Healthiest Frozen Foods

By Julie Sews - 6:38:00 PM

Yep this about says it all!       image via
For the last few years I have been making most of our food from scratch. Lately I've been much busier working on making fashion accessories for my store Ornute and remodelling our house, so I'm trying to spend less time cooking but still eat healthy.
At first still eating a healthy diet with cooking less was a challenge but I've been finding a lot of good ideals of course I want to share, so this will be the first in my new series of Quick Healthy Meals. In this post we will look at Healthy Frozen Food Options. 

Frozen food has come a long way!
Frozen food is the king of convenience, but is also the king of processed food.  And therefore, it's usually loaded with sodium, preservatives, calories, and GMOs.  Not to mention pesticides, high fructose corn syrup, Artificial colors and flavours, MSG (which goes by like a dozen other names) and animals given antibiotics and hormones.  I could go on but I think you get the drift.

So what is healthy?  To me healthy means good quality organic ingredients (GMO and pesticide free) with out the artificial flavours, colours, and preservatives.  If it's low in calories too that's great, but I'll take quality ingredients over low fat and calories any day. 

Healthiest Frozen Foods

1. Artisan Bistro
Considering how bad frozen food can be I never thought there could be any really truly high quality frozen foods, until I found out about Artisan Bistro's meals.   I was so excited when they sent me some meals to try out (I was not however paid in any way for this review). Most of the ingredients they use is organic (they say specifically what is and what is not on the package) and the meat is antibiotic, hormone free.  There beef is grass fed which I have never seen with any frozen meals (if you have let me know), and sea food is wild caught (not farm raised).  And of course there meals also don't have preservatives, and unnatural flavours and colours.  Below are the meals I tried.   

This grass-fed beef with mushroom sauce meal is paired with organic veggies and rice for a total of 350 calories, 13g of fat, 580mg of sodium, and a whopping 23g of protein.

I cooked mine in the oven as directed and the rice was super mushy, and the mushroom sauce lacked flavour, but considering the super high quality of ingredients (gluten free, grass fed beef, organic veggies) and high protein I would still buy this for lunch if I worked outside of the home.

Roasted Poblano Chicken Serves 2 

This roasted free range chicken, in a fire-roasted poblano pepper sauce tossed with red bell peppers, green beans, corn, black beans and brown rice has per serving: 260 calories 5 g fat 490mg sodium 6 g fiber 21g protein

Artisan Bistro has approached the problem of cooking two servings of a complete meal in a thoughtful way: the protein and starch portion of the meal is packaged in one tray, while the vegetables are packaged in a second tray. I cooked mine in the oven as directed.

The chicken (free range antibotic free) chunks are flavorful and juicy. Again I found the brown rice and black beans to be mussy and gummy, the poblano sauce much like the mushroom sauce lacks flavor.  The vegetables were just OK.

Wild Salmon With Pesto Sauce

Wild caught Alaskan salmon with basil pesto sauce with chickpea pilaf and zucchini and green beans for 310 calories 370 mg sodium 18 g fat 3 g fiber and 16 g protein.

This was my favourite so far.  Of course frozen fish is never as good as fresh, but comparative to other frozen salmon I've had this is good.  I only have wild caught salmon because farm raised is high in toxins fed synthetic dyes (versus having astaxanthin a super antioxidant from eating krill in the wild) and food no fish would ever eat in the wild, as well as just being healthier overall in fat and nutrients.  Salmon is really so good for you on a bunch of levels (omega 3's astaxanthin, heart healthy, great for your skin and brain, etc).  I was trying to eat it at least a few times a weak, but I admit I got out of the habit.  Perhaps If I have some frozen salmon meals in my freezer I'll be more likely too....

As for the rest of the meal, kind of the same as the rest.  The rice was mushy, veggies just OK, and the sauce lacked pizazz.  But the salmon was good considering it was frozen.  I would suggest adding a shot of lemon juice, pasture raised butter and a tiny pinch of sea salt (since it's fairly low in sodium for a frozen meal you can get a way with it and it) to the fish to help add some more intense flavour.  Since this was my fav and I am trying to eat more salmon I would indeed buy this again

The verdict: There seems to be a theme of sauces lacking in taste and mushy rice. I would suggest staying away from the rice dishes and maybe coming prepared with some flavour enhancers such as garlic powder, chilli or hot sauce, a pat of pasture raised butter.  Despite the lack of taste and texture in the meals I tried, I would still consider trying Artisan Bistro for lunch if you work outside of the home, considering the quality of ingredients.  I'm thinking It's likely to be cheaper (was $5 at my local coop) and better ingredients than eating out and I was full after eating the meals until dinner time.

Where Can You Find It?
I was surprised to find Artisan Bistro is really in just about every major grocery store in Minneapolis, not just the health food stores Even Cub Foods!  At my local co-op most meals were $5, which of course will very from store to store.  So chances is it is in a store nearby you.  You can check to see where it is in you area here.  And if you can't find it in a store near you or you don't want to go to the store, you can have it shipped to you on dry ice. 

2. Amy's
I'm new to the healthy frozen food market, since I've avoided almost all processed foods for the last 4 years.  I've basically only shop in the bulk section, dairy, veggies and fruit and meat, that's it.  So I haven't had a chance to try most healthy frozen food options.  But doing research on healthy frozen foods one name keeps coming up Amy's. Amys is all free of GMOs and artificial flavors colour and preservatives, vegetarian (no meat, eggs, poultry, or fish),
No meat, fish, poultry or eggs are used in any product. - See more at:
No meat, fish, poultry or eggs are used in any product. - See more at:
fruits, veggies, and grains are all organic, and their cheeses are rbst free and have no animal enzymes.

These look good!  And it has only 280 calories and 8g fiber!
They also are family owned, and support GMO labeling,so they are a company I feel good about supporting and a brand I want to try.  I plan to start trying some on my next grocery trips.  I first plan to try their Light and Lean line.  They have a bean and cheese burrito and an Italian veggie pizza that is calling my name....   I'll update when I do with a review.  Have you tried Amy's frozen food?  What do you think of it? 
Cheeses are made with pasteurized rBST hormone free milk and do not contain animal enzymes or rennet. - See more at:
Amy's Italian Veggie Pizza with only 280 calories 4 g fiber and 6 g of fat
3. Trader Joe's
 The little bit of frozen foods I've tried lately have been Trader Joe's out of sheer convenience.  Since I do most of my major shopping there.  In fact I buy so much I almost always have a clerk mention "Wow your really stocking up!" I've found it to be sooo much cheaper on most items than my other local food stores on most items, that I pretty much just shop there and then stop by my local smaller Mom and Pop grocery store in my neighbourhood, which is also why I haven't tried many other frozen food brands yet.
Trader Joe's is a good choice if you don't want to pay a lot but want a higher quality of frozen foods.  In terms of their store brand (but not other branded items in their store) they guarantee all Trader Joe store brand items to have no
artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, MSG or trans fats; they are sourced from non-genetically modified ingredients; and in the case of dairy products, are made from milk from cows not given the artificial hormone rBST.  While there is a part of me that worries that this guarantee is true, I figure it's at least better than buying conventional products since it at least has a chance of being of better quality.  When in doubt though stick with organic products at health food stores to ensure quality.  
Trader Joe's Family style Meat Lasagna

My favourite frozen meal at Trader Joe's is there meat lasagna.  It has layered sheets of pasta with a blend of Ricotta, Parmesan and Romano cheeses, a combination of beef and pork and a traditional, chunky tomato sauce, all topped with mozzarella cheese.   It seriously taste home made.  We tried their veggie lasagna and were not as impressed.  It had unexpected veggies in it like broccoli which I thought was weird, and did not taste any where as good as their meat lasagna.
At my store their family style meat lasagna is $6 for 2 lbs, which is plenty for my husband and I for dinner (with no salad or bread or anything else) and lunch for me the next day.   I usually cook it in the oven and add extra marinera sauce and low fat shredded mozzarella cheese (also from Trader Joe's).  I buy this ever time I go to Trader Joe's and save it for those, whoops I forgot to plan dinner days.  

This one is healthy in the sense it's free of GMO, rbst, artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, MSG or trans fats; but that's about it.  In terms of calories it depends on how you eat it, 1 cup 227g is 350 calories (which is a serving size of about 4 per container). So if you have a big healthy salad and stick to the 1 cup portion it's not so bad.  If your like my husband and I and split it, well then it's like 700 calories....
Trader Joe's Salmon Burgers Photo via Trader Joe's
 As I said before I was trying to eat a lot of wild salmon because it's just so good for you!  I was eating Salmon burgers from Trader Joe's 2-3 times a week and then occasionally eating fresh wild caught salmon from our local fish place. Why the was?  Well, I have a tendency to get obsessed with a dish and eat it so much I get tired of it and move on to my next obsession.  
These salmon burgers heat up fast on the stove stop.  I use a cast iron skillet or bake it in the oven.   I like to top it off with some lemon juice, and my handmade olive oil mayo mixed with dill.  I usually have it without a bun, with steamed broccoli, and my sweet and spicy sweet potatoes.
They're $6 a box at my local Trader Joe's and come 4 to a pack (3.2 oz patties) and are sealed two together, so they're great for a couple or a family of 4.  Not bad for a wild salmon meal for four!  And these are super healthy since they're wild caught and only 110 calories per patty, with 3.5 g of good fat, and 15 g of protein.  Can't beat that!

Grass fed angus beef burgers Trader Joe's image via Advocate Runner
 I always have these on hand in our freezer along with buns in the freezer.  These cook up fast and taste as good as any burger at your average restaurant, and unless your spending a lot at a restaurant it's not going to be grass fed hormone free.  Keep in mind I have pretty high standards since we have the glorious bacon burger at Pat's Tap in Minneapolis.  

You get 4 patties for $6, not bad for grass fed hormone free burgers. Each patty is 290 calories, has 23 g fat (but it's good fat for you), 19g protein.  I only use a half a bun (on the bottom) to cut down on grains, with pickles and sauce (what kind depends on my mood) then I top it off with 1/2 slice of low fat sliced cheese and bacon (I usually get Pastures Plenty (pasture raised pork) at Seward Co-op when I can, Trader Joe's uncured applewood smoked bacon ends is my back up at $3 for 12 oz). 
Do you shop at Trader Joe's? If so, what is your favorite thing they sell?  What's your favorite healthy frozen foods?

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