With all the buzz about keeping your produce fresh and local, frozen vegetables often get a bad rap.
But nutritionally speaking, sometimes fresh from the freezer is the best choice, especially during the winter months when fresh and local produce often is limited and the prices steep.
While fresh produce often is picked early (to allow it to ripen during transit), frozen items usually are picked at their height of ripeness, when flavors and nutrients are at their peak.
Large producers usually freeze fruits and vegetables within hours of being harvested, ensuring that nutrients and flavors are locked in. Those same qualities tend to degrade in most fresh produce.
Still, even frozen produce can suffer from long storage. It's best to consume them within a few months.
This recipe for coconut-ginger baby carrots is a delicious and easy way to turn an inexpensive bag of frozen vegetables into an exotic, healthful side dish. Fresh carrots can be substituted, and the dish will cook faster.
An essential Asian combination of minced fresh ginger and garlic, sauteed in a tiny amount of oil, provides the flavor base for these carrots.
Unsweetened, canned coconut milk (which can be found in the Asian section of your market) and chopped fresh cilantro add slightly sweet and pungent notes.
Light, unsweetened coconut milk is available, but it is thinned with water and has less flavor than full-fat versions. Since very little is used in this recipe, use the full-fat version for best flavor (extra coconut milk can be frozen).If you don't care for cilantro, substitute fresh basil.
COCONUT-GINGER BABY CARROTS
Start to finish: 25 minutes (10 minutes active)
1 teaspoon canola oil
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
16-ounce bag frozen baby carrots
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut milk
In a medium saucepan over medium-high, heat the oil. Add the ginger and garlic and saute, stirring constantly, until they become fragrant and begin to color, about 1 minute. Add the frozen carrots, salt and 1/4 cup water.
Bring the carrots to a boil then reduce the heat to low. Cover the pan and simmer for 15 minutes, or until they are very soft. Remove from the heat and stir in the coconut milk and cilantro.
Nutrition information per serving: 67 calories; 3 g fat (1 g saturated); 0 mg cholesterol; 9 g carbohydrate; 1 g protein; 2 g fiber; 298 mg sodium.