10 Processed Foods To Eat

Healthy Processed Foods

Written by Jill Weisenberger, MS, RDN, CDE, FAND

Processed foods have an undeserved bad rap. But do any of us have the luxury of creating all of our meals from scratch? Chosen wisely, processed foods make important contributions to wholesome diets. There is a big difference between ramen noodles and whole grain spaghetti, yet both are processed foods. Here are 10 processed foods that this nutritionist loves.

Canned tomatoes: Is there another canned food so versatile? Use them with pasta, soups, casseroles, chicken, fish, black beans and more.

Canned tuna or salmon: Make a simple salad with lightly steamed broccoli, herbs and a bit of olive oil and white wine vinegar. Even more simply, toss tuna or salmon onto a green salad or with leftover pasta and vegetables.

Canned beans: Rinsing canned beans washes away about 40% of the sodium.

Reduced-sodium broth: This is the smart busy person’s shortcut to homemade soup. Cooking with broth is also a great way to cut back on salt and fat. Simmer rice and barley in reduced-sodium broth instead of salted water with butter.

Whole-grain bread: Store it in the freezer and defrost one or two slices at a time. Look for labels that say 100% whole grain.

Nut butters: Peanut butter is truly one of my favorite foods. Spread peanut butter or almond butter on tart apple slices for a wholesome snack.

Reduced-fat cottage cheese: For a protein boost at breakfast, I mix cottage cheese with cinnamon and raisins. For an afternoon snack, mix it with tomatoes, basil and coarse black pepper.

Marinated artichoke hearts: These take an everyday green salad to new heights. Add these also to pasta salad, tuna salad and omelets.

Quick cooking whole grains: Keep quick cooking barley, farro, wheat berries and brown rice on hand for a quick side dish, or make a main dish salad with one of these as a base instead of pasta or greens.

Frozen fruits and vegetables: Stock up your freezer with these and there’s no excuse to eat a meal without produce. I enjoy frozen fruit straight from the freezer. I use it in smoothies too, so I can skip the ice. Add frozen vegetables to stews, casseroles and soups or eat them with just a bit of olive oil and garlic as a side dish.

Some processed foods offer little more than refined grains, salt, sugar and unhealthful fats. But not these 10 processed foods to eat. These help busy people put delicious, wholesome meals on the table in less time. 

 Happy, healthy eating!