Did you know that almost 80% of Americans don't get the recommended daily allowance of fruit? That's pretty crazy, isn't it? The numbers for vegetables are even worse, with almost 90% of people not meeting the recommended amount of vegetables. Fruits and veggies are a huge source of essential nutrients in our diets, and many studies have shown that a diet high in nutritious fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
Given the increase in the rates of chronic diseases, eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is more important than ever! The University of California-Davis (UC Davis), in partnership with the Frozen Food Foundation, conducted an in-depth study to evaluate the nutrient content of eight commonly-purchased frozen and fresh fruits and vegetables, specifically analyzing vitamins B2 (riboflavin), C and E, and B-carotene (a precursor to vitamin A); the minerals calcium, magnesium, zinc, copper and iron; dietary fiber; and total phenolics (health-promoting plant compounds). Results found that frozen fruits and veggies are usually just as nutritious as they are when they're fresh! In some cases, they were even higher in nutritional content!
So why aren't Americans getting enough of these vital nutrients from fruits and veggies? The answer is simple, really: time, effort and expense.
If you think about it, fresh fruits and veggies are often costly, especially in parts of the country where certain produce doesn't grow and needs to be brought in - or even imported from other countries.
Add to the expense aspect that fresh fruits and veggies often need a lot of preparation to eat (hulling strawberries, peeling, dicing and chopping vegetables), sometimes it isn't convenient to work a lot of fruits and vegetables into our diets. I was working on an Eat Fresh Challenge the past few weeks and it reminded me just how much work it is to chop and dice all of the fresh vegetables necessary for most recipes!
These are some of the reasons why many Americans don't get the recommended daily allowance of fruit and vegetables - but there is an easier (and often less expense) way to get more fruits and vegetables into our diets: frozen food!
Freezing is simply nature’s pause button. Frozen fruits and vegetables are picked at the peak of ripeness and frozen, which locks in the nutrient value. Frozen fruits and vegetables offer us a more conveinent, affordable way to simplify meal preparation and fill our family's bellies full of healthy fruits and vegetables.
I always keep my freezer stocked full of frozen fruits and vegetables because they are so easy to cook with. I was in the mood to make a Hearty Minestrone Soup recipe the other day and instead of spending an hour chopping vegetables, I bought a carton of tomato sauce and a bag of Bird's Eye Classic Mixed Vegetables and a bit of ground pork. It literally took me five minutes to prep the soup, and that was just because I had to cook the ground pork!
The result was a delicious soup that Angeline and I enjoyed while she was home sick from school, and it was so easy to make!
Easy Homemade Hearty Minestrone Soup Recipe
Easy Homemade Hearty Minestrone Soup
- 1 bag Bird's Eye Classic Mixed Vegetables
- 1 16 ounce carton of tomato sauce
- 1 16 ounce carton of vegetable stock
- 1 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes
- 1 ½ cup of elbow macaroni
- 1 lb ground pork You can substitute beef or chicken
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon garlic salt
In a pan over medium-high heat, brown ground pork.
In a large pot, add vegetable stock, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes and seasonings. Mix well.
Add elbow macaroni, cooked ground pork and vegetables and stir.
Let cook over medium heat for ten to fifteen minutes.