Protein-Packed Meals and Snacks

Protein is an incredibly important part of our diets. Not only is it associated with muscle and tissue health, research finds that protein plays an important role in energy levels, weight management and satiety (feeling full). In fact, a recent survey found that nine in 10 Americans believe that protein helps them feel fuller and satisfied longer.  

With canned food staples like chicken, tuna, beans, beef and salmon in your pantry, a convenient source of protein-rich ingredients is always at your fingertips. That makes it easy to prepare nutritious homemade meals and snacks that will provide long lasting energy to get you through the day.

Canned proteins are often preferable to their fresh counterparts because they require little to no preparation and are more accessible. They also contribute two important forms of under-consumed protein sources - legumes and fish.  Because cans seal in foods' nutrients, freshness and natural goodness, you can feel great about incorporating canned proteins into your favorite salads, casseroles, sandwiches and dishes like Greek Pizza and Tuna Apple Melt. With a well-stocked pantry - or "Cantry" - wholesome, protein-packed meals and snacks the whole family will love are just a can or two away.  

For more nutritious and flavorful recipes featuring canned proteins, and to learn how you can get cooking with canned foods, visit www.CansGetYouCooking.com.

Flavors Across America

Food inspirations across the country - what will be next?  

America is home to a diversity of flavors - each region of the country is known for unique dishes and flavors that people from all over the world flock to, to get a taste. America's passion for flavor is not only shown through the variety of flavors found across the country, but also through the continuous evolution of regional dishes and tastes. Here are some favorite regional dishes and examples of how the tastes of each region are evolving:  

The Midwest

The home of comfort food, the Midwest is not just the birthplace of some of the country's favorite dishes - it's a hotbed of creativity, often reintroducing classic favorites with contemporary twists.

* Sauerkraut. Dating back to ancient China, sauerkraut is poised to make a bold comeback in 2015. This tasty fermented cabbage will be finding a place in soups, stews, dumplings, coleslaw and even smoothies.

* Hot dish. The hot dish - a casserole-like dish - has been a Midwestern favorite for generations and has evolved with the times.

Traditional hot dishes fuse starches with meat and vegetables, but new hot dish flavors have been created to reflect popular tastes such as cheeseburgers and fries, pizza and cheesy bratwurst.

The West

From the Tex-Mex of the American southwest to the latest catch in California, the west is known to break boundaries when it comes to new flavor profiles.

* The California roll. While sushi draws its origins from Japan, the California roll took sushi to a whole new level. Created by Japanese sushi chefs who first arrived in Los Angeles in the 1960s, the California roll substituted avocado for tuna to create a healthier taste. The California roll continues to evolve as chefs use other fresh ingredients such as banana or mango to update this classic roll.

* The chimichanga. The Latino population throughout the west coast and southwest have introduced amazing dishes that have become mainstream, such as the chimichanga. Though the actual inventor of the chimichanga is still widely debated, Arizona is commonly credited as the birthplace of this deep-fried burrito.

The East

Fare in the Atlantic region is very different from the Pacific's cuisine, but it's every bit as delicious.

* Bone broth. Bone broth, a more substantial cousin to stock, has taken off as one of the hottest new beverages to take east coast foodies by storm. Made like a stock - simmering poultry, meat, or seafood bones with seasonings in water - this nutrient-rich broth is meant to be served like tea or coffee.

* Manhattan clam chowder. Clam chowder is a defining flavor of the east coast but Manhattan clam chowder has a look and flavor all its own. A clear broth with the addition of tomatoes links the Manhattan clam chowder back to the Portuguese stews that inspired it.

The South

Southern hospitality and southern cooking go hand-in-hand. Here are a couple of staples that have become synonymous with southern states. American BBQ. Established in the American South in the 19th century, pork was the primary meat used in barbecues, as pigs were extremely prevalent in the region. Now American BBQ is growing in sophistication and the sweet, spicy, smoked and tomato flavors for which, American BBQ is known are being fused into dishes using various game in restaurants across the world.

* Jambalaya. One of the most historic dishes in the South, Jambalaya was created out of the French Quarter of New Orleans. The dish originates from an attempt to make paella; tomatoes became a substitute for saffron, which was not readily available. Overtime, the dish grew to incorporate three types of proteins: chicken, sausage and seafood.

What flavors inspire you?

Across the nation, regions have been defined by the flavors that have made them famous and literally put them "on the map." While the flavors listed above have stood the test of time, continuously evolving flavor inspirations keep changing the culinary landscape of today. As a brand that knows delicious flavors can come from just about anywhere, Lay's is inviting its fans to celebrate regionally inspired flavors as part of its "Do Us A Flavor" contest. From now through March 30, 2015, consumers can submit their ideas for the next great potato chip flavor for a chance to win a $1 million grand prize. Visit www.DoUsAFlavor.com and enter a flavor name, up to three ingredients, a chip style, the city and state that inspired the submission and a brief description or inspiration story for the flavor. Later this summer, four delicious finalist flavors - representing flavorful cities and towns across the U.S. - will be fully developed, brought to store shelves and voted on by America. To learn more and see official contest rules, visit www.DoUsAFlavor.com.