Healthy frozen food? Yes, it’s possible for produce to be fresh and frozen. Stock your freezer with 11 fruits and vegetables that are tasty, good for you — and will save some cash too.
Healthy frozen food: Corn on the cob
At just 59 calories per ear, corn is packed with fibre, antioxidants and B vitamins. It’s a great source of carotenoids such as lutein, which protect your eyes from macular degeneration, one of the leading causes of blindness in adults. Add corn kernels to your salad or soup. Or enjoy the whole cob — just skip the butter.
Healthy frozen food: Broccoli
Steamed broccoli helps lower cholesterol and detoxifies the body. It’s also a good source of fibre to aid in digestion, kaempferol to fight inflammation, and vitamins K and A to ward off vitamin D deficiency. Toss some florets with whole wheat pasta; use them in morning omelettes; or stir-fry with thinly sliced sirloin, finely chopped garlic, and low-sodium soy sauce for a quick weeknight dinner.
Healthy frozen food: Green beans
Rich in eye-protecting phytonutrients, green beans also help your bones stay strong, thanks to their high concentration of silicon. Use them in a classic niçoise salad made with omega-3-packed tuna and potatoes, or stir-fry with sliced garlic, cherry tomatoes, and capsicum flakes for a spicy low-calorie side dish.
Healthy frozen food: Cauliflower
Reduces the risk of prostate, bladder and colon cancer. Chop in the food processor and microwave in a covered dish as a rice alternative, or purée with fennel seeds to make dip or soup.
Healthy frozen food: Brussel Sprouts
Brussel Sprouts help lower cholesterol, protect your DNA and have anti-cancer benefits. Throw them on a baking tray with a little olive oil and chopped garlic and roast at 200°C for 35-40 minutes.
Healthy frozen food: Spinach
Packed with cancer-reducing antioxidants and anti-inflammatories, spinach is also a rich source of iron. You can add chopped spinach to lasagna, scrambled eggs, cottage cheese or any sauce or soup for added flavour and nutrients.
Healthy frozen food: Butternut pumpkin
Butternut Pumpkin is like a multivitamin on your plate, protecting you from a host of ills. Top puréed butternut with cinnamon and maple syrup for a cold-weather treat. Or for a more savoury soup, blend squash, low-sodium broth and stir-fried onion and garlic. Add non-fat Greek yogurt for a creamier variation.
Healthy frozen food: Carrots
Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, a form of vitamin A that’s great for your vision, and heart-healthy antioxidants. Throw frozen carrots (right out of the bag) into stews and soups — do so earlier in the cooking process if you prefer them more tender, or toward the end for a little more crunch.
Healthy frozen food: Blueberries
It’s hard to believe how much dedicated cancer-fighting power is packed into such a small and sweet super-fruit. Keep them on hand to boost the flavour and nutrients in your protein shakes or add frozen blueberries to hot porridge.
Healthy frozen food: Peaches
These fruits are high in calcium, potassium, B vitamins and antioxidants. Add some peaches to cottage cheese for a high-protein, low-carb post-workout snack. Bake with cinnamon and a touch of agave; top with low-fat frozen yogurt.
Research links cherries’ red colour — provided by the fruit’s powerful anthocyanins — to a reduction in inflammation, total cholesterol and belly fat. Pop them on top of plain Greek yogurt.
The basics of freezing (and thawing) food, according to food expert Kathy Bernard.
How long can you freeze something?
“Food is safe in the freezer almost indefinitely, but its quality will decrease over time,” says Bernard. A few ballpark figures to keep in mind: frozen hamburgers should be used within three to four months, cooked leftovers are good up to six months and frozen steaks and whole chicken or turkey can last up to a year. Food hoarders, rejoice!
You have three safe options for thawing food: in the fridge, in cold water or in the microwave. “It’s best to plan ahead for slow, safe thawing in the refrigerator,” Bernard says. Just chuck the frozen food in and wait until it’s soft. “Small items usually thaw overnight; larger foods may require a day or two. And especially large items such as turkeys may take longer, approximately one day for every 2kg of weight,” she says. “If you don’t like to use the microwave for faster thawing, your best bet is the cold-water method.” Place food in a leak-proof plastic bag and float it in cold water. Change the water every 30 minutes to keep it cold, and after thawing, cook immediately. “If you’re defrosting food in the microwave, cook it immediately after thawing, because some areas of the food may become warm and begin to cook during microwaving,” Bernard explains.