Updated: Apr 9
If I've asked myself this question, I might assume someone else has too. Do fruits and veggies lose nutrients when frozen? Is the fresh version healthier? Often, I fail to eat all the produce I've bought. I honestly despise throwing away food but when I see that weird fuzzy fungi stuff growing on my strawberries, I know I have no choice. Sounds familiar?
Any plant-based amateur or vegan will know how frozen veggies can play an important role in one’s transition. The convenience of having them readily available for a stir-fry or soup makes them a must-have for anyone starting out on a plant-based diet. They can be boiled, steamed, roasted or simply thawed. Sprinkle your favorite spices on them and voilà, a super nutritious meal.
We add them whole to most of our soups or we purée them for my favourite: a creamy butternut squash soup. We thaw frozen riced cauliflower and blend it into our mashed potatoes, so the kids won’t notice the extra portion of vegetables. And trust me, they don’t. Insert evil laugh here...
Since our gut bacteria thrive on fiber variety, we purchase lots of mixed frozen vegetables containing different types and colors of veggies, to maximize nutrient and vitamin diversity. Remember that the colors are the vitamins and antioxidants. An optimal diet for the gut bacteria in our microbiome should consist of at least 30 plant varieties per week, and frozen fruits and veggies are an easy way to accomplish that without the worries of wasting food that spoils.
But are frozen fruits and veggies as healthy? Yes! Most have exactly the same nutrition as the fresh version, and some have more! Most frozen produce gets harvested at the peak of ripeness. They're then flash frozen immediately after, preserving most of the nutrition. After that, they're officially preserved for shipping in freezing cold containers. Sometimes, frozen fruits and veggies can actually be healthier than their store bought "fresh" counterpart.
When fruits are still on trees, or veggies still in the ground, most of their nutrients are transferred to them in the last crucial moments before they’re harvested. So imagine this. For you to get bright yellow bananas at the store during off-season winter months, they must get harvested much sooner than if they were in season. Due to transportation delays that can easily be a few days, bananas are often harvested super early, even before the final batch of nutrients gets transferred to them from the ground. The banana then gets a chance to ripen during transportation, so you can get a yellow banana. But most of its nutrients are still in the ground, having gotten harvested too soon, so you can be presented with a colorful bright banana. This is convenient if you enjoy eating bananas in winter, but not great if you’re looking for maximum nutrient density.
Studies on frozen raspberries and strawberries have shown that their antioxidant and vitamin content are almost identical to their freshly harvested version. Frozen fruits and veggies last much longer than fresh ones, are available year round, are more convenient, cheaper and easy to fit into many recipes. We carry a freezer full of frozen produce all year and that way, we can eat more exotic fruits, like dragon fruit, papaya, mangoes and pomegranate. If it weren't for the frozen versions, we'd likely never experience these exotic fruits, and most importantly, my daughter's neither. Let's just say we have lots of fun making interesting and colourful smoothies!
So rest assured, there's similar, if not better nutrition in frozen fruits and veggies. Microbiome health has been linked to plant variety, not just plant quantity and frozen produce is a super easy way to crush your goals. If you don't eat your greens, then freeze them, blend them and incorporate them in sauces, smoothies or soups. Remember, a wide variety of colors translates into a wider variety of micronutrients, and health should be measured in micros, not macros!
Our kid’s favorite treat: frozen smoothie popsicles. These are the healthiest, easiest and tastiest treats, and they eat them regularly!
Keep taking care of yourselves, and introduce your kids to the magical fruits and veggies that exist out there. Frozen versions make it possible! What’s your favourite frozen food treat or recipe? Comment and share below so our local plant-based community can benefit!
Check out my website plantbaseddrjules.com and look for the “How To” section in the menu. There, you’ll find tips and tricks that helped me on my journey towards a plant-predominant diet. Everything there is completely free, no catches! If you're looking for quick, easy and healthy plant-based recipes, check out plantbaseddrjules.com and download my free recipe eBook!
Look for me on the socials, @plantbased_dr_jules on Instagram and go like my Facebook Page, Plant-based Dr. Jules. If you’re looking for some fitness motivation and are curious to see what a plant-based athlete can accomplish, follow me, @maritimeninja, on my fitness account on Instagram or check out my fitness group on Facebook, called Maritime Ninja Warrior. Me and my wife Melissa have recently qualified for the Las Vegas Ninja Warrior World Championships that will be held in July 2022, and you can follow our journey on IG!
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Plant-Based Dr. Jules 💚🌱
Plant-based Dr Jules💚🌱