CrossFit is popular for many different reasons, with one of them being the variety of movements and workouts it employs to develop fitness. However, CrossFit’s fitness is not just created inside the box, but actually encompasses several different components, with the most important being nutrition. CrossFit methodology has developed its own definition of nutrition based on a “diet of meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar”. The concept of only eating clean and nutritious foods can be somewhat daunting and many people don’t know where to start, especially when it comes to meal prep. However, this is where the concept of blanching your vegetables can be extremely valuable in regards to saving time and increasing your meal’s nutritious content.
If you’ve ever tried to freeze vegetables without blanching them first, you may have noticed that when you pulled them out of the freezer they changed color, and when you cooked them, the texture was off and they tasted different. These are all common effects of freezing vegetables without any kind of pre-treatment and can often be a major turn-off for people who may want to buy their vegetables in bulk but are worried that they will go bad before they eat them all.
This is where blanching comes in. Blanching is a process where you boil or steam vegetables briefly until they are partially cooked. Blanching stops the enzymatic activity from decaying the vegetables. These enzymes can survive the cold temperatures of a freezer and therefore continue the decaying process even though the food is frozen. However, pre-treating the vegetables in boiling water or steam kills these enzymes and prolongs the decaying process for much longer. Some common vegetables that should be blanched before being frozen are green beans, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and leafy greens.
The blanching process can be divided into two basic stages: the boiling/steam stage and the ice bath stage. During the boiling/steaming stage, bring water to a boil as you wash and cut your vegetables (there should just be enough water to completely submerge the vegetables in the pot). Once the water is boiling, place the vegetables in the pot of water and wait until it returns to a boil. When the water returns to a boil, start the timer for several minutes (the exact ‘cook’ time depends on the size of the vegetable; a list of suggested cooking times can be found towards the end of this article: https://www.thespruceeats.com/blanching-vegetables-before-freezing-1327660).
Once the vegetable has been blanched for the recommended time, immediately drain it with a strainer and then plunge the strainer into a bowl of ice cold water. You want to cool the vegetable pieces down as quickly as possible so that they don’t continue to cook from the residual heat. After they have been cooled down, drain the remaining water and then place the vegetable pieces on a cookie sheet. You want to make sure that they are spread out on the sheet so that they aren’t touching each other. Then, place the sheet in the freezer for about an hour (this pre-freezes the vegetables so that when they are then frozen all together in a bag or container, they won’t stick together). After about an hour, transfer the vegetables to a freezer-safe bag or container and then put them back in the freezer until you are ready to cook them.