In summer it’s easy to get a wide variety of colourful veges, tossed into a salad and served in many different ways. In winter though, we often feel less like salad and more like stodge! Couple with that the limited array of vegetables available cheaply during the winter months, and it can seem tricky to keep the five ‘plus plus’ a day going.
That’s where canned and frozen veges really come into their own. Canning and freezing techniques now mean we can eat a variety of our favourite vegies even out-of-season. And the good news is worldwide studies have shown that frozen vegetables are nutritionally similar to fresh.
During storage and transportation, fresh vegetables can be exposed to conditions that cause changes in nutrient content and quality. Frozen vegetables, on the other hand, are picked at their peak and frozen shortly after harvest so nutrients become locked in. Also some nutrients, such as vitamin A, can be preserved better in frozen foods, as they are not exposed to light.
Canned foods are also nutritionally very similar to fresh vegetables, as the canning process locks in their nutrients and flavour. You might be surprised to learn no preservatives are required in canned products. Salt and sugar solutions are added purely for taste. For the healthiest choice, pick canned products with the lowest amount of sugar and/or sodium.
Quick tips for using frozen and canned veges
- For a super-easy stir-fry, heat 1/2 teaspoon oil in a wok. Add 1 chopped onion, crushed garlic and 450g meat, cut in thin strips. Stir-fry until meat is cooked. Add a 500g packet frozen veges and a dash of water. Stir-fry for 5 minutes, or until vegees are tender. Stir in a little soy or teriyaki sauce and serve.
- Steam, boil or microwave 2 cups each of peas and broad beans. When tender, remove and discard skins of the beans. Toss beans and peas with a handful of fresh mint leaves and 1 tablespoon each of olive oil and lemon juice. Sprinkle with crumbled feta and serve.
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a frying pan. Sauté thin strips of lean bacon until golden. Add 2 sliced shallots and stir-fry for another minute. Meanwhile, steam or microwave fresh or frozen Brussels sprouts. When tender, cut into quarters then add to pan. Toss with bacon and shallots for 1-2 minutes then serve.
- For easy roast veges, preheat oven to 200°C. Arrange a packet of chunky mixed frozen vegies (such as carrots, cauliflower and broccoli, or one of the frozen potato mixes) in an ovenproof dish. Drizzle with olive oil and season with pepper and thyme. Roast until golden and tender.
- Make your favourite soup super by adding a whole bag of mixed frozen veges.
- For a vibrant and tasty dip, purée cooked frozen peas and mix in a pinch of salt and ground black pepper.
- A bowl of hot edamame in their pods (just microwave as per packet instructions) makes a great pre-dinner snack.
- Drain a can of sweet corn kernels and add to salads (green, rice, pasta or bean salads).