Cupboard Cuisine: 5 Healthy Meals in a Can

Are you suffering from kitchen burnout? Canned food to the rescue! With the canned choices in my cupboard, all I need is a few extra ingredients, like olive oil, fresh lemon juice, onion and red pepper, to create some seriously healthy meals.

My I’m-not-in-the-mood-to-really-cook standbys: bean, parsley and tomato salad; a bean-and-salmon/tuna salad; a five-minute tomato and bean stew; curry, lentil or split pea soup simmered with kale or spinach; or sardines on crackers (for the latter, fresh lemon juice, a little crushed garlic, and fresh chopped parsley go a long way).

A few quick canned food pointers:

• Buy no-salt-added (except for soup, which rarely comes that way). Not available at your local supermarket? Compare labels and get the lower sodium items.

• Look for low-sodium or reduced-sodium soups with no more than 400 mg sodium per cup (8 ounces).

• Feel good about canned tomatoes—canning concentrates the powerful antioxidant lycopene. For most other vegetables, buy fresh or frozen, as canning zaps much of their nutrition.

• Choose wild-caught salmon; it’s usually lower in cancer-causing chemicals called “PCBs.”

• “Chunk light,” “light” or “skipjack” canned tuna is generally substantially lower in mercury than “white albacore” or “albacore” tuna. That’s because albacore is a much bigger fish, so it has a lot more mercury concentrated in its meat from all the little fish it has eaten.

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About Janis Jibrin, M.S., R.D., Best Life Lead Nutritionist

Janis can’t help but be immersed in nutrition, and not just because she is a registered dietitian or writes about the topic daily for It’s also because she simply loves food, and will try just about any dish you put in front of her. In addition to her work for The Best Life, Janis is a contributing editor at SELF magazine. She also wrote The Life You Want with Bob Greene and psychologist Ann Kearney-Cooke and The Best Life Guide to Managing Diabetes and Pre-Diabetes (Simon & Schuster 2009), along with Bob and endocrinologist and Best Life chief medical advisor John J. Merendino Jr., M.D. When she’s able to get away from the kitchen and her computer, she often walks around Washington, D.C., a wonderful walking city with lots of ethnic food stores, farmer’s markets and great restaurants. (Did we mention she loves food?)

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