Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Pantry Staple - Frozen Veggies

 (curried veggies over brown rice)

Today I want to talk about something that I rely on when I need to make a quick meal and we don’t have a lot of fresh produce in the refrigerator.  Frozen vegetables are something that I always keep on hand and after you read all the things that I do with them I think you may keep more at your house too.

Aren’t fresh vegetables always more nutritious?

I think everyone assumes that fresh veggies are always better than frozen but that actually isn’t the case.  Let’s look at the path the typical grocery store veggies take to get to you. They are picked 1,000s of miles away (often unripe) and then get sorted, packaged and transported to your store. Now they sit in the produce case at your store until you bring them home. Next they sit in your refrigerator until you eat them. Generally they are irradiated or are given a chlorine bath to extend their shelf life.  By the time you actually eat these veggies they are probably at least a week old. Since the nutrition in plant foods starts to deteriorate once they are harvested how much nutrition do you think is left?

Now think about frozen veggies. They are picked, sorted, blanched and frozen generally the same day. Sure you lose some nutrition from the blanching but I doubt that is exceeds the nutrition lost in fresh veggies. 
Of course you can buy local produce directly from farmers but not many of us do that.  Dan and I try to buy most of our veggies from local farmers when they are in season.  However even then I know by the end of the week those veggies are a week old.  The best answer is to grow your own food but most of us (me included) aren’t going to do that.

(Italian veggie casserole topped with toasted bread crumbs and pine nuts)

Are all veggies good frozen?

This is a subjective question but I think some fare better during the process than others.  Peas, corn and green beans are great frozen.  Artichokes, spinach and edamame are also good choices.  If you store carries it I also like butter squash puree.  I also keep mixed frozen veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots) on hand.  There is usually a bag of oriental veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, snow peas, carrots, and water chestnuts) in my freezer too though these are my least favorite.  I am not a big fan frozen asparagus as the texture is too “mushy” for my taste.

(Asian veggies with soba noodles)

Do you use frozen veggies differently than fresh?

I actually do tend to use frozen veggies differently than fresh. Once veggies have been blanched I tend to prefer them cooked. There are a couple of exceptions (peas, corn and artichokes) to that rule.  Generally I tend to use frozen vegetables in cooked dishes like casseroles, soups, and stews).

If you want to use frozen veggies cold and without cooking them further what I do is move them to the refrigerator in a strainer (with a bowl underneath) and let them slowly thaw during the day. This keeps them as “crisp” as possible.

(pizza veggies topped with walnut parm)

What are your favorite uses for frozen veggies?

I like to use the frozen Asian veggies to make quick “stir fry” (in quotes because I make it without oil).  The frozen Asian veggies are also good for a quick noodle bowl with veggies.

The mixed veggies I add to any number of casseroles, soups and stews.   For example last night I added them to the Moroccan chickpea stew to increase the nutrition.  I also recently served them under fagioli all’uccelletto (beans in the style of birds) to make that that dish a complete meal.  You can add defrosted vegetables on top of pizza as well.  I have also defrosted and then roasted frozen veggies to add cold to salads.

However my favorite use for mixed veggies is what I call veggie pizza. All I do is heat the veggies, top them with tomato sauce (like for pasta) and then add nutritional yeast and hemp seeds (or walnut parmesan).  This is hands down my favorite fast go to meal. For Dan I would serve this over quinoa and add beans to pump up the calories.

I hope this gives you some ideas for what to do with frozen veggies. They come in very handy in my kitchen when we need food and I don’t have time to cook.  For those of you who think I cook every day I don’t.  I have those days like you do where I simply can’t find the time to get into the kitchen. Busy days are when frozen veggies come in most handy.

Happy thoughts:
  1. Today was just one of those days that I am happy is over.  However even a day like this has bright spots.   I had some time to chat with my friend Angela, which was great.
  2. We got more good news from the doctor.  Things are definitely starting to fall into place. Once they are all set I will share.  J  Please keep your fingers crossed for us.
  3. I managed to get time today to catch up on some life administration (all those details that are required to get through life) which was great since I am so far behind.
  4. Unless I have lost track of time I think Wednesday will be three weeks for Matt without cigarettes.  You rock Matt!  I am so happy for you.  J
  5. My copy of “You’ve Got Mail” showed up today.  I remember seeing it years ago and being “meh” about it.  However I watched part of it recently on TV and thought it was very funny.  I ordered it this weekend from Amazon (for $3.99 I might add). Since I like Meg Ryan it would make sense that this movie would be a hit with me.  I plan to watch it all the way through soon when I get a little me time to relax.

Signing out:

Overall I had a rough day but a good day if that makes any sense.  I had some extremely good things happen and some not so good.  However I have learned that if I wait out my feelings they always go away with time.  No matter how bad something feels in the moment in the end it is always temporary.  For some of you that might make sense.  I wouldn’t have understood it myself just a few years ago. 

An odd thing happens when cancer enters your life. Things that previously would have been a big deal become insignificant.  After cancer you learn to be grateful for things like waking up in the morning, getting your first cup of tea, feeling the sun on your face, snuggling with a pet, or maybe just doing nothing.  In a few ways cancer actually brings an eerie calm to life that is hard to imagine before it happens to you.

Here’s hoping that tomorrow has more good and less bad and that your week is going extremely well.  I have a busy day tomorrow but I have to write the next transitioning to a healthy vegan lifestyle post. Wish me luck since I am going to need it.  Ciao for now.  ;-)


  1. I always keep frozen veggies on hand. We have had issues recently with a lack of fresh veggies which made me so thankful to have frozen available.

    I have to agree about cancer. I have always been a very busy person and it has caused me to slow down. No more waiting for tomorrow to enjoy something as I don't take my tomorrows for granted now.

    1. Good morning Betsy,

      I agree with you completely that frozen veggies are wonderful for times when we run out of fresh. They are something that I always have on hand and normally in large quantities too. LOL

      Before cancer I was extremely type A and driven. However after cancer I think we all realize that we "have an expiration date" and start to enjoy what is happening now rather than planning for retirement.

      Happy Friday lady,

  2. I don't have much freezer space, but it's sure handy to keep some frozen produce, soup and beans. Recently I bought a bunch of kale on sale and finely chopped it, bagged it in small vacuum-type bags and froze it. It takes up so much less space and is easy to pop into smoothies. Do you think the nutrition suffers much? If not, I'll do this more often.

    1. Laura,

      I think that is a brilliant for kale that will go in your smoothies. I don't think the nutrition suffers much and it is definitely preferrable to no kale in your smoothies. :-) Great idea, thank you for sharing it.

      Happy Friday,

  3. I like to have some chopped, frozen spinach on hand. It finds it's way into all sorts of things - pasta, pizza, omelettes, sauces etc.
    Also, frozen fruits are useful too. I like summer fruits, but I have to pick out the strawberries. Way too mushy.

    1. Good morning Andrea,

      I didn't mention spinach did I? LOL, I always have spinach in the freezer too. Thanks for pointing that out since I forgot it.

      Frozen fruit is a given at our house with all the smoothies we make. I was going to cover that in it's own post but appreciate you checking. :-)

      Happy Friday!!


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