Have you heard the phase fresh is best? Well… most cute phrases need a second clarifying disclaimer. Fresh food items are great options as they give many options for cooking techniques, allow you to add specific herbs and flavors and personalized to your preferences.
Unfortunately in Iowa that does not mean that fresh is always the best quality or most nutritious. Look outside what fruits or vegetables do you see currently growing around your town, not much yet right? That will change soon but during 9 months of the year our grown near us food options are limited.
So what does this mean? The amazing food system that we are part of works to find us our favorite produce all year long. Jay Kempker, produce manager from Mount Pleasant Hy-Vee reminds us that, “There is no produce we can’t get year round.” Jay notes many items are still produced by US Supplies but they have farms in Mexico and Chili to keep the products available as well as meet quality standards.
Items such as grapes and kiwi come from Chile during the winter months. Mexico is providing most tomatoes and zucchini in March as well. So frozen foods enter the scene as a great nutritious options to have food that is picked and harvested at the peak of ripeness and quality. These items are then frozen quickly in the area they are growing during the winter months to give us great options. These include items such as frozen green beans, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower (continues to get much media), edamame, mango, pineapple, peppers and onions to name a few.
This quick freezing process allows vegetables such as the carrot to retain more fiber, Vitamin A and beta- carotene compared to the fresh products during the winter months. Additionally frozen foods offer a much faster cooking process as they come pre-chopped, pre-washed and ready to use. They simplify recipes such as soups, stews or casseroles but cutting prep and cook time down.
Purchase a variety of colors in your fruits and veggies to emphasize many different vitamins. Look for frozen items package without added sauces/gravies or added sugar. This way you will have more options on how you add flavor to the dish at home with your favorite herbs rather than added salt or sugar. Frozen veggies can even be thawed and roasted on a sheet pan to add more texture rather than the often concern of mushy frozen veggies.
Roasted Carrots from Frozen:
1 bag frozen carrots (try the mixed colors for fun)
2 Tablespoons Olive oil
1 Tablespoon dried Italian herb seasoning
Heat Oven to 425 Degrees.
Place frozen carrots in Microwave safe bowl and cook on high for 4 minutes to thaw.
Remove from microwave and place spread thawed carrots on large baking sheet to not overcrowd the pan.
Drizzle with olive oil and place in preheated oven for 15 minutes.
Remove after 15 minutes to add herbs to continue cooking for 15 minutes more.
Remove and enjoy as a side or addition to a cold salad or pasta to bring more flavor and texture.
To Your Health, M. Elise Klopfenstein RD LD CDE, Clinical Dietitian.
Elise is the mother of three growing young boys in Mount Pleasant, Iowa. She is proud to be an Iowa Native while doing all of her education out of the state. She is the wife of a teacher and an Iowa farmer with Klopfenstein Farms.