I work for a grocery store chain and part of my job includes taking customers on tours through the aisles to show them how to make healthy choices. So often, they’ll say, “well there’s nothing but chicken tenders and ice cream in the frozen foods section”. But they’re forgetting about the magical convenience of flavor-packed and cost-effective frozen fruits and vegetables! If you were to peek in the freezer of any dietitian, I guarantee you’d find a few frozen fruits and vegetables that they always keep stocked.
Frozen fruits and vegetables are picked at the peak of season and flash-frozen to preserve nutrient content in a convenient package. Anything can be in season when frozen! Strawberries, for example, aren’t in season for most of us in the fall, but it doesn’t matter when frozen fruit is available! Fresh fruits and vegetables can lose some nutrition through storage and transit time, but that’s not an issue for frozen. One study showed that the vitamin content of frozen foods is comparable to and occasionally higher than that of their fresh counterparts.
Stock up on these frozen stars to amp up the nutrition of your weeknight meals year-round:
If a recipe requires cooking spinach, I always reach for frozen. Fresh spinach releases so much water when cooked. Just thaw and drain frozen spinach to add to dishes like quiche, yogurt dip, or blended into smoothies.
These are a house favorite! Frozen peas, like many frozen vegetables, are quickly blanched before freezing to maintain nutrition, structure, and color. This process also makes for an incredibly quick-cooking vegetable! Add frozen peas to pasta, salads, and tuna salad for a protein boost.
Peeling, deseeding, and cutting squash is quite a chore. When I’m roasting butternut squash or adding it to soup, frozen does the trick!
A steamable bag of edamame can be added to stir fry or rice, but it also makes for a really quick and simple snack. Edamame is a great source of protein and carbs, and a popular snack for kids!
Tossed in a smoothie, pancakes, or oatmeal, an addition of berries adds a boost of nutrition and flavor.
100% fruit juice, whether fresh or reconstituted frozen, is a great base for homemade popsicles. Stay cool this summer by making your own!
You can even freeze your own! If you over-purchased an abundance of in-season produce this summer, enjoy that summer flavor all year by freezing it! Freeze chopped broccoli or peppers to use in a stir fry and stock up on berries when they’re in season for year-round smoothies. Be sure to freeze small pieces on a cookie sheet first, to prevent clumping, and transfer to freezer bags.