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Canned, Fresh or Frozen: What Kinds of Fruits and Vegetables Do You Choose?

During the summer months, we can enjoy delicious, colorful fresh fruits and vegetables from a garden, farmers market or grocery store. When fruits and vegetables are “in season,” they are at their best quality and flavor. On average, kids and adults need 2½ to 3 cups of fruits and vegetables daily.
Canned, Fresh or Frozen: What Kinds of Fruits and Vegetables Do You Choose?

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Quick Quiz:

1. According to MyPlate recommendations, how much of your plate should be fruits and vegetables?

a. 1/4
b. 1/2
c. 2/3
d. 3/4

2. True or False: Canned, fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables all count toward the daily recommendation.

Answers: 1. b and 2. True.

Keep the Nutrition and the Quality

If you grow your own food, be sure to prepare it or preserve it soon after you pick it to maintain the quality and nutrition. Food-processing companies freeze or can fruits and vegetables soon after harvest.

However, canned fruits and vegetables may contain added ingredients such as sugar and salt. Be sure to select canned fruit packed in juice or “light syrup” instead of “heavy syrup.” Canned vegetables are higher in sodium than fresh or frozen vegetables. Drain and rinse canned vegetables such as kidney beans, green beans or corn in a colander before adding them to soups, salads or stews. Try these tips when preparing fresh vegetables:

  • Leave vegetables in fairly large pieces when grilling, boiling or steaming.
  • Steam your vegetables in a microwave oven. Because little water is used, microwave-cooked vegetables keep their nutrients and color.
  • Use as little liquid as possible when cooking vegetables. Use leftover cooking water in soups, stew or sauces.
  • Don’t overcook vegetables. Cook until crisp-tender to preserve the nutrition.
  • Try a new veggie this summer. How about kale, beets or leeks (a “cousin” to onions and garlic)?

Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist, NDSU Extension Service

Featured in July 2014 Food Wi$e (PDF)

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