By Nicolette M. Pace
With just a little planning and preparation you can freeze flavor and freshness in these favorite foods to lock in nutrients, offer convenience and encourage economy for value savings and decrease your use of processed foods for a healthy lifestyle.
1- Seasonal Fruits: Cut up in season peaches, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, pineapple, grapes or apples for a year round vitamin and fiber fix that’s great for a quick fruit cocktail, lunch time pairing with low fat cottage cheese or a drop in smoothie suggestion. Just a spritz of lemon juice will retard browning and boost vitamin C, a heat sensitive vitamin that will be less with canned varieties.
2- Nutritious Nuts: These healthy and expensive fats can turn rancid at room temperature so be sure to protect your investment. Be recipe ready by bagging up and freezing slivered almonds, pine nuts, honey toasted pecans or spicy Thai-style peanuts for artistic salads, whole grain pilafs, pestos, vegetable, noodle or pasta dishes for a heart healthy omega-3 kick to your meals.
3- Better for you Berries: Take advantage of local fresh berry availability year round and store blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries in the freezer to be ready to pop into tons of recipes. Rich in vitamins and fiber, these slow-carb fruit gems are an incredible powerhouse of nutrients that will boost flavor, add rich color and bathe your blood cells with healing plant chemicals to hit you with super antioxidant power!
4- Bakery Fresh Bread: Who doesn’t love the smell and texture of freshly baked Artisian bread? Impress guests with a gourmet touch by having these toothsome loaves conveniently available by storing in the freezer to preserve the crumb, texture and retard staleness. Just a quick oven re-bake in the oven brings back the aroma, crispness and moisture for fine dining at home.
5- Save Semi-Soft Cheese Calories: Enjoy bulk pricing discounts yet keep these addictive meal ingredients fresh and available but not in your face by retarding mold and freezing super-melters like mozzarella, Colby, pepper jack or gouda for last minute flat bread dinner ideas, tacos, frittatas, or veggie dishes.
6- Whole Grain Goodness: Ambitious attempts to add whole grains like flax, quinoa, millet or oats by either buying a grain cereal or baking mix can go south as the nutrient rich germ deteriorates at room temperature faster than when kept cold. Ensure that these vitamin and mineral rich carbohydrates stay fresh and available to work into your whole food diet by freezing them in insulated bags to stay fresh.
7- Healthy Herbs: While dried herbs can also deliver flavor and therapeutic nutritional value from cholesterol lowering plant sterols and to help you detox, recognize that fresh herbs like basil, parsley, mint, dill, cilantro and chives can benefit from a deep freeze treatment. Just let herbs air dry before freezing to retain color or prep them by finely chopping for a great starts to a freshly made pesto, chutney, meat marinade, salad dressing or herb butter.
8- Vitamin C Squeeze: nothing beats the taste and vitamin content of just squeezed citrus which gets lots in bottled pasteurized juices. For a just released surge of vitamin C and fresh flavor, juice lemons, limes, oranges or grapefruits and freeze in ice cube trays for a quick citrus splash for fish and chicken, fruit salad or infused fruit waters and teas.
9- Specialty Stocks, Stews and Sauces: You can control calories, fat and sodium and have wholesome, preservative free meals ready for you by simply doubling or tripling the quantity of nutritious, inflammation-reducing homemade stock for healing soups by freezing for later use. Give your efforts praise and enjoy freedom from processed convenience food as you take in packed carotenes, vitamin E and flavor from your own marinara, chili or mineral rich beef and vegetable stew.
10- Farm Fresh Veggies: Just harvested and supercharged with vitamins, minerals, plant chemicals and fiber, seasonal local veggies are tops on the nutrient list. A close second are conveniently frozen, therapeutic reminders of a trip to the green market or country farm stand that will preserve these values without processing additives like sodium or sulfites. Reach for favorites that include asparagus, beets, broccoli, green beans, peas, carrots or greens. Your body and mind will thank you!
Nicolette M. Pace MS,RD,CDE,CDN,CFCS