By: Jodie Shield, RD
When selecting and preparing fruits and vegetables, taste and nutrition are, of course, important. However, as the flurry of media attention regarding pesticides and produce recalls demonstrates, food safety is also a growing concern. Here are some pointers fro picking fruits and vegetables that are nutritious, safe, and delicious.
Fresh, Frozen, or Canned – What’s the Difference?
No matter what form they take – fresh, frozen or canned – most fruits and vegetables are Go For It foods that kids can enjoy any time. All of them count toward your child’s or teen’s daily fruit and vegetable goals. Here are some selection tips.
Fresh produce is always nutritious. Just make sure you pick fruits and vegetables that are free of bruises or cuts – bacteria can get in and cause spoilage. Also, purchase fruits that are ripe and at their flavor peak. How can you tell if the avocado is ripe or the blueberries are sweet? A terrific online source loaded with helpful information and videos about how to shop for, store, and prepare fresh produce is the Fruits and Veggies More Matters Web site (www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org).is
Canned Fruits and Vegetables
When burying canned fruits or vegetables, consider these selection tips:
Get the juice. For canned fruit, look for descriptions on the label like “packed in its own juices,” “packed in fruit juice,” “unsweetened,” or “in syrup.” Unsweetened fruits and fruits packed in juice are better choices (containing less added sugar and fewer calories) than fruits packed in syrup.
Pinch the salt. To cut back on sodium, look for descriptions such as “no salt added” and “reduced sodium” on labels of canned vegetables.
Savor the flavor. For maximum favor and nutritional value, use can fruits and vegetables immediately after opening them.
Frozen Fruits and Vegetables
Here are some tips to help you when burying frozen fruits and vegetables.
Pick frozen for peak nutritional performance. Tired of wasting money and throwing away shriveled-up greens and moldy berries? Buy frozen fruits and vegetables. They are picked at their peak, which locks in their nutrients.
Forgo the fat. When buying frozen vegetables, control fat and calories by choosing plain vegetables or those made with low-fat sauces.
Check the label. Frozen fruits come in both sweetened and unsweetened varieties, so make sure to check the label and choose unsweetened fruit to cut back on added sugars. Frozen juice bars also make a nutritious snack, but read label and choose those made with 100 percent fruit juice.
Bottom line: The healthiest fruit and vegetable for your child or teen is the one that they will actually eat!