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March is Frozen Food Month!

Posted by Janice Cox, RDN, LD, Lunds and Byerly’s Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist
Friday, March 8, 2013

I grew up in northern MN where the only fresh produce in winter meant apples, carrots and iceberg lettuce, but our produce department has kept me stocked with watermelon, stone fruits and beautiful berries all winter long!

At Lunds and Byerly’s, you’re able to have quality produce variety throughout the year. And for those months where your favorite items aren’t in season, frozen foods provide a great option for variety.

Frozen foods instead of fresh produce? That can’t be healthy! While it’s true not all frozen foods are healthy for you, frozen produce packed without added sugar, salt and sauces are equally nutritious.

March is Frozen Foods Month, so let’s take a look at how eating frozen foods doesn’t have to mean compromising nutritional quality.

In the farm fields, fruits and vegetables are picked at the peak of their ripeness and immediately flash frozen. That means nutrients are largely retained.

A good example of fresh vs. frozen produce can be found in potatoes. A plain, fresh potato has a NuVal score of 93. In the frozen department, there are potatoes in the form of fries, tots, hash browns, mashed, baked, au gratin and more. This is a great place to use NuVal scores to shop. For instance, there are hash browns with added fat that have a NuVal score of 18, but there are many brands that have nothing added and score a 93, just like a fresh potato. Who knew?

Frozen produce tips:

  • Keep bags of frozen berries in your freezer to add to yogurt parfaits and smoothies.
  • Another freezer staple is frozen mixed vegetable blends to add to soups, casseroles or stir fry. Not only are the blends convenient saving chopping time, but there are interesting mixes, like Green Giant’s Antioxidant Blend (broccoli florets, carrots, red and yellow pepper strips in a garlic-herb infused olive oil seasoning). Steam and eat!

Frozen dinners are why some avoid that part of the store at all costs. But good choices do exist! These entrées are handy for a quick meal. When buying frozen entrees, I use these guidelines: less than 400 calories, 0 trans-fat, 5 grams of saturated fat or less, 600 mg or less of sodium, whole grains and a NuVal score above the category average of 20.

Here are a few examples using my rules:

  • Lean Cuisine Roasted Turkey and Vegetables (NuVal 40)
  • Lean Cuisine Salmon with Basil (NuVal 52)
  • Amy’s Mexican Tamale Pie (NuVal 39)
  • Lunds and Byerly’s Better for You Santa Fe Rice and Beans (NuVal 31)
  • Kashi Spicy Black Bean Enchilada (NuVal 36)

It’s great to have choices and there are many in the frozen food aisles that offer variety as well as great nutrition. Here’s to smart shopping!

Tags: nuvalhealthy

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