Frozen foods…the busy parent’s answer to “What’s for dinner?”

25 Oct

No, I’m not talking about frozen foods like Lean Cuisine entrees, Totino’s Pizza Rolls or Weight Watchers desserts!

I’m talking about frozen vegetables — the kind in a bag with no other ingredients besides vegetables. They are a great way to get dinner on the table in a hurry. Also, they are usually as nutritious or more nutritious than fresh vegetables in your grocer’s produce section. Fresh vegetables from my backyard garden or the farmer’s market would certainly be my first choice. But fresh fruits and vegetables in the grocery store have often traveled a thousand miles to get there and have been in the produce section for days, if not weeks. It’s a fact that produce loses nutrients every day after it’s been picked. Plus, they are often harvested too early so they will not be overripe when they get to the store. Frozen vegetables (and fruits) are usually harvested at the peak of ripeness and frozen immediately, before many nutrients are lost, and they don’t have all the sodium of canned vegetables.

They are also convenient for those of us in areas of the country that are too cold to have farmer’s markets all winter. By Christmas, the only thing fresh from around here is winter squash — and even that was probably picked in September or October and has been in storage until the grocer needs it!

I always have frozen vegetables on hand, even during the summer, for busy days when I have only 15 minutes to pull dinner together (which means no time to husk corn or clean green beans). They’re also handy when you open up your fridge and realize you’ve already eaten the fresh veggies that were supposed to last the whole week! Sweet corn kernels, green peas, and chopped broccoli are the ones I regularly have in my freezer. In the winter, though, I add green beans, snow peas, lima beans, Brussels sprouts, and whatever else looks good. I realize they have probably traveled a long way to get to my freezer, but life is busy and sometimes you just have to do what you can do. Besides, they taste a heck of a lot better than trucked-in green beans in the produce section in the middle of February!

You can simply steam or microwave just about any frozen vegetable and toss with vegan butter and seasonings for a quick side dish. They are also perfect for putting together a quick stir fry or vegetable-based soup. Frozen fruits make fantastic smoothies or heat them up and spoon over oatmeal, granola or pancakes.

I was analyzing the contents of my freezer this morning to get ready for today’s grocery shopping, and I came across a bag of frozen Brussels sprouts. I decided to roast them for lunch. They came out of the oven golden brown and slightly crisped on the outside. Then I drizzled them with a balsamic vinegar and maple syrup glaze and topped them with toasted pine nuts. The end result was delicious! I think they could go on the Thanksgiving menu!

Balsamic & Maple-Glazed Brussels Sprouts
makes 4 servings

12-ounce package of frozen Brussels sprouts
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Lightly coat a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Put frozen Brussels sprouts on the baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Toss to coat evenly, then spread them out on the baking sheet. Roast in the oven 15 minutes. Stir the Brussels sprouts and continue to roast for 7 to 10 more minutes or until they are golden brown.

Meanwhile, place pine nuts in a small skillet over medium heat. Stir until they are lightly toasted, about 4 to 5 minutes.

In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the balsamic vinegar and maple syrup. Bring to a boil and stir frequently until the mixture is thickened, about 4 minutes.

To serve, drizzle the roasted Brussels sprouts with the balsamic-maple syrup glaze. Sprinkle with pine nuts. Enjoy!

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One Response to “Frozen foods…the busy parent’s answer to “What’s for dinner?””

  1. Erin Michel October 27, 2010 at 3:09 am #

    Roasted Brussels sprouts are my favorite thing ever! I usually just roast them with olive oil, sea salt and pepper, but this sounds yummy, too!

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