Fresh, Frozen, Canned or Dried
Want the good or bad news first?
Okay, let’s get the bad news out of the way. Canadian adults and kids still aren’t consistently eating enough fruits and vegetables for optimal health. The good news? It’s never been easier to eat enough! (Remember we’re aiming for at least 7 or more tennis-ball sized servings daily.) Although the variety of fresh, in-season fruit and vegetables is not yet as abundant at this time of the year as in the summer, at any time, there are still many great fresh choices to enjoy. Varying what we eat is an important aspect of healthy eating to help ensure we get all the needed nutrients. When fresh simply isn’t available, frozen is the next best thing. In addition to frozen blueberries and mango chunks, one of my favourite frozen produce items is Brussels sprouts. They take very little time to cook and taste as good as fresh but with far less prep work. Canadians also have fantastic access to a great selection of canned fruits and vegetables. One of the best canned vegetable products around is tomatoes. In fact, before vine-ripened fresh tomatoes are available, canned make a tastier alternative in many recipes compared to an under-ripe or pale fresh tomato.
Whether tomatoes or other canned vegetables, read labels and look for those with little or no added salt. When choosing canned fruit, enjoy a selection of fruit packed in water or real juice as opposed to heavy syrups. I always keep canned peaches and pears on hand as a quick base for a fruit salad to which I add banana, kiwi or other fresh fruit I have on hand. What frozen or canned produce items do you find handy?
And don’t forget about dried fruit. Cranberries, apricots, mangoes, figs and other dried fruit count as a nutrient-rich serving. The best approach is to continue to keep your food choices varied with a mix of fresh, frozen, canned and dried.