A good friend of mine found an interesting article online recently. The article was written by a nutritionist named Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD. Cynthia is Health magazine’s contributing nutrition editor, privately counsels clients and is currently the sports nutrition consultant to the New York Rangers NHL team and the Tampa Bay Rays MLB team. In other words, she knows her stuff.
And guess what? Cynthia buys, uses and and recommends others buy and use frozen produce, even over fresh produce at your grocery store! I highly recommend you read her article:
5 Reasons This Nutritionist Buys Frozen Fruits and Veggies.
But guess what? Freeze dried fruits and veggies are just like the frozen ones in all the ways she lists. So, all the benefits she lists apply to the freeze dried foods you have in your home store! The only difference is actually an added benefit. Here are her 5 reasons, plus a 6th one that I’ve added in since I’m talking about freeze dried instead of frozen.
6 Reasons This Mom Buys (and regularly uses!) Freeze Dried Produce:
It’s mature – in a good way!
If you were to have a garden full of fruits and veggies in your backyard, you would likely wait until the food you were growing was fully ripe / mature before eating it, right? Doing so allows both the nutrients and the flavor to fully develop. Well, much of the produce you can get at your grocery store (even Trader Joes or Whole Foods etc) is grown hundreds or even thousands of miles away. This means, it is typically harvested before it is fully ripe so it can ripen without going bad as it travels. As a result, it is less nutritious and less flavorful than the produce you’d get out of your garden.
Freeze dried produce (at least that sold by THRIVE) is flash frozen within 24 hours of being picked. So, it is allowed to fully ripen and develops all the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and flavor that food from your backyard garden would! Then, all that good stuff is “locked in” when it is frozen.
It’s just as nutritious (or even more so) than fresh
Cynthia mentions in her article that “frozen produce has been shown to be just as nutrient-rich, or even superior to fresh,” and cites many studies that support this. Similar studies have been done on freeze dried foods. They simply are more nutritious than most of what you’d find at your grocery store. Much of that is for the reason mentioned above: freeze dried foods are picked when ripe. But there is another reason.
Cynthia mentions that “the minute a fruit or veggie is picked, it begins to lose nutrients.” Well, in addition to being picked before fully developing all their nutrients, the food at your local store has been sitting (and losing nutrients) for days / weeks before you actually eat it. This is true even if harvested locally. It still needs to be able to sit on the shelves at the grocery store and then sit on your counter or in your fridge for days without going bad.
Cynthia also mentions that “the vitamin C content in fresh broccoli plummet by more than 50% with a week, but dipped by just 10% over an entire year when frozen.” The results with freeze dried produce are even better. Over their 25 year shelf life, they lose just 1%-5% of their nutrients.
Freezing food preserves it. Period. No additives or preservatives needed. This is true of both frozen produce and freeze dried produce.
Some of the fresh produce at your grocery store needs additives / preservatives in order to preserve it after it is picked, transported, sat on a shelf, put in your fridge and then finally eaten. And all the canned produce you get at the grocery store is full of additives / preservatives (and much lower in nutritional value).
The single ingredient fruits and veggies you get from THRIVE are “naked” as Cynthia puts it. There is nothing but the fruit or vegetable in them. No preservatives, no salt, no sugar. Plus, they are all non-GMO (yes, even the corn!)
It’s a super healthy shortcut
So, instead of your local grocery store, you could purchase all your produce at your local farmers market. That would solve most of the problems listed above. But after a long day, you might get it all home, look at it and say the same thing Cynthia does : “Ugh, I wish it would magically prep itself.”
This is a huge reason why I love my freeze dried produce: it is prep-free! Like all of you, I’m busy. I’m a full time Mom of 4 young kids. I’m a wife. I owe my own business. I’m active in my church. And sometimes, I just don’t want to spend a lot of time on dinner. But I still want to feed my family healthy meals. I don’t really want to spend money on and regularly feed them fast food, frozen pizzas and hamburger helper.
Since freeze dried produce is washed, peeled, cut and chopped for me, it is absolutely prep-free. It allows me to quickly and easily get nutritious, flavorful food on my family’s dinner table and saves me money by allowing me to cook at home more often instead of eating out.
Freeze dried produce can be used just like frozen in your family’s meals. Quickly add it to a smoothie (without washing or chopping it first!), oatmeal, granola, soups, stews, a stir fry, casseroles and more. Use it to make a quick and easy side dish. Add it to rice, quinoa and more.
You can also eat it dry! My kids and I regularly (like multiple times a day) snack on freeze fruits and veggies. Obviously some you’d expect: strawberries, pineapple, blueberries and peaches etc. But we also snack on things like corn, bell peppers and broccoli strait from the can. The veggies make a great crunchy topping for salads dry!
It is simple, easy, delicious, healthy and quick!
It avoids waste
The produce you buy at the grocery store has a very short shelf life. If you don’t eat it within a few days, it goes bad! How many of you have thrown out produce you just didn’t get to in the last week? I’d venture to guess that most of you have. That used to be me! (And if I’m honest, it still is occasionally…)
Freeze dried produce differs from frozen in just one way: after it is frozen, the water is removed in a vacuum.
So, it has an extremely long shelf life without needing any refrigeration whatsoever. Sealed, it will last for 25 years. Once opened, it will still last for 1-2 years right on your pantry shelf. You can only fit so much frozen produce in your freezer, but you can have as much freeze dried produce as you’d like right on your shelves!
This shelf life eliminates wasted produce, and saves money b/c you will actually use every bit of what you buy. No more buying a full pepper, bunch of celery, or pint of strawberries and only using half of it!
Since I’ve started using freeze dried produce regularly in my cooking, our grocery bill (including what I spend on freeze dried produce) has gone down by about 10%.
THRIVE currently offers over 40 different freeze dried fruits and vegetables. All are non-GMO and some are even certified organic. If you like the fresh version, then it is likely you will like the freeze dried version. But I recommend starting with things that either (1) you don’t like peeling, cutting, or chopping and / or (2) you waste a lot of.
Here are just six of my favorites. Every one of these costs the same or less than what you’d pay at the grocery store for an equivalent amount of food and are the products I use most often in my home.
Use for: Dry snacks, soups, stews, stir fry, casseroles.
Use for: Dry snacks, stir fry, soups, fried rice, stews, fajitas.
Use for: Dry snacks, soups, stews, (crush it while dry before adding to soup for “creamed corn”).
Use for: Dry snacks, smoothies, pie / cobbler, ice cream topping, in breakfast cereal / granola.
Use for: Tomato sauce, tomato paste, tomato juice, tomato soup, ketchup and more!
Use for: Stir fry, rice dishes, soups (hot and sour), be.an dips, stews.