Written by Andy Mathis
Did you know eating enough fruits and vegetables is not only healthy for you, but may actually be able to improve your mood? That’s why I decided to take the Happiness Challenge! The Happiness Challenge is a 5-day fruit-and-veggie-rich menu plan based on the Mediterranean diet (see below for more information about the diet) using the convenience, ease and great taste of canned foods.
The Happiness Challenge is all about making good nutrition – and good moods – easier to achieve with the help of canned foods! By using the meal plan created by registered dietitian Holley Grainger and Cans Get You Cooking I was able to get a week’s worth of healthy meals on the table for my family. I’m sharing more about my experience below and would love for you to take the challenge with me! Visit the Cans Get You Cooking website to view the meal plan and grab your shopping list. And don’t forget to take the short post-survey when you’re done – you’ll be entered to win one month of free groceries at the store of your choice.
The Happiness Challenge was a wonderful experience! In the very beginning, I must admit that I was a bit overwhelmed when purchasing all of the canned ingredients at once, but when I started preparing the recipes, I was excited to continue. I’ve always cooked with canned foods, but not on a consistent basis thinking that fresh fruits and vegetables were the best options. But, after witnessing the canning experience first-hand at McCall Farms, a cannery in South Carolina, I learned that the canning process is one of the best ways to preserve important nutrients from food. This is because fresh fruits and veggies are harvested at peak ripeness and canned within hours, locking in all those wonderful nutrients we all strive to consume! Now, I feel proud to incorporate canned foods into our family meals. The best part about this challenge is that it decreased my prep time in the kitchen and I actually had more energy in the evening, which is rare for me. I was able to play a few rounds of hide-and-seek with my kids before bedtime, which really made me happy!
I didn’t realize that making the decision to incorporate more canned goods in my recipes, would be so impactful! In addition to having more energy and being noticeably happier, I was able to reduce our carbon footprint, too, which is very important to me. Most people don’t realize this, but cans are infinitely recyclable! This made me feel even better about stocking my “cantry” with tons of delicious and nutritious canned foods!
Lastly, check out one of the recipes we made below. It’s part of the Happiness Challenge meal plan and shows just how easy and delicious it is to cook with cans.
White Chicken Chili
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
Warm-up your winter with a hearty bowl of White Chicken Chili. This dish can be made in a mere 30 minutes, all thanks to the canned ingredients: chicken, white beans, white hominy, chicken broth and green chilies. Canned foods make homemade easy!
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 2 (10-ounce) cans chicken breast, drained and flaked
- 1 (15.5-ounce) can small white beans, drained and rinsed**
- 1 (15.5-ounce) can white hominy, drained and rinsed**
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can chicken broth
- 1 (4.5-ounce) can chopped green chilies, drained**
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley or cilantro
- Sour Cream, shredded Cheddar cheese for serving**
In 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat, in hot oil, cook onion, celery and garlic about 5 minutes until tender-crisp, stirring occasionally. Stir in chili powder and cumin; cook 1 minute. Add chicken, white beans, hominy, chicken broth, green chilies, salt and pepper. Over high heat, heat to boiling; reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 10 minutes to blend flavors, stirring occasionally. To serve, garnish each serving with chopped parsley. Serve with sour cream and shredded cheese.
Nutrition information can be found on the Cans Get You Cooking website.
About the Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean-style Diet reﬂects a way of eating based on the traditional cuisine of countries that border the Mediterranean Sea — rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans and sources of healthy fats such as seafood, olive oil and nuts. It’s one of the eating plans recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.