With summer in full swing, one of the last things I want to do is turn on the oven. But when grilling outside is not an option, I rely on canned foods.
Many things that you can get fresh – fruits, vegetables, chicken, fish – you can also find in a can. If you shop with a discerning eye and make sure to check labels for added sugars and sodium, canned foods can be a fast, easy, and inexpensive way to prepare a nutritious and cancer-protective meal.
If you shop with a discerning eye and make sure to check labels for added sugars and sodium, canned foods can be a fast, easy, and inexpensive way to prepare a nutritious and cancer-protective meal.
These are some staple canned goods that I always have on hand:
Tomatoes – No surprises here, tomatoes are far and away the most common canned vegetable people eat. No wonder canned tomatoes get their own section in the grocery store! I throw crushed tomatoes in with farro to make a delicious, protein packed farro risotto. Canned tomatoes also serve as the base for many pasta and pizza sauces.
Beans – For me, black beans are a must-have. They’re a great way to add protein to any dish, whether it’s bulking up tacos, a vegetarian chili or dips. I usually look for a low or no sodium option but if I can’t find one, rinsing the beans also works. This South of the Border Beans and Rice requires a little stove-top action, but it’s well worth it since it makes eight servings and you can warm up leftovers without heating your kitchen for another meal!
Chickpeas – Also known as Garbanzo beans, I use these creamy legumes for stews, making hummus, or adding protein and texture to a green salad. These Smashed Chickpea & Avocado Lettuce Wraps are quick, delicious, and will keep you nice and cool. For my other go-to favorite, especially for picnics, I toss chickpeas with avocado, tomatoes, cucumber, parsley, lemon, cumin, olive oil, salt and pepper.
Most grocery stores carry the familiar cans of corn, peas, peaches, pineapple, pears, tuna, salmon, and chicken. But did you know you can also buy lentils, butternut squash, and jackfruit? Grab a can to experiment.
Canned foods are an easy and affordable way to try new foods and ethnic cuisines without investing too much time, money, or equipment.
Canned foods are an easy and affordable way to try new foods and ethnic cuisines. If you’ve heard of the vegetable okra, for example, but don’t know much about it, buy it in a can to try. It has a seedy texture, but a creamy mouth feel and is great in stews and curries since it tends to take on the flavor of whatever it is combined with. My favorite way to eat it is stewed with tomatoes, onions, and cubes of beef over rice.
I tried jackfruit, a fruit that is unique to say the least, by buying a can of it first. Jackfruit is popular in the meat-less world because of its consistency – it can be shredded and is closest in texture to pulled pork – and I had read it holds flavors well.
The canned jackfruit was already peeled and chopped, so I simply tossed it in a mix of brown sugar, paprika, garlic powder, chili powder, salt and pepper and cooked it in a skillet with olive oil. Once it had some nice color, I shredded it with two forks and added some thinned out BBQ sauce and cooked it on low with a lid to really infuse the flavor.
Topped with a homemade slaw and stacked on a seedy bun, I see why this is a popular alternative for non meat-eaters. Remember when eating it though, that it does not contain any protein, so don’t forget to include that in your meal!