March is Frozen Food Month and one of the questions we often get asked is whether frozen vegetables are as nutritious as fresh vegetables.

According to the International Food Information Council, the nutritional value of frozen vegetables is identical to fresh.

Frozen vegetables are picked and frozen within hours of being harvested, preserving the nutrients at their peak quality. Fresh vegetables can lose some nutrition, depending on how long the product has been stored. To get the most nutrients from frozen vegetables, cook them in a minimal amount of water quickly, such as a microwave or steamer.

Try a new frozen vegetable tonight! Edamame look like a frozen lima bean but are much sweeter. They are the only beans that provide a “complete” protein and have as much fiber as four slices of whole wheat bread. This super bean is a fresh soybean, harvested while the beans are still green and tender. They’re a special bean variety, bigger and sweeter than the soybeans grown in most fields here in the Midwest.

In addition to fiber and heart-healthy protein, a serving of edamame provides vitamins A, B and C and disease-fighting isoflavones. New studies are finding that even one serving of soy per day may help protect a person against many diseases, including heart disease and cancer.

You’ll find edamame in the frozen vegetable or natural food section, available in the pod or shelled. They’re even found in frozen vegetable blends, a great way to introduce the tiny bean.

Try this soy-delicious edamame hummus as a fun treat for the entire family:

Edamame Hummus

Serves 7

1 cup edamame, shelled and cooked according to package directions

2 tablespoons soybean oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon salt

Process edamame, oil, lemon juice, garlic, cumin and salt in food processor for 30 seconds, scraping sides twice, or until smooth.

Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve with your favorite pita chips, crackers, baguettes or vegetables.

Nutrition Facts per serving: 90 calories, 7 g fat, (0g sat fat), 0 mg cholesterol, 120mg sodium, 4 g carbohydrates, 5g fiber, 0 g sugar, 3 g protein.

Source: Hy-Vee HealthMarket, February 2010.

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