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Tidying Up Your Pantry, Recipes Using Canned Foods!

Take a look in your pantry? What do you see? Canned beans? Tomatoes? Pineapple?

In our kitchen today, Tara Rochford, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Healthy Living Blogger, Tara Rochford Nutrition, shares a few recipes to put those canned-good items to good use! 

Here’s more from Tara, herself: 

It’s National Canned Food Month! So, today I am going to be talking about the most popular canned food items in your pantries (according to my Facebook and Instagram polls) and how you can incorporate them into your week.

A question many people have asked me is “how long are canned foods safe to consume?”  

Many packages have a best by date, expiration date, or another date to make note of which can be confusing.

According to the “Canned Food Alliance” guide to referencing expiration dates, and shares that most canned food does not have an expiration date on the label. They typically have a “best quality when used by” date.  A good rule of thumb is canned food has a shelf life of 2 years from the purchase date. For questions about a specific product, most cans have a phone number you can call on the label.

According to this guide, the canned food maintains its nutrition and safety beyond the two year mark. The color and texture may be altered, affecting the quality.

What to watch for: If you notice a can is swollen or bulging, leaking, dented, or the seal is broken do not consume the contents.

On social media I asked what canned foods you had around in your pantry and were unsure of how to use, and pineapple and coconut milk were popular items!  

This smoothie uses canned coconut milk and pineapple in juice.  It’s very easy to prepare for a snack or a breakfast!

Tropical Coconut Pineapple Smoothie

●    ½ cup canned coconut milk
●    ½ cup water
●    ½ frozen banana
●    ½ cup pineapple
●    Handful of ice cubes
●    1 Tbsp chia seeds, flax seeds, or hemp seeds
●    Optional, 1 scoop vanilla or unflavored protein powder or ¼ cup of plain Greek yogurt
●    Handful of leafy greens

1.    Place all ingredients in blender, blend until smooth and enjoy!
This smoothie is a great snack option or light breakfast option.  We have carbohydrates from the fruit, fat from the coconut milk and the seeds, and protein from the powder or yogurt AND a dose of nutrient dense greens.

Canned food is a really affordable way to get nutritious protein options as well as vegetable and fruit options onto the table.  The trend of “tidying up” has been all over my social media feed, so I thought we could “tidy up” our pantries by using up some of the common canned foods we have on hand!

The top questions and concerns I received were with the shelf life of canned foods, BPA in canned products, and sodium content.

Canned foods last a long time. Just make sure the can isn’t swollen, leaking, or broken in some way before consuming.:
●    BPA
○    BPA is a chemical, plastic resin that has been used to line cans for many years.  There have been some research studies indicating that this chemical may affect some hormone levels and be correlated with certain health conditions.  The FDA currently states that the level of BPA allowed in canned food products is at a safe level for humans. 
○    Because this specific topic has been very important to many consumers, many companies have removed BPA from their practices.  You can tell by reading the label, most companies put “no BPA, BPA-Free” or something of that nature on the front of the can so you can easily make the choice if that is something important for you.

Like my Facebook and Instagram followers, I always have canned tuna or salmon on hand, so I created these Tuna Cakes with Dijon Sauce for a dish that is BEYOND tuna salad sandwiches and tuna casserole.

Let’s dig into making these delicious tuna cakes with dijon sauce. 

Tuna Cakes with Dijon Sauce

Yields: 12 cakes


●    2 cans of tuna packed in water
●    ¼ cup scallions, chopped
●    2 Tbsp fresh parsley chopped, dried 1.5 tsp
●    ¾ cup canned pumpkin
●    ⅓ cup almond flour
●    1 tsp smoked paprika
●    1 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
●    1/2 tsp salt
●    1 tsp cumin
●    ½ tsp black pepper
●    1 egg + 1 egg white (maybe just one egg?)
●    Sauce
○    3 Tbsp dijon
○    1 tsp mayonnaise
○    Half lemon, juiced
○    ½ tsp cumin

1.    Combine all ingredients for tuna cakes in a bowl and mix thoroughly.

2.    Heat a skillet over medium heat and spritz with cooking spray or oil.

3.    Divide tuna cakes into 12 portions.

4.    Cook 3-4 min per side in greased skillet.  

5.    In a small bowl, mix together the sauce ingredients.

6.    Serve the hot tuna cakes with the sauce and your favorite side dish.

For this meal we have:
Protein: tuna, source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids.
Fat: almond flour, which is a source of vitamin E, plant protein and fiber.
Carbs: pumpkin, great source of vitamin A and fiber.

In my family, we make these for Sunday night dinner and then eat the leftovers over greens for lunch during the week.  

To recap from the earlier segment, it’s National Canned Food Month and I am sharing information about using canned food as a way to include nutritious vegetables, fruit and protein into your diet.

I’ve shared a Pineapple Coconut Smoothie, Tuna Pumpkin Cakes, and now I’m going to Share Chickpea Blondies.

When I asked my audience on Facebook and Instagram what canned food items they had on hand almost everyone had some kind of canned beans!

Beans are great because they are very budget friendly, the contain plant protein, fiber, and B vitamins which help us feel good. They are also naturally gluten free, so many people can enjoy them. 

With beans and many other savory foods, my suggestion is to watch the sodium content.  You can look for “no salt added” or “low sodium” on the front of the can, and on the nutrition facts panel look for a number below 300mg for sodium.  Another tip is to rinse your canned food under water in a strainer for about 1 minute to reduce the sodium content by almost half.

Many people use beans in chili, dips, or toss them into salads, but today I wanted to shake things up and make something SWEET!

Chickpea Blondies

Yields: 16 bars

●    1 can chickpeas
●    ½ cup almond butter or peanut butter
●    ¼ cup maple syrup
●    1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
●    1 Tbsp neutral cooking oil
●    1/4 tsp salt
●    ¼ tsp baking soda 
●    ¼ tsp baking powder
●    ¼ cup chocolate chips
●    ¼ cup walnuts

1.    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Spritz an 8 inch square glass or metal baking pan with oil spray.

2.    Place all ingredients except the chocolate chips and walnuts in the food processor or blender.  Process until the batter is creamy and mostly smooth.

3.    Fold the chocolate chips and the walnuts into the batter.  The batter will be thick, like hummus or nut butter.

4.    Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out mostly clean.  You can enjoy the blondies right out of the oven when they are warm and gooey or allow them to cool before slicing.

These are a great treat to toss into a lunch box.

Because canned tomatoes were by far the most popular canned food item, and a favorite of mine I had to include a recipe using them!

Canned tomatoes are a great way to get lycopene, which is the red pigment in the tomatoes and has strong antioxidant properties.  This means it clears away free radicals in our bodies and does wonders to help us be our healthiest selves!

Adding canned tomatoes to dishes is also a super simple way to get a dose of produce and nutrition.

Eggplant Skillet Dinner

1 medium eggplant, cubed
1 medium zucchini, cubed
2 Tbsp fresh chives, finely chopped (or freeze dried)
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cups fresh baby spinach
2 cups fresh chopped tuscan kale
1 chicken breast
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
1 Tbsp dried basil
½ tsp smoked paprika
Crushed red pepper to taste
Sea salt and black pepper to taste


1.    In a large sauté pan, heat oil over medium heat
2.    Add chives and eggplant and let cook for about 5 minutes stirring often. Eggplant will be soft.
3.    Cut uncooked chicken breast into cubes, and add to the eggplant and chives. Add the zucchini.
4.    Cook for 7 minutes, or until the chicken is fully cooked with an internal temperature of 165.
5.    Add in the spinach and kale, mixing in until it wilts.
6.    Next, add in the diced tomatoes, dried basil, smoked paprika, crushed red pepper, sea salt and pepper.
7.    Turn the heat to low and cover the pan, allowing the mixture to simmer for about 7 minutes.
8.    Serve warm and enjoy!

●    Canned food is a budget friendly way to add nutritious protein, vegetables and fruit to your diet.
●    If BPA is a concern for you, look for “BPA free” or “no BPA” on your canned food.  Many companies have eliminated this from their products.
●    Look for “no salt added” or “low sodium” to find items with a lower sodium content and try to purchase items with less than 300mg of sodium on the nutrition facts panel.  You can also rinse your items for about 1 minute under running water to reduce the sodium content by nearly half.
●    Eating canned food or canning your own food is a great way to reduce food waste and help create a more sustainable food environment!

You can find me at
Tara Rochford Nutrition on Facebook and TaraRochford on Instagram