Food For Thought
Packaged Foods Must Haves
by Leanne Ely, CNC
I am about to say something that many you of may be shocked by. Some of you may even utter an audible gasp. You ready? Some packaged foods aren’t all bad. There, I said it! Believe me, the standard will always be food in its most natural form, but not everything in a package is evil. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons and examples.
The obvious first reason to like packaged food is the time factor. I don’t have the time to always whip up a grand meal to feed my family because I do have other responsibilities outside the four walls of my kitchen (believe it or not). So how do you know which foods are allowed in packaged form?
The type of packaged food I buy most often is frozen produce. I love making smoothies every morning, and buying enough fresh fruit to use in the two smoothies I’ll make for myself and my husband during weekdays can get pricey: that’s ten servings of smoothie. Frozen fruit is a lot cheaper, picked at its peak and is massively convenient.
The quintessential frozen veggie is green beans. It’s a favorite in my house and no one seems to get enough of ‘em, nor do they even notice they’re frozen! I’ve used frozen broccoli and cauliflower is soups before and again, no one seemed to have noticed. Or at least they didn’t say anything (they would have if you knew my bunch, LOL)
To get great frozen produce, make sure that all that’s in the bag is that veggie or fruit. Organic produce is also priced way less when it’s frozen and bought in bulk.
Another packaged food in my house is yogurt. I’m all about the Greek yogurt (double protein) and adore the creamy texture. It’s quite tart, but adding frozen berries and just a drizzle of honey and cinnamon makes a fabulous dessert-like treat!
So there you have it! See? Even Dinner Divas buy packaged foods!
Love smoothies? Me too, check out our Summer Smoothies, and Summer Salads Menus then come see me make one!
I am a BIG fan of frozen veggies. Why? Because you get better veggies than buying from the grocery store produce section!
Frozen veggies aren’t harvested until they are at their peak, with the most nutrients and flavor. They are then transported a SHORT distance to the processing plant (always near the farms raising the produce processed), where they are cleaned, cut, and FLASH frozen. Flash freezing (which can’t be done at home in your freezer) freezes the veggies so quickly that large ice crystals don’t have time to grow in the food. This better preserves the cellular structure of the veggie (keeping them from getting mushy), and better preserves the nutrients and flavor as well. The veggies are then packaged and kept frozen all the way to the store.
How do I know this? I grew up in the Valley of the Jolly Green Giant (really — in southern Minnesota!).
So, how to pick out good frozen veggies? Look for bags where the veggies inside are not frozen into a solid lump — such large lumps indicate that the bad had been allowed to thaw a bit, then refreeze again. Bags that have been kept frozen the entire time will have loose veggies inside. Other than that, brand name means little, unless you are buying veggies that have a sauce, in which case flavors may vary a bit.
Once you get them be sure to cook them only until done (stirring from time to time, especially if microwaving) to keep them from cooking to mush.
So, considering the convenience, the lower cost, and the better nutrition I always keep a good stock of frozen veggies at home. I save the produce department for the fruits and veggies I like to eat raw.