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‘Can’tastic reasons to choose canned foods

Published 8:05pm Saturday, February 8, 2014

Back in the 18th century, canning began its evolution when Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte issued a challenge for someone to come up with a safe way to preserve food in quantity to feed his troops. Hundreds of years later, canned food is a part of everyday life.

In the canning process, food is sealed into an airtight, cleaned and sterilized container using heat to kill bacteria and other microorganisms that cause food to spoil. Over the years, the processing conditions have been dramatically refined so the best texture, greatest flavor and maximum nutrition are retained in canned foods.

Myths about canned foods are abundant. Here is some “food for thought” to help reveal the truths:


Myth No. 1: Canned food is high in sodium.

Fact: No sodium (or other preservative) is needed to make canned food safe. Salt is added simply to enhance the taste of a particular food. In fact, “no sodium” and “low sodium” options are readily available for many products. Draining and rinsing canned food before use reduces sodium levels 23-40% according to a study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.


Myth No. 2: All canned fruit is high in sugar.

Fact: Besides those fruits canned with heavy and light syrups made with added sugar, many canned fruits are available packed in their own juice or water. Just as with rinsing added sodium from vegetables, rinsing fruit before serving can reduce the amount of added sugar.


Myth No. 3: Fresh food is best.

Fact: In a University of California-Davis study, researchers found when a food is eaten, regardless of being fresh, (frozen) or canned, the nutrient levels are not significantly different. Researchers at Michigan State University found a nutritional advantage in certain foods for canned vs. fresh fruits and vegetables.

From olives to tuna and pureed pumpkin to evaporated milk, canning is a healthy way to decrease food waste, increase convenience of perishable foods and save money. Canning also increases the variety of nutritional fruits and vegetables available to consumers in the Midwest where food is not grown year-round.

Remember — if a can is leaking, bulging, dented, cracked, discolored or smells bad, don’t use it! Take advantage of specials and stock up on “cantastic” canned foods for great taste, economy, variety, convenience and nutritional benefit.

For quick and easy recipes using canned foods, check out

This recipe is a sure fire way to warm up on a cold day.

Smoky southwest chicken

Serves 6 (1 cup each)

 All you need

•1 tablespoon olive oil

•½ cup chopped onion

•½ cup thinly sliced celery

•1 can (10-3/4 ounces) reduced-sodium cream of chicken soup

•1 cup low-sodium chicken broth

•1 cup cooked wild rice

•1 cup canned, sliced carrots, drained

•2 cans (3 ounces each) premium chunk chicken breast in water, drained

•1/2 teaspoon chili powder

•1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

•Pinch ground chipotle chile

•1 cup shredded, pepper jack cheese, divided

•1/3 cup evaporated fat-free canned milk

•3 tablespoons chopped cilantro

 All you do

1. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat; add onion and celery.

2. Sauté, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes or until softened.

3. Stir in soup and broth. Add rice, carrots, chicken, chili powder, cumin, chipotle chile and 3/4 cup cheese; bring to a gentle boil, stirring occasionally.

4. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes to blend flavors; stir in evaporated milk and chopped cilantro.

5. Garnish with remaining cheese and cilantro sprigs.


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