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Chew On This: Healthy Frozen Meals

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Most of us devote less than an hour a day to cooking and working out combined, Ohio State University researchers found, so longer gym sessions mean less kitchen time. When you can't be all Julie & Julia, reach for frozen meals with at least five grams of fiber and under 750 milligrams of sodium, says Tina Ruggiero, RD, the author of The Truly Healthy Family Cookbook. Heat and eat, meet burn and firm!
TV Dinners 2.0

Frozen meals have come a long way since Hungry-Man hit the scene. The latest crop lets you...

Blow off steam. Many entrees now come in plastic or paper pouches, "which allow steam to surround your food so you don't end up with an icy center and burnt edges," explains John Mitchell, the executive chef for Luvo, which packages its meals in parchment bags. Other options: Kashi Steam Meals and Healthy Choice Cafe Steamers.

Take it personally. Your iPhone case isn't the only thing you can customize. Lean Cuisine Salad Additions are meant to be tossed with leafy greens of your choosing. CedarLean combos include an individually packaged wrap and soup you can eat together or split into two mini meals. And Evol burritos can be pan-fried, grilled or cooked in a panini press.

Curry favor. You don't have to face a tempting all-you-can-eat buffet to get your Indian food fix any more. Stock up on portion-controlled versions of classic dishes, like palak paneer from Amy's and channa masala and chicken curry from Sukhi's and Tandoor Chef.

Make It a Meal

Most healthy frozen entrees clock in at around 300 calories, Ruggiero says, which probably isn't enough to tide you over for more than a couple of hours. Give your main dish staying power with these simple add-ons, all less than 200 calories.

Best with pasta: 1/2 cups chopped Romaine, 1 cup cherry tomatoes, and 1/2 cup cucumber slices with 2 tablespoons Italian dressing, plus 1 cup halved strawberries with 1 tablespoon balsamic glaze

Best with a burrito: 1/2 cup brown rice; 1/4 avocado, sliced; and 2 tablespoons salsa

Best with a stir-fry: 1/2 cup lightly salted edamame plus 1 cup fresh pineapple chunks

 

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