Nutritious Homemade Meals for Every Occasion

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Posted: Monday, March 3, 2014 1:00 am | Updated: 3:32 am, Mon Mar 3, 2014.

(Family Features) Whether you’re preparing a quick breakfast for the family, feeding a crowd at dinner or looking for a light lunch for yourself, the key to a delicious, nutritious homemade meal is just minutes away thanks to the canned foods in your pantry.

“Canned fruits and vegetables are a must in my pantry. They are picked and canned at the peak of ripeness, hours after they’re harvested, locking in their flavor, freshness and nutrition,” says Kelsey Nixon, host of “Kelsey’s Essentials” on Cooking Channel and Food Network. “Having canned fruits and vegetables on hand means a healthy snack, meal or side dish is achievable anytime.”

In addition to nutrient-rich staples like tomatoes, corn and beans, Nixon recommends stocking up on ingredients such as canned olives, tuna, artichokes, pumpkin and chiles. These canned foods can elevate the flavors of a dish and breathe new life into some of your favorite recipes.

Here are some more great tips and delicious recipes from Nixon:

  • Keeping a well-stocked pantry, or “Cantry,” will help you avoid unnecessary trips to the grocery store after a long day.
  • Tomato-based canned ingredients, like diced tomatoes and tomato sauce, are the most versatile when it comes to making a wide variety of recipes like chili, salsa, marinara sauce, soups or casseroles.
  • Canned fruits add an unexpected twist to savory dishes, and can transform recipes in exciting ways. Just add canned peaches to homemade barbecue sauce or canned pineapple to curries and stir-fry recipes for a healthy and flavorful upgrade.

For more information and to learn how you can get cooking with canned foods, visit:

Artichoke & Bean Salad with Tuna

Recipe: Artichoke & Bean Salad with Tuna


  • 2 cups (one 15-ounce can) white northern or cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (15 ounces) artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
  • 1 rib celery, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons red onion, finely diced
  • 1 can (6 ounces) tuna, drained and flaked
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • Kosher salt and cracked black pepper


  1. Combine all ingredients in mixing bowl, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss gently and refrigerate 45 minutes before serving. Serve salad on bed of mixed greens with crusty bread. Or alternatively, serve salad scooped onto hero roll with arugula.

4 servings

Peaches and Cream Cheesecake Bars

Recipe: Peaches and Cream Cheesecake Bars


  • 1 cup almonds, finely chopped
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 can (8.75 ounces) peaches, drained
  • Pinch of salt


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray 9-by-13-inch pan with non-stick spray. In mixing bowl combine almonds, graham cracker crumbs and butter with fork until combined. Press into bottom of pan. Using handheld or stand mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth and no lumps remain. While mixing, add sweetened condensed milk, eggs, lemon juice, almond extract and flour. Mix until fully combined. Pour over crust. In food processor or blender, puree peaches. Stir in a pinch of salt. Using tablespoon, drop spoonfuls of peach puree over top of cream cheese mixture. Using knife, gently swirl peaches through filling to create marbled look. Bake for 30 minutes or until center is set. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature before transferring to refrigerator to chill throughout. Cut bars and serve chilled.

36 bars

Crust-less Quiche

Recipe: Crust-less Quiche


  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups milk
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon dried mustard
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions
  • 1 can (4 ounces) sliced mushrooms, thoroughly drained
  • 1/2 (14.5-ounce) can chopped tomatoes, thoroughly drained
  • 1/2 cup diced honey-baked/deli ham
  • Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups plain croutons


  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. In large mixing bowl, whisk eggs together with milk, cornstarch and mustard. Stir in scallions, drained mushrooms, tomatoes and ham. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Transfer mixture to 9-inch pie plate or quiche dish. Top with shredded cheese and croutons. Bake until center is set 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool on wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

8 servings

Slow Cooker Ragu

Recipe: Slow Cooker Ragu


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 cup canned tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium beef broth (canned)
  • 2 cans (28 ounces each) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 pound ground beef sirloin
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) sliced carrots, drained
  • 1 can (4 ounces) sliced mushrooms, drained
  • Cooked pasta, such as spaghetti, for serving


  1. Heat oil in large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add onion and celery and saute for 1 minute just to soften. Add garlic and season with salt and pepper, cooking for about 3 minutes. Add tomato paste and thyme and continue cooking for another 2 minutes. Slowly add beef broth to deglaze bottom of pan, stirring with wooden spoon. Season with salt and pepper. Carefully transfer mixture to slow cooker. Stir in canned tomatoes. Mix pork and sirloin together in separate bowl, using your hands, until combined. Stir meat into slow cooker, spreading out evenly and avoiding any large clumps. Cover and cook on high for 4 to 6 hours or on low 8 to 10 hours. During last two hours of cooking, add canned carrots and mushrooms to ragu. Skim accumulated grease from top before serving. Serve over pasta with crusty bread for soaking up sauce.

8 to 10 servings

Chicken Pozole

Recipe: Chicken Pozole


  • 1 1/2 cups of chicken, shredded from a store bought (3- to 4-pound) rotisserie chicken
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon oregano
  • 3 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 can (4.5 ounces) chopped green chiles
  • 1/2 (14.5-ounce) can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 can (7 ounces) salsa verde
  • 2 cans (15 ounces each) hominy, drained
  • 2 cans (14 ounces each) low-sodium chicken broth
  • Kosher salt and cracked black pepper

  • Garnishes (optional)
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges
  • 1/2 cup crema or sour cream
  • Crushed tortilla chips
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • Thinly sliced radishes
  • 1 avocado, diced


  1. Remove meat from chicken and shred into 1-inch pieces; discard skin and bones. Set aside about 1 1/2 cups of meat for soup; reserve remaining chicken for another use. In large Dutch oven or saucepot set over medium heat, heat oil. Add onion and cook until translucent and fragrant, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 3 to 4 more minutes. Add oregano, coriander and cumin, and cook until slightly darkened and fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Add green chiles, chopped tomatoes, salsa verde and cook until it just comes to a boil, about 2 minutes. Add hominy and chicken broth and return to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for at least 10 minutes to allow flavors to develop. Season with salt and pepper. Add shredded chicken and cook until heated through, 3 minutes. To serve, divide among 4 bowls and garnish as desired.

4 servings

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