Campbell Global Nutrition Team
In support of National Nutrition Month® the Campbell Global Nutrition team came together to share the flavors they savor most. The question posed was – “If left with a near-bare pantry or sparse refrigerator shelves, what would be your ‘must have’ food, ingredient or seasoning?” Here’s what the experts chose and why.
Alex’s Top Pick: Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Who knew that olive oil, a standard ingredient in many pantries, comes from one of the oldest known cultivated trees in the world! In our house it has to be Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO). Extra Virgin means the olives are cold pressed (no heat or chemicals to extract the oil) which gives the oil a deep green color and intense flavor. This also means the oil retains the good antioxidants found naturally in olives.1 The other end of the spectrum is Extra Light oil. Most people think this this means lower in fat or calories, but in fact it means light in flavor (and also light in color and aroma). While Extra Light oil still has the good heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, because heat and chemicals are used to extract the oil, it loses some of its antioxidant content.
EVOO is best when used in applications where you can really taste its flavor. We use it in salad dressings, for dipping bread, to make pesto, or to season pasta or cooked vegetables. This Basil Pesto Squash with Linguine recipe is a delicious way to use some of this flavorful oil.
Anita’s Top Pick: Onions
Once regarded as a lowly vegetable for commoners, onions are now a popular kitchen staple and an ubiquitous recipe ingredient. Whether sautéed, caramelized, boiled, baked or used raw, onions can turn a bland dish into a savory celebration of flavor.
Centuries ago, onions were considered medicine as well as food, and used to treat various ailments from headaches to snake bites. Early research suggests that quercetin, part of an antioxidant compound found in onions, may have protective benefits against heart disease and certain cancers.2
When I cook, I use lots of fresh onions and dehydrated onion flakes to boost flavor without adding any fats or a significant amount of sodium. In our home, a jar of onion powder has even replaced the salt shaker at our family table!
For a delicious, budget-friendly dish that puts the savory flavor of onions front and center, try making Roasted Chicken with Caramelized Onions Soup which combines leftover roasted chicken with caramelized onion, veggies, and pasta in a savory broth.
Jen’s Top Pick: Peanuts & Peanut Butter
Peanut butter is simply delicious, satisfying, and nutritious. It’s popular among all ages! This convenient, nutty treat can be paired with sliced fruit or veggies for a quick, pick-me-up snack or a hold-me-over until dinner option. Enjoy it on whole grain bread, or use it to create a fantastic dish like Szechuan Peanut Chicken.
Peanuts contain a combination of “the good fats”, namely polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. In addition, they contain more protein, niacin, folate and phytosterols than any other nut.3 Be mindful of portion sizes, as calories can add up quickly (1tbsp. of peanut butter provides about 100 calories).
Peanut butter is a versatile, shelf stable pantry must-have (though it probably won’t stay on the shelf for long!). This nut butter is so popular in the US that 94% of households have at least one peanut butter loving consumer. Grab a spoonful and celebrate – March is also National Peanut Month, so cheers to a spoonful of creamy goodness!3
Kate’s Top Pick: Tomatoes
It doesn’t really matter whether you want to call it a veggie or a fruit… just call it awesome! During the summer there is nothing like a fresh-off-the-vine, juicy tomato. They are super-versatile and a family-friendly produce choice. Tomatoes are rich in flavor, color and texture (plus low in calories; provide vitamin A, C and potassium). I can’t imagine my kitchen cabinets or countertop without fresh, canned, or sun-dried tomatoes. As of 2013, tomatoes were the second (potatoes were first) most consumed vegetable in America, per pound!4 Did you know that one can of Campbell’s® Tomato soup is made using five ripe tomatoes?5
Go fresh - Grape tomatoes make a great pop-in-your mouth snack, sliced tomatoes “veggie- up” your sandwich/omelet, or combine tomatoes with a few on-hand delicious ingredients for bruschetta.
Pick canned or jarred - Tomatoes can enhance practically any dish. Always have tomato soup and pasta sauce on hand. Check out the robust flavors in this Umami-Bomb Pizza with Arugula, Heirloom Tomatoes & Goat Cheese recipe. They make it easy to add nutrition
and boost your veggie count for the day!
Lindsay’s Top Pick: Citrus Fruit
Nothing brightens a dish better than citrus. It complements a wide variety of flavors, is used in cuisines throughout the world, and provides that extra “zing” without the added salt or fat. I often use citrus in my cooking, whether I am grilling, baking, poaching, or just making a fresh salad dressing.
Not only are citrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruits flavorful, but many are also an excellent source of vitamin C, an important antioxidant. While using citrus in your cooking will not necessarily provide much of this nutrient, adding whole citrus fruits, like oranges, to salads or choosing them as snacks can provide up to 100% of your daily vitamin C needs.
When I am crunched for time, I love Campbell’s® Healthy Request® Homestyle Spicy Vegetable Chili with a fresh wedge of lime. Want something to share with the whole family? This Lemon Chicken Scallopini recipe is delicious, healthy, and ready in less than 30 minutes! For more information on selecting, preparing, and cooking
with citrus fruits, visit the Fruits & Veggies - More Matters® website.
National Nutrition Month® is a great time for us to celebrate food and share our love for delicious, nutritious and flavorful fare. Food brings people together and its flavors can remind us of a special person or time in our lives. Appreciate the tastes of decades old recipes and explore new flavors this month. Life’s an adventure, so cherish delicious food along the way with family and friends!
Savor your favorite flavors today,
The Campbell Nutrition Team
For authors’ bios please visit Meet the Experts
- https://www.cooc.com/health-nutrition/ California Olive Council: Health & Nutrition; Accessed January 26th, 2016.
- http://accurateclinic.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Quercetin-University-of-Maryland-Medical-Center.pdf University of Maryland Quercetin Accessed June 11, 2018.
- http://nationalpeanutboard.org/the-facts/fun-facts/ National Peanut BoardSM; Accessed January 24th, 2016.
- https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/chart-gallery/gallery/chart-detail/?chartId=58340 USDA Economic Research Services: Most commonly consumed vegetables among U.S. consumers, 2013. Accesssed January 20th, 2016.
- www.whatsinmyfood.com. Accessed January 20th, 2016.