7 Canned Foods to Stock Your Pantry With for Fall

·6 min read

This article originally appeared on Clean Eating

Fresh pumpkin is delicious, but it’s also cumbersome and timely to cook. And, as much as your CrossFit community loves a sweet potato, it does no one any good if it just sits on your counter, rotting. Canned foods last longer and, in a pinch, can save time. So why not stock up on them this fall?

Next time you’re at the market, pick up cans of these versatile fall foods. Don't worry: I'll tell you how to use them in your kitchen before they expire, too!

1. Applesauce

It's not just for babies! Applesauce is a pantry staple in many homes, and for good reason: It's a wonderful swap in baking to add moisture and sweetness without adding any added sugar. With fall baking on the horizon, add a can (or jar) of applesauce into your baking cabinet.

What to Look For:

  • Ingredients: Apples, cinnamon (optional), lemon juice (citric acid)

  • No added sugar

How to Use It:

  • Swap 1/2 the amount of sugar in your recipes with applesauce, and decrease the liquid (like the milk) by about 1/4 cup. Do not swap 1 to 1, or your recipe will not taste the same.

  • Alternatively, you can swap the oil or butter in your baking 1 for 1 with applesauce.

2. Beets

Beets are a deeply-hued fall food that can add flavor to your meals, and they’re extra convenient when canned. They're also a natural source of dietary nitrates. Nitrates work with vitamin C in your body to form nitric oxide, an important molecule that is essential in keeping your immune system, cardiovascular system, and muscle contractions in tip top shape.

What to Look For:

  • Ingredients: Beets, water, vinegar, spices, sugar (minimal), and salt

  • Look for added sugar at no more than 2 grams per serving

How to Use It:

  • Drain, cut, and toss the pickled beets onto a bed of arugula with goat cheese, toasted pecans, dried cranberries, and a seasonal vinaigrette for an easy, festive fall salad.

3. Butternut Squash

Butternut squash can do so much in the kitchen! If you're new to this veggie, let me invite you to experience the thrill of making a homemade, dairy-free cheese sauce using this beta carotene booster. Butternut squash is beautiful to look at but cumbersome to cook. Let someone else do the work for you and opt for canned so you can literally pop the top and cook with this nutrient powerhouse in no time.

What to Look For:

  • Ingredients: Butternut squash

  • No salt added

How to Use It:

  • Combine nutritional yeast, spices, and an unsweetened dairy-free milk with a thickening agent, like cornstarch, to create a delectable delight that all your guests (vegan and dairy-free) can enjoy.

  • Swap this slightly sweet produce pick 1 to 1 in your baked goods in place of pumpkin puree for a fun twist.

4. Green Beans

Just because your mom used to buy them fresh doesn't mean you have to. Green beans are a great addition to your casseroles, soups, and stews throughout fall and winter, but you don't have to run to the store when a recipe calls for them. Instead, open your pantry and pull out this green goddess. Green beans contain vitamin A, C, K, and fiber, in addition to being a low-calorie food.

What to Look For:

  • No salt added

How to Use It:

  • Open a can of green beans and empty it in your saute pan with tempeh or tofu and teriyaki sauce. It's a simple, nourishing meal that won't break the bank or take hours to make.

5. Pears

Don't get me wrong, I love a fresh pear as much as the next person. But for some reason, every time I buy them, they're like the fall avocado for me. One minute they’re hard as a rock, and the next they're literally hugging my finger. I've taken to buying canned pears in 100% juice instead. Not only are they one of the highest fiber fall fruits, but they're also simple to use in both sweet and savory recipes.

What to Look For:

  • No sugar added

  • Avoid varieties with nonnutritive sweeteners added, like sucralose or stevia

How to Use It:

  • Making pork chops? Simply take out a can of pears and add it to your pan. It's a fun twist on apples and pairs perfectly with this protein.

6. Pumpkin

Pro tip: Stock up on canned pumpkin when you see it hit shelves! Canned pumpkin is filled with fiber (each 1/2 cup serving packs 4 grams of filling fiber) and is an excellent source of vitamin A. Whether you've cooked with this canned fall food for years or are just getting into pumpkin-flavored everything, there's a recipe that will excite you, I promise.

What to Look For:

  • Ingredients: Pure pumpkin puree

  • No added sugar or salt

  • Avoid labels that indicate "pumpkin pie puree" or that use heavy syrup or artificial sweeteners

How to Use It:

  • While you can certainly use pumpkin to whip up your favorite seasonal pumpkin bread or muffins, you can also add canned pumpkin puree into pasta sauce and chili to boost the fiber and vitamin A. Start by using 1/2 cup and work your way up as you experiment with new recipes.

7. Sweet Potatoes

Yes, we love canned sweet potatoes; and no, we aren't talking about those loaded with heavy syrup! Canned sweet potato puree is sold just like pumpkin puree however is a bit harder to locate depending on what market you shop at. While during the holiday season you may find it on the baking aisle, it's generally near the canned vegetable section. Sweet potatoes are packed with vitamin A and contain a fair amount of potassium, too (just shy of what you'll find in a banana, actually!)

What to Look For:

  • Ingredients: Sweet potatoes

  • No added sugar or salt

  • Avoid labels that indicate heavy syrup or artificial sweeteners added

How to Use It:

  • Canned sweet potato is wonderful on its own, sprinkled with a little cinnamon and maple syrup and topped with crushed pecans for a healthy sweet treat. It also works well in parfait form for a grab and go protein packed breakfast when prepared with Greek yogurt.

  • For a fun twist, try canned sweet potato as a swap in a Shepherd's Pie. Rosemary, sage, and thyme work great as seasonings and lean ground turkey is a wonderful protein pairing.

Looking for more ways to use your favorite fall canned foods? Then pop open those cans and experiment with one of these recipes!

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