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Don't Be Afraid of Canned Protein!

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Protein in a can is cost-effective and healthy if you know what to buy and what to do with it. Not to mention -- it's portable!

canned protein tuna

Momlogic's Susannah Locketti: My two favorites to buy are tuna and crab. Sure -- nothing beats the taste of fresh, but for busy moms everywhere canned is making a comeback.

Canned tuna is loaded with low-fat protein and costs around a buck on sale. But what to do with it? When buying canned tuna, go for tuna packed in water over tuna packed in oil. The cans look identical, so read them carefully. The chunk albacore variety is far meatier than the light variety. If you're sick of tuna salad sandwiches, try this easy recipe for a Salade Niçoise that you can eat for a light dinner or pack in a reusable container for a gourmet lunch on the go.

Speedy Salade Niçoise with Tuna
I enjoyed my first Salade Niçoise on my high school French class's trip to France. Simple yet sophisticated, this salad is downright tasty. Topping the salad with chunk canned tuna and hard-boiled egg adds heartiness while keeping it healthy. This is a salad that packs great for work!

3 cups crisp salad greens
6 gourmet black olives
Small handful steamed and cooled green beans
2 small plum tomatoes, quartered
½ can chunk white tuna, drained
1 hard-boiled egg, sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons lite vinegar and oil dressing
¼ tsp minced fresh garlic

Top the greens with the olives through parsley, in that order. Combine dressing and garlic in a small bowl and serve over salad. I make this salad all the time for work and pack it in a reusable container, with the dressing in a smaller container. Double the recipe to enjoy one at home and the other on the go during the week.

Very often, I crave crab. The fastest and easiest way for me to enjoy it is canned. Lump crab meat is a great pick and it is low in fat and calories, yet loaded with protein. I love how light and fluffy crab meat is in comparison to canned tuna. Be sure to drain the meat and remove the delicate paper lining some cans have. I've heard horror stories of people baking it into casseroles! You can find canned crab meat in the refrigerator area of your seafood department or in the same aisle as canned tuna.

Crab Apple Quesadillas
Serves 2-4, depending on appetite
This is a quick and easy recipe as a main meal or even as an appetizer at a party. I love the hint of sweetness you get by including thinly sliced apple. Feel free to vary the type of cheese you use. A jalapeno cheddar-jack cheese would also be really great with this.

1 green apple, thinly sliced
8 oz canned lump crab meat, drained
½ cup shredded monterey jack cheese
2 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions
4 large whole wheat tortillas

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Top two tortillas with apples through scallions, in that order. Top with the remaining two tortillas. Bake directly on the rack in the oven, flipping after 5-7 minutes. Bake until the tortillas become brown and crispy and the cheese is melted. Cut into wedges with a pizza cutter and serve with your favorite salsa or even a mango chutney.

next: 10 Deliciously Cool Lunch Boxes
5 comments so far | Post a comment now
jill April 23, 2009, 12:52 PM

what about mercury?

AM  April 23, 2009, 2:14 PM

I love canned tuna too but canned foods can be high in sodium so I buy low sodium versions when I can. I also like canned chicken (sold right buy the tuna) for chicken salad and canned salmon for salmon patties, burgers, and casseroles, just like tuna casseroles but made with salmon.

birdsfly April 23, 2009, 3:51 PM

I use canned fish or chicken to make filling for rice balls, super cheap, super yummy and super filling.

Denise April 27, 2009, 5:25 PM

I went for the crab quesadillas this weekend and they were really good. Very simple to make, and they made for a delicious and quick lunch. Thanks for another great idea Susannah!

Kirby Mcfarland May 1, 2009, 1:57 AM


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