Frozen food gets a bad reputation. Granted, 80% of foods sold in the inner tundra of the supermarket are not something I’d recommend. However, somewhere in there, lies frozen fruits and vegetables. Behold the secret holy grail to inexpensive, long-lasting, easy-to-prep, nutrient-dense goodness.
The top reasons people tell me they can’t eat adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables are as follows. 1) They’re expensive 2) They go bad quickly 3) There are no choices in winter 4) They don’t like fruits/vegetables. Frozen fruits and veggies offer very real solutions to most of those issues (not liking fruits and vegetables is a topic for another time…). Here’s why you should embrace frozen produce!
High in nutrients
Frozen fruit/veggies are just as nutrient-dense as fresh fruits/veggies. In fact, they often contain even higher levels of nutrients. Here’s why. Nutrient levels diminish over time. Those “fresh” fruits/veggies can be a week old by the time they reach the grocery store. Produce is picked, sorted, cleaned, and driven/flown hundreds of miles to get to the grocery store. In all that time, nutrients are degrading. Frozen produce, on the other hand, is flash frozen on the field. As in, very shortly after being plucked from the plant. Nutrients are sealed right into these little frozen gems!
I bought 1 pounds of organic frozen blueberries at Whole Foods for $2.99. Even when blueberries are in season, organic blueberries would be at least $4.99/lb and even more when out of season. That brings us to my next point…
Can eat “out of season”
Berries, peaches, and mango are all delicious treats in the summer months but not so much in the winter months (at least in Boston). If you can even find these sensational summer fruits, they will be expensive and tasteless. Frozen produce allows you to enjoy nutrient-rich fruits from every season, all year-long.
As said by some nutrition savvy person, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. So true. The biggest way to improve your eating is to be prepared with healthy foods. Frozen fruits/veggies last practically forever, making meal prep a cinch.
There are some caveats with frozen produce. Certainly, frozen varieties can’t be used, or eaten straight, as you would fresh produce. I’ve learned through trial-and-error why types of fruit and vegetables work well as a frozen product.
What Works Well:
- Berries-delicious eaten frozen, blended into smoothies, or cooked into oatmeal/muffins/breads. I even will defrost slightly and eat in yogurt.
- Mango/Pineapple-frozen mango is one of my favorite cold treats, but you can also blend these tropical fruits into smoothies, drinks (that may or may not contain alcohol), or cook into oatmeal. Frozen mango can also be blended into a “soft serve” like frozen bananas can!
- Winter Squash-The texture of squash undoubtedly changes after freezing, however, it makes a great side dish when mashed! You can buy cubed butternut squash, that is easy to microwave and mash with a splash of coconut milk and cayenne pepper for a sweet/spicy mix.
- Green Beans-They hold their texture well but jazz them up. I like sautéing frozen green beans with some garlic & chopped tomatoes (something else you can freeze) for a bright, fresh vegetable option.
- Broccoli/Cauliflower-These varieties steam quickly and get a delicious pick-me-up with a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes.
- Beans-Fully cooked, frozen beans are less expensive and healthier than canned beans, and less time-consuming than dried beans. Throw frozen beans into a soup, defrost and mash for a sandwich filling, or throw on a salad. Peas and edamame are also excellent frozen.
- Other produce to try: grapes, peaches, corn, peppers, onions, and spinach/kale for soups.
What Doesn’t Work so Well:
- Brussels Sprouts-mushy. Although they taste fine, 99% of the enjoyment of Brussels sprouts is having that crunch!
- Potatoes-I don’t put potatoes in soup specifically because I freeze soup and potatoes get a weird, airy-mushy texture. Learned that the hard way. Bleck.
- Apples-Unless you make applesauce, sliced apples get super mealy. Enjoy these fresh off the tree in the Fall.
- High water fruits/veggies-Unsurprisingly, these types of produce freeze throughout and defrost into a bizarre, gel-like texture. Don’t try to freeze or buy frozen cucumbers, celery, watermelon/any melon, citrus fruit, or zucchini/summer squash.
You’ll notice the “what works” list is longer than the “what won’t work” list. So try stocking some frozen fruits and vegetables so you always have a healthy, fast, and super easy way to increase produce in your daily diet.
Happy Monday 🙂 Hope you have a good start to your week!