Give frozen vegetables a chance
As residents of Southern California, we are fortunate enough to have access to beautiful, fresh produce year round, but what many people don’t realize is that frozen fruits and vegetables can be a great, healthy alternative.
Surprisingly, frozen foods are just as nutritious, and often even more nutrient-dense, then their fresh counterparts. Frozen fruits and vegetables are generally picked at the peak of ripeness and flash frozen, which preserves the nutrients but doesn’t add any sodium or other preservatives. I always like to have few bags of frozen green beans, broccoli or corn to toss into quick mid-week meals to add some color, fiber, vitamins and minerals.
Another benefit is that frozen fruits and vegetables are always cut and peeled, which saves on preparation time. Additionally, you can portion out what you need and save the rest in the freezer for later. When cooking, I recommend steaming or sauteing instead of boiling, which leaches out nutrients that are usually discarded with the cooking water.
Here are some simple ways to use frozen fruits or vegetables:
- Top hot oatmeal with frozen blueberries to cool down quickly.
- Use frozen broccoli, corn and carrots to make a hearty soup.
- Mix frozen spinach into a pot of cooked hot pasta, add to a stir-fry or use in lasagna.
- When making a smoothie, blend bananas, frozen strawberries, frozen spinach, almond milk and non-fat Greek yogurt for a creamy drink. You won’t even taste the spinach!
Whole Wheat Garlic Pasta with Vegetables
Start to finish: 25 minutes
12-ounce package whole wheat penne pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil (+ 1 teaspoon)
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 ½ cups frozen green beans, diced
1 ½ cups frozen multicolor bell peppers, diced
1 cup frozen pre-chopped spinach
½ cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, diced
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Cook penne pasta according to directions in boiling water for about 10-12 minutes
While pasta is boiling, place 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet and bring to medium heat. Add green beans, bell peppers and garlic. Sauté for five minutes until tender. Add sun-dried tomatoes and salt. Sauté for another five minutes.
Once pasta is cooked, drain and return to original pot. Add the vegetable and sun-dried tomato mixture. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese onto pasta and vegetable mixture and toss to fully coat. If pasta seems dry, drizzle 1 teaspoon olive oil over mixture and toss.