Freezing: Nature’s Pause Button – March is National Frozen Food Month

Freezing: Nature’s Pause Button – March is National Frozen Food Month

Based on information provided by the American Frozen Food Institute, on average, 40% of all food in the United States goes uneaten and wasted, which is an annual loss of $165 million. Fresh fruit and vegetable waste makes up nearly one-third of this number. With these discouraging numbers and financial losses, how can the frozen food industry help to solve this problem?  Frozen food and beverage companies work hard to create the safest and best freezing techniques to keep food safe by preventing microorganisms from growing and by slowing down the enzyme activity that causes food to spoil. Modern freezing techniques have been designed to preserve food at its peak freshness and nutrient content. Frozen food makers continue to work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to keep America’s food supply the safest in the world.

Freezing means less wasted food and easier access to well-balanced, portion-controlled nutritious foods during every season and in every community. Many times, frozen foods cost less per serving, but most importantly, they have a longer shelf life than fresh or refrigerated foods.

How do frozen foods play such an integral part in the well-balanced, nutritious diets of Americans?  The frozen food aisle offers a large variety of vegetables, fruits, and other prepared foods at reasonable prices year ’round. Freezing reduces the need for additives and preservatives. Frozen foods also provide nutritious options that fit into all of the food groups suggested by Choose MyPlate.gov (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein, and dairy). They also are a sensible choice when trying to control calories and fat, sugar, saturated fat, and sodium intake. In addition, unused products can be placed back in the freezer for later use.

If you have concerns about frozen foods, it’s time to rethink them. Let’s BUST those crazy frozen food myths swirling around out there!!!

FROZEN FOOD MYTHS VS. FACTS

MYTH: FROZEN FRUITS AND VEGGIES AREN’T AS NUTRITIOUS AS FRESH

FACT: Recent studies found there is no difference in nutrition between frozen and fresh produce.

MYTH: FROZEN FOODS ARE READY TO EAT
FACT: Frozen foods are ready to cook, not ready to eat. As their name suggests, ready-to-cook foods must be cooked or baked according to package instructions.

MYTH: FROZEN MEALS DON’T USE REAL INGREDIENTS
FACT: The freezer aisles of your supermarket are filled with meals made with the highest quality ingredients and prepared the way you would prepare them (if you had the time).

MYTH: FROZEN MEALS AREN’T ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY
FACT: Actually, frozen foods minimize the amount of spoiled food we throw away because they are already portioned out, so we can take what we need and save the rest.

MYTH: FROZEN MEALS ARE MORE EXPENSIVE THAN RESTAURANT TAKE-OUT MEALS
FACT: Restaurant-inspired entrees like seafood scampi, sesame chicken, and Monterey chicken cost under $4 each. You do the math.

MYTH: FROZEN MEALS ARE NOT A GOOD CHOICE FOR HEALTH-CONSCIOUS CONSUMERS
FACT: “Better-for-you” options are available in the frozen food aisle to make it easier for consumers to control intake of calories, fat, saturated fat, and sodium.

For more information on the frozen food and beverage industry, please visit www.affi.org.

For more information on incorporating frozen foods into your healthy lifestyle, please visit: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fs186.

 

It is amazing what happens when we all sit down at the table……….

family mealsThe President of the United States of America, Barack Obama has proclaimed obesity a national, serious public health issue. As such, he is encouraging all Americans to learn about and engage in activities that promote healthy eating.

How can you get involved? Let’s start with the family meal.   There are many benefits to family meals. Families are more likely to eat a nutritious meal when most or all of the family eats together. Plus, families who eat at home have control of portion sizes and ingredient choices. Additionally, children who eat with their families are likely to consume more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and less fat sugar and empty calories.

Research shows that adolescents are also less likely to smoke, drink, and use illegal drugs during their teen years. Enjoying family meals together enhances family communication and provides opportunities for families to share traditions, recipes and family heritage that can be handed down through each generation. And, family meals improve manners, too!

We are not talking about a Thanksgiving type spread here. A family meal can be breakfast, lunch or dinner. Nutrition experts state the meal does not even have to be enjoyed around the table. The important fact is that it is enjoyed together creating a lifetime of positive memories.

Cooking at home can be an intimidating task, but a rewarding one for you, your family, and your budget. Did I mention health?

Homemade meals are easy once you learn a few cooking basics. Once the basics are understood’ a cook can develop the confidence to be creative and experimental. Using family mealtimes as instructional times can also be a wonderful opportunity for you to teach your children how to cook good, healthy meals too.

Are you wondering how to get started?

The University of Florida, IFAS EDIS publications contain a wealth of information about purchasing, and preparing foods http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ (put cooking in the search bar). Another good resource is the Cook it Quick series by Alice Henneman, MS, RD, University of Nebraska Extension in Lancaster County http://food.unl.edu/fnh/cooking-school. Not only will you find quick tips and tricks but you can hone in on cooking techniques as well as find quick, healthy recipes.

Vow to prepare and eat more meals at home. You and your loved ones will be glad you did!