It doesn’t take much — a smell, a taste or even a certain dish — and you’re immediately transported to another time or place.

Take Chicken Noodle Soup for example. This all-American classic brings back more memories of childhood than other foods according to a recent survey commissioned by the Canned Food Alliance (CFA).

More than 1,000 adults questioned were asked to choose one dish out of seven that reminded them of their childhood. The familiar soup won by a landslide, receiving 43 percent of the votes — more than double the votes for runner-up Beef Stew.

For 15 percent of the respondents, Baked Beans took them down memory lane. The other nostalgic dishes included in the survey were Chicken a la King, Chicken Salad, Tuna Noodle Casserole and Fruit Crisp.

But are they Nutritious?

These classic all-American recipes and others were tested as part of a recent nutrition study conducted by the University of Massachusetts (UMass). The study compared the nutritional content and sensory appeal of recipes made with canned ingredients versus those same recipes made with fresh or frozen ingredients. As available, canned-prepared versions of the recipes were also included in the research study.

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Canned Ingredients are Good Sources of Many Nutrients

“Our research found similar nutrient profiles of dishes made with canned and with fresh and/or frozen ingredients,” said Ken Samonds, Ph.D., nutrition study director and associate professor of human nutrition at the University of Massachusetts. “In fact, recipes made with canned ingredients are good sources of many nutrients, like recipes made with their fresh and frozen counterparts. The results also showed that recipes prepared with canned foods delivered favorably on taste, appearance, aroma and texture.”

According to Samonds, some key findings from the nutrition study included:

Nutritional analysis of 12 all-American classic recipes found similar nutrient content of dishes made with canned and with fresh and/or frozen ingredients.

The Chicken a la King recipe, prepared two ways — one using canned chicken and one using fresh chicken — is a good source of riboflavin and phosphorus and provides an excellent source of protein, niacin and selenium, regardless of the form of the ingredient in the recipe (canned or fresh). — The Pineapple Orange Slush, prepared two ways with pineapples and Mandarin oranges — one using canned pineapples and oranges and one using fresh fruit — proved to be an excellent source of vitamin C and thiamin, regardless of the recipe’s ingredient form (canned or fresh).

Dishes Made with Canned Ingredients Score Well

Sensory findings showed that nine of the 12 recipes prepared with canned ingredients were equally or more acceptable in taste, appearance, aroma and texture than those prepared with fresh and/or frozen ingredients. (When canned-prepared versions were available, they too received comparable sensory scores.):

The Seafood Okra Gumbo, prepared with canned shrimp, blue crab and oysters, scored higher in flavor, texture and overall acceptability than the same recipe made with fresh ingredients. Both recipes were equally acceptable in appearance, color, aroma and aftertaste. — The Tuna Noodle Casserole, prepared with canned tuna, scored higher in overall acceptability and flavor than the same recipe made with fresh tuna. Consumers rated the two versions similarly with regard to appearance, color, aroma, texture and aftertaste.

“This research shows that the ingredients you choose, not the form of the ingredients, are what really determine a recipe’s nutrient content,” Samonds said. “With limited growing seasons in most of the country, canned food provides an ideal way to add nutrition, flavor and variety to any recipe, anywhere and at anytime of the year. With canned meats, chicken, fish, soups and stews, consumers can be sure they receive the goodness that’s sealed in, along with convenience and versatility.”

About the Testing

In analyzing the nutritional content of the recipes, the researchers compared a variety of nutrients, including protein, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins and minerals. The researchers also analyzed sensory appeal by evaluating taste, appearance, color, aroma and texture of dishes prepared with canned, fresh and/or frozen ingredients.

The recipes were selected from well-known cookbooks such as The Joy of Cooking and The Betty Crocker Cookbook as well as from online recipe sources and represented a variety of dishes ranging from Chicken a la King and Seafood Okra Gumbo to Green Bean Casserole and Peach-Cherry Crisp.

“We selected tried and true American recipes that allowed us to use a variety of ingredients — fruits, vegetables, beans, meat, chicken and fish — in canned, fresh and/or frozen forms,” said Samonds.

“All-American Favorites,” which analyzed 12 recipes found on most any American table, is the second phase of the CFA’s three-part 2000 Nutrition Study. Phase I., “Kitchen Creations for Kids and Parents,” which analyzed 13 family-friendly recipes, was introduced in May. “Holiday Classics,” which will test fun, festive recipes for the holiday season, is the third and final phase of the nutrition study, and is scheduled for release in November 2000. Nearly 40 recipes will be tested throughout the study.

The Canned Food Alliance is a partnership of the American Iron and Steel Institute’s Steel Packaging Council, the Can Manufacturers Institute and selected food processors. The primary mission of the Canned Food Alliance is to serve as a resource for information on the convenience, contemporary appeal, nutrition and versatility of canned food, more than 90 percent of which is packaged in recyclable steel cans. For dozens of mealtime solutions, be sure to visit the Canned Food Alliance online at

NOTE: The following is the Canned Food Alliance’s recipe for New England Apple Cherry Crisp:

                        NEW ENGLAND APPLE CHERRY CRISP
Courtesy of the Canned Food Alliance

Warm, juicy, crisp and delicious - this American classic is both comforting
and easy to prepare with the convenience of canned fruit.


2 cans (21 ounces each) apple pie filling or topping
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) pitted red tart pie cherries in water, drained
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 cup uncooked rolled oats (quick or old fashioned)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter or margarine


Heat oven to 400 degree F. In ungreased 13 x 9-inch baking pan, combine
apple pie filling and cherries; spread evenly. Set aside. In large
bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, oats, cinnamon and salt. Using pastry
blender or two knives in scissor fashion, cut in butter until mixture
resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle evenly over fruit. Bake 30 to 35
minutes or until fruit is bubbly. Cool slightly. Serve warm or at room

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes

Servings: 9

Nutritional Information Per Serving: 462 calories; 16 g fat; 41 mg cholesterol; 291 mg sodium; 79 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 3 g protein.