Who says pasta is bad for you? Well then, buckle up for best news you’re probably going to hear all day—pasta can actually be healthy! This Spicy Dried Plum Marinara with Butternut Squash Noodles is a deliciously spicy dish that is unique in the sense that it uses spiralized butternut squash as a substitute for regular pasta noodles. This boosts the nutritional value of the entire meal and adds more flavor because of the sweet taste and soft texture of the butternut squash. If you have yet to try butternut squash, this is the perfect time to do so. What better way to incorporate it into your meal than making a pasta dish out of it? This recipe includes tomato sauce and diced tomatoes—two canned tomato products that contain powerful antioxidants, help reduce risks of certain diseases, and act as an anti-inflammatory.
This dish is packed with vegetables, fruits, and spices that when combined all together provide you with a meal to remember. You can easily whip this up for your family, social gatherings, or your next event—it is guaranteed to be the crowd favorite. Other people who try your dish won’t even realize that this dish is actually providing them with a ton of nutrients. The two main ingredients—butternut squash and canned tomatoes—are both great sources of antioxidants that help to improve health and provide you with the proper vitamins that your body needs for optimal bodily function. Knowing that you are able to eat a flavorful, delicious meal while still obtaining your nutrients for the day will make you feel energized and good about the foods you’re putting into your body. There’s no better way to eat healthy than by throwing in some canned tomato products into a dish, especially a pasta recipe, and enjoying it with your loved ones.
Meet Kelli Shallal, MPH, RD! Kelli is our Tomato Wellness Registered Dietitian for June 2021, and she is excited to share some of her favorite delicious recipes starring tomato products. Kelli Shallal is the author of the best-selling book Meal Prep for Weight loss, 30 Day Healthy Weight Loss Plan and Cookbook, and the blogger behind the popular healthy living blog, Hungry Hobby. She is a private practice Registered Dietitian with a Master’s in Public Health from Loma Linda University and a National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer. Kelli regularly appears in the media. Her quotes and recipes have been featured on major media outlets including Today’s Dietitian, Food & Nutrition Magazine, Good Morning Arizona (3TV), AZTV, Shape, Fitness, Health, Runners World, and Self. Kelli lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her husband Paul, young son Kal, Rhodesian Ridgeback pup Nala, and cat Missy. Follow her on Instagram @hungryhobbyRD.
Kelli says, “I love using canned tomato products because they are a convenient way to add nutrients and flavor punch to almost any dish. While tomatoes are a summer fruit, the quick harvesting and canning process locks in nutrients and freshness so you can enjoy them all year long. And since I’m always trying to make healthy eating convenient, I love that canned tomato products take the prep work out of the equation, meaning healthy meals come together faster with more flavor and nutrients!”
Need more recipe inspiration? Check out some of Kelli’s favorite recipes featuring tomato products!
6 Family-Friendly Recipes from Kelli Shallal, MPH, RDN
You can use canned tomato products in just about anything to add flavor and nutrition. From sauces to appetizers to soups, these recipes are packed with the power of tomatoes, so be sure to give them a try this month!
This leftover turkey chili is the perfect way to use up your Thanksgiving turkey! It's thick and hearty, loaded with veggies, and perfect for pouring on top of leftover stuffing, cornbread, or even mash potatoes!
You can never go wrong with a nourishing, flavorful soup that will satisfy your taste buds. This delicious Green Chile Posole Soup is the perfect dish for lunch or dinner and can be easily whipped up in no time. You can make a large pot in the beginning of the week and use it as meal prep to save you time. The convenience, versatility, and affordability of this recipe (due to its use of canned tomatoes) makes it ideal for just about anyone, especially those with a busy schedule who are looking for an easy, healthy recipe.
Canned tomato ingredients are nutrient-packed and contain a ton of flavors that pair well with other vegetables along with your choice of proteins, grains, and seasonings. In fact, canned tomatoes have even MORE nutritional value than fresh tomatoes, providing a powerful impact on human health. The lycopene content found in canned tomatoes allows this ingredient to be one of the most useful, healthy additions to just about any meal. For this dish specifically, the combination of spicy and zesty makes it one that you don’t want to miss out on. The sauteed vegetables stirred into a delicious chicken broth with lime juice, fresh cilantro, and tortilla chips delivers a novel twist to traditional vegetable soup. The grains and vegetables incorporated into this soup provide you with a balanced meal containing a ton of vitamins and minerals that will give you the energy you need to get through the day. Since these ingredients are all stirred into one pot, this allows you to sneak in some vegetables for kids or adults in your family who have a hard time eating healthy foods—they won’t even taste the vegetables!
Is it true that canned foods might actually be a healthier alternative to fresh produce? Well, I’m here to give you the inside scoop! Most people have a preconceived notion that fresh foods are superior to canned foods because of the concept that “fresh is best!” In our generation, referred to as Gen Z, we generally get most of our information from various social media platforms that, well… might not be so accurate. The truth can easily be lost in translation when we are trying to discover how to eat healthy. There are a ton of fad diets, food trends, and plant-based recipes that are shared amongst our generation. One component that is not traveling through the social media world is the importance of canned foods in our diet. Read on to learn more about the process of canning and benefits of canned foods!
There is a specific method for creating canned fruits and vegetables, making it important to follow the proper steps—processing, sealing, and heating. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, canned foods are rich in nutrients because these produce are picked, canned, and preserved at maximum freshness, meaning they contain the optimal amount of nutrients needed to provide our bodies with the vitamins and minerals we need to live a healthy lifestyle. One of the most consumed and healthiest canned products are tomatoes. Canned tomatoes are high in lycopene, which is a powerful antioxidant that helps reduce risk of diseases, certain cancers, and inflammation. They also contain vitamins A, C, and E, potassium, and folate—all important nutrients our bodies need for proper bodily functions. The best part about canned tomatoes is that they come in various forms—canned, diced, paste, soup, and more! This enhances their versatility in numerous meals that you and your family are guaranteed to enjoy, such as pizzas, pastas, stews, soups, and tacos. Who would’ve thought that simply incorporating more canned tomatoes (or other canned products) into one’s diet can be both nutritious AND delicious.
Since Gen Z consumers are constantly looking for more ways to boost their fruit and vegetable intake while eating more plant-based meals, canned products are a great way to do so! Numerous studies have shown that individuals who frequently consume canned foods generally have a higher intake of essential nutrients. With that being said, there is a positive correlation between consumption of canned food and boosting required nutrient intake recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. In addition to striving for healthier eating habits, Gen Z’s goal is to purchase affordable foods that neither break the bank nor lead to food waste. Recent studies have provided sufficient evidence that canned goods are readily available and accessible to people of all ages, incomes, backgrounds, and geography, which makes it easier for people to purchase cost-effective, nutrient-rich foods while enhancing their quality of life. The great news is that canned products also have a long shelf life, which allows individuals to reduce the amount of trips they take to the store, saving them time and money—and who wouldn’t want that?
When purchasing canned foods, it’s still critical to read the ingredient labels on the cans you are purchasing to avoid any high sodium or added sugar within the product. Once you have secured the canned items and are just about ready to whip up a delicious meal in the kitchen, always make sure to rinse the canned fruits and vegetables in order to reduce sodium content and ensure maximum cleanliness. So whether you’re trying to eat healthier, more plant-based, save time and money, reduce food waste, or lessen your carbon footprint, canned products are the way to go! Next time you go to the store, remind yourself to purchase canned items that you can easily whip up in no time, creating a flavorful, nutrient-packed meal for you and your loved ones.
Savanna Malki is an RD2Be from Los Angeles, California. She received a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Health Policy from the University of California, Irvine. She will be starting her Master’s in Nutrition and Dietetics this upcoming Fall at Loma Linda University. She is extremely passionate about plant-based nutrition (as she has been vegan for about 4 years). In her free time she enjoys cooking, going to the beach, and spending time with family and friends. Her goal is to become a Registered Dietitian so that she can provide nutrition education and help improve the health of our society.
We all know that vegetables are good for our short AND long-term health, but many times choosing the healthier option over junk food can be a challenge. This is where tomatoes come in to play! Learn more about tomato consumption in the US and how Americans can eat more of this produce item to benefit health.
As we all know, the American diet can use a little help. It’s challenging to genuinely enjoy eating healthy, especially when we are constantly surrounded by junk foods that are both convenient and affordable. However, the constant consumption of unhealthy, processed foods simply because they are the “easier” option can greatly impair your health. Now you’re stuck in a limbo between wanting to eat healthy and not being the biggest fan of vegetables, so what’s one thing should you do to improve your health? Eat canned tomatoes!
Did you know that tomatoes comprise 19% of ALL vegetable consumption? There are very few vegetables that Americans consider to be their favorite, but studies have shown that tomatoes are actually ranked at the top of everyone’s list (only second to potatoes). This is great news for us because not only are tomatoes nutrient-rich, but they are absolutely delicious in various dishes, such as pastas, sandwiches, lasagnas, salads, stews, and more! A recent study that provided results from “What We Eat in America” (a diet survey) found that most tomatoes were consumed as tomato products—canned, diced, paste, and soup. These canned goods are widely available and extremely affordable, which should be an incentive for purchasing them on your next grocery trip. Understanding that eating healthy foods helps to boost overall health, it’s important for healthcare providers, specifically registered dietitians and nutrition coaches, to stray away from forcing consumers to eat more vegetables, and instead they must educate consumers on how to incorporate more of their favorite vegetables into their diet so that they genuinely enjoy the foods they eat.
So next time you’re thinking about what vegetable to add to your dish, remind yourself about the flavorful, nutrient-packed red tomato and grab a can or two on your next grocery run. Once you gather your tomato products you can whip up a variety of tomato-based recipes. To ensure that you never get bored with incorporating tomatoes into your dishes, you can always switch up the vegetables, protein, seasonings, and grains in your meals so that you are consuming a wide range of dishes. These practical, simple strategies to eat more tomatoes have been shown to help individuals eat their vegetables and obtain the required nutrients they need to live a healthy lifestyle!