Ever waited days for your rock-hard avocado to ripen, only to then find it’s turned rotten? Or struggled to prepare and cook a particularly stubborn beetroot? Or wrestled with a sweet potato after a busy day at work? In our trend-driven healthy eating society, where phrases like ‘clean eating’ are regularly thrown about, it can be easy to forget the role of your humble fridge freezer in your diet. Frozen food, in short, gets a bad buzz.
‘Convenience’ has often become a dirty word in healthy eating circles, particularly when it comes to the frozen-food section in your local supermarket. We associate the area with naughty pizzas, ice cream and chips – all enjoyable treats, but not suitable as diet staples.
What’s often forgotten is that freezing fresh food, in particular, fresh vegetables, is the optimum way of preserving them while keeping all of those vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that are vital to your good health and well-being intact.
The team behind Strong Roots has done much research into this area and found loads of advantages to making healthy frozen foods part of your diet.
“Frozen foods retain their nutrients, are often just as healthy as fresh, sometimes even healthier,” they said. “You can measure portion sizes that can help you achieve a healthy lifestyle. They allow you to mix with other products and be creative and versatile at mealtimes. And they allow you more control when planning meals, giving you cooking options that don’t involve hard work on a busy day.”
How does freezing work? Here’s the sciencey bit: fresh foods contain compounds called enzymes which, over time, cause the loss of colour, nutrients and flavour. In order to prevent this, you can ‘blanch’ the vegetables (briefly expose them to boiling water) and then freeze, locking in those nutrients for a longer period of time.
The freezing involves a process known as individually quick frozen (IQF) which means you don’t have to struggle with a solid block of sweet potato or chucks of ice forming.
If you’re eating foods out of season, in particular, frozen can be the healthier option as vegetables are generally frozen when they’re harvested, and therefore at the peak of their nutritional value. Also, they’re allowed to fully ripen before harvesting, which means they’re at their very best. So you get all of those great vitamins and minerals that help keep your body and mind in proper working order.
What healthy foods would you love to see popping up in your frozen food cabinet? Which freezer staples are already a part of your life and which would make your tastebuds happier and your home cooking habits easier? Share your thoughts with us!