Chew on this

Frozen produce a nutritional asset

As I was describing the virtues of frozen produce to a class recently, one of my students shot me a “Where did you get your degree?” look.

Frozen fruits and vegetables may not have the cachet of fresh, but they add value to the best-stocked pantry. March is Frozen Food Month, so it’s a good time to review their benefits:

• Properly stored, frozen produce doesn’t go bad. Everyone has bought fresh veggies, failed to finish the container and had to throw out the bad ones. Even after you’ve opened the package, frozen vegetables are good for six months. Just be sure to reseal them tightly to prevent freezer burn.

• Frozen produce has as much vitamin and mineral content as fresh — and maybe more. Vegetables are frozen shortly after harvest, ensuring a fresh taste. Some fresh vegetables have spend a week in transit before you buy them, depleting flavor and nutritional value.

• Frozen veggies increase variety and convenience. Edamame, sugarsnap peas and brussels sprouts are always in my freezer. If a recipe calls for just a handful of a vegetable, you’ve got it with frozen. And frozen chopped onions can’t be beat for saving time.

• Frozen fruits (without added sugar) make the best smoothies. Peel and freeze bananas and buy extra Florida strawberries to freeze in season. Combine them in a blender with Greek yogurt for a delicious high-protein breakfast.

To preserve water-soluble vitamins, cook frozen vegetables with a minimal amount of water. Since most frozen vegetables are blanched during processing, there’s no need to precook them before adding to casseroles or stir-fries. Just place them in a colander and thaw under cold water.

Sheah Rarback is a registered dietitian on the faculty of the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine.

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