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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

How canned foods help you cook like the pros

For starters, they have most of their ingredients measured and ready ahead of time, "magically" shaving time off their meal-prep demonstrations. What trips up many home cooks is timing. They get started on a recipe and one of the ingredients gets overly browned or over-cooked while waiting for the next ingredient to be ready to go into the dish.

Relying more on canned foods, which come pre-cleaned, chopped and cooked, and easily portioned, can help you quickly assemble delicious and nutritious meals like the pros. Think of them as your personal prep kitchen. But, as evidenced by a recent consumer survey, Americans are unsure of the benefits canned foods bring to the table.

The fact is many professional chefs, accomplished home cooks and registered dietitians regularly incorporate canned ingredients into their recipes, so you can feel confident doing so as well. Consider these five key facts about canned foods.

1. Canned food is filled with important nutrients, including fiber, protein, and vitamins and minerals essential for a healthy diet. Yet, less than half (42 percent) of Americans surveyed realize the nutrients in canned food count toward meeting the U.S. Department of Agriculture's dietary recommendations.

2. Research shows canned foods offer comparable nutrients often at a lower cost than their fresh or frozen counterparts, particularly when waste and prep-time are considered. Additional research demonstrates that recipes prepared with canned ingredients rated the same or better in terms of taste and nutrition compared to those using fresh or frozen ingredients.

3. Canned food contributes less than 1 percent of the sodium in consumers' diets and there are more no-salt added, low- and reduced-sodium options on grocery shelves than ever before. A quick drain and rinse can further reduce sodium content by 41 percent.

4. Canned foods are considered minimally processed foods. After being cleaned, peeled, chopped and trimmed, as necessary, foods are cooked in the can to lock in nutrients and flavor.

5. Steel cans are strong, tamper resistant and feature an airtight seal to help guard against foodborne illness and contamination. In addition, steel cans are the most recycled food package.

So, the next time you are inspired to experiment like a pro, using recipes such as these tuna and black bean lettuce wraps, plan to work in a few canned ingredients to ensure you have plenty of time to enjoy the company of the family and friends gathered around your table.

To learn more about the facts about canned foods and discover more great recipes featuring canned ingredients, visit

Tuna and Black Bean Salad Wraps


1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained

1 can (11 ounces) tuna in olive oil, drained

3/4 cup fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped, or canned diced tomatoes

1/3 cup finely chopped red onion

1 tablespoon minced Serrano peppers

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Salt and pepper, to taste

6 large butter lettuce leaves


In a large bowl, combine beans, tuna, tomatoes, onion, peppers, oil and lime juice. Toss gently, being careful to keep tuna in bite-size pieces. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour. Add parsley and cilantro; season with salt and pepper. Spoon tuna salad into lettuce leaves. Fold up leaves and eat taco style. Serves 6.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:

Calories 270; Total fat 17g; Saturated fat 2.5g; Cholesterol 15mg; Sodium 200mg; Carbohydrate 14g; Fiber 5g; Protein 18g; ; Vitamin A 25%DV*; Vitamin C 20%DV; Calcium 4%DV; Iron 10%DV * Daily Value

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