By Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, CSO, LDN; Reboot Nutritionist
Which is better, fresh or frozen fruits and veggies? At first it’s easy to see why fresh food makes the most sense but what if you want a specific ingredient that’s out of season or hard to find where you live? While eating locally and in season is ideal from a nutritional and cost standpoint, there are times where you simply want something that’s out of season, like berries in your morning smoothie.
When produce is out of season, choosing frozen can mean getting more nutrients from your fruits compared to fresh. The elements that can reduce nutrient levels in produce include:
– Time since harvest
– Exposure to heat, light or oxygen
Since frozen fruits and veggies are frozen within hours after harvest then kept very cold and sealed away from light and oxygen, the freezing process can lock in precious nutrients.
If we compare frozen organic wild Maine blueberries versus fresh organic blueberries that travel all the way to Boston from Chile, not only are the frozen berries local and higher in nutrients, they are also about a third of the price! Did you know that on average, a fruit or vegetable grown in the United States travels 1,500-1,800 miles from the time it’s picked to the time it reaches your plate?
Here are tips for how to choose the best frozen fruits and veggies:
– Look for produce that’s loose in the bag and still in individual pieces, not one solid chunk
– Choose vegetables and fruits free of sauces or additives
– Check expiration dates on the package
Frozen fruits are perfect for smoothies. They add thickness and ice with the benefit of antioxidants, vitamins and other phytonutrients. Here’s one of my favorite morning smoothie recipes:
1 cup Frozen organic berries – I like to use a combo of blueberries, strawberries and blackberries
12 oz coconut water or homemade almond milk
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 handful spinach or kale
Pea protein powder (optional)
Spin on high and enjoy!
You may also find that your summer garden yielded lots of yummy vegetables and fruits that you’d like to save for the off season. This step-by-step guide from Eating Well magazine shows how simple saving your summertime fresh fruits and veggies can be.
Frozen fruits and veggies are also excellent for juicing. Just let them thaw first then juice just like you would with fresh produce. This can help keep your Reboot costs down and expand the rainbow of plant foods you can include.
Do you include frozen fruits or vegetables during your Reboot? We’d love to hear from you!