What you may not know is that some frozen foods are actually better for you than the supposedly fresh ones. The flash freeze method was invented in the 1920’s. Before this vegetables were frozen at slow temperatures causing large ice crystals to form in food, damaging its fibrous and cellular structure and robbing it of taste and texture. A man by the name of Clarence Birdseye created the flash freezing technique that freezes veggies superfast and keeps them super cold. This ensures that only small crystals form and preserve much of the vitamins and freshness.
Since the 1920’s technology has advanced and a couple of new tricks have been invented to improve quality. Blanching fruits and vegetables before freezing deactivates the oxidation process that causes browning, degrades colours and nutrient content. The best part is that blanching actually increases the fibrous content of the foods making it even better and lower glycemic.
The downside to blanching is that the water-soluble vitamins C and various B’s decrease in nutrient quality somewhat. Steaming is preferable to blanching before freezing but it’s more expensive which is why most manufactures don’t do it. This is where label reading comes in. The packaging should tell you the process that went into freezing. So keep an eye on brands that steam rather than blanch. It seems that all other vitamins and nutrients are not affected by flash freezing so you don’t have to fee like you are lacking in the nutrition department or guilty that you are feeding your family second grade food.
5 Tips For The Perfect Freezer Feast:
- Avoid the frozen fruits and vegetables with sauces, added spices, seasoning and sugars
- Stay away from bags with large icy chunks which means they’ve been thawed and refrozen
- No name brands are just as good as the brand name brands. Most of the time they are from the same farm but packaged as lower end and upscale brands.
- To thaw vegetables leave them on the counter while you are cooking dinner. You can also lightly steam them instead of microwaving
- Add some variety to your frozen feast by choosing from the large variety of frozen choices
- Artichoke Hearts – At six grams of fiber per cup this sweet vegetable is a freezer front-runner.
- Berries – High in antioxidants and fiber, berries are always a nutritious choice but frozen berries (raspberries, blueberries, strawberries or blackberries) should be a freezer staple.
- Brussels Sprouts – The cruciferous vegetable is jammed packed with nutrients including Vitamin C, folate, fiber and potassium.
- Mango – The tropical fruit cannot be found all year round. High in Vitamin C and B6 this frozen treat is a great addition to smoothies and salads.
- Spinach – The most popular frozen vegetable contains iron, folate, Vitamin A and K. Nutrients in spinach start to break down as soon as they are picked so freezing it locks those nutrients in.
- Butternut Squash –Squash is filled with beta-carotene which is converted in the body to Vitamin A. Squash is also a great lower glycemic carbohydrate choice.
- Broccoli – There are only 41 calories in a cup of broccoli and 5 grams of fiber. Frozen broccoli doesn’t wilt and go brown making it last longer.
- Peas – A high fiber starchy vegetable that has 5 grams of fiber per cup and 50% of your daily recommended Vitamin C. Peas are an excellent source of leutin which is an antioxidant known to help diseases of the eye.
- Cherries – Usually only available in season these sweet treats are great for baking and putting into smoothies. Cherries are high in antioxidants and help to reduce gout and arthritis.
- Edamame (soy beans) – This one is best to get NON-GMO. Soy beans are a great portable afternoon snack high in protein and low glycemic carbohydrates.