Thursday, November 21, 2013

What's In My Garden Now? No Worries

If you scroll down to the very bottom of this blog, you will see a widget that shows what's in season in Virginia right now.  The list got dramatically shorter in November.  No worries.  Recent research tells us frozen veggies are just as healthy as fresh. Did you know some veggies are frozen right at the place of harvest?  That's about as close to fresh as you can get.

A new study from the Frozen Food Foundation looked at 8 common fresh and frozen fruits and veggies (blueberries, strawberries, corn, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, green peas and spinach).  Each was analyzed under 3 conditions:  frozen, fresh on the day of purchase, and fresh after 5 days of storage (the typical storage time in the home).  The nutritional value of fresh and frozen was generally equal, with some frozen fruits and veggies having higher Vitamin A, C and folate content than fresh.

If you choose frozen veggies, watch the sauces and extras that sometimes come with them.  They can add a surprising amount of sodium and calories.  Also, watch the price for conveniences like steam bags, zipper closures and the like. 

I have found that you get what you pay for in terms of name brands versus the low end brands.  You get broccoli heads versus stems.  Tender crisp peas versus larger, tougher peas. Early season green beans versus late, large beans and occasional stems.

Keep a stash of frozen veggies, toss them in many of your common favorite dishes and then simply close the bag and keep for later use.  Frozen chopped spinach, green peas, tri-color peppers, and diced tomatoes from my garden are my go-to toss-in frozen veggies.

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