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Eating Healthy on a Budget

Being on a budget or having a busy schedule doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice healthy eating. The freezer section is a great place to find fruits and vegetables year-round that can shorten meal-prep time and will not break the bank.

In fact, frozen fruits and vegetables are picked during their peak ripeness, making them higher in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants when compared to some of their “fresh” counterparts (which may have been picked early, stored and had to travel thousands of miles to get to the store shelves).

Buying Frozen = Budget Friendly & Healthy

Of course buying fresh, local produce in season is best. However, frozen produce (without any added ingredients) can make healthy eating an easier choice.

The price of frozen organic produce is often lower than that of fresh organics.

If you cannot buy organic varieties, follow the “Clean 15” from the Environmental Working Group.

A general rule of thumb is: if you consume the whole fruit (to include the skin/peel) organic varieties are recommended.

If you discard the peel, rind or outside of the fruit or vegetable, then conventional options (to include frozen varieties) are a great budget friendly alternative.

The following are the top 15 produce items containing the least pesticide residues.

The Clean 15

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  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet Corn
  3. Pineapple
  4. Cabbage
  5. Sweet peas (frozen)
  6. Onions
  7. Asparagus
  8. Mangos
  9. Papayas
  10. Kiwi
  11. Eggplant
  12. Honeydew
  13. Grapefruit
  14. Cantaloupe
  15. Cauliflower

Get Creative with Frozen Produce

Some ways you can utilize frozen produce are:

Blend it!

  • Blend frozen organic berries into smoothies to boost your intake of antioxidants and fiber.

Freeze it!

  • Frozen edamame is a great well-balanced appetizer/snack option.
  • Frozen organic vegetables can be steamed or stir-fried to balance meals.

Toss in Extra Veggies!

  • Toss some extra frozen vegetables in a stew/soup or casserole to give your dish a nutritional boost.

Tropical Smoothie

makes 2-3 servings

While we are still experiencing warm weather, this tropical smoothie recipe (guaranteed to be loved by all) can provide a big punch of vitamin C and hydrating electrolytes.

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Ingredients

  • 1 Orange (peeled and quartered)
  • 1 Ripe banana (peeled and sliced)
  • 1 Cup coconut water
  • 1 Cup frozen mango chunks
  • 1 Cup frozen pineapple chunks
  • 2 Handfuls or fresh baby spinach leaves

Directions

  • Add the spinach to the blender then add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.
  • Serve immediately.

Tip: Make half of your plate vegetables and fruit.

Roasted Frozen Vegetables

When the weather starts to cool down then roasted frozen vegetables are a fabulous option!

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Ingredients

  • 1 lb of frozen vegetables (ex: string beans, asparagus, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli)
  • 2 Tbsp oil (olive, avocado or coconut oil)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • a pinch of ground black pepper (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder (optional)

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  • Grease the pan with ~1 tsp of the oil.
  • In a medium bowl combine the rest of the oil, the vegetables and the seasonings and toss (no need to thaw the vegetables).
  • Spread the vegetables into a single layer on the baking sheet.
  • Roast for 30 minutes (stir halfway through the cooking time).
  • Serve immediately.

About WakeMed Corporate & Community Health

The Corporate and Community Health division of WakeMed provides worksite wellness and health promotion services to numerous corporate and community clients throughout Wake County. The department is made up of a multi-disciplinary team who perform preventative health screenings, education and coaching upon request. The department assists thousands of people each year on their wellness journey.

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