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Kaylor: Canned, fresh or frozen?

By Staff | Jul 4, 2014

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 2 to 3 cups of fruits and vegetables daily.

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)?

Colorful pasta salad

2 c. dry pasta (such as spirals or bowties)

2 c. broccoli florets, blanched

1 c. carrot, sliced, blanched

c. red pepper, cut into short strips

c. green onion, sliced

c. Italian dressing, reduced fat

Cook pasta according to package directions, then drain thoroughly. Place the cooked pasta in a large bowl. Rinse and prepare the vegetables as directed. To blanch the vegetables: heat a pot of water to boiling. Add broccoli florets and carrot slices. Cook for about 90 seconds to two minutes. Drain thoroughly. (This step softens the vegetables but doesn’t overcook them.) Mix all the ingredients together. Add dressing and toss gently to mix. Place salad in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes prior to serving.

Source: Julie Garden-Robinson, Food & Nutrition Specialist Information compiled by Carolee Kaylor, Pierce County NDSU Extension Service, Family Nutrition Program

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