25 Nov Top 5 Foods for Your Winter Freezer
By Elizabeth Canepari, MS, RD, Contributing Blogger
When the temperature starts to plummet, I like to stay put under a warm blanket in my comfy home. In an effort to stay warm and cozy during the cold winter months I stock my freezer with key ingredients that are sure to satisfy. Move over popsicles and frozen entrees! Keep these 5 items stocked all winter, and healthy meals in minutes (in your robe and slippers!) will be a cinch.
1. Frozen Berries
When berries are out of season not only can a fresh supply break the bank, but they just aren’t as sweet and delicious. Frozen berries are picked at the peak of ripeness, which means they pack the most flavor and nutrition. I love to stock up on these frozen gems (especially when they are on sale!) and toss them into my morning oatmeal, a quick smoothie, or even a sweet and savory quinoa side dish. In the mood for a sweet treat? Place a handful of berries in a sauce pan with a pinch of water and sugar. Cook over medium heat until bubbly, about 10 minutes. Now you have the perfect pancake, ice cream, or waffle topper.
Prepared soups tend to have the highest sodium content of any food. When cooking up your next batch of homemade soup, double the recipe and freeze half in small containers. When there is 6-inches of snow on the ground you will be happy you did! Throw together a quick salad to go with your soup, and voila! You have a warming, healthy dinner in less than 10 minutes.
3. Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
Chicken is one of the easiest things to freeze, and it holds up well to defrosting. This lean protein is über versatile and can be eaten any time of day. Simply trim and wash the chicken and wrap in a few layers of plastic wrap. Place into a dated (frozen meat is best eaten within 4 months) freezer bag and get freezin’. If you’re looking for an even quicker solution, grab the individually vacuum packed chicken and toss them right into the freezer. Defrost chicken in the refrigerator overnight and simply bake, broil, or stir fry. Top a salad with sliced chicken, layer between two slices of whole grain bread, or stuff with sautéed veggies for a meal that won’t disappoint.
4. Frozen Veggies
Similar to my love of frozen berries, my heart also belongs to frozen veggies. Open my freezer and you will always find a plethora of chilly produce. Frozen veggies make a great side dish right out of the microwave, but if you’re looking a flavorful meal try roasting a bag or two with a little olive oil. Toss with whole grain pasta, a few cloves of sautéed minced garlic, and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. Mangia Italiano!
5. Unconventional Ice Cubes
Use your ice cube trays for a little something out of the ordinary this winter. Ever need just a smidgen of chicken stock or marinara for a recipe and don’t want to open a whole container? Each time you’re cooking with these ingredients take a little and fill up a cube in your ice cube tray. Once frozen, remove the frozen cubes and place into a freezer bag to maintain freshness. The possibilities are endless…pesto, coffee, or fresh squeezed juice to name a few. These frozen tidbits can add some real pizazz to any meal. Try a touch of pesto or marinara in your next batch of brown rice, or add a splash of coffee to your taco meat for a java kick.
TELL ME: What’s in your winter freezer?