Contrary to popular belief, not all frozen foods are bad for your health. Even though many frozen foods contain highly processed ingredients, chemicals, and preservatives, frozen vegetables are in fact one of the exceptions to the rule. Frozen vegetables often have the same amount, if not more, nutrients than fresh vegetables. This is due to the fact that frozen vegetables are often picked fresh and are flash-frozen when they are at their peak of freshness, whereas many of the vegetables in the grocery were shipped far away and over time lose their nutrient content.
2. TOMATO SAUCE
Tomato sauce, along with canned tomatoes in all their forms, whether chopped, diced, or puréed are often healthier than their fresh counterparts. One reason is that cooked tomatoes have a higher lycopene content and makes them even healthier than raw tomatoes. Another reason is that many of the canned tomatoes are from high-quality tomato farms in Italy and other regions, whereas many of the tomatoes on our supermarket shelves are heavily sprayed, picked at the wrong time, and are kept in a cold environment not conducive to the best-tasting tomatoes.
Sauerkraut is pickled cabbage that has been used for centuries especially in German and Eastern European cultures. It is fermented and contains high amounts of probiotics, good bacteria that have profound health benefits including improving digestion. Saukraut is a minimally processed food – most sauerkraut will contain only cabbage and salt, perhaps a few spices or herbs added.
4. CANNED BEANS
Canned beans are an easy, convenient way to get a high-quality source of protein and fiber. Dry beans can take hours to cook, whereas canned beans are ready in seconds. Canned beans have the same nutritional quality as dried beans. Make sure to get canned beans with low sodium and also cans that are labeled as BPA-free, as BPA is a common preservative found in many cans.
5. VEGGIE BURGERS
Veggie burgers are an excellent alternative to beef or turkey burgers for vegetarians, vegans, or simply those who enjoy having a veggie burger instead of meat at times. Some frozen veggie burgers on the market contain many unhealthy ingredients such as canola or other refined vegetable oils, highly processed soy protein, and other ingredients. Make sure to find a frozen veggie burger that contains wholesome ingredients such as beans, nuts, vegetables, and spices.
6. FROZEN FRUIT
Similar to frozen vegetables, frozen fruit contains just as many, if not more, vitamins and minerals than fresh. Most frozen fruit is picked at the peak of freshness and flash-frozen, while many supermarket fruits are unripe or shipped from long distances. Besides locally-grown seasonal fruit, frozen fruit is the second best option for consuming fruit in general. Many fruits are not available year-round and certain geographical regions might not be able to grow many fruits, so frozen fruit is an easy, convenient way to enjoy various fruits, including tropical fruits such as mango, guava, dragonfruit and others that might be hard to come by.
Pickled cucumbers along with other pickled vegetables are an extremely healthy food that have been used by various cultures around the world as a way to preserve fresh vegetables and also as a high-probiotic food protecting gut health. Pickles are very minimally processed and should contain no more than 3 ingredients. Kimchi is a traditional food from Korea that is basically fermented, pickled cabbage along with spicy chilies, garlic, and ginger. It is also a major source of natural probiotics and is often superior to taking probiotic supplements.
8. DARK CHOCOLATE
Dark chocolate, especially chocolate that contains 70% or more cacao, is an example of processing actually making natural superfoods more accessible. Cacao fruit is a highly nutritious food that is very high in antioxidants and naturally occurring compounds such as theobromine which make one feel relaxed and give a sense of well-being. Make sure you get dark chocolate with only pure, natural ingredients and keep the sugar content low.
Tempeh is a traditional food from Indonesia that has been eaten for millennia. It is often used nowadays as a vegetarian form of protein or meat substitute, and has a delicious nutty taste that can take on many flavors. Tempeh is traditionally made from soybeans but can be made with any beans such as adzuki beans or lentils, or even grains such as brown rice or quinoa. The beans are fermented along with a fungus known as Rhizopus Oligsoporus. The processing of tempeh, in the form of fermentation and development of probiotic-rich mold, actually makes the soybeans more digestible and bioavailable than if they were in their naturally state.
Granola is a processed food that can be very wholesome or very unhealthy depending on the ingredients used. Many brands of commercial granola contain very unhealthy ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup, large amounts of sugar, refined grains, preservatives, artificial colors and so on. Make sure to choose granolas with the least ingredients possible, which should be limited to whole grains such as oatmeal, nuts, dried fruits, spices, and a healthy oil such as coconut oil. You can also try making granola yourself at home by roasting the ingredients in the oven. It’s a great way to start the day, and can also be eaten as an energy bar during the day.