In honor of National Canned Food Month, we salute all the goodness that cans deliver, from the farm or the ocean straight to your table. Here are six reasons why I rely on canned foods:
#1 – Healthy and Affordable
My pantry is always filled with canned foods because I consider them one of the most affordable ways to eat healthy. From fruits, vegetables, and beans, to seafood, meat, and poultry, canned foods provide comparable nutrients to their fresh counterparts and are often more affordable. No electricity costs to store, either. Just on a shelf in a cabinet or pantry. Plus, canned foods are “in-season” all year long!
#2 – Convenient and Versatile
You can’t get much more convenient than canned fruits, vegetables, beans, seafood and meat. You simply buy them, place them in your pantry, then open and pour. That’s it. Maybe a draining or slight chopping step, but even that’s super quick. Recipes and meals come together faster and easier – critical when we’re all time-pressed.
Versatile canned foods star in all kinds of recipes, from appetizers, side dishes, entrees, soups, stews, and desserts. But the versatility of canned foods really shines in how well they work with numerous hot and trending global cuisines, from Moroccan, Ethiopian, Thai, Asian, and Peruvian, to the ever-popular Italian and Latin/Mexican.
#3 – Eating More is Easier
When you include canned fruits and vegetables in your repertoire, you’ll find it so easy to eat the recommended servings each and every day. Canned fruits and vegetables count as nutrient-rich choices, just like fresh, because they are picked and packed at their peak of ripeness and quality. They’re often canned within hours of harvest which means valuable nutrients are retained.
#4 – Healthier Diet Overall
Even more impactful – and to lend more support to upping canned consumption – consider recent research published online in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. According to the research, children and adults who ate canned fruits and vegetables had greater overall fruit and vegetable consumption, better diet quality, and increased nutrient intake compared to kids and adults who did not eat canned fruits and vegetables.
#5 – Simple Solution to the Shortfall
Many Americans fall short on specific nutrients, like folate, magnesium, potassium, fiber, and vitamins A, C, E, and D. Many canned foods are top sources of these key nutrients. This list is certainly not all-inclusive, but it gives you an idea of the valuable contribution to filling the gap with those shortfall nutrients: canned tuna and salmon (vitamin D), canned tomato products, beans and spinach (potassium), beans and pumpkin (fiber) and canned coconut milk, sardines, chili with beans (iron).
#6 – Sustainable Choice
When I use canned foods, I have far less waste than with fresh counterparts. That’s good for my wallet but especially good for our planet. Plus, canned foods are packed in the most recycled food and beverage container – steel food cans. Sustainability at its best.
Here’s one of my favorite salsas. It’s so easy to prep, makes a big batch for parties and gatherings, and your guests will love how refreshing and healthy it is!
Sunny Six Can Salsa
- 1 can (15 oz.) sliced peaches in light syrup, drained and chopped
- 1 can (15 oz.) pear halves in light syrup, drained and chopped
- 1 can (20 oz.) pineapple tidbits in 100% juice, drained
- 1 can (14.5 oz.) petite diced tomatoes, drained
- 1 can (15.25 oz.) sweet kernel corn, drained
- 1 can (15.25 oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 1/3 cups diced red onion
- 1 ¼ cups finely chopped green onion
- 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and very finely minced
- ½ to 2/3 cup chopped cilantro
- 1 ½ tablespoons vegetable oil
- ½ cup lime juice
- Zest from 1 very large lime
- 2 cloves garlic, very finely minced
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¾ to 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- Combine peaches, pears, pineapple, tomatoes, corn, and black bean in a very large bowl. Lightly stir in red onion, green onion, jalapeno peppers, and cilantro.
- In a separate small bowl, whisk oil, lime juice, zest, garlic, salt, and cumin.
- Pour over fruits and vegetables and toss lightly.
- Taste and add additional salt and/or cumin if desired.
- Enjoy immediately with corn tortilla chips.
- Refrigerate leftovers in a tightly covered container.
Makes about 11 cups salsa.
By Kim Galeaz, RDN CD
Food Talk Blog at www.kimgaleaz.com