Frozen Vegetables: The Ugly Duckling of Produce
Updated: Sep 30, 2020
Prior to the COVID pandemic, I literally never purchased frozen vegetables. I didn’t see the appeal of eating what I (mistakenly) viewed as mushy, nutritionally-poor cousins of “real” veggies. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always enjoyed frozen fruit in an occasional smoothie and what not, but cooking with frozen vegetables? PASS.
I’m obsessed with vibrant, colourful salads that have both cold and warm elements. Have you ever had a salad with roasted broccoli or cauliflower? It’s hella good! But, alas, in this new normal we’ve been trying to get used to, most of us have been minimizing how frequently we go into public enclosed spaces, like grocery stores. With many fresh produce not having quite the same lasting power, I’ve turned to frozen options to get me through the week.
And you know what I discovered? THEY ARE JUST AS TASTY.
Not only do they taste basically the same as fresh veggies, but they are sooo much easier to prepare. No more laborious washing and cutting (slightly dramatic, but you get my point)…I literally just open the bag, toss in some olive oil and spices, shake it up, and then throw them on a baking sheet. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
Besides flavour and texture, the remaining concern is nutritional value. How does frozen produce compare with fresh?
Well, fresh produce is either picked prior to reaching full ripeness and then ripened during its transport to grocery stores, or is picked once it’s already ripe. You will most likely only find the latter type in farmers’ markets or farmers’ stands, because if it had to travel longer distances, it would go bad (or at least near the end of its edible life) before it could actually be sold. Nutritionally, these two types of fresh produce are actually not all that different. This is because most of the plant’s nutritional absorption happens in its early stages of growth anyway. Also, things like soil quality and farming method play a much bigger role in affecting the nutritional profile of produce.
Frozen food, on the other hand, is exclusively picked after ripening. It then goes through very minimal processing: essentially just quick blanching and then freezing. The intention here is to disable the enzymes that are responsible for further (unwanted) changes in colour and flavour. Though blanching can result in some loss of nutrients, frozen produce has a very similar overall nutritional profile to fresh produce.
The take-away: Don’t be afraid to lean on frozen produce!
They are such a time saver and in many cases, they are even cheaper than the fresh alternative. And, of course, they last a lot longer.
Stay nourished my friends,