The freezer section contains some great options for healthy eating. The standouts to me are the frozen vegetables and fruits, many of which contain neither added salt nor sugar. Some of my patients use frozen produce either as a cheaper alternative to, or as a supplement to, fresh fruits and vegetables. For example, if somebody does his weekly shopping on a Sunday in order to prepare for the work week, some of the produce may start to wilt, rot, or mold by late in the week if simply left on the counter or in the refrigerator. Rather than make do with a small amount, or even zero, fruits or vegetables for the latter part of the week and weekend, he may use frozen fruits and vegetables until his next Sunday shopping trip.
A barrier some of my patients face when it comes to eating whole grains is the time it takes to cook them. Products like frozen brown rice and frozen quinoa can cut down on cooking time immensely. Brown rice, for example, might take somewhere in the ballpark of 45 minutes to make from scratch on a stove top, while frozen brown rice is ready after just a couple of minutes in the microwave or on the stove. Similarly, frozen, pre-cooked steel cut oats can fill a need for somebody who wants a healthy, hot cereal for breakfast, but is too busy getting ready for work or school to do any significant cooking.
I cannot tell you how many new patients with celiac disease have come to me feeling discouraged that they could not find any gluten-free bread at their grocery store. However, many gluten-free baked products reside in the freezer section, not the bread aisle where people understandably often look. I found a wide range of gluten-free products in the freezer including not just breads, but also English muffins, waffles, frozen meals, and cupcakes.
Other products marketed towards those with food allergies or intolerances often reside in the freezer section too. For example, I found a pizza made with a milk-free cheese substitute that I expected to taste, well, horrible. But I bought it, tried it, and get this: I liked it.
Next installment, I will discuss the dairy section . . .