With the holidays quickly approaching, the sooner you can get on track with fueling your body – the better! During this busy time of year leading up to Thanksgiving, canned foods can be your best friend in the kitchen. Canned vegetables and beans allow for quick and easy fiber-filled meals when you just don’t have time for all that washing, chopping, and prepping.

Busy athletes, working parents, and anyone else tight on time can find so many uses for canned foods leading up to this holiday season, allowing them to stay on track before the holiday madness begins. Check out these ways to fuel your body with canned foods before you make your next grocery trip!

#1 – Beans, Beans, Beans

Beans are a nutrient-dense food that can be incorporated into a variety of healthy side dishes and entrees. While canned beans come at a slightly higher price per serving than dried beans, they save you hours and hours of cooking! Worried about sodium content? Purchase low sodium or no salt added canned beans; after opening, drain and rinse the beans to remove excess salt. For athletes and those that lose a lot of salt in their sweat the sodium found in canned beans can help with replacing electrolytes! Add black beans, chickpeas, or kidney beans to your next salad, soup, or casserole for a meal rich in protein and fiber! Check out some of my favorite recipes with beans: Vegetarian Quinoa Stuffed Peppers, Sheet Pan Chicken Nachos, Slow Cooker Winter White Chili.

#2 – Diced Tomatoes

Lycopene-rich tomatoes are a great source of antioxidants and nutrients – but can be expensive to purchase fresh, difficult to properly cook, and expire before you get around to using them. In fact, the heating process in canning boosts the lycopene content! To save time and money on your next sauce or garnish, use canned diced tomatoes. Puree them with olive oil and other spices, or serve them whole on top of salads or pasta. This is a low-sugar, low-cost alternative to traditional pasta sauces and marinades. This Turkey Taco Soup and Butternut Squash Chili Mac are go-to canned tomato recipes in our kitchen this fall!

#3 – Pumpkin

Canned pumpkin is a staple of the Thanksgiving season, but can be used in so many more ways than just pie. One cup of canned pumpkin has more nutrients than the fresh fruit, packing seven grams of fiber and three grams of protein per can. Create yogurt parfaits, homemade oatmeal bars, smoothies, or soup with this nutrient-packed food. These Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pancakes and Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins are sure to be a hit any time of year.

#4 – Salmon

Protein-pack your next salad or rice bowl instantly with canned salmon! A low-cost alternative to fresh fish and much easier to cook with, canned salmon also comes packed with the bones still intact – increasing the calcium content. Get more Omega-3s in your diet with these flavorful Salmon Sliders with Blueberry Compote.

Get ahead before the holiday craziness begins! Incorporate these canned foods in your weekly meal plan, and you’ll be fueling up with nutrient-dense foods in no time.


By Kristina LaRue, RDN, CSSD
Author of Love & Zest

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