March is Frozen Foods Month!

Frozen Food Month

March a big month in the realm of nutrition and dietetics. It’s not only National Nutrition Month but it’s also Frozen Food Month. Yes, frozen food DOES have its own month believe it or not…

Frozen produce is picked at its peak and flash frozen to maintain all the flavor and nutrients. The Frozen Food Foundation says that frozen fruits and vegetables are equally, and possibly more nutritious than fresh. When you buy fresh produce in the grocery store, it may have been harvested days before and may be past its peak by the time arrives. The produce may also not have been ripe when it was picked and may not be ready when it goes on sale.

Frozen foods keep longer, compared to fresh foods because the freezing process suspends enzyme activity that causes the food to spoil. Depending on the type of food, you can normally store food for several months without losing its quality. You can store it indefinitely if you use free-standing freezers kept at 0 degrees F. This alone can save you hundreds of dollars a year on groceries.

How can you freeze your foods safely?

–        All foods can be safely frozen, but some foods should not be frozen for quality reasons (lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, cream etc.)

–        Frozen food stored consistently at -18°C or lower will remain safe indefinitely.

–        Most domestic freezers should operate at temperatures -18°C or lower. As a general rule, if your freezer can’t keep ice cream solid, its temperature is above the recommended level.

–        Always refer to the on-pack ‘best before’ date. The manufacturer’s ‘best before’ date on frozen foods is a quality indicator and is the date until which the product will remain of peak quality (when stored at -18°C or below). For storage in a 3-star or 4-star freezer manufacturers will normally recommend ‘store until best before date’.

–        After the ‘best before’ date a reduction in eating quality may become evident, whilst the product remains safe to eat.

–        Try to rotate foods; putting newly purchased items at the back of the freezer so older items are used first.

–        Freeze your frozen food in appropriate containers, i.e.:  freezer bags and airtight containers.

–        Most foods obey the rule ‘the colder the better’. Domestic freezers have a star rating indicating the temperature they are designed to operate at.

In honor of the month devoted to frozen food, I thought I would share how frozen food can be used as a healthy alternative!

Frozen Berry-Granola Squares

Ingredients:

–        1 c. whole grain granola

–        2 c. fresh strawberries, raspberries or combination

–        3 c. low-fat Greek yogurt

–        1/3 c. agave nectar

–        1 tsp. real vanilla extract

Directions:

–        Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil.

–        Sprinkle granola evenly on bottom of pan and set aside.

–        In a blender, whirl together berries, yogurt, agave nectar and vanilla until blended. Pour berry mixture over granola, smoothing mixture to the edges of the pan. Cover with foil and freeze until firm, approximately 4 hours. Keep frozen until serving.

Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

Ingredients:

–        1 lb. strawberries, rinsed and hulled

–        2/3 c. Splenda

–        1 cup skim milk yogurt

–        1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

Directions:

–        Slice the strawberries into small pieces.

–        Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 2 hours, stirring every so often.

–        Transfer the strawberries and their juice to a blender or food processor.

–        Add the yogurt and fresh lemon juice. Pulse the machine until the mixture is smooth. If you wish, press mixture through a mesh strainer to remove any seeds.

–        Chill for 1 hour, and then freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

–        Yield: 1 quart

plateandfork5

Advertisements