Yes, You Can!
Alecia Miguel, Dietetic Intern at The Sylvia Center
According to The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 10% of Americans are meeting vegetable consumption recommendations, and 12% are meeting fruit recommendations. Barriers such as accessibility and affordability can make it difficult to eat healthy. A popular nutrition myth is that canned and frozen foods are heavily processed and low in nutrition; however, that is far from the truth. Canned and frozen foods can add to a healthy diet in a major way!
Canned and frozen products add a variety of produce into your diet and provide nutrients that will fuel the body. They are convenient, often are ready to eat, require minimal preparation, and have a long shelf life. Canned and frozen foods also tend to be more affordable, more readily available at markets (remember the Shoprite “can-can” sale commercials?) and can be found in community fridges and food pantries. Frozen produce is typically picked at peak conditions and sometimes blanched before freezing leaving minimal impact on its nutritional value. Not only are there nutritional benefits, but they save meal-prep time because they come pre-washed, pre-chopped, and some pre-cooked . Canned produce may include added preservatives such as salt and syrup but plenty of canned vegetables are available with no added salt or fruits packed in 100% juice. Be sure to check the label for “unsweetened,” “no added salt,” “low sodium,” or rinse after opening. We may be influenced by the guise of packaging but canned and frozen foods provide convenient nutrition that can help many prepare a flavorful, nutritious meal!
At the Sylvia Center, we focus on helping our students build healthier habits with a variety of ingredients. The recipes we use in our classes are plant forward, include pantry staples, and are budget friendly in order to encourage a greater variety of ingredients that are accessible and still beneficial for our health. This Spring Green Minestrone contains fresh, frozen, and canned vegetables creating a filling and nutritious meal. Even the fresh ingredients can be substituted for frozen versions and will be just as good. Next time you go shopping and think about how you want to incorporate some veggies into your meals for the week, check out the frozen and canned sections as well as the fresh section. You might come across a great addition to your meals!