In our foodie-focused culture, it’s hard to overlook the appeal of a well-dressed meal. So when it comes to frozen foods, we wondered why the food on the package doesn’t quite look like what we slide out of the microwave or oven.
The quickest answer is that the same cold freezer blast that seals in the important vitamins and nutrients, can also steal some of the vibrant colors of the foods inside, giving them a slight color contrast to the freshly prepared versions. Freezing foods can also make them a bit less crisp or firm in the thawing/cooking process. For example, the peppers in the salsa garnish might not have the same crunch of the fresh version because the water has changed from a frozen to liquid state in the heating process. This causes shrinking and expansion, making the cell walls less firm. Check out this post about the science of freezing.
When these changes occur, the food still tastes great and has those essential vitamins and nutrients, but might necessitate a hint of food styling to ensure that the food still looks its absolute best. Food stylists elevate food to an art form with a lot of patience and an army of tiny tweezers that allow them to tweak individual ingredients for the perfect camera shot. Just picture that luscious slice of lasagna that artfully depicts well-placed slices of mushroom, pepper and parsley peeking out from within the pasta layers. (Hungry, yet?)
If the thought of using tweezers to "pretty up" your meal feels like too much of a bother (really, we’re kidding on that one…), take a tip from registered dietitian Carolyn O’Neil, and add your own flourish to a meal with some fresh fixins. "Add a sprinkle of lush, green cilantro to your frozen tamales or garnish that cheesy lasagna with a sprig of fresh parsley or oregano."
Looking for added vitamins and minerals? Don't overlook the deep freeze.
What do you look for first on the nutrition label?