We bet you can relate to this scenario: You open up the fridge, hopeful that you’ll be greeted by something great, only to be faced with an assortment of random ingredients that is far from versatile. (We see you, leftover pizza!) Lively has your back when it comes to upping your freezer game, which can easily be elevated with the addition of some frozen veggies. We enlisted the help of a few registered dietitians to get the lowdown on what frozen veggies you should always keep on hand – and the best ways to use them.
According to Rebecca Clyde MS, RDN, CD, frozen veggies are picked at peak ripeness and flash frozen to preserve nutrient value. This ensures that they have the potential to pack in lots of flavor as well. “They're great when you don't have fresh veggies on hand, they last a long time, they're inexpensive, and they are great added to sauces and one pan meals,” Clyde shares with Lively.
Frozen veggies offer a lot of bang for your buck and are super easy to prep in a variety of ways. Krista King, MS, RDN, LDN, IFNCP, CLT, CPT, recommends checking out a book called The Flavor Bible as it has flavor pairing recommendations for any veggie, provided by top chefs.
Overall, you can sauté, season and add frozen veggies to a meal with a grain and protein for a well-rounded dinner, shares Ariel Johnston, RD, LD. “A stir fry mix, normandy blend, or any other veggie combination are great choices because they offer variety,” Johnston tells Lively.
Zucchini is a solid seasonal choice for your summer meals and pack a nutritional punch. “Zucchini provides some lutein and zeaxanthin, two nutrients that are linked to eye health,** shares Sarah Gold, RDN.
How To Use: Aside from grilling or sautéing them, you can work zucchini into everything, from bread to lasagna. “Zucchini slices can be layered in a lasagna instead of noodles to cut calories and carbs, and frozen zucchini can be used to make desserts like zucchini bread or carrot cake,” shares SaVanna Shoemaker, RDN.
Vital Note: Lively has you covered with a paleo zucchini bread recipe to mix things up in the kitchen.
“Tri-color peppers and carrots are rich in beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A, which helps ensure that your body can create healthy new cells,” says Shoemaker. Peppers offer a variety of colors, which translates to a variety of nutrients.
How To Use: “Tri-color peppers can be used to make easy sheet pan fajitas or sausage and peppers,” shares Shoemaker. “You can also toss them in olive oil or avocado oil and sauté or roast them to make an easy and delicious side dish.”
Vital Note: Toss veggies to this Quiche for an easy breakfast.
“Broccoli is rich in fiber, folate, and vitamin K,” Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC, tells Lively. “These vegetables are also a good source of phytonutrients, which are plant-based compounds that can help decrease inflammation in the body.**”
How To Use: Clyde recommends dumping them into a sauce or into boiling pasta, when they just have about a minute of cook time left. If you want to add them into a meal, they can work as a healthier ingredient substitute. “Broccoli can be used as a substitute for starchy carbs like pasta, rice and potatoes,” adds Shoemaker.
It’s hard to talk about veggies without mentioning this powerhouse ingredient. “Spinach is a great plant-based source of vitamin A, folate and other important minerals, including calcium, potassium, magnesium, and iron,” Karges tells Lively.
How To Use: “Spinach is extremely versatile, and can be added to anything from scrambled eggs to smoothies for an extra nutrient boost,” shares Shoemaker. “Some easy dishes to load up with these veggies include fried rice, stir fries, frittatas, soup and pasta.” Spinach can also be thrown into smoothies for quick meals, which is an easy way to utilize frozen spinach without any prep.
Vital Note: Refresh your lunchtime routine with this Strawberry Spinach Salad with collagen dressing.
“Green beans, string beans, or snap beans are a rich source of vitamins A, C, K, and of folic acid and fiber,” says Karges.
How To Use: Green beans are *chef’s kiss* when sautéed with olive oil and added as a side to a meal. They can also be added to a pasta sauce or summer soup.
Vital Note: This Green Bean Casserole is the reigning champ of all green bean casseroles.