In an era where almost any food is available fresh at any time of year, canned foods have lost some of their luster. But, unlike today, there was a time when families were unable to get tomatoes or corn in the winter, or even survive the winter due to scant foods supplies. Canning was first invented in the early 1800’s when inadequate food stores could limit military campaigns. Luckily, we no longer have to open canned food with bayonets and we’re able to enjoy the ease and affordability it has to offer during the winter months.
Benefits of Canned Foods
- Fruits and vegetables are canned at the peak of freshness
- Canned produce is as rich in vitamins and fiber as their fresh counterparts
- Compared to fresh, some canned foods have more availability of antioxidants and other nutrients due to the heating process
- Canned foods are affordable, convenient, shelf-stable and allow an increased availability of foods
Canned foods often get snubbed for their higher sodium content, which is added during processing. Sodium in canned foods can be reduced by as much as 40% by simply draining the can. Many varieties now offer low-sodium and sodium-free alternatives.
6 Holiday Ideas for Canned Foods
- Artichoke Hearts are a great addition to holiday dips and salads. The canned version is a great way to simplify holiday recipes and include fiber and antioxidants on your winter menus.
- Canned Corn has just as much fiber as fresh corn but with a lower price tag, and less work. Spice up salads and layered bean dip with corn. Make your own fresh salsa using canned beans and canned tomatoes with green chiles.
- Mandarin Oranges are a favorite among toddlers and big kids, alike. As part of the citrus family, they are packed with vitamin C. Dress up a spinach salad with mandarin oranges or stir into yogurt for a sweet treat after writing a wish list to Santa. Look for varieties with light syrup or packed in juice to reduce sugar.
- Pumpkin is packed full of fiber and vitamin A. And, opening up a can of pumpkin is way easier than carving and scooping. Let someone else do the work for you at a very low cost. Cozy up to the fire with your own homemade pumpkin spiced latte or … for a warm winter breakfast, add pumpkin to oatmeal, along with cinnamon and raisins.
- Canned Tomatoes actually have more lycopene than fresh. They are super convenient and found in a multitude of varieties with already added spices and flavors. Make fresh salsa or bruschetta for your next holiday party. Add a can to your favorite pasta sauce for a quick and easy dinner after a day of shopping.
- A Meaningful Gift! If you’re a home canner, create an inexpensive, meaningful, and nutritious holiday gift by tying on a ribbon and a recipe.
Melissa Hehmann, RD CDE
Healthy Living Advisor