‘Pie hole’, colloquial for one’s mouth, is believed to have evolved in the USA in the 1980s from the British expression ‘cake hole’ (coined in the mid 20th century). Pie hole refers to a mouth, as in: Shut your pie hole or, in this case: Put less in your pie hole.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Veg-sicle? The Lowdown on Frozen Vegetables

Fresh vs frozen vegetables: A topic that doesn't require much introduction. People commonly tell me fresh is best - whether they say that because they believe it, or because they know I'm a dietitian and feel they're being judged, I know not. People who know me, know I'm a sucker for a good deal and a sucker for some good science. So without further ado, let's talk about why frozen veggies are totally awesome.

Some frightfully fascinating history pertaining to frozen foods: Clarence Birdseye developed the quick freeze method in Canada, 1924. His technique involved holding the food under pressure between two metal plates, kept at a chilly -25F (-31C) by evaporation of ammonia. This process is preferable to the slow freeze method which causes the formation of large ice crystals. These crystals rupture the plant's cell walls, causing cell contents to spill out when thawed - leading to texture degradation. No one wants to eat flaccid, droopy, lifeless vegetables... Clarence knew that.

The question of nutritional quality often arises when discussing frozen and canned vegetables. But, they are really quite similar to their fresh counterparts. This is because canning and freezing occurs soon after harvest. Fresh veggies on the other hand, can take up to 10 days to get from farm to pie hole, resulting in deterioration of less stable nutrients by up to 50%.

Cooking is important in nutrient retention, and this goes for both fresh and frozen veggies. Extended cooking times or cooking at very high heat causes vitamin loss. Boiling and blanching (flash boiling) are both prime examples of this. Better to cook for a short time via microwave or steaming. Again, unless you're my 92 year old grandpa, no one likes limp, lifeless, flaccid vegetables.

So, why are frozen (or canned) veggies so good?
  • You can keep them much longer than the fresh stuff
    • Fewer trips to the supermarket
    • Less wastage and spoilage
  • A way to access produce when it's not in season
  • Easy to throw into mixed dishes like soups, sauces and casseroles for a little extra something something (and by that, I mean fiber, vitamins and minerals)
A quick note about the canned stuff: They are often processed with salt. The best ways to get around that is by buying the ones with no added salt (read the label) or just rinse well after liberating them.

Basically, all veggies are great. Whether you prefer fresh, frozen, canned or a combination, just put them in your pie hole on a daily basis.
My favourite place on Earth: The Queen Vic Market

7 comments:

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  4. Dietary experts recommend that every person should eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
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