Fresh, Frozen, Canned
or Dried for Your Diet?

Written by Sky Taylor, Diet Bites

A Diet Dilemma and tips to rectify.

Fresh, frozen, canned or dried? Which of these is the best method for food preparation? Which variation will provide you with the most nutrients?

Fresh is always best - you just can't beat it for nutritional values. Fresh fruits, veggies, meats and breads are your healthiest choices but as delicious as fresh is - certain foods have a very short shelf life.

In addition, the home cook might not have immediate need for a particular food and having a canned, dried or frozen alternative is a precious thing.

Preserving foods that are at their peak, but that will spoil if not eaten make ideal candidates for freezing, canning and drying. These methods allow us to save foods that would otherwise have ended-up in the trash.

Fresh Vegetable Cooking Tips

When storing be sure to lock in the freshness by placing the vegetables in bags that seal if they are going into the refrigerator. Otherwise, leave foods that do best out of the cold by keeping them in special areas in your kitchen that are out of the sunny areas or areas of bright light - unless you're aiming to assist in the ripening process.

When cooking, take care not to overcook as fresh vegetables can turn to mush.

For a special treat, place clean asparagus into a deep non-stick skillet along with cracked pepper that has been mixed with extra virgin olive oil. Cook for about five minutes, taking care to turn the asparagus amid the cooking process. Sprinkle with a bit of sea salt. Be sure to trim off the ends if they are too tough to easily bite into.

This simple and very basic cooking tip can be used with almost-all fresh vegetables. And be sure to use fresh vegetables as soon as possible after purchasing. If you live close to the market, you can purchase a small batches at a time - but for those who live out in the country, a garden works best.

Frozen is next in line.

Though frozen foods are a fantastic choice, some foods just don't taste good when frozen. Examples are bananas, carrots, squash and green beans. They just lose that 'fresh out of the garden' taste during the transition.

However, other foods tend to freeze quite well. Some of our favorite choices include: okra, bell pepper, onion, black-eyed peas, corn on the cob, corn kernels, English peas and broccoli. Fruits that freeze very well include: dark sweet cherries, blueberries, blackberries, peaches, strawberries and raspberries.

Again, avoid overcooking the product. Frozen items tend to go mushy when they get too much heat.

Dried comes in a quick third.

Talk about convenience! Dried veggies are especially nice when you are pinched for time. Simply toss into a bit of fat-free bouillon and you've got a tasty, pretty health-wise treat - discounting the sodium content unless you opt for lower sodium bouillon. This recipe formula is also super low in calories.  

Though sugary, dried fruits make great little snackers. Always measure out, then enjoy. That tiny 1/3 cup of dried cranberries contains close to 150 calories, enough to enjoy about 8 fresh apricots. Five prunes or five dates contain about 100 calories.

Dried food tends to have a rubbery texture and can be difficult to cook through-and-through, so that is a negative. But another positive is that they make perfect cooking ingredients for campfire trips. And dried foods have a long shelf life.

Canned is last in line.

Canned foods may be last in line but they are generally a great buy at the market in comparison to their fresh, dried and frozen peers.

And canned foods are very convenient when cooking time is pinched. While canned foods may not be as rich in nutrients as fresh, but they're still in there.

The next time you're squished for time, try mixing the following canned foods together for a Quick Chili along with your favorite small packet of taco or fajita seasoning; no need to drain the foods excepting the hominy:

1 medium can of dark or light kidney beans

1 medium can of red or pinto beans

1 medium can of Mexican style petite tomatoes

1 can of drained yellow or white hominy.

Be sure to drain the hominy.

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