I’ve always been curious about frozen fruit/veggies vs. fresh fruit/veggies—especially since the frozen is generally less expensive than fresh. Now that we’re on this paleo kick, fruits and veggies are a main staple and the cost is adding up. So when the opportunity to team up with AFFI (American Frozen Food Institute) came up I was super pumped to learn more.
First off, I learned about this study:
The University of California, Davis, in partnership with the Frozen Food Foundation, conducted a study that revealed that frozen fruits and vegetables are most often (or generally) nutritionally equal to – and in some cases better than – their fresh counterparts. For the study each fruit and vegetable was analyzed under the following conditions: frozen (analyzed within 24 hours of harvest and after 10 and 90 days of storage in a freezer) and fresh-stored (analyzed within 24 hours of harvest and after three and 10 days of storage in a refrigerator). The study analyzed vitamins B2 (riboflavin), C and E, and B-carotene (a precursor to vitamin A); the minerals calcium, magnesium, zinc, copper and iron; dietary fiber; and total phenolics (health-promoting plant compounds).*
Just as much nutrients? Less expensive? Count me in! It seems that freezing fruits and veggies is nature’s “pause button” and is a convenient way to get out of season produce as well as cut costs. Not to mention that it also cuts out a lot of the meal prep work as they come pre-sliced (see recipe below).
Some facts that I learned:
- Nearly 80% of Americans fail to consume the recommended amounts of fruit and 90% fail to meet dietary recommendations for vegetables (check out this calculator to see if you get enough!)
- Fruits and veggies are major contributors of essential nutrients in our diets, so consuming fruits and veggies is associated with reduced risk of many chronic diseases (see Washington Post’s article on 41 powerhouse veggies associated with preventing chronic disease
- Given the increase in the rates of chronic diseases among ALL age groups, packing tons of fruits and veggies into our diet is more important than ever!
- Even though it’s fruits and veggies, it’s still important to check the ingredients! Anything that comes “in sauce” is a no-go for clean/paleo, and check for added sugar or syrup. There are still a zillion options.
- 1 bag frozen cauliflower ($2)
- 1 bag frozen stir fry veggies (I used the one pictured below) ($2)
- 1 lb chicken breast, cubed ($4)
- 1 TBS Organic Tamari Soy Sauce
- Sea salt
- Black pepper
- 2 TBS olive oil
Run warm water over the cauliflower until the cauliflower is just soft enough to chop up. Chop it into tiny pieces. Put the pieces in a frying pan with 1 teaspoon olive oil and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the “rice” is browned.
Pour the bag of frozen veggies (still frozen! Not thawed!) into the pan with the chicken. Add soy sauce. Stir together and cook until the vegetables are cooked all the way through.
Scoop some rice on the plate, top with chicken and veggie stir fry, enjoy!
I also make my cauliflower mashed “potatoes” frozen cauli, as well as the cauliflower pizza crust.
What do you make with frozen veggies?
* Background: Nutrient Definitions
-Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) is a B vitamin that is essential for supporting your body’s metabolism, producing energy and is required for the proper development and function of the skin, blood cells and many other parts of the body.
-Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that may help support a healthy immune system. Vitamin C can help collagen production which is important for maintenance of healthy skin, bones, teeth and gums, cartilage, muscle and blood vessels.
-Vitamin E works as an antioxidant to neutralize free radicals and may improve immune function, as well as plays a role in heart health and promoting healthy skin.
-Beta Carotene is one of a group of red, orange, and yellow pigments called carotenoids. Beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A, an essential nutrient. It has antioxidant activity, which helps to protect cells from damage. Beta-carotene and other carotenoids provide approximately 50% of the vitamin A needed in the American diet. Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that is important for proper vision and a healthy immune system, and helps form and maintain healthy skin, teeth, skeletal and soft tissue, and mucus membranes.
-Calcium is a mineral that aids in maintaining bone health, bone and tooth development, blood pressure regulation and nerve and muscle function.
-Magnesium is a mineral that helps the body generate energy from the foods we eat and is required for the action of many enzyme systems and also plays a role in maintaining healthy bones and a healthy heart.
-Zinc is necessary for healthy growth and development, and plays a role in immune function, wound healing, blood clotting and thyroid function.
-Copper is a mineral that is needed for healthy white blood cells and plays a role in immune function as well as bone health. -Iron is needed to make hemoglobin, a part of red blood cells, and its main purpose is to carry oxygen in the hemoglobin of red blood cells throughout your body so cells can produce energy. -Diets rich in dietary fiber have been shown to have a number of beneficial effects, including decreased risk of coronary heart disease and improved digestive health. -Phenols, also known as phytochemicals, are plant-based compounds that have varying effects on and benefits for the body, including support of the immune system and the health of skin, bones, eyes, lungs, heart and blood vessels.
Frozen Food Foundation
Frozen Food Foundation Twitter
Frozen Food Foundation Facebook