Admit it: When you open a can of beans, mandarin oranges or artichokes, you use the goods and drain the liquids. But have you ever considered that the liquids are “goods,” too? Indeed, there are ways to incorporate canned liquids into the foods you cook and bake so that you
minimize food waste and add flavor (and sometimes nutrition) to your dishes. Try any or all of these seven ideas from registered dietitian nutritionists around the country.
Katie Sullivan Morford, blogger at MomsKitchenHandbook.com and author of “Rise & Shine” and “Best Lunch Box Ever,” likes to use the briny liquid from canned artichokes in her cooking. “It can be whisked into vinaigrettes, blended into pesto, used in a tapenade or tossed into a simple pasta with vegetables,” she says.
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Canned Apricot Liquid
Jackie Newgent, culinary nutritionist and author of “The All-Natural Diabetes Cookbook,” uses the fruity liquid of apricots to make salad dressing. “If I zip open a can of fruit packed in 100-percent fruit juice, I have a plan for using that juice so it doesn’t go to waste,” she explains. “The basic version of one of my crowd-pleasing healthy salad dressings is to puree the fruit from a 15-ounce can of apricot halves (or other fruit) with a few tablespoons of its juice, 1/3 cup each extra-virgin olive oil and white wine vinegar, a couple generous pinches of black pepper and a pinch of sea salt.” Newgent also recommends using any juice from canned fruit for marinades or grilling sauces, or as some of the cooking liquid for grains.
Canned Chopped Tomatoes
Clinical associate professor at Boston University Joan Salge Blake saves the liquid from canned chopped tomatoes in her freezer to use in “homemade” soups. Here is her simple soup recipe for Homemade Veggie Soup Italiano to feed an army:
Open two cans of vegetable soup and add to a big pot. Add all the liquid saved in the freezer from the canned chopped tomatoes.
Add a bag of frozen mixed vegetables.
Simmer until the vegetables are cooked.
Top with shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
Canned Mandarin Oranges
Both Lauren Pincus, founder of NutritionStarringYou.com and author of “The Protein-Packed Breakfast Club,” and Sally Kuzemchak, founder of RealMomNutrition.com, use the juice from canned mandarin oranges very creatively. Pincus uses this juice to make creamy orange overnight oats. “I often don’t have fresh OJ in the house when I’m craving one of my favorite breakfast recipes, and both the mandarin oranges and juice from the can add great flavor to the dish,” she says. “The liquid is also a fabulous addition to smoothies, smoothie bowls, citrus vinaigrette salad dressing and fruity cocktails.” Kuzemchak goes the dessert route and uses the liquid from canned mandarin oranges to make freezer pops for her kids. “[My kids] say it makes the best Popsicles. I also use it to sweeten smoothies, especially green smoothies,” she explains.
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Canned Pumpkin or Butternut Squash
Did you ever even think to use the liquid from the cans of pumpkin or butternut squash? Catherine Brown, a chef, culinary nutritionist and organic grower at “A Seat at My Table,” has. “[They] contain varying levels of liquid, even in their pureed form,” she says. “If I’m using these to make a yeast bread or other baked goods (cookies, brownies, granola or bars) and want a more concentrated puree with less hydration, I will strain the canned puree through several layers of cheesecloth over a bowl to catch the liquid. The liquid can be frozen in ice cube trays until needed.” She recommends using the vitamin-rich ice cubes in soups, hot cereal or as part of the liquid to cook whole grains, such as rice, quinoa, kamut or wheat bulgur.
Sara Haas, a Chicago-based consultant, culinary nutritionist and author of “Taco! Taco! Taco” and “Fertility Foods Cookbook,” uses the liquid of canned pineapple to make a variety of dishes. “Pineapple juice adds a nice level of acidity and sweetness to everything from salad dressings to marinades,” she says. Haas also uses it to sweeten overnight oats when she’s craving a tropical flavor profile.
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Canned Black Beans, Chickpeas and White Beans
In my opinion, Sharon Palmer, aka “The Plant-Powered Dietitian” at SharonPalmer.com, has the best plant-based recipes. And when I asked her about her favorite way to use canned liquid, she immediately said, “I use canned bean liquids for creating aquafaba, which literally means bean water. If you whip it, it will create a meringue texture and you can use it to replace eggs in baking.” Palmer was kind enough to share one of her favorite (vegan!) aquafaba recipes:
Lavender Almond Cookies Yield: 20 cookies
Aquafaba (about 1/2 cup liquid reserved from one 15-ounce can of light-colored beans) 3/4 cup softened dairy-free margarine (i.e., Earth Balance)
3/4 cup organic cane sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup almond flour or meal
1 1/2 cups enriched, unbleached wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons dried lavender flowers
1/4 cup finely chopped almonds
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Whip aquafaba with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl, mix together margarine, sugar and vanilla with a fork until smooth.
Gently fold in aquafaba.
Mix almond flour, enriched flour, baking powder, salt, lavender flowers and almonds together.
Fold dry ingredients into moist ingredients gently, until well distributed.
Spray two baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray. Drop batter by spoonfuls on baking sheet.
Place in oven and bake for about 25 minutes, until firm and golden brown along edges.
Remove from oven and cool.
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Stop Draining the Liquid From Canned Foods and Use It Like This Instead originally appeared on usnews.com