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Most people are surprised to learn that canned and frozen fruits and vegetables are not bad but good! The nutrient content of canned and frozen fruits and vegetables is comparable to that of their fresh counterparts. I've heard people say, "If it isn't fresh, it doesn't count." Thankfully, that just isn't true. In some cases canned and frozen is even superior in nutrient content than fresh produce. For example studies have shown that fresh tomatoes have less lycopene than canned tomatoes. Lycopene is an antioxidant that is believed to protect against heart disease and certain cancers.

Canned and frozen produce is picked at its peak and canned very shortly after being harvesting. Although, some B and C vitamins are lost during canning the majority of the nutrients remain at the same level once they are canned or frozen.

I'll confess, it is a struggle to get the daily recommended amount of fruits and vegetables for my children and myself. Although, I do find it find reassuring that I can offer fruits and vegetables in a variety of forms, helping us to reach the recommended intake. In the summer months we eat more fresh produce, and in the winter months we eat a larger variety of fresh, frozen, and canned produce. In the winter months, it's harder for me to find a lot of fresh produce that looks good, and the cost of fresh produce is often higher in the winter. Canned and frozen produce also has a long shelf/freezer life if stored properly, which enables me to always have fruits and vegetables on hand without having to worry about using them up quickly.

When choosing canned and frozen fruits and vegetables keep in mind the following tips:

  • When possible choose canned fruit in 100% real fruit juice.
  • If the canned fruit is not available in 100% real fruit juice, then choose canned fruit in light syrup.  Drain the syrup before serving.
  • Choose canned vegetables with "no salt added" or "low sodium". Research has shown that rinsing off canned vegetables with water reduces the sodium content.
  • Choose frozen produce without sauces, no added fat, sugar, and sodium.
  • Store canned fruits and vegetables in a dry and cool place.
  • Don't buy canned produce that is in dented or bulging cans.

Take comfort in knowing you are not doing anything wrong by feeding your family frozen and canned produce. Most of us are not getting close to the recommended amount, so squeeze in fruits and vegetables in as many ways as possible.

Try this stress free recipe using canned vegetables. It is so good; your kids may even like it. 

Quick & Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup

6 servings

1 pound cooked chicken

1 (15 oz.) can corn, no salt added, drain

1 (10 oz.) can diced tomatoes with green chilies, drained

2 (14.5 oz.) cans chicken broth, low sodium

1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed

3 oz. low-fat Cheddar cheese, shredded

6 oz. tortilla chips

 

The chef decided to add in a can of peas and cannellini beans. Feel free to experiment and add your own ingredients that you and your kids will eat.

Quick and Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup

  1. In a large saucepan, combine corn, chicken broth, chicken, black beans, and tomatoes.
  2. Bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat, and simmer until heated through.
  3. Serve with a sprinkle of shredded cheese and crumbled tortilla chips on top.

Quick and Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup | ParentSavvy

Carrie Miller MS RD

Registered Dietitian from UNL Extension

Carrie Miller is a mother of two and Registered Dietitian with a Master degree in Nutritional Science and Dietetics. Carrie has worked at UNL Extension in Omaha for over 12 years managing the Nutrition Education Program and teaching limited resource audiences. Special interests include feeding children healthy, fun foods, and finding time to get outside and be active. Learn more about Carrie and the other UNL Extension nutrition experts at NutritionKnowHow.org. ...

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