Convenient foods can also be healthy!

You’ve been told to stay on the perimeter of the grocery store and avoid those inner aisles if you want to be lean, healthy and fit – right? While that’s true – most of the natural and nutritious foods are on the perimeter of the the store, there are some healthy foods available by can. These packaged foods – not to be confused with “processed” foods – provide great a great source of nutrients, are easy to cook and can save you tons of time in the kitchen.

Not everything in a center of the supermarket is off limits. With the right information, you can take advantage of the convenience of packaged foods and still eat a healthy diet.

Good for you convenient packaged foods

Canned Beans
Dried beans are great but they take a lot of time to cook. Canned beans contain a optimum amount of fiber and protein and they are quick and easy to add to virtually any meal. Garbanzo, kidney, pinto, lentils, lima beans – you name it, beans are great sources of nutrition. When deciding which type of beans to select, look for ones that aren’t already seasoned. Unseasoned beans can be a lot lower in sugar and sodium. Also, be sure to drain and rinse the beans in a colander before you being to cook. This trick will help wash any additional sodium down the drain.

Oats and Flaxseed
Mixing old-fashioned oats and ground flaxseed, both found packaged in either cartons or bags, is a serious way to get your fiber and essential fats. Just one cup of cooked oatmeal with 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed will give you 8 grams. That’s great for your heart as well! Choose old-fashioned oats over instant to ensure you’re getting a ton of fiber without added salt and sugar.

Frozen Vegetables
Frozen vegetables can offer a lot of the nutritious benefits as the fresh ones. The key to getting vitamin and mineral benefits of the frozen veggies is to use them within a reasonable time frame as some nutrients may degrade over time. Steaming and microwaving your veggies are better cooking options than boiling so you’re not losing water-soluble vitamins.

Frozen Berries
Nothing like frozen berries to make your own delicious and nutritious homemade smoothies. Frozen berries also come in handy when meeting your daily fruit requirement. Be sure to choose the berries without the added sugar or syrup. Double check that the ingredients list contains berries to make sure you’re not getting a ton of extra calories from sugar or fat. Add them to yogurt parfaits, oatmeal and a host of other foods and enjoy!

Granola Bars
A granola bar may sound healthy, but be careful, many are just disguised candy. Not all granola bars are good for you. As always read the labels to make the healthiest choice. Be careful not to let advertising fool you. You can find some of the healthier bars in the natural foods section. Some brands, like Cliff and Kashi, can be an excellent choices of great tasting, healthy granola bars. If you find that a bar has healthy ingredients but more calories than you’d like, consider sharing the goodness with others.

There are many healthy options for soup in a can but there are also many varieties that are loaded with fat and sodium. Don’t worry, just read the label. A non-condensed, organic soup with real vegetables is the best option. Focus on the serving size on the nutritional label so that you avoid consuming a lot more calories and salt than you want. It’s typical that people eat an entire can of soup only to find out later that they consumed 2.5 to 3 times the calories, fat and sodium!

Not all cereals are created equal. This is where reading a label becomes extra important. You want to choose a cereal with a good amount of fiber and vitamins. As always, fiber is the key. On the nutritional label, look for at least 5 grams of fiber per serving. Also, monitor the amount of sugar per serving (again 5 grams or less is ideal). To get even more fiber, include bran cereal to your regular cereal and your morning will be off to a great start.

Brown Rice
Brown rice equals fiber. It’s the perfect side for any meal and anything you use white rice for can be substituted with brown rice. Try it with black beans, diced tomatoes and cilantro with a dash of salt, pepper and lime, or top it with your favorite veggies.

Tuna Fish Packed in Water
Tuna fish is cheap, easy and healthy. Of course, tuna is high in omega-3 fatty acids and protein. Another added benefit is it gives you a good amount of vitamins D and B-12, too. There are so many options for tuna outside of the traditional tuna salad. Use a recipe search engine like to find some inspired creations.

Yogurt is a great, easy, versatile food. You can add it to your breakfast, your smoothie or just eat it as a snack. There are so many varieties in the grocery aisle that you are practically guaranteed to find one you like. While plain yogurt is going to be the most natural, you may not prefer the taste of plain. Choose a yogurt that is low in sweeteners, sugar and artificial colors and additives. Greek yogurt offers more protein than traditional yogurt.

All canned and packaged food isn’t bad for you. In fact, there are many that can bring new life into your diet and keep you on the healthy and right track.