Written by: Alex Navarro, Nutrition Education Manager

Here at Second Harvest, we pride ourselves with providing a balanced mix of nutritious foods to encourage our clients to create their own healthy plate at home. On any given food distribution day, you’ll see an abundance of colorful and wholesome fruits and veggies, high fiber whole grains, protein items such as beans, tofu and chicken, and even oils and spices.

You don’t need to be a Top Chef to create a tasty meal for the family – simple can be delicious, too. Even with limited time, our clients can make dishes that they feel proud to share, and that their little “picky eaters” will enjoy. We encourage clients to use both fresh and canned foods if needed; this will save you some time in the kitchen and you can use what you already have in your pantry.

Be sure to get kids to help in the cooking process. Involving kids will get them excited to eat a variety of foods and it’s a great opportunity to raise healthy eaters. Having them do simple cooking tasks, like using a can opener or rinsing canned veggies in a colander, also teaches them basic kitchen skills early on. Learn more ways to cook with kids.

Here is a simple yet tasty black bean salad recipe* that can be easily made with some of our food bank staples. It’s a perfect marriage of fresh and canned, with tons of flavor and nutrients!

¼ c rice vinegar
1 tsp. reduced sodium soy sauce
1 tsp. sesame oil

1 can black beans – rinsed and drained
1 can whole kernel corn – rinsed and drained
red bell pepper – diced
cilantro – chopped

In a small bowl, whisk the dressing ingredients.

In a serving bowl, combine beans, corn, bell pepper and cilantro.

Toss bean mixture with dressing and serve.


* Recipe inspired by City College of San Francisco Consumer Education Department