Canned food. What a lifesaver they can be in a pinch, but are they a can of goodness or not? Well, lucky for us, not all canned food is created equal, which means that there are some that can be part of a nutritious diet and others we need to avoid. There are just a few things we need to keep in mind and look out for before we purchase, which I will cover in this article.
However, if you want to fast forward to the recipe and happen to have a few cans of beans in your cupboard, then this recipe is going to help you use them in the most delicious way. If you are up for the read, then let’s get into the subject of canned food…
Is Canned Food Healthy?
By now we all know that there are some serious problems with the masses of shelf stable, highly processed food available to us. The process of getting our food so durable and long standing on our shelves unfortunately requires that a lot of what make it good, and nutrition is processed out of it. Added to that, there are a lot – and I mean A LOT – of preservatives, stabilizers and chemicals used which counterbalance the convenience.
A noble effort for sure, but at what cost? That is a discussion for another day though, for this recipe the question is really – does canned food fall under the same category as processed food? As usual the answer is ambiguous, making it a firm yes and no. Frustrating I know, and I will try to explain in the shortest way possible.
Here’s what’s great about canned food
- In the absence of a steady supply of fresh foods, canned food is an excellent alternative.
- Often canned foods are cheaper than their fresh or frozen counterparts.
- Canned food helps a great deal if you have limited time to cook and prepare.
- You can keep them for what seems like forever.
- Some canned foods are healthier due to the heating processes used prior to canning. (While some nutrients may be destroyed during the cooking process other phytochemicals become more available according to this study
You may want to read this article where Sharan Kafoa, Hormone Health Coach, talks about her journey with raw vs cooked foods.
What’s not great about canned food
- Not all canned food is equal, many have a ton of additives that make them as bas their highly processed and preserved shelf neighbours.
- The tins they are canned in are often lined with plastic, this means the longer they are sitting there, the more BPA (bisphenol-A) is leaching into your food.
- All that added salt and sugar plays havoc on blood sugar levels, blood pressure and overall wellbeing.
As you can see, there are pro’s and con’s here. The good news is that some of the not-so-great things about canned food can be bypassed or avoided. It all comes down to the selection process.
How To Select The Right Canned Food
There are a few guidelines you can follow to get the best option available:
- select cans with a single ingredient;
- always read the label and make sure there isn’t a long list of things you don’t know or can’t pronounce;
- make sure the can is BPA free and not lined in plastic;
- where possible make sure the ingredients are organic;
- opt for items canned in their own juices or water;
- avoid brines (salt), syrups (sugar), or vegetable oils (trans fats).
So, yay! If you find the right kind /brand of canned food, it truly can help with getting meals on the table faster. Where this is especially relevant is with beans. Beans generally take a long time to cook and as such many people simply skip them. But beans are a great addition to a nutritious diet and here’s why:
Beans and legumes are loaded with fibre (which is sorely lacking in modern diets), great for heart health and an excellent source of plant-based protein. There is also such a wide selection that they can be used for anything from savoury to sweet dishes.
For the carb conscious green beans and black soybeans are fairly low carb and can be incorporated into keto diets But, as a rule, beans contain a fair amount of carbohydrates. Their high fibre is what make it a slow releasing complex carb and therefore does not cause sudden spikes in sugar levels, in fact – quite the opposite.
Types of Beans
For this recipe I selected 3 different types of beans:
Red Kidney Beans:
A mild flavoured bean with a slight sweetness to them. They are also shaped like a kidney hence the name. According to the Doctrine of Signatures it is believed that they help with kidney disease. There is little science to support this. However, they are considered to be beneficial in managing blood sugar levels, which can take a bit of pressure off your kidneys.
It goes back to that high fibre content I mentioned above. The fibre content also lends itself to potential cancer fighting qualities, especially colon cancer.
NOTE: Raw kidney beans can be toxic and should always be cooked and rinsed well before consuming.
A large white bean with a slight nutty flavour, Popular for use in stews and soups as they are firm and keep their shape and meatiness when cooked for a long time. Like kidney beans they are toxic when raw. Best practice is to boil them for a long time, this kills off the toxic lectins and just the nutritious bean remains. Cannellini beans are loaded with polyphenols which are effective anti-inflammatory agents and fight cell damage.
Black beans have a mild flavour and often used in vegan desserts due to their soft texture and neutral flavour. They have a tendency to absorb the flavours of whatever they are mixed with, so soaking in a marinade can help pack a punch of flavour in a salad.
Creamy Apricot Mayonnaise
This is where the magic happens. I was looking for something with a bit of tang and sweetness. Apple cider vinegar was an obvious choice, with the mother strands swirling at the bottom and the sharp smell it gets your taste buds woken up asap!
For the sweetness I happened to have dried apricots on hand and the two ended up being a really good match. I tried this with other dried fruit but found apricots to be the most pronounced when it came to flavour.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Also fondly referred to as ACV it is well known for its health benefits. There are some that
even knock back a neat tot of it. While I love the vinegar, I haven’t been able to bring
myself to swig it back neat.
Its medicinal uses date back to 400BC where Hippocrates would use it as an antibiotic. ACV helps with digestion by adding to the stomach’s natural acidity. Many of us suffer from indigestion, not because of too much stomach acid, but rather from too little. This means the food sits in the stomach far longer than it should.
You can go in many directions with the garnish – anything from seeds to grated apple would be great. However, if you are wanting to maximise nutrition then I suggest the one of the following:
Parsley or Coriander
Whichever you choose, they both pack that same awesome health factor. They protect us against the accumulation of heavy metals in our blood stream and organs. Indeed, those inane little garnishes you’ve been sending back on your plate all these years are actually pretty awesome. And, depending on where you’ve been eating, probably the healthiest thing on the plate – just saying.
Red onion, tomatoes and all those colourful beans all have a common flavonoid called Anthocyanins. Foods with a dark red/blue/purple hue are a sure indication of this potent antioxidant.
Anthocyanins are considered more potent than the antioxidant vitamins A, C and E and are rich in Vitamin P or Rutin (discovered by the same scientist who discovered Vitamin C). Studies have shown benefits in fighting heart disease, arthritis, skin issues and many more due to it high antioxidant values.
Now let’s get to eating…
Bean Salad with Tangy Apricot Mayonnaise
- ½ cup Apple Cider Vinegar
- ½ Lemon juiced
- 100 g Dried Apricots
- ¼ cup Olive Oil extra virigin
- ¼ cup Water
- 1 clove Garlic minced
- 1 sml Red Onion roughly chopped
- 1 can Black Beans drained
- 1 can Red Kidney Beans drained
- 1 can Cannellini Beans drained
- 1 can Green Beans drained
- In a sealable container add the apricots, apple cider vinegar and lemon juice. Cover and set aside to soak for at least 2 hours. (If you have the time, prepare this the day before and leave in the fridge to infuse).
- Add the soaked apricots to a blender along with the olive oil, water, garlic and onion
- Blend for 1 - 2 minutes until a creamy, smooth mayonnaise is formed. (The strength of your blender will determine how long you need to mix it for).
- Add all the drained beans to a single large bowl
- Add the blended mayonnaise and gently toss the mix until the sauce has complete coated the beans. (For a less juicy salad, simply use less mayonnaise. It keeps well in the fridge for up to 5 days).
- Can be served immediately at room temperature or left in the fridge overnight
- Garnish with your favourite seeds (sesame, pumpkin) or greens like parsley or coriander.
- Serve as a side salad with your main dish, top off your nachos or tortilla for extra flavour. Add to a green leafy salad.