Craving more produce this winter?

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Craving more produce this winter?

Great local news for fresh produce

During the winter months in the northeast, it’s challenging to find fresh local vegetables. If you are trying to eat healthy this can feel challenging. But there is some great news on the local front if you’re in the Monadnock region of NH! Starting on Friday, February 28th The Cornucopia Project Educational Farm is once again offering Bounty Bags.

The plants are grown in hoop houses to keep the weather out and are chock full of fresh, local, deliciousness, right from the farm. Offerings may include broccoli, spinach, kale, swiss chard, varieties of salad greens, and savory herbs. See all of what is being offered this year and reserve your Bounty Bags at this link:  http://cornucopiaproject.org/bounty-bags/

Benefits of frozen produce

With National Nutrition Month in full swing during the month of March, Bounty Bags are a great option. Another great option are frozen foods. Frozen foods can be an affordable way to assure a healthy diet particularly in the wintertime. A trip to the freezer aisle can help you inexpensively get your daily dose of fruits and vegetables. In fact, families who incorporate frozen foods into their normal routine may have better diet quality.

Fruits and vegetables are picked at their peak and often frozen within hours locking in nutrients and flavor. Generally, frozen foods retain their vitamins and minerals and there is no change to the carbohydrate, protein or fat content. In some cases, frozen foods have more vitamins and minerals compared to fresh because fresh foods left in your fridge for a few days can lose vitamins and minerals over time. Freezing, on the other hand, preserves nutrients.

Frozen foods can also be a great way to get other food groups into your diet including whole grains, dairy, and protein. They can also be a handy way to reduce food prep time and assist in controlling food waste.

Choose wisely

Not all produce selections in the freezer section are created equal. Many are laden with saturated fat, sugar and salt. Check the Nutrition Facts label and the ingredients when you are choosing frozen foods to avoid these ingredients. Stick with foods that are closest to nature.

Prepare frozen fruits and veggies carefully

Frozen veggies can be delicious but taste terrible when they are overcooked. They can get soggy and unappetizing. Try sautéing them right out of the freezer with a couple of teaspoons of olive oil over medium high heat for 3 to 5 minutes. This results in a crisp, crunchy vegetable to eat or add to salads or a stir fry.

You can also add them directly to soups and stews. If they get about 20 minutes of heat they will be cooked perfectly. If you want to use them in casseroles, just run cold water over the veggies in a colander, squeeze out some of the water and put them directly in the casserole.

To avoid a mushy mess with frozen fruit, use it right out of the freezer if you can such as in smoothies. If the fruit needs to be thawed, you can put it in the refrigerator for a about 6 to 8 hours or thaw it under cold water in a sealed container for about an hour turning the bag every 10 minutes.

One of the most important choices you can make to improve your health is to eat more produce. The goal is 2 to 3 cups of veggies and 1 ½ to 2 cups of fruit daily. This is a fact that every nutritionist around the world can agree on.

Veggies and fruits are a good source of vitamins and minerals as well as fiber. Phytonutrients such as lycopene, flavanols and anthocyanins are found in plant foods particularly veggies. The more nutrient dense your diet is the more you can protect yourself against disease, inflammation and aging. You will also be better equipped to withstand the pressures of the modern world including environmental challenges such as stress and toxins.

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