This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of The Frozen Food Foundation for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.
Did you know that nearly 80% of Americans fail to consume the recommended amounts of fruit and 90% fail to get the recommended amounts of vegetables? This is unfortunate because fruits and vegetables are major contributors of essential nutrients in our diets. Consuming fruits and vegetables is associated with reduced risk of chronic disease. In a world where the rates of chronic disease are increasing among all age groups, eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables across the rainbow is more important than ever.
Let’s face it: it can be really hard to get the recommended allowances for produce in our diets. Who has time for all that chopping?
For our family, I’ve found a great solution: frozen vegetables.
Now I know what some of you are thinking: fresh is best. I used to think that too. In fact, for a long time, I stayed away from frozen vegetables. These days, we eat them on a regular basis. Science backs making them a regular part of your diet.
In a study conducted at The University of California, Davis, in partnership with the Frozen Food Foundation, it was found that frozen fruits and vegetables generally have nutritionally equal to – or in some cases better than – their fresh counterparts. The study looked at fruits and vegetables under the following conditions: frozen (analyzed within 24 hours of harvest and after 10 and 90 days in the freezer) and fresh-stored (analyzed within 24 hours of harvest and after three and 10 days in the refrigerator.
As a busy mom, I’ve found that frozen vegetables can be the start to a quick and healthy meal. Both convenient and affordable, having my freezer stocked really simplifies meal preparation. Freezing fruits and vegetables is nature’s pause button and is an easy way to combat the cost of fresh ‘out of season’ produce. You know what else I love? I am forever letting vegetables rot before I can use them up and with frozen vegetables I don’t have to worry about that. Today’s Cheesy Veggie Quinoa Casserole is the perfect example of how I use frozen veggies to make easy and healthy meals that the whole family enjoys. I hope you like this one as much as we do!
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Cheesy Veggie Quinoa Casserole & Freezing: Nature's Pause Button
- 6 tablespoons pastured butter or olive oil
- 6 tablespoons gluten free flour
- 2 1/2 cups milk
- 8 ounces cheddar cheese shredded and divided
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 16 ounces cooked chicken chopped
- 3 cups cooked quinoa
- 2 packages frozen broccoli cauliflower & carrot mix, thawed
- 1/2 cup gluten free breadcrumbs.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 2 quart baking dish with cooking spray.
- Melt butter in a large sauce pan over medium high heat. Add flour and cook for 2 minutes, whisking constantly. Gradually whisk in milk. Stirring constantly, bring to a simmer. Cook, whisking constantly, until thickened. Reduce heat to low and add in 6 ounces of cheddar cheese, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Stir until cheese melts.
- Remove from heat and stir in chicken, quinoa and vegetables. Transfer to prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and top with breadcrumbs.
- Bake for 30 minutes until bubbly. Allow to sit 10 minutes before serving.