Colleen de Bellefonds
When it’s freezing outside, the sidewalks are covered in ice, and many of our favorite fruits and vegetables are out of season, that’s where your freezer comes in. A well-stocked freezer means you always have healthy food on hand, with limited risk of spoilage or waste.Wondering what to stock? We asked health influencers what healthy freezer foods they always on hand to make clean eating easy all winter long.
Fitness and nutrition coach Natalie Uhling keeps edamame in her freezer all year long. The creator of the NUFit fitness program points out that it’s packed with 8 grams fiber and 17 grams protein per 189-calorie cup. “It’s a super-easy midday snack when I need a quick pick-me-up. Plus it helps me keep my energy up during busy days,” she says. Uhling suggests mixing edamame with brown rice and vegetables or adding it to your stir-fry.
Photographer and healthy food blogger behind My New Roots, Sarah Britton says she always has green peas in her freezer to add to stews and to whip up pea soup. “They’re a very nutrient-dense, simple way to add protein and fiber to your meals,” she says. In one 134-calorie cup, peas pack more than 8 grams each of fiber and protein, plus a healthy dose of folate and vitamins C, K and A.
Pro Tip: Add frozen peas to dishes toward the end of cooking instead of microwaving to thaw so you preserve the nutrients, she suggests.
Health columnist Bonnie Taub-Dix, R.D., says salmon is her healthy freezer food pick, since it’s an excellent source of protein that’s also rich in heart-healthy, brain-boosting, inflammation-busting omega 3 fatty acids. “I’ll buy extra salmon at the fish store so I can freeze several pieces and spontaneously defrost it, cut it into chunks and sauté it or bake it in the oven with my favorite topping,” she says.
Clean eating chefs and sisters Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley say fresh ginger is the one basic they always have in their freezer. “Our Filipina mum always says a tasty meal starts with a base of sautéed onion, garlic and ginger,” says Melissa, adding that ginger freezes perfectly: Kept whole and unpeeled, it can last for up to 6 months, and tastes much better than when it’s in dried powder form.
Ginger has plenty of medicinal benefits as well. Research shows it can ease nausea, for example, and it’s well known for being anti-inflammatory and high in antioxidants. “Traditionally it has been valued for its warming properties—fantastic when you have a winter cold,” Melissa says.
In winter, fresh blueberries are out of season; Ghat’s why integrative dietitian Jackie Topol, R.D., keeps them in her freezer. “Blueberries have among the highest levels of antioxidants of any fruit. And wild blueberries, which you can find frozen, have double the amount of antioxidants as regular blueberries,” she says. “Plus the antioxidants in blueberries are protective against heart disease and cancer, they promote brain health, and they help with blood sugar control.”
6. Chopped Onions
Felicia Stoler, M.D., exercise physiologist and author of Living Skinny in Fat Genes: The Healthy Way to Lose Weight and Feel Great, counts on frozen foods for nutrients, flavor, and convenience. One of her favorites? Chopped onions. “I hate cutting onions more than anything,” she says. But if you do a whole bunch at once, “they last forever.”
7. Mixed Veggies
Stoler also leans on frozen mixed veggies, especially those with lima beans. “They’re great to add to shepherd’s pie or pot pies, using leftover chicken or turkey meat,” she says. Stoler also adds them to soups, chilis, and stews.