Grilled frozen vegetables: beware of false friends!

Grilled frozen vegetables seem to be an ideal way to consume vegetables without worrying about finding fresh and seasonal products, or spending long periods of time washing, peeling and cooking them… Despite the trust we place in vegetables , it is always better to take a look at the label of these industrial pans. You will be surprised to see a good number of compounds that are far from being recommended.

We often buy frozen vegetable stir fry thinking that they just contain a pre-cut set of raw vegetables, frozen right after harvest. But like many cooked dishes, manufacturers add a host of texturizing agents, additives, or flavor enhancers, to please your taste buds…but to your body’s dismay. This freedom taken by manufacturers makes the quality of frozen vegetable frying highly variable. Therefore, they must be chosen carefully.

Grilled vegetables… among others

sauteed vegetables

Sautéed Vegetables – Source: spm

For this decryption, we have chosen a sautéed Mediterranean vegetable from a large area. On the front of the package, the indications are striking: “Grilled vegetables, certified without artificial colors or preservatives. Enough to savor a fried dish in the sun, even in the dead of winter. However, reading the composition, there is something to cool down. This is what the list of ingredients on the back of the package reveals: grilled aubergine 21%, pre-fried potatoes 21% (potatoes 20%, sunflower oil 1%, dextrose, stabilizer: E450), grilled zucchini 17 %, courgette, pre-fried red peppers 10% (red peppers 9%, sunflower oil 1%), water, sunflower oil 1.3%, wheat flour, extra virgin olive oil 0.9%, basil 0.7 %, tomato concentrate, salt, garlic, rosemary 0.1%, potato maltodextrin, concentrated vegetable and herb juice (tomato, courgette, aubergine, carrot, pepper, onion, fennel, garlic), yeast extract, natural flavor , E621, E450.


Dextrose is nothing more than glucose, therefore a sugar. It passes very quickly into the blood and rapidly increases blood sugar after ingestion. Consumption of sugars such as dextrose should be limited in order to prevent the risk of overweight and diabetes, and should be avoided if you are diabetic.

E450 stabilizer

Not authorized in organic, this texture agent derived from phosphate salts, is one of the additives whose effects on the body are little known. In small quantities, it would seem that phosphates are not dangerous since they are naturally present in our body. However, in excess, its presence can alter the absorption of other minerals and increase the risk of kidney stone formation and heart rhythm disorders. It all depends on your dietary balance, but you should know that these compounds are present in many common foods such as cheese, fish, meat or nuts, as well as being frequently used as additives.

Sunflower oil

This oil is very rich in omega-6, but especially low in omega-3, which makes it an unbalanced oil in fats. In addition, it is heated during the preparation of frying and pre-frying certain vegetables. However, at high temperatures – that of frying – sunflower oil degrades and forms toxic aldehydes, suspected of being carcinogenic.

tomato concentrate

The composition of the concentrate is not specified here; it may be made from just tomatoes, but most concentrates also contain salt or even citric acid, as well as high amounts of sugars.

potato maltodextrin

This texture or preservative is chemically composed of maltose and dextrin. Maltose is a sugar made up of two glucose molecules, and dextrin is a substance resulting from the transformation of starch, to which chemical reagents are sometimes added. This compound is characteristic of ultra-processed products. Its effects on the body are controversial, but several studies have revealed harmful consequences on the microbiota. Some suggest that it plays a role in the increased frequency of inflammatory diseases, especially those of the intestine, such as Crohn’s disease.


Under this code hides a much discussed compound, monosodium glutamate or sodium glutamate. Banned from organic foods, this flavor enhancer is often used by manufacturers, despite numerous scientific studies showing its toxicity. It acts directly on the brain, creating an addiction that would be as powerful as nicotine and encourage you to eat more and more. This is why glutamate is accused of being a factor in obesity. Its toxicity would also be linked to certain physiological complications such as hypertension, gastrointestinal disorders, brain and nervous system disorders (neuronal death), as well as reproductive and endocrine system disorders. It would also cause an increase in insulin levels and increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. A compound to avoid as much as possible, therefore!

What does 100 g of this frying give you?

Salt: 0.6 g of salt is a moderate amount. Above 0.3 g of salt per 100 g of product, the amount is no longer negligible and it is important to control its consumption so as not to exceed the 5 g per day recommended by the WHO.

Fat : 3.7g of fat per 100g is a moderate amount that stays below the 5g/100g threshold recommended for ready meals. On the other hand, this value can increase a lot if, when cooking your vegetables, you add oil to your pan… The nutritional values, therefore, are not bad, which gives the product an A score in the Nutriscore, but the presence of additives deteriorates the quality of the product. This is why it will always be preferable to move towards unprocessed foods and therefore without cooking. In the frozen section, prefer organic raw vegetables to season yourself, that have not been precooked in fat and that do not contain additives.

Keep in mind that frozen vegetables are sometimes better than fresh vegetables, as they are usually frozen immediately after harvest, without undergoing the long trips, storage and refrigeration that alters them like fresh vegetables. However, cooking is an important and delicate step: the wrong cooking method can considerably reduce the vitamin and mineral content of frozen vegetables. Some precautions should be taken: vegetables do not need to be specifically defrosted, they can be cooked directly. Avoid cooking at high temperatures, take care not to break the cold chain, do not refreeze a defrosted product… Advice that applies to all frozen foods.

Freeze your pans yourself!

tomato cucumbers

Cucumbers and tomatoes – Source: spm

Freezing your own sautéed vegetables (preferably organic) guarantees a natural preparation. To do this, it will be necessary to blanch the vegetables, that is, precook them in boiling water, for a specific time for each one. Please note that not all vegetables can be frozen. Some, very rich in water, such as tomatoes and cucumbers, do not allow defrosting.

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