So long as you follow me here on Gluten Free School, you’ll never stop hearing me talk about eating veggies. They come first and foremost over anything else on your plate because they’re the good stuff most of us avoid. Though I’m sure you probably know “fresh is best” — fresh isn’t always feasible. Maybe you live in a place where the fresh stuff isn’t up to snuff or it’s just downright outrageous in price. Well, frozen veggies are a great substitute or even addition when you need a meal to go the extra mile.
In order to pick out the best veggies — focus on simplicity — make sure the ingredient list ONLY includes the veggies and nothing else added.
Whether you use frozen veggies as part of the ‘color’ on your plate, they’re highly versatile. They’re great added to most dishes to ‘expand’ whatever it is that you’re eating and get the veggies in that you might otherwise forget. You can easily add them to soups or stews (toward the end of cooking usually) and even chili.
I often get asked whether it’s best to buy organic or regular veggies and my answer is very to the point — Just buy them and let your own personal nuances guide you to what’s best for you. Some don’t care about buying organic and some simply can’t afford it. Others can easily afford them and make it a part of their personal mission to only buy organic.
Either way, you may want to take a look at the “Dirty Dozen” list and judge for yourself what’s worth buying organic and what isn’t. I say to focus on buying them and pick the type that’s best for you, your circumstances and any other personal considerations.
My suggestions include (but are not limited to):
Peas Carrots Asparagus
Broccoli Cauliflower Okra
Onions Zucchini Squash
Snap Peas Mushrooms Green Beans
Lima Beans Spinach Collard Greens
Peppers Brussel Sprouts Tomatoes
A few deserve a bit more explanation and a cautionary word…
I’m honestly not the biggest fan of corn. There are several issues that come with cross-reactions to similar proteins found in gluten aside from the fact that corn is very starchy and high glycemic. It’s also difficult for many people with compromised digestive systems to break down. Also, non-organic varieties tend to be genetically modified (also known as a GMO) and produce very harsh chemicals within every cell of the corn plant including that which we eat.
If you can tolerate soy and do not suffer from any thyroid conditions, edamame can add a nice protein boost to many meals. This is one situation where I’d highly recommend buying organic since the non-organic variety tends to be genetically modified (also known as a GMO).
However there are some brands labeled organic which are highly suspect because the soybeans are grown in China which doesn’t have any organic standards. Whole Foods Market brands (as of the date of this post) sell organic edamame from China, so the lesson here is to look for the country of origin to determine whether this is something you want to buy or not.
Blends (ie. California mix, Asian mix, etc)
Blends can be a great and easy way to add lots of color and flavor to your meals in a pinch, however you want to make sure that the blends are only vegetables. Do not buy blends pre-spiced or mixed with sauces as they may not be gluten-free.
Obviously, I’d always recommend reading the labels to learn how these veggies were handled and processed as we all have different levels of sensitivity to gluten. If ever you should have a question of whether gluten may have contaminated the veggies, check their website and even call the manufacturer to verify their safety.
Do you have any tricks or tips you’ve learned from cooking with frozen veggies?