Our family spent the New Year’s holiday in Florida this year. This is always a great time to go, especially to get away from the dreary weather that East Tennessee usually has this time of year. I was not disappointed because each day was in the 80s.
Whenever we are in Florida, one of the highlights of my trip is a visit to County Line Produce in Hastings, Fla. It is hard to believe that their growing season is from November through June. I always stock up on fresh vegetables when I can. It is awesome to see all the fresh greens, cauliflower, cabbage, carrots, green beans, tomatoes and so much more just picked from the garden in the middle of winter.
I only use fresh vegetables at my house. One reason is that I grow many of them in the summer. Most people think that fresh is always better. Maybe if you grow your own or buy from a local farmer, but this may not always be correct. Many vegetables in a supermarket travel long distances to get to the shelves. When they are shipped, they may be exposed to high temperatures, which can release many of their nutrients. Some may have been harvested before they are ripe, which does not give the vitamins and nutrients a chance to fully develop.
Frozen vegetables, on the other hand, are picked at the peak of ripeness and blanched and flash frozen to remove bacteria and lock in their essential vitamins and nutrients. The faster they are frozen after picking, the more nutrients will remain. Fresh vegetables have a shelf life of about one to two weeks, but frozen vegetables can last much longer in your freezer.
Canned vegetables can lose some of their vitamin C in the heating process during canning, but when they are canned quickly, most of the nutrients are locked in. So canned vegetables can have the same, if not more nutrients than fresh vegetables and the levels remain the same even after one to two years of storage. Canned vegetables are the safest products to choose because they contain no preservatives and they are heated before being canned, which keeps them from being contaminated with bacteria.
One thing you should always do when purchasing canned or frozen vegetables is to read the labels. Salt is often added for taste reasons. Many times, manufacturers will offer a vegetable with salt and some without salt. This is usually stated on the front of the can. Boiling vegetables can release nutrients, so be sure to boil vegetables as little as possible.
We hope that you eat a variety of different vegetables. No matter what your age, you will benefit from eating vegetables. It seems like each vegetable has its own health benefits. Below are some specific vegetables and what they can do for your health.
So, remember to eat your vegetables each day to receive these benefits. It is recommended that you eat 3-5 vegetables daily. Probably one of the best things about eating vegetables is that you do not have to worry about eating too many vegetables. They are so low in calories that you could eat all you want and not have to worry about gaining weight. You sure can’t do that with chocolate cake!
Don’t forget that we serve a nutritious lunch here at the senior center every day at 11:30 a.m. If you need transportation, just call us and it will be arranged at no cost. The following is a list of some activities here at the center in the next week:
• Jan. 16: 9 a.m. — Benchmark Physical Therapy; 10 a.m. — Bingo; noon — Watercolor Class
• Jan. 17 9:30 a.m. — Exercise Class; 10 a.m. — Bingo; noon — New Year’s Resolutions Program; 5 to 7 p.m. Karaoke
• Jan. 20: Closed for M.L. King Jr.’s Birthday
• Jan. 21: 10 a.m. — Bingo; 11 a.m. — Bible Study
• Jan. 22: 9:30 a.m. — Exercise Class; 10 a.m. — Music; noon — Sugar Awareness
Sue Walker is the executive director of the Etowah Area Senior Citizens Center. She may be reached by calling 423-781-7632.