Canned Tomatoes and MyPlate Guidelines

Canned Tomatoes and MyPlate Guidelines

Research continues to show that eating a balanced variety of fruits, vegetables, protein, dairy, and grains can play a large role in overall health. While MyPlate serves as a guide to help us make healthy dietary choices, where do canned tomatoes fit into the picture?

MyPlate is an initiative by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and provides practical guidance for building a healthy and balanced diet. It emphasizes the importance of including various food groups in appropriate proportions to meet nutritional needs. While fresh produce often takes the spotlight, canned tomatoes hold a unique position within the MyPlate guidelines. 

Canned tomatoes offer numerous health benefits, making them a valuable addition to the MyPlate guidelines. These versatile ingredients are a part of the vegetable group within the MyPlate classification, specifically falling under the subcategory of non-starchy vegetables.

So, let’s explore the significance of including canned tomatoes in MyPlate and highlight the specific food group classification where they fall.

Nutritional Value of Canned Tomatoes

Canned tomatoes boast an impressive nutritional profile that contributes to overall health and well-being. Here are some key reasons why they deserve a place in the vegetable group of MyPlate.

  • Vitamins and Minerals: Canned tomatoes are rich in essential vitamins, including vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K, and various B-complex vitamins. These vitamins play a vital role in supporting the immune system, promoting vision health, aiding blood clotting, and supporting energy production. Additionally, canned tomatoes provide minerals such as potassium, magnesium, and calcium, which are crucial for maintaining healthy bodily functions, including nerve transmission, muscle function, and bone health.
  • Antioxidants: Canned tomatoes contain a potent antioxidant called lycopene. Lycopene is a carotenoid pigment responsible for the vibrant red color of tomatoes. It has been associated with a reduced risk of chronic diseases, including certain types of cancer and heart disease. Lycopene’s antioxidant properties help protect cells from damage caused by harmful free radicals.
  • Fiber Content: Canned tomatoes are a good source of dietary fiber, contributing to digestive health and providing a feeling of satiety. Fiber aids in maintaining regular bowel movements, reducing the risk of constipation, and promoting overall gastrointestinal health.

Health Benefits of Including Canned Tomatoes in MyPlate

Incorporating canned tomatoes into your MyPlate guidelines offers notable health benefits, including:

  • Cardiovascular Health. The combination of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in canned tomatoes supports heart health. The potassium content helps maintain healthy blood pressure levels, while lycopene and other antioxidants contribute to reducing the risk of heart disease.
  • Cancer Prevention. Lycopene, the prominent antioxidant in canned tomatoes, has been linked to a decreased risk of certain cancers, such as prostate, lung, and stomach cancers. Including canned tomatoes in your diet can provide a convenient and concentrated source of lycopene, supporting your body’s defense against cancer development.

Incorporating Canned Tomatoes into Your MyPlate Guidelines

Now that we understand the health benefits of canned tomatoes, let’s explore how to include them within the vegetable group of MyPlate.

  • Vegetable Side Dishes: Add canned tomatoes to vegetable-based side dishes, such as stir-fries, soups, stews, and sautés. They can enhance the flavors while providing valuable nutrients.
  • Sauces and Salsas: Utilize canned tomatoes as a base for homemade sauces and salsas. Combine them with other vegetables and herbs for a nutritious and flavorful addition to your meals.
  • Salads: Incorporate canned tomatoes into salads alongside fresh vegetables for added color, texture, and taste.


Canned tomatoes are a versatile and nutrient-rich ingredient that belongs to the vegetable group within the MyPlate guidelines. They offer essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and dietary fiber, contributing to a healthy and balanced diet. Including canned tomatoes in your meals can support cardiovascular health, aid in cancer prevention, and facilitate weight management. By incorporating these flavorful ingredients into your MyPlate guidelines, you can enjoy the convenience and nutritional benefits they provide while diversifying your vegetable intake and embracing a more wholesome eating pattern.

Farm to table: how tomatoes are processed

Farm to table: how tomatoes are processed

Ever wonder how canned tomatoes get from the field to your plate? Here’s a step by step guide to how the farm to table process works. 

Tomatoes are a staple ingredient in many of the World’s favorite dishes like Pizza, Ketchup, Pasta Sauce and Salsa, and are an important part of the global food industry. The process of getting tomato products from the farm to the restaurant involves several steps, each of which plays a critical role in ensuring the quality and deliciousness of the final product. In this article, we will explore the step-by-step farm to table process of how a tomato product gets from the fields to your plate. 

Step 1: Growing and Harvesting

The first step in the process of getting tomato products from the farm to the restaurant is growing and harvesting the tomatoes. Tomato plants require warm temperatures and ample sunlight to grow, and they are typically planted in the spring and harvested in the summer and fall. Once the tomatoes are ripe, they are carefully picked by hand or by machine.


truck_driving_tomato_fields_2Step 2: Transporting to Processing Plant

After the tomatoes are harvested, they are transported to a processing plant. This is typically done using large trucks, which are specially designed to transport perishable goods like fresh tomatoes. During transportation, the tomatoes must be kept at the appropriate temperature to ensure their freshness and quality.


Step 3: Sorting and Washing

Once the tomatoes arrive at the processing plant, they are sorted and washed. The sorting process involves separating the tomatoes by size and color, and removing any damaged or diseased tomatoes. The tomatoes are then washed using a combination of water and chemical disinfectants to remove any dirt or bacteria


Step 4: Blanching and Peeling

After the tomatoes are sorted and washed, they are blanched and peeled. Blanching involves briefly exposing the tomatoes to hot water or steam, which helps to loosen the skins. The tomatoes are then run through a machine that removes the skins, leaving behind the tender flesh.


Step 5: Processing and Packaging

Once the tomatoes are peeled, they are minimally processed into the desired tomato product, such as tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, or tomato paste. The processing involves cooking the tomatoes to create the desired flavor and consistency. This step is also what preserves the tomato products and what releases the lycopene! The final product is then packaged in cans, jars, or other containers, which are sealed to ensure the product’s safety and freshness.



Step 6: Distribution

After the tomato products are packaged, they are ready for distribution. This involves transporting the products to warehouses, where they are then delivered to retailers, and foodservice establishments.  


Step 7: Delivery to Restaurants

Finally, the tomato products are delivered to restaurants and other foodservice establishments, where they are used in a wide range of dishes, from soups and stews to pasta sauces and pizzas. Restaurants typically order tomato products in large quantities, which are stored in their kitchens until they are ready to be used.



The process of getting tomato products from the farm to your favorite restaurants and your home involves several critical steps. Each step plays a crucial role in ensuring the quality and safety of the final product, and the end result is a delicious and versatile ingredient that is a staple in kitchens around the world.

Learn more about why buying USA-grown tomatoes is important for the local economy: 

Why Buying USA-Grown Tomato Products Matters
Considering the Environmental Impact of Imports
USA grown tomatoes are the best tomatoes in the world!

Alfredo sauce vs. marinara sauce: which one is better?

Alfredo sauce vs. marinara sauce: which one is better?

Marinara sauce and white sauce are both popular pasta sauces, but they differ in their ingredients and nutritional value. The former is made primarily from tomatoes, garlic, and herbs, while white sauce, also known as Alfredo sauce, is made from butter, cream, and cheese. In this article, we will explore the benefits of marinara sauce and why it is a better choice than white sauce.

Benefits of marinara sauce

Healthier nutritional profile

This is a healthier choice than white sauce because it is lower in calories, fat, and sodium. One cup of marinara sauce contains only about 70 calories, while the same amount of white sauce can contain up to 500 calories or more. The former is also a good source of vitamin C and lycopene, which is an antioxidant that may help reduce the risk of certain types of cancer.


Marinara sauce is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes, from pasta and pizza to meatballs and stews. Its tangy flavor pairs well with a wide range of ingredients, making it a go-to sauce for many cooks. White sauce, on the other hand, is limited in its versatility and is typically used only in pasta dishes.

Lower in Fat and Cholesterol

This option is lower in fat and cholesterol than white sauce, making it a healthier choice for those who are watching their weight or cholesterol levels. Marinara sauce contains only a small amount of fat, while white sauce is high in saturated fat and cholesterol. Consuming too much saturated fat and cholesterol can increase the risk of heart disease and other health problems.

Easy to Make at Home

Marinara sauce is easy to make at home with just a few simple ingredients, such as tomatoes, garlic, and herbs. Homemade marinara sauce is also free of preservatives and additives, making it a healthier choice than store-bought sauces. White sauce, on the other hand, can be more difficult to make at home and often requires specialty ingredients like heavy cream and Parmesan cheese.


This red sauce is often more cost-effective, as the ingredients required to make it are typically less expensive. This makes it an ideal choice for families or individuals on a budget. White sauce, on the other hand, can be more expensive due to the cost of ingredients like cream and cheese.


Marinara sauce is a better choice than white sauce due to its healthier nutritional profile, versatility, lower fat and cholesterol content, ease of preparation, and cost-effectiveness. Incorporating marinara sauce into your cooking can be a simple and delicious way to improve your overall health and well-being.


Check out some of our favorite recipes for cooking inspiration:

5 ways you can support local restaurants

5 ways you can support local restaurants

Local restaurants are the backbone of many communities. They not only provide a great dining experience but also support the local economy by creating jobs and sourcing ingredients from nearby farms and producers. Unfortunately, many of these restaurants are struggling due to the current economic state. But what can you do to help? Here are five ways you can support your local restaurants, boost the local economy, and still enjoy delicious food.

1. Order takeout or delivery. By ordering food for pickup or delivery, you can support your favorite local restaurants without having to leave your home. Make sure to tip generously to help support the staff as well.

2. Buy gift cards. If you’re not in the mood for takeout or delivery, consider buying a gift card from your favorite local restaurant. This not only supports the restaurant financially, but it also gives you a reason to visit the restaurant again. You can also give the gift card as a present to friends or family.

3. Spread the word. Word of mouth is a powerful tool, and it can be especially helpful for local restaurants. Share your positive experiences on social media, leave reviews on restaurant websites, write a google review (with pictures included), and recommend them to your friends and family. You can also join local food groups on social media and share your recommendations with others in your community. 

Check out this article to learn more about the importance of shopping local. 

4. Participate in special promotions. Many restaurants are offering special promotions and discounts to encourage customers to order takeout or delivery. Look out for these promotions and take advantage of them when possible. Not only will you save money on your order, but you’ll also be helping to support the restaurant.

5. Support local food initiatives. In addition to supporting local restaurants directly, you can also support local food initiatives that help to sustain the food industry in your community. For example, you can donate to a local food bank, participate in a community-supported agriculture program, or attend a farmers market. By supporting these initiatives, you’re helping to create a more sustainable food system that benefits everyone in the community.


Local restaurants need our support now more than ever. By ordering takeout, buying gift cards, spreading the word, participating in special promotions, and supporting local food initiatives, you can help to keep your favorite restaurants in business and strengthen the local food ecosystem. So the next time you’re hungry, consider ordering from a local restaurant and making a difference in your community.

Guest Blog: The Swedish Chef on Canned Tomatoes

Guest Blog: The Swedish Chef on Canned Tomatoes

Bork bork bork! Canned tomatoes, dey be da real superstar when it comes to pasta sauces, ya know! Fer all dem cooks out dere, listen up – canned tomatoes, dey be da kitchen heroes, especially when it’s cold as a polar bear’s nose outside!

Ya see, fresh tomatoes, dey be like summer flings – all sweet and juicy one day, den all watery and tasteless da next! Who wants dat kind of drama in their sauce pot, eh? But canned tomatoes, oh boy, dey be da reliable sidekick, like a trusty moose pullin’ ya sled through da snow!

Dey pick those tomatoes at their peak tastiness and pack ’em up all snug in those cans. Dat means you get da same bold, tomato-y punch every single time! No surprises, no “oh dear, what happened to my sauce” moments!

And ya know what’s da best part? Dey peel and seed dem tomatoes before canning. So, no more squishy bits messin’ up your sauce’s texture! It’s like givin’ your pasta a warm and cozy tomato blanket, keeping it snug and tasty.

Plus, let’s be honest here – who wants to traipse through da blizzard to find a decent fresh tomato when it’s colder than a Swedish ice bath out dere? Canned tomatoes, dey be waitin’ in your pantry, ready to rescue your pasta, no matter if it’s sunny or snowin’!

So, in da grand culinary opera of life, canned tomatoes be da star soprano, hittin’ all da high notes of flavor and convenience. So go ahead, my friends, grab dem cans and let’s make some pasta magic! Bork bork bork!