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TIP OF THE DAY: Don’t Ignore Frozen Vegetables

Americans typically eat only one-third of the recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables. We should eat nine servings, but end up with only three. Unless you pursue a plant-based diet, you’re probably under-vegged.

One way to tackle the problem: Stock up on frozen vegetables. Mix them with rice and potatoes, toss them with olive oil and black pepper for a spicy side or snack, add them to soups. However you use vegetables, the convenience of pre-cleaned, sliced, and ready-to-use frozen variety in the freezer means you’ll eat them more often.


While canned vegetables can lose a lot of nutrients during the preservation process*, frozen vegetables tend to be as healthful—and even more healthful—than some fresh produce.

According to the USDA, that’s because fresh vegetables can sit in warehouses, losing nutrients, while frozen vegetables are quickly put into production: cleaned and blanched in hot water or steam to kill bacteria and arrest the action of food-degrading enzymes. They are then flash-frozen.


A pretty way to eat your veggies. Photo courtesy Green Giant.

While the blanching causes the loss of some water-soluble nutrients like vitamin C and may cause the B vitamins to break down or leach out, the same thing happens if you cook fresh veggies in water at home (as opposed to baking, microwaving or steaming, which are preferable). The subsequent flash-freezing of commercial frozen vegetables locks the other nutrients.

Just don’t put frozen vegetables into “long term storage” and forget about them. Over many months, even the nutrients in frozen vegetables will degrade.


And as winter approaches and the price of fresh vegetables climbs, don’t hesitate to fill up the freezer with bags of frozen vegetables. Think of them beyond mealtimes, as a quick snack. Instead of reaching for refined sugar or carbs, microwave a cup or two of veggies and enjoy them with a drizzle of flavored olive oil, a squeeze of lemon or lime juice, a sprinkle of Parmesan, or, if you must, a pat of butter.

*Tomatoes and pumpkin are two exceptions.

We were jonesing for a dinner of healthy veggies last night—lots of them. So on the way home, we stopped off at a specialty food shop to look at the take-out options: baked acorn squash, caramelized brussels sprouts, edamame salad and others.


If it will get your family to eat more
vegetables, look for medleys that include
potatoes. Photo courtesy General Mills.


Veggies are heavy. We realized that at an average of $13 per pound, we were ready to buy almost $30 worth of simple preparations. Whoa, we said, there’s got to be a better way.

We walked a block to the supermarket and bought three bags of frozen vegetables, which we knew we could combine and microwave, ready to eat in five minutes. And we did: no muss, no fuss. Mission accomplished; healthy veggie dinner consumed (for protein, we added some cubes of tofu).

After dinner, we looked for other ways to use the rest of the frozen veggies. We found this recipe from Del Monte, which adds cranberries and pecans to create a colorful side dish of orange squash, green broccoli, red dried cranberries and brown pecans. The cranberries and pecans make the dish more appealing to those who are vegetable-resistant.

It takes 30 minutes to prepare, longer if you want to use all use fresh vegetables. Prep time is 30 minutes.


Ingredients for 8 Servings

  • 2 bags (12 ounces each) frozen broccoli cuts
  • 2 cups (1-1/2 pounds) peeled butternut squash, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries (e.g. Craisins)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans, toasted
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange peel
  • 1 teaspoon salt


    1. COOK and drain broccoli as directed on package. Meanwhile…

    2. COOK squash in orange juice in a 12-inch skillet, over medium-low heat, 8 to 10 minutes, until tender but firm. Stir frequently.

    3. STIR in butter, broccoli, cranberries, pecans, orange peel and salt; toss to coat. Serve immediately.


    Related Food Videos: For more food videos, check out The Nibble's Food Video Collection.

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