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How to have a healthy frozen meal

McClatchy-Tribune Newspapers

Frozen dinners are convenient, but many also are high in fat, calories and salt. Here's advice from dietitians on making the meals as nutritious as possible.

Read labels. Aim for entrees with fewer than 400 calories and no more than 30 percent of those calories from fat. Keep saturated fat at less than 6 grams — less than 4 if possible — and sodium under 600 milligrams. Other good numbers: at least 3 to 5 grams of fiber, 7 or more grams of protein and less than 15 grams of total sugars.

Check the ingredients. You want meals with lots of vegetables, lean grilled meats and whole grains such as brown rice. Avoid heavy cream sauces and lots of cheese.

Watch portion sizes. A package marketed as a single meal might contain several servings.

Supplement. Add vitamins, protein and calcium to your meal by pairing a frozen dinner with a small salad, fruit cup, low-fat yogurt with berries or a glass of low-fat milk. The extra food also will satisfy your appetite, especially if your entree is less than 300 calories.

Go light on added sauces. If a meal comes with a separate packet of seasoning, use less of it to slice sodium content (and often fat and calories, too).

Don't be fooled. A package marked with words such as "healthy," "natural" or "organic" isn't necessarily good for you.

Be aware. Generally, potpies with crust and pizzas with extra cheese or stuffed crust tend to be diet busters. On the flip side, entrees from Lean Cuisine, Smart Ones or Healthy Choice often are your smartest options — although you still need to check labels.

How to have a healthy frozen meal 10/08/10 [Last modified: Friday, October 8, 2010 5:30am]

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