Leslie Bonci of fruitsandveggies.org
Staying safe from the virus and inclement weather is top of mind for many of us right now, yet we want to #nourishtoflourish within our financial, culinary and time availability limits. For some that may mean eating on a budget, choosing recipes that are not complicated, minimizing time in preparation as well as food waste. Being smart to take care of your heart does not have to be difficult. Plants in cans are always in for a health win!
So what gift of health is on your shelf? Look no further than canned produce. Canned beans, lentils, tomatoes, pumpkin, peas, peaches, apricots, pineapple minimize the effort, maximize taste and eliminate food waste all within an affordable price point. Here are some top reasons to be a can fan:
Shelf stability: The beauty of canned produce is that it keeps. That means we can enjoy the deliciousness of tomatoes and peaches even when they are not in season. Keeping cans on your shelf is a great way to treat yourself and these foods last for quite a while.
Versatility: Canned produce is a great addition to savory dishes as well as sweet. Canned produce can be added to a spaghetti sauce, mac n’ cheese or canned soup; canned pumpkin adds veggies, moisture and nutrition to a muffin, pancake or quick bread.
Ease of use: A can opener or pop-top gives you immediate access to fruit or vegetables without the need to fuss. If you buy seasoned tomatoes, no need to add extra spices and herbs as they are ready to use. Canned beans can be drained and added to a salad, or bowl, or tossed with rice for a main dish.
Safety: Canned produce is cooked in the can to kill off the bacteria (microorganisms) and sealed to keep them safe. In addition, if you can “shop your shelf” and not have to go out, you protect your health.
Affordability: Canned foods are available in store brand, generic, and name brands as well as organic or conventionally grown so they are very nice for helping you shop within a certain price. Plus, there is no waste, extending your food dollar even further.
Double duty - protein and produce: Canned beans such as garbanzo, kidney, cannellini, black as well as lentils are not only vegetables, but also sources of protein and can be used as meat extender or meat alternative.. I love to puree cannellini beans and add to a cream sauce, cream soup or mac and cheese to provide a creamy mouthfeel with added nutritional value.
Source of phytonutrients: Canned fruits and veggies provide carbohydrate, protein (veggies), fiber, vitamins and minerals but also phyto (plant) nutrients that are good for our health such as lycopene in tomatoes, beta carotene in pumpkin and carrots, lutein in canned corn, zeaxanthin in canned greens, and glucosinolates in canned sauerkraut.
Applications for every meal/snack: Canned pears can be added to muffins, pancakes or as a topping; pineapple is delicious on cottage cheese for breakfast or lunch; canned pumpkin can be added to oatmeal or smoothies. Top an Asian salad with canned pineapple and use the juice mixed with soy sauce, ginger and oil for a dressing, canned refried beans are great to use in a dip with veggies and tortilla or bean chips. Canned black beans can be drained and mixed with plain Greek yogurt, salsa and seasoning for a tasty dip. Canned corn, canned tomatoes with chili and canned black beans is a great salsa, side dish , topping for chicken, meat or fish or served as a dip, and canned veggies can be added to a stew, chili or soup, or even to a stir fry for a quick can to table meal.
Minimize need to shop: Canned foods are great sources of nutrients to keep on hand, and you can stock up on them so you have them handy- they are ready to eat when you are and can also help minimize trips to the store.
Exercise: Canned foods are not only great to add to your menu, but they are a safe alternative to use in place of weights while doing some weight training at home. You can do bicep curls, military presses, or triceps extensions while your food cooks so you get in some reps while you prep!
For all these reasons and more, canned produce can help you improve your health, save money, minimize prep time and maximize the nutritious and delicious foods in your glass, or in your bowl or on your plate.