Recipes

Why Frozen Vegetables Are a Freezer Essential

Confession: I used turn my nose up to frozen vegetables. Growing up in California, I was spoiled in California with a lot of local produce. Anything frozen was considered inferior to the rest, both in nutrition and taste. 

I’ve since been schooled and frozen vegetables now make a regular appearance in my cooking. I still prefer fresh-from-the-farmstand corn in the peak of summer, but I also consider frozen corn (and a whole lot of other vegetables) to be freezer essentials. 

Whether frozen vegetables are new to you or you’ve been enjoying them all your life, they are an excellent option for doing what we all need to be doing: eating more vegetables!

We must eat more vegetables 

There’s no denying the fact that few of us get enough vegetables in our diet. USDA Dietary GuidelinesAdults should consume between 2 and 4 cups per day, depending on their age and calorie requirements. 

Only one in 10 are doing that, explains Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, MS, RDN, President & CEO of the Produce for Better Health FoundationHe also cites research that shows people who include all vegetables, fresh or frozen, tend to eat more vegetables. It is easy to sneak in more veggies by freezing them. 

Frozen Vegetables Are Nutrient-Rich

Fresh produce is the gold standard in nutrition, but frozen vegetables are quite good. Reinhardt Kapsak says that vegetables are often flash-frozen within hours after harvesting. This locks in key nutrients. Some nutrients can be lost during processing. studiesShow that the loss is minimal. 

Fresh vegetables can also suffer from the same fate, especially if they are shipped far from their farms to reach their markets. These are the results of studies at the Universities of GeorgiaUC Davis and UC Davis have shown that frozen vegetables are as nutritious as they claim to be. vitaminAs well as minerals, fiber, and phenolContent 

Sometimes Frozen Vegetables Are Even Better Than Fresh!

You might be surprised to know that frozen vegetables can have more nutrients than fresh. According to a study by UC DavisFrozen corn, green beans and blueberries had significantly higher vitamin C levels than fresh.

This is echoed by Reinhardt Kapsak who says, “Over the course of time, living plants experience natural nutrient loss after being removed from their tree, vine, or soil. Vitamin content, including vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, folate, riboflavin; mineral content, including calcium, magnesium, zinc, copper and iron; fiber and health-promoting plant compounds called phenols, have been observed in higher amounts in some commonly consumed frozen fruits and vegetables compared to fresh-stored options.”  

Other upsides

Frozen vegetables have many other benefits beyond their nutritional benefits. 

They’re convenient. It’s hard to argue with the convenience of frozen vegetables. Everything is ready to use when it’s time to cook. 

They’re affordable. Is convenience always a cost?  But not according to an analysisMichigan State University discovered that frozen tends be more affordable than fresh.

They are durable and can be stored for a long time.. Frozen has the advantage of being long-lasting. A head of fresh spinach may last a week if you’re lucky. Frozen? It can be frozen for up to a year. This likely means that there is less food waste. 

They’re readily available. You can buy frozen vegetables all year round. The frozen food case is perfect for making corn chowder in January. In addition, frozen vegetables can be a reliable option for communities that don’t have quality produce at their local market. 

How to Cook Frozen Vegetables 

There are many ways to cook frozen vegetables, but there are some that work better than others. Here are some tips.

Roast. For freezing vegetables, roasting is a great method. It’s important to transfer frozen vegetables from the freezer to the oven and then turn up heat. Registered chef and dietitian Abbie GellmanIt is recommended to toss your broccoli, carrots, and other vegetables with olive oil and salt and then roast them in a single layer on parchment paper at 425 degrees until they are golden brown. 

Sauté. Sautéing has a similar upside to roasting: vegetables can be cooked in a bit of oil and seasoned with salt, pepper, herbs and spices. Try, for example, sautéing mixed frozen vegetables in olive oil, then add cooked pasta and your favorite jarred sauce for a simple supper. 

Steam. Steaming preserves color and flavor and helps to make side dishes. It’s a method I use to make easy veggie quesadillas. You can steam any frozen vegetables you like on the stovetop or in the microwave. Then add them to a tortilla and top it with salsa and melted cheddar cheese. 

Boil. Boiling is usually considered one of the LessThe best cooking methods for frozen vegetables. That’s because key nutrients can leach into the cooking water, and boiled vegetables can easily go soggy. This exception is when the vegetables are boiled and then added to a soup or stew. To enhance the flavor and veggies in my homemade chili, I add frozen butternut squash. 

Raw. Some frozen vegetables are very tasty and can be used immediately without any cooking, including corn and peas. You can thaw them and add them to salads or other no-cook dishes. Other vegetables such as spinach and frozen cauliflower can be blended into smoothies with no need for defrosting. 

So next time you’re at the market, take a stroll down the frozen food aisle. You might be tempted by frozen artichokes, frozen peas, or frozen spinach to make a breakfast smoothie. It’s all good. It’s all good for you. Keep eating your vegetables. 

Source: Simple Recipes

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