Ask the Dietitian: Fresh vs. Frozen Vegetables
With the school year in full swing, busy schedules often force us to cut corners when it comes to preparing food. To help save you time and money, frozen vegetables might be just the savior you’re looking for! Outpatient dietitian, Masha Fox-Rabinovich, MA, RD, LDN, CDE, explains why frozen vegetable options are just as good as fresh ones.
Q: Fresh produce can be so expensive and time consuming to prepare. Are frozen veggies just as good for me?
A: Masha Fox-Rabinovich, outpatient dietitian at Washington Adventist Hospital answers:
Frozen veggies, just like fresh ones, are a wonderful option! Compared with fresh veggies, they last longer, are pre-chopped and are typically less expensive. Plus, frozen veggies are usually very easy to prepare by steaming for just a few minutes on the stove. Just follow the instructions on the package. Having a few bags of frozen veggies always in the freezer is a good way to ensure you’ll easily be able to make a fiber-rich plate every day.
Q: Why are veggies so important?
A: Because they are nutrient-dense, which means they generally have very little calories but are high in fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals such as various antioxidants. Alternatively, some foods are energy (calorie)-dense. These are foods that are high in calories but low in vitamins, minerals and fiber. Junk foods and most fast foods are good examples. Stay tuned for more on energy dense vs. nutrient dense foods in a future post!
Q: What’s the most important thing to remember when picking frozen veggies?
A: Read the ingredient list and only choose those packages that have only vegetables on the ingredient list. That means no additional ingredients, no added sauces or seasonings and definitely no ingredients that you can’t identify or even pronounce.
Items like the broccoli “with cheese sauce” and the “Italian herb” vegetable medley indicate that unhealthy fats and sodium have been added to the product. You’re much better off buying the plain broccoli or vegetable medley – the one with only real vegetables on the list of ingredients—and nothing else. Then you can add your own (salt-free) seasoning or mix of herbs and spices, or prepare the veggies by cooking them with peppers, onions and garlic for additional flavor. Or, skip the seasoning entirely and enjoy with a squeezed lemon wedge and a drizzle of olive oil.
Look out for more healthy tips from our resident dietitian, coming soon! Do you have questions about food or dieting? We’d like to hear from you! Please share your questions in the comments section below.