Food & Drink

Frozen vegetables can be a nutritious swap for fresh

This sheet-pan dinner includes shrimp, green beans and potatoes. (Susan Selasky/Detroit Free Press/TNS)
This sheet-pan dinner includes shrimp, green beans and potatoes. (Susan Selasky/Detroit Free Press/TNS)

You can get just about any fresh vegetable any time of the year, but quality can be an issue. During the winter months, fresh produce sometimes doesn’t look too inviting.

Where do you turn? Look to the frozen-food aisle, where you’ll find vegetables that can be just as nutritious as the fresh variety.

Think about it. Most of those frozen vegetables were picked at their peak moment of ripeness and frozen quickly. It’s like buying frozen salmon and other fish. Chances are that the fish was frozen soon after it was caught.

Because vegetables are frozen soon after they’re picked, they retain their nutrients. It’s when the vegetables are cooked in water that nutrients can get left behind in the water and lost. The exception is when vegetables are cooked in dishes like soups and stews. Nutrients leach into the liquid they’re cooked in, and all of that liquid is consumed.

Erin Dolinski, a registered dietitian at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Mich., says frozen and canned vegetables often get a bad rap.

“With frozen vegetables, these are convenient, low in cost and an easy way to get your recommended vegetable servings in per day,” Dolinski says. “They are picked fresh at peak of ripeness and frozen within 24 hours to maintain nutrition content.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s State Indicator Report on Fruits and Vegetables, only one in 10 U.S. adults eats the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables. The recommended amount of vegetables is two or three cups daily, Dolinksi says.

There’s nothing wrong with fresh vegetables, Dolinski says, but you need to consider how long they’ve been at the grocery store and how long you plan to store them in your refrigerator.

“Processes that exposed foods to heat, light or oxygen cause the greatest nutrient loss,” Dolinski says.

Here are three others reasons why frozen vegetables are a good choice:

They’re not packed with added sodium like some canned vegetables.

They’re convenient. Frozen vegetables are already prepped and ready to use. Many are diced, quartered, chopped or sliced.

They’re often a better value than fresh.

Today’s recipe helped me make use of some frozen greens beans I had tucked away in the freezer.

This recipe is one of those sheet-pan dishes in which everything is made on the same pan in the oven. What’s a bit different about this one is that the potatoes need to cook longer than the other two main ingredients.

Making an entire dinner on a sheet pan in the oven is game changer, especially if you’re swamped for time. What’s important is having everything prepped and ready. Don’t let the lengthy ingredients list scare you away. Once you have everything on hand, the recipe comes together quickly.

The mix of Dijon, olive oil and seasoning coating does double duty here. You coat the potatoes first in the mixture and then dump them on the pan and place it in the oven. Later, in the same bowl, you can add the frozen green beans to coat them.

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.