Fresh produce gets a lot of attention these days. There’s the emphasis on fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, fresh herbs, fresh everything. Some people even believe that fresh produce is more nutritious than canned. But did you know that canned fruits and vegetables are picked when they’re at peak ripeness and then canned within hours of picking?
Fresh, frozen, and canned fruits and vegetables are all wonderful ways to incorporate nutrient-dense foods into your diet. Sometimes it’s too difficult to get to the grocery store once a week to keep produce in the refrigerator, fresh. Other times it can be too time-consuming to chop and prepare fruits and vegetables for each meal. In circumstances where there are few trips to the grocery each week or time is limited, shelf-stable, nutrient-rich foods are a tremendous asset to have in your kitchen pantry.
Affordable: canned food items are typically always cheaper than their fresh food counterpart
Shelf-stable: canned food products can last several years on the shelf, in a dry and cool environment. Check the date on your cans to be safe!
Time Management: canned fruits, vegetables, and meats come ready to add to any recipe to decrease meal preparation time.
What to Buy:
When grabbing fruit, go for the fruit that is in 100% juice, light syrup, or water. Avoiding fruit that is in syrup eliminates unnecessary added sugar.
For veggies, look for the cans labeled no salt added or low sodium. If you already have vegetables in the cupboard with regular amounts of salt, pour them into a colander and run cold water over them. This can reduce sodium by 40%. Watching sodium intake is one way to help manage blood pressure.
When selecting canned meats, such as chicken and tuna, go for the meat that is in water instead of broth or oil. This can help decrease the consumption of unknown sodium and fat present in our food
When buying canned beans, look for those that are low sodium and without sauce. Avoiding canned beans in sauce eliminates hidden sugars
If you are looking for a way to get started, check out this awesome recipe:
Mexican Black Bean Blend
2 T. olive oil
2 bell peppers
1 large white onion
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 small can tomato paste (6 oz.)
1 can corn (15 oz.)
1 can black beans (15 oz.)
1 can garbanzo beans (15 oz.)
1 can diced tomatoes and green chilies
2 c. cooked rice
1 packet reduced sodium taco seasoning
In a large pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add diced peppers and onions. Cook until onions are translucent. Add minced garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
Add tomato paste, corn, beans, and tomatoes. Cook on medium heat for 10 minutes. Add cooked rice and taco season. Stir until combined
Serve in taco shells or over a bed of lettuce. Top with salsa, Greek yogurt, and avocado.
* This recipe is very flexible. Feel free to get creative and add other ingredients if you’d like. Add chicken or ground beef at the end if you would like added protein to the dish.
For additional information on canned foods, check out Mealtime.org!