1/2/11

Fresh (or Frozen) Eats

As we ease into the New Year with an open mind and realistic resolutions/expectations, I hope you enjoy my latest Iron Girl article.

Fresh (or Frozen) Eats
The winter weather may be frightful, causing your selection of fruits and veggies to be anything but delightful. During the colder months, fresh produce can have different textures, tastes and prices, but don't let this stop you from including fruits and veggies in your balanced diet. There are a host of vital nutrients stocked in the frozen food section at your nearest grocery store, and according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, frozen fruits and vegetables provide the same essential nutrients and health benefits as their fresh counterparts (USDA, n.d.).

When preparing your frozen produce, it is important to study cooking times and temperatures to minimize nutrient loss. Steaming or boiling a vegetable for even a minute more than necessary may reduce maximum nutritional benefits. When it comes to sautéing, adding a little heart-healthy unsaturated oil (at the most optimal cooking temperature for the oil) will increase the absorption of fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.

Whether it is fresh or frozen, winter or summer, here are a few tips on fruits and vegetables:

* Eat seasonally for better texture, color, taste and price.
* Do not judge a fruit or vegetable solely by the color. Ask your local produce clerk for his/her advice on choosing the best weekly produce.
* Ask your produce clerk for shipping dates on your favorite produce so you can ensure a great tasting fruit or vegetable. Also, check use-by dates on bagged produce.
* Prior to shopping, plan a recipe, snack or meal for your produce. This will reduce the chance of spoilage.
* Shop for your produce at the end, rather than at the beginning of your shopping trip. No one likes a smashed banana or bruised pear.
* Stock your fridge and freezer with both frozen and fresh produce so that you have options when it comes to a fresh hearty salad or warm vegetable stew.
* Keep your refrigerator cool (32 to 40º F) and your freezer even cooler (-10 - 0º F). -The warmer your fridge or freezer, the quicker the nutrient loss and spoilage. As a reminder, per USDA guidelines, always let food cool (within two hours) prior to putting it into the refrigerator. This will keep your refrigerator cool and reduce the chance of warming other refrigerated foods (USDA, 2010).
* Store produce and then wash prior to eating or cooking.
* Don't cross-contaminate. Use separate cutting boards for meat and produce. A solution of 1 tsp bleach per quart of water is considered safe and effective when cleaning cutting boards.


Resources:

United States Department of Agriculture (n.d.). Fabulous fruits...versatile

vegetables. Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. Retrieved December 13, 2010, from click here for link.

United States Department of Agriculture (2010). Food Safety. Retrieved

December 13, 2010, from click here for link



Marni holds a Master of Science in Exercise Physiology, is a Certified Sports Nutritionist (CISSN) and holds a certification by the American Dietetic Association in Adult Weight Management. Marni is a Level-1 USAT Coach and is currently pursuing a registered dietician degree. She is a 4x Ironman finisher and has qualified for the 2011 Ironman World Championship. Marni enjoys public speaking and writing, and she has several published articles in Lava Magazine, Hammer Endurance News, CosmoGirl magazine and Triathlete Magazine, and contributes monthly to IronGirl.com and Beginnertriathlete.com.
Any questions, Email mrakes1@hotmail.com or visit www.trimarni.blogspot.com