Are frozen vegetables really as good as fresh?
YES! With some exceptions, of course. Nothing in nutrition can be that simple. A more complete answer would be:
Nutritionally speaking, yes. Unless your getting all of your vegetables daily from a farmer’s market or your garden, the veggies you’re buying have been sitting around in a store (or your home) for a while. This means that they’ve lost some of their micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, etc.– anything that your body needs but does not provide calories). By all means, still eat them! Trust me, they’ll still benefit you immensely. Just take comfort in the fact that those super convenient (and fairly inexpensive) frozen veggies’ nutrients were also frozen, usually very soon after picking, and so are still ready for action in your body.
Culinarily, it’s a win/loss situation. If you like nibbling on frozen sugar snap peas, more power to ya, but I’m not such a fan. I much prefer the raw, unfrozen variety. This means they have to be cooked, which is inconvenient if you weren’t already planning on cooking. Freezing also damages some of the plant’s cell walls, which causes them to be squishier and release some water while defrosting. However, these vegetables are extra convenient if you’re already cooking– they’re generally already washed and prepped, so all you have to do is dump them in the pan. They take only minutes to cook (larger pieces take longer to cook through, so put them in first). They also allow you to have fresh veggies in the dead of winter. And they taste fantastic!
I was in a hurry the other day, so I made a meal completely with frozen vegetables (I always have at least half vegetables in my dinner). Here’s the breakdown:
- 1/3 c Whole wheat couscous (couscous is a pasta, not a whole grain, so make sure you get the whole wheat variety!)
- 2/3 c of chicken broth, veggie broth, or water with a dash of salt
- Olive oil
- Lots o’ frozen veggies of your choice (I used edamame [actually a legume, not a vegetable, but that’s nitpicking. They’re healthy either way, and a complete source of protein], haricot vert [i.e. fancy little French green beans], and basil. Other favorites are spinach and broccoli.)
- Soy sauce
- Plop couscous and liquid in a small saucepan, bring to boil, stirring, and then slap on a lid, turn off the heat, and wait 10ish minutes. Meanwhile:
- Mince the garlic, put it in hot oil, blah blah blah.
- Add veggies, largest pieces to smallest pieces, stirring every so often so they don’t burn.
- Fluff couscous with a fork (it’s fun, I swear)
- Dump in the veggies and stir in as much or little soy sauce as you want. You can also peel a little piece of the ginger and grate it in for added zing.
- 1/3 cup whole wheat couscous
- 2/3 cup of chicken broth, veggie broth, or water with a dash of salt
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 cup frozen vegetables
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1/4 inch fresh ginger
- Put couscous and liquid in a small saucepan, bring to boil, stirring, and then slap on a lid, turn off the heat, and wait 10ish minutes.
- Mince the garlic, put it in hot oil, and saute until softened.
- Add veggies, largest pieces to smallest pieces, stirring every so often so they don't burn.
- Fluff couscous with a fork.
- Dump in the veggies and stir in soy sauce. You can also peel a little piece of the ginger and grate it in for added zing.