Is fresh better than flash frozen vegetables?


5 servings

Some people think fresh produce is the only way to get healthy produce. Not true. Sometimes, frozen or canned vegetables hold just as much—or more nutrients than fresh. They can also be lower is cost and easier to prepare. When I was going through chemo, my idea of preparing a meal was opening a can of white or black beans, a can of tomatoes, a can of corn, and adding pre-chopped celery and onion (thank you friends and family), and maybe spices like cumin or basil. When I was real low on energy, I’d ask someone else to open the cans. They loved this simple request! “Is that all you want me to do?” And depending on my energy level, my response was either, “Yes.” or “I’ll starve if you don’t.”

Vegetables retain their nutrients by how they’re processed or prepared. With flash freezing, vegetables hold their nutrients because soon after picking them, they’re boiled, then moved to ice water and drained before being frozen. Fruits are washed, slices and frozen. Canning uses heat treatment to destroy microorganisms that cause spoilage.

Both flash freezing and canning are done within 24 hours of produce being picked. This is known as “minimal processing.” Foods that are highly processed, including fruits and vegetables prepared with a lot of salt, sugar, or fat are known as “highly processed” foods. Examples are vegetables with cheese sauce, or canned fruit pie filling. If you can, add your own cheese to vegetables, and make your own pie filling. Look for frozen fruit without syrup and canned fruit packed in water or its own juice. Buy no-salt added versions of canned vegetables, or drain out the liquid from the regular kind, and rise a few times. Store brand canned or frozen items are often lower in price and same quality as name-brand.

However you get ‘em – Get ‘em! Five servings a day of fruits and vegetables will help keep you healthy and lower the risk of cancer.

Fill your plate!


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Photo Credit: Claudia Mulcahy

Are you tired of offering your holiday guests healthy choices, only to have a platter full of veggies to put away after the party? This Fourth of July, offer a veggie platter as a feast for the eyes. Skip the plate with segments that separate the vegetables. Offer a serving spoon or fork so if someone hates mushrooms, they can push them off to the side and get to the carrots. (Or, they may say, “honey, want my mushroom?” and it will get eaten, and not tossed out.)

By using a serving fork or spoon, you’re helping everyone’s immune system, especially those in, or recently out of cancer treatment. If you can, have serving utensils for everything, or give someone with a low immune system first dibs on things like peanuts, pretzels — things that others will touch with their hands.

Back to the veggie platter: Use a variety of color, shapes and textures. If you’re offering the vegetables raw, have a variety of dip tastes on the side. Go beyond ranch or hummus. Make some spicy kidney bean dip (the reddish color is a change from the same  ol’ white or brown dips), or make the oh so simple Greek tzatziki.

To make spicy bean dip:

Drat! I can’t find the recipe I grew up with, and don’t like the ones I see online. This is sort of close, try it out, get creative, or find one you like better: Red kidney beans (wash and drain them), chop an onion, mayonnaise or plain yogurt, dry mustard, worcestershire sauce, horseradish, salt, pepper. Blend in a blender. (The only part I remember is the kidney beans, worcestershire, and the blender.) Sorry.

To make tzatziki dip: Greek yogurt, cut fresh dill, squeeze fresh lemon. Taste. Adjust amounts of ingredients if needed.

Or, consider broiling or barbecuing your vegetables and leave them out for snacking. Yumm!

Now, what flavor ice cream?

Dinner on a Budget


5-ways-fight-food-inflation-1-intro image credit: Google

Dinner on a budget, fighting inflation, making money go further at the grocery store. Call it whatever you want. Here are some tips for healthy eating and saving money.

We only need three ounces of protein a meal, and it doesn’t need to come completely from meat. By cutting down on meat intake, you’ll save money, and depending on how much meat you’ve been piling on your plate, you may be doing your body a world of good. Have a small portion of meat and a high-protein side dish, such as beans, lentils or grains.

Check your cupboards and refrigerator. I have a fit if I have to toss food. Often, I’ll turn one meal into another meal to use up what I have. I may have roasted vegetables one night with leftovers. The next night, I may have soup with the leftover roasted vegetables in it, Or add cheese and pasta sauce to the vegetables. Use ingredients before they expire. Get creative without going to the store. Maybe you’ll find a can of diced tomatoes, a can or bag of frozen corn, and a can or bag of frozen green beans. By adding rice or pasta, spices and some meat, you’ve got a meal you can make in one pan. Or, add chicken broth and you’ve got soup. For great soup, you could use the bones from a rotisserie chicken and use up “tired” vegetables from the refrigerator. (Celery tops, onion chunks, carrots, parsley—whatever you have.) Add enough water to cover the bones and cook for an hour or so. Take out the bones and vegetables and add new/good vegetables to the broth.

I used to buy black and Northern beans in cans. I didn’t know how to use the ones from the bag, and didn’t want to have to plan ahead so far to soak them for hours before cooking. I have a 94 year old neighbor who was upset with me when I told her I never “made” beans before. She brought me a bowl of Northern beans and spaghetti (no sauce) and told me the beans were from a bag, and she cooked them for one and a half hours (no soaking.) I thought they’d be hard and tough. They were delicious. The beans were far better than the caned ones, and I’ve learned they last longer in the refrigerator than canned ones. Stored the un-used cooked beans in a jar with some of the water they cooked in covering them. You’ll be happy how easy and inexpensive beans form a bag are to prepare.

Take advantage of the grocery store sales. If you’re low on something, but not out of it, consider buying it before you run out, when you may have to pay full price. You may need to cook up the sale meat that day, or freeze it, but if it’s something you’ll eat anyway, it’s savings.

Buy oatmeal in the drum rather than the packages. Or, if you’re okay buying from bulk bins, scoop up savings that way.

Buy smaller amounts to keep things fresh. I love what Nabisco has done with the Original Saltine crackers. Fresh Stacks are packed in smaller portions, so they don’t go stale. Rather than having four long packs of crackers, this box has six packs. I think you get two ounces less of crackers and pay about fifty cents more. It’s a bit more expensive—or is it? None of my saltines go stale anymore.