Now that fall is on its way, the fresh summer bounty is dwindling down; but the truth is your diet doesn’t have to hibernate for the winter. You can get lots of great foods in the canned and frozen food aisles that are full of nutrition at a price that will have you dancing to the cash register. In this post, I’ll share some of my favorite picks and recipe ideas.
Not just the “musical fruit,” beans provide complex carbohydrates, protein, and fiber. In fact, a one-cup serving provides one-third of your day’s protein needs, half your fiber needs, and 65% of your folate needs (an important B-complex vitamin that helps prevent osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease, anemia, and homocysteine buildup in the blood). For less than a dollar a can, you can-not go wrong! Try cannelini beans, black beans, kidney beans, lentils and black-eyed peas. You can buy them with no salt added, low sodium, or rinse them before use to remove about half the salt.
Recipe ideas: add to salads, home-made bean dip, three bean chili, and breakfast burritos.
Frozen fruits and veggies
I’d love to highlight one particular fruit or vegetable, but the bottom line is they are all good choices! Frozen fruits and veggies are picked and minimally processed at their peak freshness. Freezing does not diminish the nutrition quality. Fruits and vegetables are “very good to excellent” sources of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and fiber that help keep your body healthy. They are very low in calories too, so they help you lose weight without having to eat tiny portions. One cup of most fruits and veggies have less than 50 calories! Think about that, how full are you going to get from two cups of fruit and veggies versus the “100 calorie packs?” There’s no comparison.
Just glance at the nutrition facts label and ingredients list. Look for frozen fruits with no sugar added and look for veggies with little to no salt added. There are some great frozen veggies that come with a light sauce, just make sure the fat and sodium don’t diminish the health benefits.
Recipe ideas: thaw frozen corn and mix with canned beans and canned diced tomatoes for a quick side dish, steam broccoli and top with lemon zest, make breakfast or dessert smoothies with a cup of frozen fruit and a half-cup of low-fat milk or plain yogurt.
Canned fish is a low cost way to gain a lot of heart-healthy nutrition. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish at least twice a week because it’s a good source of protein and low in saturated fat. Fatty fish, including trout, sardines, tuna, and salmon, are also high in omega-3 fatty acids, which may reduce the risk of heart disease.
Recipe ideas: toss canned salmon in with scrambled eggs and serve over half a whole wheat English muffin with a side of fruit for a balanced breakfast, mix canned tuna with low-fat plain yogurt, celery, and onion for a quick and low-fat tuna salad served in a pita with tomato.
What are some of YOUR favorite canned and frozen food finds and how do you use them to eat healthier and manage your weight?