Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Canned Foods: Convenience and Nutrition!

This morning I awoke to an email from TwitterMoms offering a chance to learn more and blog about canned foods and the canning process from The Canned Food Alliance. This video taught me a few things that I did not know. Were you aware that dry beans does NOT refer to just those beans sold in bags? All beans are allowed to dry in their pods. They are later either canned or sold in bags. There are approximately 7.5 million beans harvested each year. All of these beans go thru a 7 step cleaning process and are sorted by color and checked for blemishes. Only the best are actually shipped to the canning company. One of the things that fascinated me the most was the fact that fruits and vegetables are cooked IN THE CAN. I always thought they were cooked and then put in the can. Lesson learned there, for sure!

Using canned foods not only provides convenience, but also nutrition. All beans are high in fiber and protein and are FAT FREE. When choosing your beans, choose the darker varieties as the darker the bean, the higher they are in antioxidants. There are so many different ways to use them and millions of recipes out there. Here is one that I literally just threw together as it is cold and snowy outside and I need some "comfort" food.

Taco Soup
(this makes A LOT so be sure you use a large pot).

This is a very versatile recipe and you can pretty much use whatever bean combo you want and add any other extras you want.

1 package Quorn Vegan crumbles or 1 lb hamburger meat for those so inclined
1 small onion, diced
2 cans pinto beans
2 cans black beans
2 cans red kidney beans
2 cans diced or crushed tomatoes
1 can whole kernal corn
1-2 packets taco seasoning
For a bit of a taco ranch flavor, you can add 1/2-1 packet of ranch dressing mix or the following:
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
2 teaspoon minced parsley
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Cook the crumbles and the onion until done. Add all the canned goods and the seasoning packets or seasonings. I drain the canned goods but keep the fluid. Add just enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to low. As this cooks down, add some of the fluid and continue to cook. Cook until it is "just right" for you in both taste and consistency. All the flavors mix together quite well. Remember, salt and pepper to taste. I generally add some pepper and skip the salt since the Taco Seasoning is added.

This is perfect for those cold snowy days. We don't have them often here, but as I right this, there is a blizzard going on in my usually warm Texas town.

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