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How Do Canned Foods Stack Up?

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At Little Global Chefs, we do our best to try and balance delicious and healthy with ideal and practical. We want kids to eat the very best and want you to get those little rugrats in the kitchen with you at every good opportunity so that they eat well. But we're moms, too. We get it. We all could use a shortcut every once in awhile, especially when our kids have just poured vinegar and baking soda all over the floor, chalking it up to a "science experiment." And sometimes, there's not enough time or enough moola to do everything organic or au naturale. So is it ideal to sprinkle your morning smoothie with cordyceps powder à la Gwyneth Paltrow every morning ;) ? Maybe. But at $1.25 per teaspoon, it's just not practical.

This is how we feel about some canned goods. It's not always ideal, but it's certainly practical. In an ideal world, we'd avoid canned foods altogether because we are all about informing our kids on where food comes from, and it's not from a can or a box. Also, canned foods can contain a lot of preservatives and sodium, and are often lined with BPA or aluminum. But at the same time, opening up a can of black beans for our Stepped Up Mexican Beans or canned tomatoes for a minestrone soup, is the easiest and quickest way to a healthy homemade dish, which is waaaaay better than rolling through Taco Bell for a Cheesy Gordito. Homemade meals will always win the healthy and nutritious award over fast food or frozen dinner alternatives, even if there's a canned good involved. So with this reasoning behind us, we will use canned foods from time to time as short cuts to prepare healthy foods for our families. But when we do use canned foods, we always look for those that are organic and free of preservatives and BPA. And in many cases, whenever possible, we will use these same items if we can find them in glass or paper packaging.

But not all canned good are created equally. What about things like canned tuna? Generally, there's mixed approval on the overall safety of the tinned fish. Without question, fish is among the healthiest foods on the planet. It's loaded with important nutrients, such as protein and vitamin D. It's also one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids which are so important for your body and brain. And in regard to canned tuna, some experts say that the benefits of consuming it in moderation outweigh the contaminant risks -- the risks, being high levels of mercury in big, predatory fish like tuna as well as exposure to BPA which is often present in the lining of canned foods.

So where do we stand? While, yes, we are in favor of using some canned foods, some of the time, we just aren't totally convinced that eating canned tuna is the way to go, especially with the big tuna manufacturers' recall still fresh in our minds. In the meantime, we still love the taste and nutritional value that fish packs, so with that, check out our super flavorful and easy recipe that uses fresh, wild caught salmon. And while, it's not as quick as opening up a can of tuna, it's way fresher, so much tastier and dinner is done in under 30 minutes!

Sunday Salmon Dinner
Serves 4

Ingredients:
4, 4-6 ounce salmon filets (whenever possible, buy wild caught salmon)
1/2 pint grape tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Salt and pepper to taste

Method: (Steps 2 and 3 are a steps a kid can and should do!)
  1. Turn broiler on high
  2. Place the salmon filets and the halved grape tomatoes on a parchment lined baking sheet
  3. Season the salmon and halved tomatoes with the extra virgin olive oil, crushed garlic, paprika and salt and pepper
  4. Place the baking sheet on the middle rack and broil the salmon and tomatoes for 8-10 minutes

Photo Credit: buzzpo.com