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Homemade Food: Is it Going Cold?

Por Nydia Rivera Alcaide* -
Homemade Food: Is it Going Cold?

Today you can get a taste similar to that of home-style cooking, from some frozen foods. 

Although they may not have that same special flavor as grandma’s homemade recipes, those little boxes of frozen food are becoming more and more important in our homes for numerous reasons. "Many people, who don’t have enough time to cook their own meals, resort to using ready-made meals, including frozen ones. They are a valuable option,” says the nutrition expert at MyDiet TM , Dr. Eleazar Lara-Pantin.


Choosing the best product


Frozen foods can be divided into two types: 1) complete meals that come in boxes, and 2) large bags and boxes containing servings of just one product, such as vegetables, meat, or fruit.

The wide selection of products, combinations, and menus available is making frozen meals a more appetizing and healthy option, for any time of day.

Open the freezer in the morning and you’ll find a breakfast fit for a king. Orange juice, breads with various flavors and textures, french toast, and even fruit are some of the frozen products you can start the day with.


At lunchtime or after work, when peeling and chopping are out of the question, pre-cooked frozen meals come to the rescue of thousands of people. There are countless kinds of meats, fish, vegetable dishes, pasta, pizzas, potatoes, and even desserts available.

Dr. Lara-Pantin points out,” Be sure to read the back of the package and the Nutrition Facts label carefully before buying a frozen product. You need to take nutrition composition into account when making a selection. Look for a balance among the components: carbohydrates, protein, fat, and vitamins and minerals. Make sure the saturated fat content is not too high and not above 10% of total calories.”


An old idea with a modern flavor

Preserving food dates back centuries. What we know now as frozen food only dates back to the world wars, when the need for food increased demand for these kinds of products. Now they are so popular that they take up a significant and prominent space in nearly every supermarket.


“The food industry has evolved considerably,” comments Dr. Lara-Pantin. Recent improvements in technology, ingredients, and packaging have enhanced the culinary quality of frozen food. Food companies, small and large, are making frozen products, sometimes under the guidance of a famous chef. Hispanic products also play a significant role in the frozen food industry. It’s not difficult to find common dishes from various Latin American and Caribbean countries, as well as many other countries, in the supermarket.


Moderation and variety


"Although frozen foods are a good option when you are short of time, you should still moderate your consumption of them,” says Dr. Lara-Pantin. He also stressed the importance of combining frozen products with fresh food. Recently prepared vegetables and salads contain more vitamins and can complement the nutritional value of frozen items.


If your freezer is becoming your most treasured possession, set aside one day a week for preparing a menu plan and cooking different foods. Freeze them in individual servings and eat them on days you can’t cook. If you decide to freeze food, however, the nutrition expert at MyDiet recommends you still try to keep the principles of balance, moderation, and prudence in mind.


Frozen food is a giant step forward in culinary evolution:

Advantages:

  • Cuts down on kitchen work
  • Makes food last longer
  • Offers variety
  • Includes dishes from all over the world
  • Can be kept for a significant amount of time
  • Is clean and hygienic
  • Is ready for quick and easy heating
  • Is cheaper and quicker than restaurant food


Disadvantages:

  • Food may lose flavor, especially meats.
  • Sometimes frozen food is more expensive than homemade food.
  • It has to be prepared according to the instructions it comes with. Otherwise, its consistency, taste, and appearance can suffer when defrosted.

Buying tips:

  • Meats and fruit tend to be cheaper when frozen. Frozen salads and vegetables are usually more expensive than fresh ones. Although fruit is cheaper frozen, it can lose nutrients in the freezing process.
  • Vegetables and greens do not change with the freezing process. They may be more nutritious than fresh ones, especially if the fresh produce comes from far away and reaches you long after it was picked. However, recently harvested fresh vegetables are more nutritious than frozen ones.

*From the MyDiet™ Editorial Team

 

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