cup diced red onion
1 Chopped garlic clove
1/4 Teaspoon cumin
1/4 Teaspoon salt
1/4 Teaspoon pepper
1/4 Teaspoon oregano
1/4 Teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 Cups fat free low sodium chicken broth (the only ingredient should be chicken broth or chicken stock!)

Place all of the ingredients in a slow cooker. Cook on high for at least 4 hours. Serve immediately, or place in a freezer-safe bag for future use!

# 2 Turkey Chili
(Serves 2-4--- and it's low carb!)

8 Ounces 99% fat free extra lean ground turkey
1/4 Cup chopped onion
1/4 Cup chopped celery
1 Garlic chopped clove
1 1/2 Cups roughly chopped zucchini
1 1/2 Cups roughly chopped eggplant
1 Diced tomato (keep an extra tomato on hand--- in case you need to add more)
1/4 Cup roughly chopped peppers (sweet or spicy--- pick your poison!)
2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon spicy dijon mustard (make sure the brand you use is clean--- adding ground mustard seed and a couple dashes of hot sauce would be a clean alternative!)
1 Packet of Truvia/Stevia
1 Teaspoon chili powder
1/2 Teaspoon cumin
Optional: add more seasonings to suit your personal tastes; this recipe is made to be intentionally mild

In a pan, simmer ground turkey, onion, celery, and garlic until the meat is no longer pink. Place the ground turkey mixture in a slow cooker with all of the remaining ingredients, ensuring that all of the ingredients are evenly mixed. Set the slow cooker to high, and let the chili cook for at least 2 hours. Serve immediately, or place in a freezer-safe bag for future use.

#3 White Turkey Chili
(Serves 2)

8 Ounces 99% fat free lean ground turkey
1/2 Cup red onion, diced
2 Garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 Can of diced green chile peppers
1/2 Teaspoon cumin
1/2 Teaspoon oregano
1/4 Teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 Teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/4 Teaspoon pepper
1/2 Teaspoon hot sauce
1 15 Ounce can cannelloni beans
1 1/2 Cup chicken broth
2 Tablespoons whole wheat flour

In a pot, sauté the onion, garlic, and ground turkey. When the turkey is browned, add in the chile peppers and spices, and continue to sauté on low heat. Meanwhile, drain the cannelloni beans, and separate the beans evenly. Add 1/2 of the beans to the turkey mixture, and blend the other half of the beans along with 1 1/2 cups of chicken broth. Pour the bean and broth mixture from the blender into a separate pot, and whisk in the whole wheat flour over low heat until the mixture becomes thick. Add this mixture to the turkey mixture, and combine thoroughly. Serve immediately, or save in a freezer-safe bag for future use.

# 4 Clean Spaghetti Sauce
(Makes a HUGE Batch!)

4 Large tomatoes, diced
2 Cups shredded zucchini (About 1-2 zucchinis--- I popped mine into the food processor to shred quickly)
1/2 of a red onion, chopped
6 Ounces chopped mushrooms
5 Garlic cloves, chopped
1 Bay leaf
2 Tablespoons parsley
1/2 Teaspoon pepper
1/2 Teaspoon salt
1 Teaspoon oregano
1 Teaspoon basil
2 8 Ounce cans of tomato sauce (the only ingredient should be tomato!)
2 Tablespoons instant tapioca
Optional: pre-cooked lean ground turkey, lean ground beef, lean ground chicken

Combine all ingredients except for the meat in the slow cooker, ensuring that everything is mixed thoroughly. Cook on high for 4 hours. Remove the bay leaf, and add in pre-cooked meat if desired. Serve immediately, or store in a freezer-safe bag for future use.

#5 Turkey Meatballs
(Serves 2; Makes about 9 meatballs each)

8 Ounces 99% fat free lean ground turkey
1/2 Cup grated zucchini (process in a food processor until a grated/shredded consistency)
4 Tablespoons oat flour (grind some oats in a food processor until a fine flour-like consistency)
1 Egg white
2 Garlic cloves, chopped
2 Tablespoons red onion
1/2 Tablespoon oregano
1/2 Tablespoons parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl, combine all ingredients. Mix thoroughly, then form into bite size meatballs (roughly 3/4 inch). Place on a foiled baking sheet, and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve immediately, or wait until cool, then place in a freezer-safe container for future use.

How the "Freezer-Friendly Five" Can Help YOU

All said, the freezer-friendly five can help make eating clean more manageable for your lifestyle. Making these recipes in multiple batches (you may need to adjust cooking times, of course) and saving some in the freezer for future use is a great way to ensure that you'll always have clean eats on hand ready to go at a moment's notice. So for all of you out there who keep using the excuse "I don't have time to eat clean"--- learn to love your freezer-friendly five, and you can make eating clean more realistic for you, no matter how busy, stressed, or hectic your lifestyle may be! Enjoy!