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Fresh or Not? The Fruit and Veggie Breakdown


Now into spring, you may have a few vegetables popping up in your garden and any farmer's markets starting up may have some early spring options. While you wait for more variety, check out why you can and should eat other forms of fruits and veggies besides fresh.

Competing Forms?

No matter what form of fruits and veggies you eat – fresh, frozen, canned, and dried – make sure you eat them! They are good for you!

If you have heard that "fresh fruits and vegetables are better than canned or frozen," it is a myth.

In fact, commercially frozen and canned produce are usually processed very soon after harvest, meaning they lose very few nutrients from field to factory. And if eaten within the recommended storage time, fruits and veggies will retain most of their original nutrients.

Yes, freezing and canning can destroy some nutrients, like vitamins A and C, but fresh produce also loses some nutrients over time too. (And it might have been weeks before your California strawberries arrived in Illinois and made it onto your plate.) Ultimately, nutrient losses happen in our foods, but in about the same amount regardless of which form you eat. So eating a variety helps it balance out.

The Small Farms team with UI Extension shared an infographic showing this concept on their website. Read more at the Local Food Time Ticker.

Resource: eXtension, Fruits and Vegetables, Fresh, Frozen, and Canned, 2012
Resource: Utah State University Extension, Canned Goods, 2008
Resource: University of Florida Extension, Eating Defensively: The Nutrition and Food Safety Benefits of Cooked Produce, 2013

Recipe Corner

Pulled Turkey BBQ with Coleslaw (serves 4)

Have you ever tried coleslaw on your BBQ sandwich? Another Kirby's Kitchen-approved recipe, this sandwich is a healthier twist on an ol' favorite by using leaner turkey over pork and a slaw with an oil-vinegar dressing over mayo. If you cannot find turkey thighs, use turkey breast meat or look for chicken thighs or breast meat.

Turkey BBQ
1 pound boneless, skinless turkey thighs
1 BBQ Recipe (below) or 3/4 cup prepared BBQ sauce
4 whole-wheat hamburger buns, split and toasted
1 Slaw Recipe (below) or 1-1/2 cups prepared coleslaw

1. Remove excess fat from thighs.
2. Place turkey thighs and BBQ Recipe (or prepared BBQ sauce) in 3-4 quart slow cooker.
3. Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 5-7 hours or until cooked.
4. Shred turkey and return to slow cooker until ready to eat.
5. Fill each sandwich bun with turkey and about 1/3 cup slaw.

BBQ Recipe
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 tsp paprika
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp cayenne
2 Tbsp water

1. In a small saucepan, combine all ingredients.
2. Heat to boiling and reduce heat.
3. Simmer 5 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally.

Slaw Recipe
1/2 Tbsp prepared mustard
1/2 Tbsp white vinegar
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sugar
2 Tbsp chopped onion
2 Tbsp chopped green bell pepper
1 cup shredded green cabbage

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together mustard, vinegar, oil, and sugar.
2. Add onion, pepper, and cabbage and toss to coat.
3. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 350 calories, 11g fat, 540mg sodium, 41g carbohydrate, 5g fiber, 23g protein

"Read More" Resources

WEB HIGHLIGHT 1: Check out more information on cabbages through the University of Illinois Extension. Besides information on nutrition and preparation, learn to grow your own!

WEB HIGHLIGHT 2: To see how many fruits and vegetables you need each day, check out the Fruits and Vegetables sections of ChooseMyPlate.

FOOD SCIENCE HIGHLIGHT: Anthocyanin: Anthocyanin is a pigment found in red cabbage that gives the cabbage its distinct red/purple color.

Today's post was written by Caitlin Huth. Caitlin Huth, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian and Nutrition & Wellness Educator serving DeWitt, Macon, and Piatt Counties. She teaches nutrition- and food-based lessons around heart health, food safety, diabetes, and others. In all classes, she encourages trying new foods, gaining confidence in healthy eating, and getting back into our kitchens.



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