Canned and frozen veggies could be the answer

The Heart Foundation is urging more Australians to add canned or frozen vegetables and legumes to their winter meals in a bid to improve the nation’s vegetable consumption habits.

It follows today’s release by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare of new dietary information which shows that only 1 in 15 Australians eats the recommended amount of vegetables per day.

Vegetables are an important source of nutrition and dietary fibre, both of which are crucial to a heart healthy eating habit.

Previous findings from the Heart Foundation’s What Australia Eats report show that Australians mostly desire fresh, unprocessed ingredients – perhaps overlooking the shelf-life, nutritional value and convenience of canned or frozen vegetables and legumes while shopping around.

Canned and frozen: same nutritional value, but with savings at the checkout 

Heart Foundation senior dietitian Jemma O’Hanlon said increased grocery prices combined with a lack of food literacy had led to a worrying trend of Australians eating poorly. She added that most Australians were not aware that canned and frozen vegetables were nutritionally equal to their fresh counterparts, often cheaper to purchase, and at times more convenient.

“Most Australians look at the price of fresh produce and think ‘oh I can’t afford that’ particularly if something is out of season,” she said.

“But what the Heart Foundation wants them to know is that they can and should then look at the canned or frozen version of those vegetables to save money but continue eating healthy.

“Winter is the perfect time to consider canned or frozen vegetables because people are often cooking stews or casseroles where the texture of vegetables is more tender than crisp.”

Ms O’Hanlon said the Heart Foundation had this week launched a Winter recipe cookbook to help Australians cook healthy this winter. She noted that vegetables and legumes in the book could easily be from the canned or frozen sections of the supermarket.

Legumes: the ‘health hero’ we overlook – and the best bang for your food budget

Ms O’Hanlon said legumes continued to be overlooked by Australians despite their high nutritional value, convenience, and low cost.

“If you want a hearty winter meal that ticks your nutritional goals, and to do so on a budget, then you absolutely must include lentils, beans and chickpeas in your diet,” she said.

“Australians have told us previously that they lack the confidence in using legumes, and so our Winter recipe cookbook offers some easy suggestions.

“My personal favourite for people who are starting out is to include a tin of lentils in your Bolognese sauce. It not only adds texture and nutrition, but stretches the sauce even further to create more servings for your family.”

Other tips for incorporating canned or frozen vegetables, or canned legumes:

Some simple additions to try at home:

  • Add beans to your taco mix for a protein-packed punch
  • Add baby corn spears and tinned carrots to your stir fry
  • Add lentils to your favourite spag-bol to stretch it further.
  • Add tinned vegetables, lentils, chickpeas or beans to jazz up soups – add them in whole or blend them up
  • Add canned mixed beans to give colour and texture to salads

Other ideas include:

  • Blend up legumes to make plant-based burger patties.
  • Try them in dip form! Why not make your own hummus, which has a creamy, smooth texture? Perfect with vegetable sticks for a healthy snack.
  • Curb your snack cravings by baking canned chickpeas in the oven with a little olive oil and your favourite herbs and spices for flavour.
  • Stock up on your favourite brand of baked beans (with no added salt and sugar) and have them on wholegrain toast for a quick and easy meal when you’re short on time.