While a refrigerator stocked with fresh produce from the farmers’ market is always nice, it never hurts to keep some healthy canned vegetables in the pantry. Canned goods are inexpensive, shelf stable, and easy to use in a variety of recipes.
Of course not all canned produce is created equal. “When buying canned vegetables, something to keep in mind is they may have sodium added, as sodium helps preserve the vegetables so they last longer and prevent microbial growth,” says Erica Ingraham, RDN. “If you have a condition where you are watching your sodium intake, such as high blood pressure or heart disease, you may want to rinse the veggies or opt for a low sodium option.”
Keeping that tip in mind, Ingraham and Casey Means, MD, a practicing physician specializing in nutrition and disease prevention, shared the canned vegetables they like to keep on hand for fast and easy weeknight cooking.
Healthy canned vegetables for easy weeknight cooking
“Canned tomatoes are convenient to have on hand and make an easy addition to pasta, burritos, and soup,” says Ingraham. She likes to vary the flavors of the ones she buys, sometimes opting for fire-roasted instead of just plain. Dr. Means is into this one too, often buying tomato paste to use in vegetable stir-fries to add a bit of tang. “It’s packed with tons of lycopene, a potent antioxidant,” she says.
Ingraham likes canned corn because it has a pretty neutral flavor profile and can be added to almost anything. “Corn can freshen up a salad or make a nice addition for tacos,” she says.
3. artichoke hearts
“Artichoke hearts instantly make a salad more exciting, adding tang, texture, and a little saltiness,” says Dr. Means. And you can still reap the fibrous rewards without spending time boiling or steaming them, too.
4. hearts of palm
Hearts of palm can be used similarly to artichoke hearts, according to Dr. Means. I also love these for my crabless crab cakes, which are a major dinner party hit,” she says. “I make them completely plant based by using vegan mayo, and make them grain free by using almond flour instead of gluten-free bread crumbs.”
Besides the fiber content, Ingraham likes canned peas because they’re also a good source of protein. (It’s why pea protein is popping up in a lot of healthy products lately.) “They can easily be thrown into a casserole or soup,” says Ingraham.
“Add canned carrots to a quick soup or stir-fry to get some beta-carotene and fiber,” says Ingraham. Canned carrots also cook faster than raw carrots, another reason why they’re great to have on hand for quick cooking.
“While not exactly a vegetable, beans are great to buy canned because they take forever to cook,” says Ingraham. “They pack a lot of protein per serving, in addition to fiber and essential micronutrients.” Dr. Means wholeheartedly agrees. “I can’t speak highly enough about beans,” she says. “With 24.5 grams of plant based protein and a whopping 31.5 grams of fiber per can of black beans, they are one of the cheapest forms of health promoting nutrients, coming in at $1 for an organic can at Whole Foods.”
While you’re getting dietitian-approved food tips, check out what an RD buys on her trips to Whole Foods:
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