Whole Foods is no stranger to veggies – even the frozen kind, and it's no stranger to healthy food. And for folks who can't quite get the two of them in synch, the natural-food grocery giant is now doing the thinking for you -- this week officially launching a new line of eight frozen vegetable blends designed to pack specific nutritional punches.
Beans and Greens, for instance, is a high-fiber-and-iron blend of kidney beans, great northern beans and kale. Leafy Greens is a high vitamin A mixture of collards, kale and mustard greens. Garden Blend hits vitamins A and C with carrots, broccoli and sugar snap peas. It also includes single veggie packages of collard greens and blue curled kale – two of the most nutrient-dense vegetables around.
"There was definitely a plan to make sure we were hitting nutrient density and creating a product that was more than just a bag of frozen vegetables," said Chris Slick, Whole Foods' Senior Global Coordinator for Exclusive and Store Brands.
The veggies are conventionally grown, flash frozen within hours of harvest to preserve all the nutrients. And there is nothing added – no salt, no seasoning, no sauce – generally in seven-ounce, two-serving boxes that can be eaten as is, dressed up or added to other dishes. "We wanted to do a very versatile line that you could eat right out of the box for lunch if you want," said Slick who said Whole Foods also wanted to help customers get away from the gazillion-half-filled-bags-of-frozen-vegetables-in-your-freezer syndrome.
They're packaged as part of the house brand 365 Everyday Value, and cost $1.99 box. But they're also part of the chain-wide health initiative called Health Starts Here. It features four pillars of healthy eating: whole foods, plant-strong, nutrient dense and healthy fats, a concept designed to include the stores' prepared foods.
Truth be told, Whole Foods (which has actually had the blends in stores for about six months) is not the first to do targeted nutritional vegetable blends. Green Giant, owned by General Mills, has had what it calls Health Blends on the market for a few years. They were designed to have unique, vitamin-rich combinations that folks might not think of on their own, said spokeswoman Pam Becker.
The difference is, Green Giant's blends have sauces and seasonings, which means more fat and calories (though not always) and way more sodium. On the other hand, you know exactly what you're getting rather than mindlessly throwing on half a stick of butter and a pile of salt.
So how do the two brands stack up? See for yourself with labels below for Whole Foods Greens and Beans vs. Green Giant Digestive Health Blend