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Having fresh food on hand isn’t always an option. As winter approaches, fresh produce can be limited—or prohibitively expensive—in much of the country, which forces many of us to turn to canned or frozen options. And right now concerns about the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) mean many of us are stocking up on food in case our stay indoors becomes extended.
No matter what, it’s good to have our pantries and freezers stocked with healthy food. Freezing is a safe way to extend the shelf life of nutritious foods. And contrary to popular belief, frozen veggies are no less nutritious than fresh. In fact, a 2017 study found that there weren’t any differences in vitamin content between fresh and frozen vegetables. Fruits and veggies are the most nutritious when they’re ripe, and freezing preserves that nutrition.
There are other benefits to buying your fruits and vegetables frozen. Studies show that if you stock up on frozen vegetables, you’ll be more likely to meet your daily recommended intake. Plus, if you’re looking to cut back on food waste, you don’t have to worry about them going bad. And frozen foods are easier on your wallet than fresh.
So what are the best fruits and vegetables to keep on hand? Here are a few of our favorites.
Broccoli’s status as one of the most healthful vegetables out there holds strong. Long known as a source of fiber, folate, and vitamins A and C, broccoli’s also loaded with sulforaphane, an antioxidant shown to reduce the risk of some cancers. Saute it, roast it, or feature it in a hearty main or side dish.
Frozen spinach is almost better than fresh spinach (except in salads) because it comes preshrunk to a reasonable volume so you can get a heavy dose of iron, calcium and potassium. It can be used in most recipes that call for cooked spinach, like spanikopita, stuffed mushrooms or lasagna.
Try it: Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms with Farro recipe
Frozen peas can be added to fried rice, blended into a puree, thrown into pasta dishes, or turned into hummus. The versatile veggie can also be mixed with other pantry staples for a filling to make a filling salad.
Try it: Three-Pea Salad with Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette recipe
You’d be surprised how versatile frozen cauliflower can be. You can serve it mashed, or blended into a soup, baked into a casserole, or added to curries and stews. You can even rice it — or buy frozen cauliflower rice for a low-carb option to white rice.
Try it: Cauliflower Mash with Miso and Sage recipe
Frozen corn adds a sweet flavor to salsas and salads, chowders and casseroles. And it’s good for you, too. One cup has just 143 calories, 5.1 grams of protein and 3.6 grams of fiber. You can roast, boil, broil, steam or grill it to add unique flavor to dishes.
Try it: Roasted Corn Quesadillas recipe
Frozen green beans are one of those go-to family meal items because you can prepare them quickly. Add them to pastas, toss them in salads, sautee them, oven-roast them or even put them in stir-fries.
Try it: Dry-Fried Szechuan Green Beans recipe
Frozen fruit is preserved at the peak of ripeness, and bring a little summer into your dishes year-round. Berries, peaches, pineapple, and mango are all delicious in smoothies, cobblers, and other sweet treats.
Try it: Vegan Strawberry Cobbler recipe