Why Your Freezer Is Your Best Weight-Loss Tool
Open most people's freezers and you're likely to see a pint of ice cream and some TV dinners. While these foods may be freezer staples, they're not helping you on your quest to lose weight. However, when used right, the freezer is the perfect weight-loss tool; here's how.
It's a cinch to DIY your own freezer bags of cooked grains, and because you're in charge, you decide what types of grains and how much — you can even mix them such as quinoa with rice. Freeze them in half- or one-cup servings and add frozen grains to hot soups, or warm them up in the microwave to add them to salads or stir-fries.
No more wilted, slimy greens going to waste! Buy greens in bulk and freeze them as they are or pureed in ice cube trays for soups, stir-fries, or smoothies. Any type of greens will freeze well, so go for spinach, kale, chard, beet greens, arugula, or a combination.
Puree a can of beans, freeze the puree, and use these magical frozen bean cubes in anything you can think of. Add one to your bowl of oatmeal, throw a few in the blender when whipping up your kale smoothie, or mix them into pasta sauce, soups, or cooked whole grains. Each cube offers protein and fiber to keep you feeling full and energized longer, and won't affect the taste of the dish.
Instead of adding plain ice cubes to your smoothies, use almond milk ice cubes to add some extra calcium and creaminess to make your smoothie feel more decadent. This is also a great hack if you're unable to finish a carton and don't want it to go to waste.
This little freezer hack turns steel-cut oats into quick oats, so in less than five minutes, you can sit down to a creamy, satisfying breakfast that'll keep you full all morning long.
If your farmers market or chicken coop (or neighbor's coop) is bursting with fresh eggs, and you can't possibly eat them all before they go bad, you can freeze them! They last three to five weeks in the fridge, but they can keep in the freezer for up to six months. This recipe is for freezing egg whites and yolks together, so you can quickly grab a few and warm them up in the morning for a high-protein breakfast. You'll never run out of eggs!
Whether you're into black, kidney, or pinto beans, these little gems are packed with low-fat protein, so they're a great alternative to meat or dairy products. Their high fiber content is also extremely filling, and a full belly will prevent overeating.
If you're freaked about the BPA found in the lining of most canned beans, a safe (and cheaper) alternative is to soak and boil dried beans. Since presoaked beans won't last long in the fridge, ensure you always have beans for dinner by soaking a big batch one night. In the morning, drain and thoroughly rinse the beans. Measure out two-cup serving sizes of presoaked beans and store them in glass containers. Or if you prefer using bags, place the beans on a cookie sheet in the freezer, and after an hour, transfer the beans to freezer bags.
When you're ready to make dinner, grab the beans and boil them in water for 45 to 60 minutes and they're ready to go.
Instead of buying fruit-flavored yogurt, which can contain extra calories from added sugar, buy plain yogurt and flavor it yourself. Puree a batch of fresh or frozen fruit in the food processor or blender, and pour spoonfuls into baby food containers or ice cube trays. You can save room in your freezer by popping frozen fruit puree cubes into a freezer bag. Then when it's time to eat, just take out a cube or two and stir it into your bowl of plain yogurt.
Freeze pureed veggies such as peas, spinach, sweet potato, squash, and carrot to add extra fiber to soups, baked goods like these oatmeal cookies, mashed potatoes, dips, smoothies, cooked whole grains, pancake batter, and pasta dishes, or use as a sandwich spread. Eating fiber fills you up so you eat less and it also keeps you feeling full longer so you're not tempted to reach for high-calorie pick-me-ups. Here's a how-to guide for preparing and storing vegetable purees.
Instead of opening the fridge just to have a pint of high-calorie ice cream staring back at you, stock your freezer with healthier frozen treats. Frozen fruit bars are a great option, but you can also freeze your own desserts such as these 30-calorie ice cream cupcakes or frozen nutty banana nibblers.
Smoothies may be a quick breakfast to slurp down, but they certainly can take a great deal of prep, especially if you use fruit you need to peel like mangoes, oranges, or kiwis. Prepping ahead of time means you can whip up a smoothie in just a few minutes.
Wash, peel, and dice fruit and store the smoothie ingredients you'd use for one smoothie in bags in the freezer. My favorite is one sliced banana, one cup of blueberries (can use frozen), six sliced strawberries, half a cup of sliced mango, and a big handful of spinach. Cutting the fruit in small chunks is recommended to ensure they puree well.
Pour the frozen fruit in your blender or food processor and add yogurt, milk, peanut butter, or whatever other ingredients you choose, and a little water, and your smoothie will be ready in no time.
Herbs and Greens
Flavoring your dishes with herbs is a healthy way to add flavor without a ton of calories. Growing your own or buying big bunches of herbs can save money, but not if you only use a small amount and end up throwing out the rest because they go bad before you have a chance to use them. Freeze leftovers in ice cube trays and add water or veggie broth. This also works well for greens you can add to smoothies, soups, and sauces.
Homemade pizza tends to be much healthier than a pie you'd have delivered from the local pizzeria because you can use whole-wheat crust, not a ton of cheese, and lots of fresh veggies.
Either keep premade whole-wheat pizza crusts in the freezer, or you can buy dough (or make your own) and store wrapped balls of dough in the freezer. You just need to remember to thaw it in the fridge a few hours before dinner so it's ready to roll.
Homemade Cookie Dough
Anyone who's ever baked a homemade batch of cookies knows it's impossible to eat just one. So the next time you craft a batch, bake half and scoop the rest into ice cube trays. Then when your sweet tooth kicks in, pop out one and bake it to satisfy your craving without breaking the calorie bank.
The next time you bake an enormous spinach lasagna, gluten-free pasta bake, kale casserole, or big batch of bean soup, instead of storing leftovers in the fridge, where they often go bad, save them in the freezer. Divvy up appropriate portion sizes into reusable containers, so the next time you need a quick, healthy meal, it's ready to go.
If you remember in the morning, you can transfer the containers to the fridge and allow them to thaw all day, or if they're in glass containers, just pop them in the microwave. It sure beats ordering high-calorie takeout!
Whether you enjoy a smoothie for breakfast or blend one up for a high-protein post-workout snack, here's a simple (and tasty) way to add more essential electrolytes to your glass. Instead of adding plain ice cubes to the blender, throw in frozen cubes made of coconut water. It also adds a natural sweetness to satiate sugar cravings.