Frozen Fruit And Veg Are Just As Healthy As Fresh Produce

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People frequently dismiss the idea of frozen foods being better for you than fresh food. And it’s true that the boxes and bags of nutritional land mines found in the freezer aisle can easily blow up your diet. But it’s not all doom and gloom for frozen fare. Fresh produce that’s picked up and transported around the world loses nutritional value as it travels, but freezing it slows the breakdown and helps maintain freshness.

In fact, multiple studies have found frozen foods to be just as good and usually better for you than fresh. In 2013 a study conducted at the University of Chester found that about two-thirds of the frozen fruits and vegetables it tested had more vitamin C and antioxidants (including polyphenols, lutein, betacarotene and anthocyanin) than refrigerated produce.

Another study from the University of Georgia in the US compared fresh and frozen strawberries, blueberries, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, corn, spinach and green peas from six grocery stores. Initial tests found both varieties had similar nutrition levels. The food was then returned to the fridge or freezer, and tested again five days later. The fresh lost nutrients, mostly vitamins A and C and folate.

So don’t be a fresh-food-only snob. Jump into the deep freeze with these healthy recipes, made using foods from the freezer.

Pork With Cherry Sauce

Frozen fruits like antioxidant-packed cherries can add a sweet kick to muscle-friendly animal protein. Even cooler: they’re already pitted for you.

Ingredients (Serves Two)

  • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 4tsp rapeseed oil
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 340g pork tenderloin
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2tsp minced fresh ginger
  • 2 large handfuls of frozen cherries
  • 3tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2tsp fresh thyme
  • 2tsp orange zest
  • ¼tsp chilli powder
  • ¼tsp cinnamon

To Make

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas 6. In a bowl, toss the onions with 2tsp oil and a little salt and pepper. Pile the onions in the middle of a baking pan. Season the pork and place on the bed of onions. Roast for 30 minutes, or until the pork is 63°C in the middle. Let the pork rest for five minutes, then slice.
  2. Heat 2tsp oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for one minute. Add the cherries, 1tsp vinegar, thyme, orange zest, chilli powder, cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the cherries begin to break down, about five minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining vinegar.
  3. Place the onions on plates and top with the pork slices and cherry sauce.

Nutrition (per serving): 368 calories, 38g protein, 25g carbs, 13g fat

Salmon Curry

Bags of frozen peas are a stealthy way to infuse your diet with plant protein and fat-torching fibre. And weight for weight, frozen pre-chopped spinach has a higher concentration of must-have nutrients like folate, vitamin K and calcium than its fresh counterpart.

Ingredients (Serves Four)

  • 1tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • ½tsp salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1tbsp red curry paste
  • 400g canned chopped tomatoes
  • 185ml canned coconut milk
  • 140g frozen chopped spinach
  • 225g frozen peas
  • 680g skinless salmon fillets, cut into 5cm pieces
  • Juice of ½ lime

To Make

  1. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and salt and cook until soft, about five minutes. Stir in the garlic and ginger and cook for one minute. Stir in the curry paste and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in the tomatoes and coconut milk, bring to a simmer and cook for five minutes.
  2. Stir in the spinach and peas and then add the salmon, coating it in the sauce. Cover the pan and simmer for five minutes, or until the salmon is cooked through. Squeeze in lime juice.

Nutrition (per serving): 544 calories, 39g protein, 18g carbs, 36g fat

Blueberry Cheesecake Muffins

These deliver quality carbs, protein and healthy fats. Research shows the antioxidants in blueberries can help mitigate the muscle damage associated with workouts, and levels of vitamin C can be higher in frozen berries than fresh.

Ingredients (Serves Four)

  • 2 cups (around 300g) frozen blueberries
  • 2tsp grated lemon zest
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½tsp ground ginger
  • Salt
  • 2tsp cornstarch
  • 500g light ricotta cheese
  • 2tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 2tsp vanilla extract
  • 8tbsp almond butter
  • 4 wholegrain muffins, toasted

To Make

  1. Place the blueberries, lemon zest, cinnamon, ginger, a pinch of salt and 65ml water in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.
  2. In a small bowl, stir the cornstarch into 2tbsp water until dissolved. Stir into the blueberry mixture and heat for one minute, or until the sauce is thickened.
  3. In a bowl, stir together the ricotta, maple syrup and vanilla extract.
  4. To serve, spread 1tbsp almond butter on each muffin half. Top the muffins with a dollop of ricotta mixture and blueberry sauce.

Nutrition (per serving): 542 calories, 30g protein, 54g carbs, 25g fat

Corn, Cauliflower And Crab Soup

The duo of crab and Greek yogurt boosts protein content, while sweetcorn provides vitamin B3, which generates the energy you need for a tough workout. You shouldn’t have to make a trip to the fishmonger’s for fresh crab meat – it’s in most supermarkets.

Ingredients (Serves Four)

  • 3 cups (around 500g) frozen sweetcorn kernels
  • 1tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • ½tsp salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1tsp ground cumin
  • ½tsp chilli powder
  • 500ml vegetable broth
  • 400g frozen cauliflower florets
  • 250ml plain Greek yogurt
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 4tbsp prepared pesto
  • 340g fresh lump crab meat

To Make

  1. Thaw a cup of sweetcorn kernels and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and salt and cook until soft, about five minutes. Add the garlic, cumin and chilli powder and cook for 30 seconds. Add the broth, cauliflower and the rest of the sweetcorn. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer for ten minutes.
  3. Pour into a blender with the yogurt and lemon juice and blend until smooth.
  4. Divide the soup among four bowls. Top each with 1tbsp pesto, ¼ of the thawed corn and ¼ of the crab.

Nutrition (per serving): 343 calories, 28g protein, 28g carbs, 15g fat

Edamame Chicken Wraps

Frozen edamame beans are packed with plant protein, fibre and a range of essential vitamins and minerals. Boiled and seasoned with salt, edamame beans is a stellar snack option – or you can use it to make this superfood sandwich spread that will leave mayo green with envy.

Ingredients (Serves Two)

  • 2 cups (around 310g) frozen shelled edamame beans
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 2tbsp chopped coriander
  • 1 small canned chipotle chilli pepper in adobo sauce
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • ½tsp ground cumin
  • ½tsp salt
  • 4 large wholegrain wraps
  • 2 large handfuls of sliced cooked chicken
  • 2 carrots, sliced into matchsticks
  • Jar of roasted sliced red peppers

To Make

  1. Prepare the edamame beans according to package directions. Drain and combine in a bowl with the avocado, coriander, chilli pepper, garlic, lemon juice, cumin and salt to create a chunky mixture. If it’s too dry, add a little water.
  2. Spread the mixture on wraps and top with chicken, carrots, and roasted red peppers. Roll tightly and slice in half.

Nutrition (per serving): 509 calories, 39g protein, 44g carbs, 19g fat

A version of this article first appeared in the US edition of Men’s Fitness