Canned food is more than meets the eye.

Nutrition Notes: What’s in a Can?

by Divya Denduluri (MS Nutritional Biology, CLEC), Nutrition Education Volunteer

How are canned foods made? What is the secret behind preventing canned food from getting spoiled?

According to the USDA, canning food is a method of preserving food by heat processing and then sealing foods in an airtight container. This process destroys microorganisms and inactivates enzymes. As the heated canned food cools, a vacuum seal is formed, which prevents entry of new bacteria and keeps the food from spoiling. Salt, sugar, vinegar or oil is also used to help preserve foods for longer periods. Canned foods can have a shelf-life of 1 to 5 years. Did you know that most foods can be safely canned at home, too?

Canned foods can be as nutrient packed as their fresh counterparts. Research has shown that canning produce at peak freshness, and the lack of exposure to oxygen during storage period, helps protect nutrients in canned foods. Levels of some nutrients may be higher in canned food as compared to fresh produce. For example, vitamin C and folate levels were found to be higher in canned peaches compared to fresh peaches in a study conducted by the Oregon State University. On an average, canned and frozen fruits and vegetables processed immediately after harvesting and at their peak nutritional quality may be nutritionally similar to fresh produce. It is important, however, to keep in mind some important guidelines on choosing the healthiest canned food options mentioned in last week’s Nutrition Notes blog post.

Food Safety Tip: Canned food should be used immediately. Any leftovers should be refrigerated, and foods in metal cans should be refrigerated in clean glass or plastic containers to preserve optimum freshness and nutritional quality, and prevent bacterial growth and tin leaching into the food in the can.

Recipe Idea: For a flavorful savory dip, mix canned pumpkin puree with Greek yogurt, coarsely crushed roasted peanuts, chives, paprika and salt. Enjoy with your favorite veggies, crackers or just as is!

Plumber Tom knows the value of giving back to the San Diego community!

Local Entrepreneur Talks About His Support of the Food Bank and Being a Successful Businessman

Local entrepreneur, Billy Canu, has been supporting the Food Bank for many years through his local businesses. Canu has helped the Food Bank with SEO support through his company, BrightHaus, since 2009 – helping the Food Bank to significantly increase our online donations and help the Food Bank appear on search engines for clients seeking food assistance.

Canu and his team have been volunteering at the Food Bank for several years, multiple times a year. His staff of 20 plus employees visit the Food Bank, and they help inspect, sort and package food drive donations. Over the years, Canu’s team has helped the Food Bank sort and distribute thousands of pounds of food.

Canu has expanded his ranges of businesses to include a new business that he launched last month called Plumber Tom of San Diego.

Asked about what makes a successful start-up business, Canu provides his advice to other aspiring entrepreneurs, and it’s pretty impressive. ‘I do what a lot of other people can’t. I make you busy,’ said Canu.

Speaking about his salon business, Fox & Jane, Canu said, “I’m constantly working on branding, constantly working on image and I’m making data decisions every 5 minutes. Nothing rests that much. Of course without our stylists and my business partner it would be nothing.”

“It takes money to make money,” explains Canu. “You can’t compete in crazy industries unless you have cash upfront. And whether you have the cash or not, as the business owner you should be involved every step of the way.”

Canu gives 5 tips for those interested in embarking on a new venture.

1. It takes money to make money.

“The above is an obvious one, your business will fail without cash to start it. But a lot of people are in the predicament where they have an idea, but no cash to make it even out of the gate. Depending on the industry you’re wanting to work in, you’ll need at least $10,000 – $20,000 to feasibly get it off the ground and start advertising. Find something you can do and save the money. If that means shoveling snow, then shovel snow.”

2. Find a partner.

“My main superpower is coming up with an idea and finding someone to execute it with me. I’m not a plumber, I have no idea how to go into a house and fix a toilet, but I know that it’s a killer industry, and if I find the right people to work with me, I can make it as busy as the company that’s been around for a decade. I’ll find the right partner, offer them 50% of the company to do the manual work, while I do everything else. And don’t be cheap with your partner. Just because it’s your idea doesn’t mean you should keep 80% of a company.”

3. Cut the Ego

“You’re not a ‘visionary’, and until you make it, you’re not an entrepreneur either. As above, so below – and you’re only as good as your last sale. So cut out any ego. Don’t argue with your partner over trivialities. Most businesses fail because they have an ideology of how things should be done, which is often wrong. This goes for the brand image too. I do my research. Take a look at most plumbing sites. What do you see? Sites that look like they were built in the 1990s. Plumber Tom is different, I used a basic WordPress site to build it and I cut to the chase.”

“One guy said to me that he wouldn’t dream of taking the sales calls. He’d hire someone to do it! I bill over $10 million each year through all of my businesses, but until the recipe is perfected, I’m the chef, the baker, the buyer of the ingredients, everything. I talk to the customers and take the calls.”

4. Utilize the latest Tech to help you

“I use tech to help me also. House Call Pro is a system that is like Uber. I can’t do it all alone, when we book a job for one of our plumbers, the customer’s details are entered into it, and I don’t have to worry about a thing. All of the scheduling is done. Stuff like this is just one small item that takes care of the little things.”

5. Reinvest your profit

“When you make money in the beginning, you’ll need to take some to live, but make a deal to invest back into advertising. All of your cash needs to go into advertising. If it’s you and a partner, then take a 3rd each. 30% toward advertising, 30% toward you, and 30% toward your partner. If it’s just you, then invest the majority of your budget back into ads and take what you need to live.”

The Food Bank thanks Canu and the volunteers from his businesses for supporting our mission to end hunger in San Diego County.

Canned food can be tasty!

Nutrition Notes: February is Canned Food Month!

by Divya Denduluri (MS Nutritional Biology, CLEC), Nutrition Education Volunteer

We are celebrating canned food this month and rightly so.  Canned foods provide quick, easy and economical nourishment. Seasonal produce, canned at their peak freshness, can be enjoyed all year round – amazing isn’t it? All kinds of canned foods are available today in the market, including soups, sauces, meats, fruits and vegetables and even desserts. While this considerably cuts prepping and cooking time, one often wonders if canned foods are safe and healthy.

Here are a few simple guidelines to help choose healthier options:

- Choose canned foods with low or no salt added alternatives
- Rinse foods with added salt in water as this helps lower the sodium levels in the food
- Make sure that the canned foods you buy have no added preservatives
- Select fruits canned in their own juices rather than in sugar
- Buy foods like fish canned in water rather than oil
- Choose canned foods in BPA-free cans or glass jars
- Check expiration dates of canned foods before buying them
- Discard bulging, leaking, rusted, heavily dented or foul-smelling cans to avoid diseases like botulism.

Here is a quick salad recipe using canned beets and garbanzo beans.

Recipe: Bean and Beet Salad

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Number of servings: 2


½ 15 oz canned beets
½ 15 oz canned garbanzo beans
¼ cup sliced onions
¼ cup sliced bell pepper
1 cup salad greens, washed
Crumbled feta cheese

For the citrus-ginger dressing

2 tbsp orange juice
2 tsp sesame oil
½ tsp fresh grated ginger
Salt and pepper to taste


1. Mix the oil, orange juice, ginger, salt and pepper thoroughly and keep aside.
2. Combine the rest of the ingredients.
3. Keep salad and dressing refrigerated until serving time.
4. Toss the salad with the dressing just before serving and enjoy!

For those interested in donating canned food items, donations are currently being collected at the following sites:

San Diego Food Bank
9850 Distribution Ave. San Diego CA 92121
Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 12 p.m. & 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.

North County Food Bank
680 Rancheros Dr. # 100 San Marcos, CA 92069
Monday – Tuesday & Thursday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 12 p.m. & 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.

Beef up on beans this winter!

Nutrition Notes: Beef Up on Beans

by Divya Denduluri (MS Nutritional Biology, CLEC), Nutrition Education Volunteer

Beans, peas and lentils are members of the legume family. They are relatively cheap, low fat, and contain protein, carbohydrates, folic acid, potassium, magnesium, iron, zinc and fiber. Research shows that including beans in the diet helps lower LDL cholesterol (a.k.a. bad cholesterol) levels and reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes. A variety of beans are available canned, dried, frozen and sometimes, fresh in grocery stores and supermarkets.

Buying dried beans in bulk and cooking them at home is more economical than using canned beans. This requires pre-planning and soaking beans the day before cooking them. Washing and soaking dried beans for a few hours or even overnight significantly improves digestibility and nutrient absorption. As an added bonus, soaking reduces their cooking time!

Here is a chart showing the approximate cooking times for different beans and lentils:

(Adapted from and

Fun fact: Sprouting legumes makes them easier to digest and more stomach-friendly.

Here is a recipe for Mung Bean-Cabbage Pancakes – a fun, gluten-free and savory twist on pancakes.
Savory Mung Bean – Cabbage Pancakes
Preparation Time – 20 minutes
Soaking Time – 8 to 12 hours
Makes 12 to 14 pancakes
- 1 cup dried whole mung beans
- 2 tbsp brown rice
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 cup finely chopped cabbage
- 1 tbsp chopped cilantro
- Salt to taste
- 2 tbsp oil
1. Wash and soak mung beans and rice overnight.
2. Blend mung beans, rice, garlic and salt with water to a smooth, pourable pancake batter-like consistency.
3. Add the cabbage and cilantro to the batter. Grated carrots and beets may be added to add health and color to the batter.
4. Heat a skillet on medium heat until hot to touch.
5. Spread ½ tsp oil on the skillet.
6. Spread 1/3 cup batter into a thin pancake with a rounded ladle, on the skillet.
7. Once the edges are golden-brown, flip the pancake over. Cook for a couple of minutes and repeat process for the rest of the batter. Serve hot with your favorite dip or just plain yogurt.

Shake up snack time with some kale dip and chips!

Nutrition Notes: Kale Your Way to Health

by Divya Denduluri (MS Nutritional Biology, CLEC), Nutrition Education Volunteer

Kale, a veritable nutrient super-hero, is packed with vitamins A, C and K and manganese. Kale can help boost our immunity and memory. Kale is available year-round in supermarkets and local farmers’ markets, though its availability peaks between mid- September and the end of February.

Fun Fact! Kale tastes sweeter after a frost and can thrive in snow.

Here are some of the commonly available varieties of kale:

1. Curly kale is bright to dark green in color with fibrous stalks. It has a little pungency and bitterness that are barely noticeable in younger leaves.

2. Lactino kale is wrinkled, firm and dark bluish green in color. Its flavor is delicate and slightly sweeter than curly kale.

3. Russian kale looks like arugula, and has woody, fibrous and purplish stalks. It is one of the sweetest varieties of kale.

4. Redbor kale has dark reddish purple leaves that look like curly kale.

Prepping and Storing Kale: It is important to thoroughly wash, pat dry and strip kale leaves from their stalks. When using baby kale, the stalks are tender and do not need to be stripped. Once prepped, kale leaves can be used or stored in the refrigerator or freezer.

Dining with Kale: Here are some easy ways to add kale to your plate.

Kale can be marinated in your favorite dressing for about an hour and added to salads, wraps and sandwiches.

Add chopped kale to soups, stews and chili.

Sauté kale in a little olive oil with garlic, and season it with salt and pepper.

Add raw kale to smoothies.

My favorite way to eat kale is kale chips in a kale dip.


Garlic Kale Dip Recipe

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Serving size: 1/4 cup
Number of servings: 5 – 6

- 1 cup baby kale, chopped
- ¼ cup onions, chopped
- 3-4 garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 cup Greek yogurt
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tsp chopped cilantro or any favorite herb
- ½ tsp sugar
Heat the oil in a pan. Add the garlic, onions and kale and sauté for 5 minutes. Take the pan off heat and cool the mixture. Mix in the rest of the ingredients with the mixture and keep in refrigerator. Serve chilled with kale chips.
Kale Chips Recipe
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Number of servings: 2 – 3
- 1 bunch curly kale
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ½ tsp salt
Prep the kale leaves into bite-size pieces and wipe off any water with a paper towel. Preheat the oven to 300ºF. Mix ingredients, making sure all the pieces of kale are coated with oil. Place the kale on a baking tray in a single layer and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the chips are firm to touch. Let the chips cool for 5 minutes.

Enjoy the chips with the kale dip!