How to Freeze Fresh Green Beans

How to Freeze Fresh Green BeansMany people are resistant to freeze foods because they believe they will lose their freshness and will not be as good later. However, when frozen, green beans will last several months and they will not lose their amazing flavor. Here are some tips to freezing fresh green beans so that they can be used in any meal—and be full of crisp flavor!

 

Purchase Fresh Green Beans During Their Peak Season

You will want to purchase your green beans during the summer through the early fall seasons. This is when green beans taste the best and are known for their great flavor.

How to Select the Right Green Beans

You want to choose green beans that are brightly colored. The more colorful, the better! These green beans will, ideally, be blemish free, where they are not limp or shriveled. You want them firm and bright green.   

How to Freeze Green Beans

One of the most important things to remember when freezing green beans is to trim them before hand. Grab a handful of green beans and, using a sharp knife, cut off the stems. Do this for all of the green beans you want to freeze. Some people will also cut the tapered ends, this is completely up to you.

Remove the Fiber

Some beans will feature a stringy sort of fiber within the bean, located in the bean pod, that should be removed. However, if you do not see one, this means that your type of beans do not have this and you do not have to worry about removing it.

Cut into Small Pieces

Next, you should cut the green beans into small and bite sized pieces. This works out great because most recipes that feature green beans, such as a stew or casserole. You will want to cut the beans into 1 ½ inch pieces. If you know that you will not be needing the green beans to be in small pieces when you want to cook them in the future, you can choose to skip this step.

Blanching the Beans

The next step is to blanch the beans.  To do this, you will need to boil a pot of water. You will need 1 gallon of water for every pound of green beans. Boil the beans for approximately 2 minutes. If you did not cut them into small 1 ½ inch pieces, then you should boil them for approximately 4 minutes.

Freeze

After they are boiled, you want to immediately cool the beans by using ice water. Once cooled, drain beans from ice water.

Next, start putting the green beans into your freezer bags. You want the beans to be as compact as possible but still leaving about ½ inch to close the bag. Seal the bags and place in the freezer for freezing.

For those looking to preserve the freshness, or if you are using a lower quality freezer bag, you may consider using freezer tape on the seal to make sure the air is locked out.

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Yogurt & Fruit Pops

Ice Cream

Kids love having a popsicle as a treat, especially during the summer. A store bought pop made of Kool-aide is sugary, has artificial flavors, and provides no health benefits. Why not turn their love for a popsicle into a way to sneak fruit into your child's diet? Fruit is absolutely necessary for optimal health. Low in calories and high in fiber, fruit is a key ingredient in helping to combat childhood obesity, a big concern these days.

Fruit helps protect children from certain illnesses and diseases. Fiber-rich foods keep your child's digestive system working properly and helps prevent heart disease and Type 2 diabetes later on in life. Fruit supplies important vitamins and minerals that can help kids avoid cancer and other diseases. Children around elementary school age need at least one cup of fruit each day, and teenagers should have about two cups.

The best way to make sure children have adequate fruit in the diet is using it to replace sugary treats. A cool popsicle is a real treat for children, especially in hot weather. The trick is to replace choices like Kool-aide with a healthy popsicle. Don't just simply freeze fruit juice to make popsicles. Use whole fruit with ingredients like yogurt and honey to make a delicious popsicle that will be more attractive to kids, as well.

For your popsicles, use about three cups of fresh fruit such as strawberries, blueberries or peaches. Puree the fruit in a blender. If you use strawberries, you can remove the seeds by pouring the pureed fruit through a strainer. Mix the fruit with about 1/3 cup of water, 1/2 cup of plain yogurt, 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of honey. If you have time, mix the yogurt in only half of the fruit mixture, then layer for fun striped pops.

Blackberries, kiwi, citrus and some peaches are naturally tart. In addition to honey, adding about 1/4 - 1/2 cup of sugar will make the pops more palatable. Always taste first so you don't add more than needed. Even with added sugar, these pops will be far less caloric than other sugary treats.

Mix all ingredients well in a blender. Funnel the mixture into popsicle molds and freeze for about 4-5 hours, or overnight. Now you will have a cold, healthy pop the kids will love anytime, especially in hot weather.

 

Real Fruit Popsicles

Fruit ice cream isolated on white

Homemade Treats

Instead of serving store-bought Popsicles to your family, make homemade ice pops from nutritious juices and fruit. Summer is a great time to make freezer pops at home because it is easy and inexpensive to find many varieties of fruit at roadside stands, farmers markets and grocery stores. Throughout the summer months, moms can prepare different recipes of ice pops to freeze for use in the autumn. Once you know the basic recipes for the bases of ice pops, it is easy to puree or chop fresh fruit and make a large batch for future use.

Food Processors

Toddlers often prefer eating smoother textures of foods due to having fewer teeth, leading to using pureed fruit to make homemade ice pops. Pureeing blueberries, nectarines and bananas is simple with the right equipment such as a food processor or blender. You can even make natural fruit juices by using a juicing machine. One of the main purposes of making ice pops at home is using organic produce grown without pesticides. Because popsicles bought at a store contain high levels of corn syrup and artificial flavors, moms can control the ingredients in the homemade versions while still providing a delicious treat for their families.

Avoid Sugar

Several cups of fresh fruit such as strawberries or watermelon will reduce in amount as it is pureed and strained. Straining is vital to remove seeks and fibers that many children do not like. Most ripe fruit is naturally sweet, allowing you to avoid adding sugar. Taste the fruit first for tartness to determine if a small amount of sugar is necessary. You can always use alternates such as coconut sugar or honey. Oranges, limes and lemons make delicious ice pops but usually require a sweetener to make the snacks more enjoyable. Older children may want to have more texture in their ice pops, so you can add small chunks of fruit to the ice pops.

Flavor Combinations

To freeze homemade ice pops, you need containers that are easy to fill with juice and fruit. Special containers are available at stores, or you can improvise with small cups (paper Dixie cups are best) and wooden sticks (or even small plastic spoons). You can use one or more types of pureed fruit and juice to make this delicious treat. Great combinations include orange juice mixed with banana chunks or pureed raspberries mixed with lemon juice. If you have a child who is reluctant to try a new fruit, then add it to their favorite flavor of ice pop. Also, try blending in some plain or vanilla yogurt for a more creamy pop without using ice cream.

 

Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole

Chicken Rice Casserole

Nothing is more satisfying than putting a hot, healthy, homemade meal on the table for your family. Make ahead meals are a great solution for busy moms. Cook once and have dinner twice!

Plan your shopping to include items for meal preparation for two weeks or more at a time. One morning spent preparing and freezing nourishing meals for the family will give you more quality time through the busy weekday evenings, and will lower your stress level.

What foods freeze easily and will reheat quickly? Consider one-dish meals or fillings for hot, savory sandwiches that can be served with a cold side dish. Here is a chicken broccoli rice casserole that is easy, delicious and freezes well! Notice that frozen or fresh broccoli can be used. And try some changes now and then:  use different vegetables (or a combo) and try using 2-3 cups of cooked pearl barley in place of the same amount of rice.

Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole

•5 cups cooked rice, either white or brown
•2 cups cooked chicken, cubed
•2 cups chopped broccoli, fresh or frozen, lightly cooked
•1 can cream of chicken soup
•1 can cream of mushroom soup
•2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
•salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl, and divide in half for two freezer meals.

The easiest storage is to use zip-lock bags and freeze flat, making sure all the air is out of the bag. To serve, thaw overnight in the refrigerator or use the defrost setting on your microwave. Prepare a greased 8x8 casserole dish. Have some extra cheese on hand to sprinkle on top before baking.

Serve with crusty bread and fresh fruit for a well balanced meal.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until heated through.

This recipe makes around 10 servings, and each freezer bag serves 4-5 people.

The chicken broccoli rice casserole is budget-friendly, filling and easy to freeze. A good tip for your make ahead meals is to flatten your freezer bags so they will stack easily and save room in your freezer. Place bags on a baking sheet until frozen to help freeze them flat. Don't forget to label with the dish and date!

Don’t let busy schedules prevent your family from enjoying special times around the dinner table. A homemade dinner can be a memory maker, so take time to prepare great, nutritious meals ahead, and serve them to the most important people in your world – your family!

 

Morning Oatmeal Muffins

Apple Cinnamon Muffin Topped With Granola

If you’re a busy parent looking for a quick, nutritional and tasty morning snack that everyone will enjoy, consider these fantastic oatmeal muffins. Besides being a breeze to prepare, these tantalizing and filling muffins freeze well and thaw out quickly, so they are readily available whenever you need them.

Since this particular recipe yields 8 large or 16 small muffins, consider doubling this recipe to keep plenty on hand. If you don’t, you may regret it! You can make your muffins even more exciting by adding optional ingredients such as nuts and dried or fresh fruit. So say goodbye to expensive granola bars, donuts and other sugary breakfast foods that don’t give your children the energy they need, and show them you care with these fun and delicious treats. You’ll be glad you gave these morning oatmeal muffins a try.

Morning Oatmeal Muffins

Ingredients:
1 cup buttermilk or sour milk (this can also be made by adding 1 tablespoon vinegar to regular milk)
1 cup quick oats or old fashioned uncooked oats
¼ cup sugar
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 beaten egg
3 Tablespoons melted shortening
¾ cup raisins, cranberries or other dried fruit (optional)
¼ cup nuts, such as chopped pecans or sliced almonds (optional)
1 cup chopped fruit, such as apples or peaches (optional)

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees and grease muffin tins or use parchment backing cups. Pour buttermilk over rolled oats and let stand a few minutes.

In the meantime, sift together the dry ingredients and add to the rolled oats mixture with the optional ingredients such as the raisins, nuts and/or other dried fruit.

Then add in the beaten egg, stirring lightly and fold into melted shortening.

Fill the greased muffin pans 2/3 full (or use paper liners) and put in the preheated oven for 15 to 25 minutes, depending on the size of the muffins. Top with additional chopped nuts, oats and/or fruit, if desired.

To save the leftover muffins for the week, you can store them in a sealed container on the countertop or in the refrigerator. To freeze, place them into separate freezer bags or containers, and keep in the freezer for up to three months. To thaw frozen muffins, just reheat each one individually for about 20 seconds in the microwave, or simply let them sit out overnight on the counter top or in the refrigerator. Enjoy!