Are Frozen Vegetables Healthy?
Making food taste better is one of our goals and it’s a key component to eating healthier. If it doesn’t taste good it doesn’t matter how healthy it is – you’re not going to want to eat it.
Do you find yourself struggling to get enough fruits and vegetables into your daily meal planning? Well you’re not alone. The USDA recommends that we consume between 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables each day (a minimum of 5 servings combined) but according to a recent CDC report more than 66% of adult Americans eat fewer than 2 servings of fruit a day and more than 75% consume less than 3 servings of vegetable. And of course our kids are even worse off with fewer than 10% getting the minimum 5 servings a day!
If you’re a hard core “Locavore” who believes in consuming food that is locally produced then you stand a better chance of getting your daily recommended amount of fruits and vegetables – at least for part of the year! But what about everyone else?
I’ve found that it is important not to overlook the ease and convenience of frozen fruits and vegetables as a key part of my daily food planning. Certainly if I can get fresh fruits and vegetables in season that is my number one preference but for the rest of the year I look to add frozen vegetables in at least some of my daily meals. Think about it this way. Would you rather consume an off-season fruit and vegetable or look at the frozen option? Off season vegetables and fruits are picked before they fully ripen so that they can be shipped to the various distribution centers before they even make it into your local supermarket. Fruits and vegetables that are selected for freezing are typically processed when they are at peak ripeness. This makes them nutrient dense. Frozen is also better than off season from a cost standpoint as off season fruits and vegetables tend to be much more expensive than either in season or frozen fruits and vegetables.
But what about canned fruits and vegetables you say? In some cases I’m fine with using canned (especially 100% pure pumpkin and occasionally tomatoes) but as a rule I tend to avoid these. In the case of canned fruits they usually have added sugar and for canned vegetables additional sodium.
What’s the Best Way to Prepare Frozen Vegetables?
To avoid overcooking don’t boil your vegetables- steam them instead. Use a steamer basket, an adjustable basket that fits in just about any pot, fill the bottom of the pot with about one inch and water and cook until the vegetables are warm and tender. You can also microwave your vegetables. It’s fast and it minimizes the loss of the water-soluble vitamins. I know some have very strong opinions on the use of microwaves. If you’re not a fan of microwaves that’s cool – don’t use it.
Stretch Your Dollars Further
Choose basic frozen vegetables and avoid those with added sauces as the basics tend to be less expensive. And of course keep your eye open for sales and you’ll get an even bigger bang for your buck. Frozen fruits and vegetables maintain their flavor for about 8-12 months.
Don’t Forget to Season
Just like fresh vegetables, your frozen veggies need some good seasoning to maximize their flavor as being loaded with nutrients just isn’t enough if they taste bland. Here are some ideas on which spices or combinations of spices go best with which vegetables.
The 8 Healthiest Cuisines in the World
8 Spices to Help You Lose Weight
Healthy Rice Choices
Living the Mediterranean Diet