My husband is out of town and I have been home alone (with a 1 1/2 year old) each night putting together dinner from whatever I have in the fridge. Once a baby goes to sleep at 7pm, you are pretty much on lock down so if you don’t have the goods (wine, chocolate, etc.) you are S.O.L.! Luckily I stock up on the important things and just scramble to put together dinner of some kind:)
So, tonight prompted a post because I had a frozen dinner as my only option (sad, I know) but I realized that many people use them for portion control or dieting. I also had it because I told myself I would eat that when a night like this happens, like it or not! I decided to share the thoughts that go through my head when picking a frozen meal, cooking it, and how to make it better (tasting and nutritionally!)
The chosen one: Amy’s Tamale black bean something or another, with rice.
Why: For me it was Gluten free, I like mexican, and because I rated the nutrition label a 7 (on a scale from 1 to 8 because no frozen meal can get above an 8 in my book:)) The calories were in the 300-400 range & the fat, carbs, and protein present in the meal are at a relatively healthy proportion.
Breakin’ it down: The rating of 7 was mostly because of the 55 grams of carbohydrates (I typically like to stay around 10-40 grams of carbs per meal or snack depending on what type of workout I did). AND, I had some chips and salsa for a snack a couple of hours before dinner so I knew I was limiting my carb intake for dinner. The second thing I noticed on the label was that there were only 7 grams of protein. I like to eat 10+ grams per meal to get in 50 grams/day.
Makin’ it better: I cooked an egg to add another 6 grams of protein to my meal. I actually didn’t like the corn masa at all so I took that off and ate the black beans, rice, and egg. I had a glass of red wine to round it out:) (wine= carbs). If you like Corn Masa then take out half the rice or eat the entire portion but opt out of the glass of wine.
Do you know how much protein you need?
Most of us (especially women) don’t get enough protein in our diets. When you focus on how many calories you are taking in per day and not on the nutritional content of each meal, you typically short yourself on protein and deprive yourself of a chance to feel full while still losing weight or maintaining! Find the right proportion of fats/carbs/protein in each meal that keep you feeling satiated while also keeping your calories low. The key word there is “satiated”. In order to allow you to feel that satisfied feeling at the end of a snack/meal so that you can stop eating for 2-3 hours and allow your body to fully digest that meal, you must have a combination of those three nutrients, with protein being the most important one.
WHY Protien? Because protein takes longer for the body to break down therefore keeping you fuller longer. Because Protein is used to rebuild muscle fibers…and muscle burns fat! Because protein gives your brain fuel, your body fuel, and can even be broken down by the body to use as glucose when you keep your carbohydrate intake below normal for weight loss.
Here is a great article that is easy to read and helps you to understand the importance of COMPLETE proteins and where to find them.
Ways to get enough: find a good protein powder to add to almond milk or low-fat milk if you struggle with adding meat, eggs, or fish to a meal and need a quick option. Keep grilled chicken in the fridge or have deli turkey or chicken sliced thick and ready to grab and eat (there are several yummy flavors out there). If you eat some veggies, chips, or fruit for a snack…just grab add some of the meat to round it out. And don’t forget the amazingly simple boiled egg. Even if you don’t “crave it” or like it, add it to your carb only snack or meal simply to give your body what it needs, like taking medicine!
Hope this was useful, if you have any questions post a comment here!