Trade Up for Veggies
Trade up your typical choices of snacks for more veggies for this trade up tuesday. We’re talking about chips to dried veggie chips to fresh carrot chips. There are many options in the world of vegetables!
Benefits of Vegetables
The top 5 vegetables purchased in the United States last year include potatoes, tomatoes, onions, carrots, and broccoli. Vegetables are mostly composed of water and contain a variety of vitamins and minerals. Potatoes and onions are both good sources of vitamin C. Tomatoes are a good source of vitamin C, vitamin K and copper. Carrots and broccoli provide a variety of B vitamins, vitamin C and vitamin K. Most vegetables are low in fat and calories, good sources of fiber, and do not contain cholesterol. Vegetables can be found in a variety of forms – fresh, frozen, or canned. Let’s go through these forms together!
Fresh vegetables must be grown, harvested, and sold during specific growing seasons. Most vegetables are picked prior to reaching peak ripeness and only remain fresh for a few weeks to a few months depending upon the type of vegetable. After being harvested, vegetables are often washed or cleared of debris and then sorted by size for packaging. Fresh vegetables offer high levels of nutrients and can be prepared and served in a variety of ways. Often fresh vegetables are believed to cost more than frozen and canned vegetables, however, in some cases they are less expensive.
Frozen vegetables are picked at peak ripeness and are available year round. In preparation for freezing, the vegetables are first blanched, or placed in boiling water for a short time and then put on ice. This step is important to kill microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, or fungi), to ensure a safe product for consumers, and to lock in the nutrients of the vegetable. Frozen vegetables are much softer than fresh vegetables when eaten raw, however, this texture change is not obvious when frozen products are cooked prior to consumption. Due to the preparation process, frozen vegetables are able to provide similar amounts of nutrients when compared to their fresh counterparts.
Canned vegetables can last 3 to 5 years unopened, however, once opened, those vegetables last about 3 to 4 days. Canned foods are prepared by heating the vegetable to a temperature hot enough to kill microorganisms. Then they are packed into airtight containers made from recyclable steel, and finally they are heated under steam pressure between 240-250 degrees Fahrenheit and sealed. Various vegetables take different amounts of time to process – it is dependent upon the food’s acidity, density and ability to transfer heat. The main difference between canned vegetables and fresh ones is that the canning process allows the vegetables to lose important nutrients, providing fewer vitamins and minerals than their fresh or frozen counterparts.
What to look for
The most important thing to look for when selecting a frozen or canned vegetable is the “no salt added” or “low sodium” label. Frozen and canned vegetables are packed with sodium and looking for these vegetables without salt or sauces added allows you to have control over the sodium level. A quick tip if you already own canned vegetables that are not salt free is to rinse off canned vegetables with water prior to consumption in order to wash off any extra sodium that may be on the vegetable.
There are so many things to take into account when choosing what form. price, convenience, and preference all play a role in the decision of which form of vegetable works for you. Overall, there are many advantages to each processing method for vegetables and it is up to the consumer to decide what works best for them!