Freezer can be a cool tool for meals

Published 4:58 pm Saturday, March 29, 2014

How often do you open your freezer to check the food that’s inside?

A freezer can be an exceptional tool to help with meal planning.  I’ve even known people that keep a clipboard next to the freezer to help know what is “in stock.”  By stocking a freezer with foods that contribute to balance, you can be assured that a nourishing meal will always be on the table.

March is Frozen Food Month and the freezer aisles in your favorite grocery store are just the place to find nutrient-dense foods. Many people are surprised to learn that frozen fruits and vegetables can be just as nutritious as fresh. Picked at the peak of ripeness, fruits and vegetables are frozen within in a few short hours after picking.  Because of this, nutrients and flavors are locked in.

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Why choose frozen fruits and vegetables? They are convenient, they save time because the preparation (chopping) has been done for you, and they are free from added salt and are budget-friendly.  Best of all, they help you get to the goal of eating five cups of fruits and vegetables per day.

It is essential to have a fruit and a vegetable at mealtimes.  And frozen fruits and vegetables can make that happen. Imagine frozen fruits in smoothies, added to your favorite hot cereal, used in pancakes and waffles or making a fruit salsa.

Blend frozen strawberries and mangos into a delicious smoothie or thaw sliced peaches to include in a tropical fruit salsa over pork or chicken. Opening a bag of frozen vegetables invites soups, casseroles, rice and pasta dishes to have a lot more color and nutrition.

Think beyond corn, green beans and peas to now butternut squash, artichokes, mushrooms, Brussels sprouts, okra and now even “Recipe Ready by Birds Eye” blends that help you get meals to the table.

It’s time to rediscover your freezer with frozen fruits and vegetables.

Penne shrimp and broccoli

Serves 4

A scrumptious pasta dish perfect for shrimp lovers!  Substitute chicken, beef or pork too!

 All you need

•12 ounces uncooked penne whole grain pasta

•3 garlic cloves, minced

•¼ cup chopped onion

•2 tablespoons butter

•2 tablespoons olive oil

•¼ teaspoon salt

•1 pound frozen shrimp, thawed, peeled and deveined

•8 ounces frozen broccoli florets

•¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

 All you do

1. Cook pasta and drain. In a large skillet, sauté garlic and onion in butter, oil and salt until tender. Add broccoli; cook and stir over medium heat for approximately 6 minutes.

2. Add shrimp; cook additional 4- 5 minutes, or until shrimp is pink and broccoli is tender. Stir in pasta and sprinkle with cheese.


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