Why I Love Canned Tomatoes!

Ever since attending the Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE) in October 2015, I have been fortunate to receive newsletters from certain groups, such as Tomato Wellness. They are a wealth of knowledge when it comes to the health benefits of tomatoes as well as many wonderful recipes! The Tomato Products Wellness Council is currently running a contest on the topic of canned tomatoes. I would like to write and submit this blog post, detailing why canned tomatoes are a wonderful part of a healthy diet as well as recipes we have made using canned tomatoes. I hope you find inspiration, and please feel free to share how you have incorporated canned tomatoes into your meals at home!

Let us begin by discussing the health benefits of tomatoes (Live Science). Whether you identify them as a fruit or a vegetable, one thing I know to be certain is that they are delicious! Tomatoes are an excellent source of fiber, lyocpene, and vitamins A, C, and B2. Additionally, they contain high levels of three beneficial minerals: folate, chromium, and potassium.  All of these nutrients as well as many more help the body in a variety of ways to maintain cardiac function, to help regulate blood pressure, to preserve vision, to potentially combat oxidative stress, and to possibly prevent cancer.

As a Registered Dietitian, I often am asked if canned and frozen foods are as healthy as fresh, and I am here to tell you that they absolutely are (Shape Magazine)! In fact, because these fruits and vegetables are picked at the peak of ripeness and flash frozen, they can often be even more nutritious. Cooking certain foods concentrates their nutrients, making them even more beneficial (Knowridge Science Report). While all produce is seasonal, and as such, they taste best and are most nutritious when consumed in season, canned tomatoes can be enjoyed year round. We always keep several varieties – whole peeled, diced, crushed – in our pantry to create quick delicious sauces, soups, chilis, and many other dishes. While I love to make some meals from scratch, we also love to keep jarred pasta sauce on hand. You can jazz it up with additional herbs, spices, vegetables, and protein sources, providing a wonderful weeknight meal to you and your family in no time at all!

One of my favorite breakfast recipes is Alexis’ Shakshuka! It is so very flavorful, filling, and satisfying. It combines rich canned tomatoes, herbs and spices, and eggs. You can enjoy it with greens, hash browns, and/or toast. It comes together effortlessly but feels so fancy!

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Spaghetti is a dish I could never grow tired of! It’s so comforting and can bring back fun memories from my childhood. If you find yourself with a smaller amount leftover, you could layer it with spinach and bake it with melted mozzarella on top for a lovely brunch or dinner.

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If you have less time to make a pan of shakshuka, you can easily make a nest in the spaghetti over spinach and bake an egg until it sets.

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We love to play around with different pasta shapes and styles, jarred sauces, and either plant or animal-based protein. One evening, we made a pasta creation with sauteed onion, eggplant, and garlic with dried Italian herbs. We then added red lentil pasta and simmered puttanesca sauce and tossed to combine. We topped our bowls with marinated braided mozzarella and avocado. It was fabulous!

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For a fast weeknight dinner, I simmered jarred sauce and spooned it over top of freshly spiraled and sauteed butternut squash along with Italian chicken sausage. To round out the meal, we made a salad with organic mixed greens, carrots, mushrooms, avocado, and dressing.

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Another pasta creation included black edamame pasta, jarred sauce that was stocked with flavor, and roasted vegetables for a warm side.

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If you’ve never tried gnocchi, then you are in for a treat! They are like Italian potato dumplings, and they are so soft and like pillows. These pictured below were made with spinach, giving them a fun green hue. Again, I utilized jarred pasta sauce and lightly dressed a bed of spinach on the side.

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I made Erin’s chili last fall for a family autumn gathering. It was such a hit! This recipe included a can of each tomato sauce and diced tomatoes.

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For a warm winter dinner, we enjoyed Erin’s Roasted Carrot Soup that uses two large  cans of whole peeled tomatoes to create a luscious texture.

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While we’re on the topic of soups, this classic homemade tomato soup is a great go-to paired with grilled cheese for a nostalgic lunch!

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If you’re in the mood for a Mediterranean-inspired chicken dish, then look no further than Anne’s Saucy Tomato and Artichoke Chicken recipe! It could not be any simpler, yet it has tons of flavor thanks to the canned diced tomatoes with Italian herbs simmered with artichoke hearts.

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As you can see, there are no shortage of recipes or ways to use canned tomatoes. Here are some tips on ways to use leftover canned tomatoes.

  • Cook oatmeal using canned tomatoes with the juice to create a savory bowl.
  • Prepare rice, quinoa or other grains using canned tomatoes or canned tomato sauce.
  • Blend canned tomatoes with herbs, extra virgin olive oil, and splash of balsamic vinegar to create a salad dressing.
  • Combine canned tomatoes with canned black beans, cumin, and pepper flakes. Spoon into a baked acorn squash half, add shredded cheddar, and guacamole for a “loaded taco squash bowl”.

We will forever be canned tomato lovers in our household, and I certainly hope this post has sparked inspiration in you to put them to use in your dishes! Please share your favorite recipes or tips in the comments! Lastly, if you truly enjoyed this post, then please share on your social media platforms, tagging myself and Tomato Wellness.

 

 

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4 thoughts on “Why I Love Canned Tomatoes!

  1. What a fun contest!!! & wow- I actually did not even realize all the benefits in tomatoes-this is so informative! I had always been under the impression that canned tomatoes were less healthy than fresh- so this is realllly good to know! & exciting!! All these dishes look gourmet & just wonderful- you have me sold! Stocking up next time I’m at the store 🙂

    1. I’m always amazed to learn just how nutritious canned and frozen foods can be despite what we’ve been taught! Thank you so very much!! I’m super glad that you’re getting some tomatoes for your pantry. =D

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