Happy Friday and Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone! Whew, I don’t know about you, but boy am I glad we finally made it to Friday. Between recovering from DST on Sunday and the snow on Tuesday, I’ve felt exhausted all week. I have a few plans on the agenda for the weekend, but I am definitely looking forward to spending some quality time with the boyfriend relaxing on the couch.
For this week’s edition of Friday favorites, I am sharing a few of my favorite healthy freezer staples. Consider grabbing a few of these at the grocery store this weekend to help build a well stocked freezer.
If you open my freezer at any given time, you’ll find several bags of frozen vegetables. They are typically picked and frozen at the peak of the season, retaining maximum flavor and nutrient content. Broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, and carrots are among my favorites to keep on hand because they tend to retain the most crunch when reheated. I’m a big fan of the steam-in-a-bag options because they can go from freezer to plate in less than five minutes. Be sure to choose plain vegetables with no added sauces or breading for the best nutritional value. Frozen vegetables make a great addition to whole wheat pasta dishes or soups.
Since corn is a starchy vegetable, I have given it its own category. Unlike most canned corn, frozen corn does not contain added salt. Although there is no replacement for the super sweet fresh corn you get in the summer, frozen corn offers a great way to still enjoy corn in the fall and winter months. Frozen corn can be added to chilis or tossed on top of nachos.
If you’re not familiar with edamame, they are green, immature soybeans traditionally a part of Asian cuisine. Edamame are slightly larger and sweeter than traditional soybeans grown in the United States. You can buy them still in their pods, which are not eaten, or already shelled. One 1/2 cup serving of edamame provides 100 calories, 3 grams fat, 9 grams carbohydrate, 4 grams fiber, and 8 grams protein. In addition, these soybeans also provide several vitamins and minerals including vitamin C, vitamin A, B vitamins, calcium, and iron. Not sure how to use edamame? These soybeans are delicious when added to a stir fry or quinoa salad. I’ve even used them as an alternative to chickpeas for a twist on traditional hummus, just be sure to thaw first.
Yes, I know cauliflower technically falls under the frozen vegetable category, but these days riced cauliflower deserves a category of its own. Between cauliflower pizza crust, cauliflower fried rice, and cauliflower mashed potatoes, cauliflower is definitely enjoying its moment. This moment is well deserved, and to be honest I hope it doesn’t end any time soon. One cup of cauliflower provides 2.5 grams of fiber and is considered to be an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin K, and several B vitamins including folate and vitamin B6.
Not that long ago I remember a friend first telling me about a new product Trader Joe’s was selling–riced cauliflower. Everyone was lining up to stock up before the shelves were picked clean. Flash forward to the present and riced cauliflower is now much easier to find. As pictured above, even Green Giant sells their own version. If you have a food processor it is fairly easy to turn a head of raw cauliflower into riced cauliflower, but I am a fan of the already riced frozen version. Much less mess involved. Keeping riced cauliflower in your freezer means cauliflower fried rice can come together for dinner in less than 20 minutes. Try adding riced cauliflower to your next smoothie or bowl of oats to sneak in a serving of vegetables without altering the taste.
Just like frozen vegetables, frozen fruits are preserved at their peak state. Additionally, you don’t have to be concerned that the fruit will rot before you get a chance to eat it. I typically keep frozen berries and mango on hand to add to smoothies, yogurt, or oatmeal.
It’s also quite easy to freeze your own fruit by laying it out on a baking sheet until frozen and then transferring to a freezer safe bag or container. This works for most fruits, but I’ve had the best luck with fresh blueberries, grapes, and bananas. When added to smoothies frozen bananas create an extra creamy consistency.
I love the pop of flavor that ginger adds to different dishes. However, every time I buy fresh ginger I tend to use it once and then it ends up going bad before I use it again. Plus, peeling and chopping fresh ginger can be time consuming. That’s where these frozen ginger cubes come in handy. With this particular brand, each package contains 20 cubes (1 tsp servings) of crushed ginger. Yes, there are a few additional ingredients added beyond just ginger to preserve the color and consistency, but the list is short and recognizable. By keeping ginger in your freezer, you will always have some on hand to add to stir-fries, cauliflower fried rice, hot tea, or even smoothies.
We store our nuts and nut flours in the freezer. Due to their high oil content they can easily go rancid from exposure to light and heat. Be sure to store them in an airtight freezer container so they don’t absorb odors from other foods in your freezer. You can use nuts right from the freezer, if cooking or baking with them. Try giving your frozen nuts a quick roast in the oven before adding to salads or oatmeal.
Whether you freezer is well stocked or bare, hopefully you found a few new favorites to add your freezer.
What are some of your favorite freezer staples?