Before I met my boyfriend two years ago, I was a single gal always on the move and definitely did not have time for Food Prep Sundays. I still cooked for myself, but maybe only 3 or 4 times per week. The rest of the time was eating a bowl of cereal or going out with friends for dinner. Oy to think of all the money I spent on those dinners and drinks! Breakfasts were either from Starbucks or a frozen Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwich, and lunches were almost ALWAYS from the frozen food aisle and had the words, “Healthy Choice” or “Lean Cuisine” on the box it came from. I thought I was eating healthy because these items would say “healthy” or “Light” or “Fat-Free” or “Low Calorie”… you get the picture. Plus I was skinny at the time, so I had to be eating well, right?!
At that time, I honestly didn’t care about what chemicals I was putting into my body as long as I stayed skinny. Now, it’s such a different story. I realize I feel better when I eat clean. I’m not bloated at night anymore, I have more energy, my skin looks better (I think that also has to do with drinking more water) and I hardly ever get sick (I don’t remember the last time I had a cold!). I still splurge every now and again, but when I do it’s at a really good restaurant where I enjoy my meal or the occasional slice of pizza because Jeff is obsessed with pizza. In fact my niece’s nickname for him is Pizza and he calls her Anchovy. It’s really cute!
The only thing I do miss about the frozen meals are the easiness of them. Otherwise, I don’t miss them at all. In fact, when I think about it, they never really tasted that great either! One of the ones I did eat more often was Lean Cuisine’s Salad Additions. I thought it was great. I could choose whatever lettuce I wanted and I had everything I needed for the rest of the salad in this tiny box. Now though, when I think of the amount of sugar and all those ingredients I couldn’t pronounce, it sends shivers down my spine!
Jeff and I were reminiscing about the things we used to do before we met each other, when eating pre-packaged frozen foods came up. We were both in shock that we did and were happy that we no longer eating that crap. While talking, I came up with the brilliant idea that I should re-create some of the frozen meals that would be Paleo or at least Gluten Free. Ok, I may not be the first to do this, so it may not really be “brilliant”, but it’s unique to me.
I was shocked to see that Lean Cuisine no longer carries the salad creations, but good ol’ Pinterest did have pics of them all over the place, so I was able to get the gist of the main ingredients. I did replace their “blend of whole grains” with quinoa, instead of just the yellow carrots I used rainbow carrots to get more color, and I of course made my own dressing that has only 3 ingredients instead of the 13 that were in Lean Cuisine’s. I also used unsweetened dried cranberries so the sugar amount would be lower for the topping.
I realize now that making my own salad was a heck of a lot tastier and just as easy as buying it pre-frozen!
- 1/4 cup organic quinoa, cooked (omit if 100% Paleo)
- 4 oz chicken breast, cooked and cubed or shredded
- 1/2 cup organic broccoli florets, steamed or raw
- 1 cup organic mixed greens
- 1/2 cup organic rainbow carrots, peeled and spiralized
- 1/8 cup red onion, sliced
- 1/4 cup whole grain sesame sticks (omit if Paleo or Gluten Free)
- 1/4 cup unsweetened, dried cranberries
- 2 TB raspberry vinaigrette
- 1 TB raspberry vinegar
- 1 TB extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp honey
- Toss first 6 ingredients together with the raspberry vinaigrette. Garnish with the sesame sticks and dried cranberries. Voila, it’s done!
*If you are Paleo then you should omit the quinoa and sesame sticks. If you’re gluten free then omit the sesame sticks.
**If you follow the 21 Day Fix or PiYo meal plan, this would be equivalent to 2 Vegetables (green container), 1 protein (red container), 1 carb (yellow container), and one fruit (purple container).