If you’ve ever avoided the frozen food aisle in the grocery store because you thought it was unhealthy, then you’ll love this guest post by cookbook author, Bindu Grandhi! She came across some very good news for us from the renowned Dr. Oz…
When it comes to fruits and vegetables my mantra has always been “fresh is best and frozen is next,” meaning that if you can’t find fresh peas or carrots for example, get frozen. So I was pleasantly surprised when Dr. Mehmet Oz said “nutritionally speaking, there is little difference between the farmer’s market bounty and the humble brick from the freezer case.”¹
This is really good news for the health of our nation because many people cite the cost and availability of healthy foods as the main reason for an unhealthy diet. A majority of Americans eat less than the daily recommended intake of fruits and vegetables (which by the way is 9 servings). I guess if there is a choice between eating frozen vegetables or no vegetables – I’d root for the frozen veggies!
Frozen foods are cheaper and available in every supermarket. Over the years, food manufacturers have tweaked the freezing process to preserve more of the vitamins and freshness. Before freezing, fruits and vegetables tend to be processed at their peak ripeness or most nutrient-packed.
Some fruits and vegetables are peeled or blanched before freezing, but the blanching process can increase the fibrous content of food by concentrating it, a positive for human digestion. The water soluble items like C and certain B’s can degrade somewhat during blanching but not when vegetables are steamed. However, steaming takes a longer time which is why many manufacturers don’t do it.
So when you’re shopping for brands take a look at the package to see how it was prepared. For the most part, the freezing process does not affect other vitamins and nutrients including carotenoids, thiamin and riboflavin. Choosing frozen means you won’t be shortchanged nutritionally according to Dr. Oz.
Here’s my take, in the winter months fresh produce is sometimes limited or expensive in much of the country, so turning to frozen makes sense. Not to mention, during Hurricane Sandy I stocked up on frozen vegetables (we used a cooler filled with ice) and canned goods. Fortunately we have a gas stove so I was able to cook dinner even though we had no power for 8 days!
There are certain vegetables that taste good frozen and ones that I pass on, like carrots. Here’s a list of the ones I like:
- Green beans
- French Style Cut beans
- Mixed Vegetables
- Lima Beans
A few tips when selecting frozen fruits and vegetables:
- Select brands that have low sodium or no salt (otherwise the salt content can be excessive)
- Eat them before the expiration (nutrients in frozen vegetables do eventually degrade over many months)
- Steam, sauté or microwave rather than boil to minimize the loss of water-soluble vitamins
¹Source: Time Magazine, “What to Eat Now – The Anti-Food-Snob Diet” by Dr. Mehmet Oz, p. 40, December 3, 2012
Check out the recipe below which uses frozen mixed vegetables with a medley of spices. I used it during Hurricane Sandy.
Sautéed Mixed Vegetables
Pressed for time? A variety of spices pep-up this easy-to-prepare and healthful dish loaded with veggies. Serve with rice or Indian bread.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
- 3 Tbsp. extra light olive oil
- 1/2 tsp. mustard seeds (optional)
- 1 (32 oz.) frozen packet of mixed vegetables, thawed
- 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp. ground turmeric
- 1/8 tsp. red chili powder (more if you like it hot!)
- 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
- 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1/16 tsp. ginger powder
- pinch of ground cardamom
- salt to taste
1-2 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
- In a nonstick skillet on medium-low heat, add oil and mustard seeds, and cover. When the mustard seeds stop sputtering, reduce heat to low, remove cover, and add the mixed vegetables. (Be careful to keep your face a safe distance, as the oil can spatter.) Cover and cook vegetables on a medium flame for 5 minutes.
- Add all the spices except for the salt, cover and cook for 5 more minutes or until the vegetables are done. Remove from heat and salt to taste and garnish with fresh cilantro.
- Serve with rice or Indian bread.
About the Author
Author of Spice Up Your Life, Bindu Grandhi is passionate about healthy and flavourful cooking, especially when it’s flexitarian. She shares her health knowledge with the world by providing practical, healthy and tasty recipes as The Flex Cook.
If you like Bindu’s work, she isn’t the only author in her family… her husband and father just co-authored a book about conquering stress, “The Turning Point.” Check out this image for 5 things you didn’t know about stress: