Insider’s Viewpoint: Frozen Fruits & Vegetables: How Fresh Stays Fresh
There is nothing better than eating a vegetable fresh from the garden or a fruit right off the tree. These delicious morsels are perfectly ripe, bursting with flavor, and at peak nutrition. However, depending on where you live, growing and harvesting your own food is not often doable. Throw in our busy schedules and we are lucky to get any food on the table! That broccoli in the bottom fridge door starts to wilt and before we know it, we’re looking at slimy spring mix and brown cauliflower. Not only does this mean food waste, but most less-than-fresh vegetables have a decreased nutrient value, compared with their straight-off-the-vine counterparts.
Enter frozen food.
4 Facts about Frozen Fruits & Veggies
- Frozen fruits and veggies are nutritious. Frozen fruits and vegetables are usually frozen within 24 hours of harvest. Once frozen, their nutrition content is stable for several months, unlike fresh produce which continues to lose various vitamins (especially vitamin C and the B vitamins) over time. For this reason, frozen food is more nutritious than you might think.
- Frozen fruits and vegetables are convenient. On those busy days, coming home to a few staples in the freezer can be the difference between cooking a nutritious meal and calling for pizza. Stock up every couple of months.
- Frozen fruits and vegetables have labels. I encourage you to read them! Freezing food keeps it nutritious longer, but take a look at the nutrition facts label to make sure you’re not getting more than you thought. A little seasoning is okay, but avoid products that have excessive added sodium, sugar, or saturated fat. Choosing products that are 100% fruit or vegetable with no added ingredients is the safest bet.
- Frozen fruits and vegetables are fun! You can do more than steam them in the microwave (though that works too). Here are some of my current favorites:
- Brown-bag lunch. Add frozen berries to a small container of ricotta cheese in the morning. By lunch, they should be ready to eat.
- Enjoy fruit all year round. Pomegranates are not in season in the US right now, but you can find pomegranate arils in the frozen section! Bonus: In addition to their high antioxidant content, ¾ cup provides 5 grams of fiber!
- Let someone else do the chopping. Grab some frozen chopped onions to save a few minutes … and tears this evening.
- Don’t forget herbs. Chopped or crushed basil, garlic, and other herbs are handy to have in the freezer. You can pop them out a teaspoon at a time. No cutting board required!
- Step out of your box. Corn, peas, and carrots are great, but there’s more! Broccoli rabe, chopped kale, figs, and okra are commonly available. What new-to-you frozen vegetable or fruit can you find?
- Add in some lentils and beans. Some companies are now making blends of veggies, whole grains, and beans or lentils. What a great way to start a meal!
Laura Holtrop Kohl MS, RD
City Creek Harmons