Monday, June 26, 2017

8 of the Healthiest Foods to Eat on a Budget



A lot of us have been believing a huge misconception, that eating healthy costs a lot. 

Perhaps some of us are learning the basics, cook at home as much as we can, buy food when it is in season and at local markets, buy in bulk if you are going to use it and can afford it. 

But a lot of us are still believing that to eat healthy, we have to buy expensive food, use expensive ingredients and that eating on a budget means ramen noodles. 

It just isn't true, it does take learning a new way of thinking and learning a few new skills, but feeding your family healthy foods on a budget is not only possible, but opens a whole new amazing world. 

Brown Rice -

Rice is a basic food for a lot of places around the world because it is so inexpensive. Lots of times rice (and all carbs) can get a bad reputation for being healthy, but your body actually needs carbohydrates to function. Especially ones that are whole grain, they'll have you stay full longer, are lots higher in nutrition and have fiber. 

Non-fat Greek Yogurt - 

You made have heard Greek Yogurt called a superfood, that is another food buzzword that I don't like much, but it is really good for you. It is packed with nutritional value and one of the best things about it is that you can substitute it for a lot of things that aren't great for you, like sour cream. It is great source of protein. You can add it to your diet and include good things while reducing less that good things. 


Old fashioned oatmeal - 

Oatmeal can be one of those foods that you love to eat or you just can't stand. But with all the health benefits and the inexpensive prices - it is worth putting in your pantry. You can use it to make energy bites, cookies and granola bars. Try overnight oats and eat them cold if you don't like hot cereal. Plus you can make it savory as well as sweet. Avoid buying instant oatmeal and really avoid the sugar and chemical filled packets. They are more sugar than oatmeal anyway. 


Beans - 

Black beans, red beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, there are almost as many kinds of beans as there are people. And there are twice as many ways to add beans to your diet. When you buy canned beans, be sure you are buying the Low-Sodium or No-Sodium ones, or even better, buy dry and make your own. (You can freeze them!) They not only add fiber to your diet, but they are an excellent source for inexpensive protein. So add some to your salads, to your tacos, mash them up and spread them on your sandwiches.  I have heard you can even put them in your brownies. 

Canned Tuna -

Canned tuna is another in expensive protein. It has the benefit of being light on fats and full of Omega-3's - those are the healthy fats that help your brain function and repair our cells. Talk about the mercury levels in tuna has caused a lot of scares in the news, especially for kids and pregnant women, but the best rule is to just eat it in moderation. 

Sweet Potatoes -

There probably isn't a person left in the world that doesn't know sweet potatoes are good for you. But I think that most of us don't realize just how good they are for us. They contain 377% of our daily recommended intake of vitamin A. They also contain vitamin B6, potassium, vitamin C, and fiber. The list goes on and on, it is embarrassing really to be so darn healthy and taste so good. Since they are nutrient dense and full of fiber, you'll feel fuller longer when you eat them. You can eat them sweet or savory, make soup out of them, or roast them, even put them on top of salads. 


Apples and other In Season / Low-cost Fruits - 

Fresh fruits are always a good idea when it comes to eating healthy, but out of season they can cost a pretty penny.  When avocados are in season, I can find them for half the price of what they are during the winter months. Learn what fruits are in season in your area and buy them then. Also keep in mind that apples, and bananas are almost always less expensive the mangoes and pineapple. - And fresh fruit is better for you, more filling and costs less than juice. 


Broccoli, Cauliflower and other Low-Cost / In Season Veggies - 

My favorite budget friendly veggie tip is to buy the veggies as close to their natural state and "process" them yourselves. Buy a bag of whole carrots and cut them into snacking size yourself. Buy whole heads of cauliflower and broccoli and use up those broccoli stems in stir-fries, casseroles and cole slaw.  Keep your eyes open for sales on 50 lb boxes of potatoes during the fall and clearance sales on squash at the farm stands. These will keep in a cold storage area for months. ( I keep mine in my unheated garage).  

Yes, it does take learning some new ways of thinking, and for sure some new ways of eating. but you really can eat healthy food without breaking the bank. You can feed your family food that is high quality and will nourish them without spending a fortune. You don't have to spend a ton to eat well. 






Friday, June 23, 2017

Healthy Chewy Brownie Thins

Made with Greek Yogurt, Less Sugar, and even the option for a whole grain flour!

Making good choices and having a healthy lifestyle doesn't mean giving up the foods that you love. 

With just a few adjustments, this brownie recipe will have you thinking that a healthy lifestyle can taste as amazing as it can make you feel. 



If you want to be brave a try a whole grain flour, I think the brownies are dense enough to support that.  You can almost experiment with oat or almond flour, although they cost a bit more and I am not a fan of buying ingredients that I feel like won't get used unless for special "occasions"


Ingredients

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips (optional)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350ºF. 

Line an 26 x 18 sheet pan with parchment paper or spray lightly with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.

With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar at medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes, or until combined. Add eggs and vanilla. Continue beating until incorporated.

Scrape down sides of the bowl, and reduce mixer speed to low. 

Slowly add flour mixture to the bowl, followed by yogurt, and mix gently until combined. 

The batter will be thick. Stir in chocolate.

With a spatula, spread mixture evenly in pan – it will feel the bottom of the pan is barely covered. Then bake for 10 to 12 minutes. 

Err on the side of more chewy, because they will set more as they cool





Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Little Changes to Make Your Pantry Amazing


Wouldn't it be nice to have a dream pantry?  Perhaps one with lots of walk in space and cute little boxes and tubs and containers with chalkboard labels.  

I am pretty sure that I would eat really healthy and that the meals would almost prepare themselves if my pantry was really beautiful. 

Sadly, it is not. That means I have to make the very best of what I have. Here are some ideas and tips that have worked for me, I want to share them with you. 




Put Things Within Reach: I have cabinet climbers are my house, and it drives me crazy. I keep all the snacks, on the lowest shelf so the small kids can help themselves. I put all the things that my teens can use to make quick meals at their height. I put the heavy things like appliances on the floor and lighter things like foil pans bags of chips (that I don't want them to snack on every second) on the very top. 

Go Vertical: I started using the space on the back of my pantry door and it have been life changing. I put all my spices up on the back of the door with a basket from the dollar store and some double sided tape. I put up hooks to hang lunch boxes and plastic bags. There is a lot of wasted space between that closed door and the shelves, use it. 


Trash the Boxes: Newsflash, that giant cardboard box that is holding your bag of cheerios is doing zero to keep them fresh. Throw that huge box away and get a clip for the bag. You can also put granola bars in baskets along with other snacks - I put my homemade oatmeal packets in a container as well as bags of trail mix. Then I put them down low so my kids can see what they have - not having boxes also eliminates the, "I want what I see on TV" problem. 

Use Your Floor Space: But be sure and use it wisely. Never put your food on the floor. Use that space for appliances, paper towels, and kitchen items that you don't use frequently. 



Put Like with Like:  This sounds like common sense, but all too often when we finally get home from the grocery store, get all the bags carried into the house and unloaded, a lot of times the cans and items just get shoved anywhere there is shelf space. This leads to me buying 3 cans of coconut milk when I already had some just because it was shoved over by the chocolate chips.  This takes a while to train your family where things go, but it is worth it. 

I have all my baking goods on one side of a shelf, all my cans of fruit on the other side of the shelf. I stack my beans all together and all my tomato sauce, puree and diced all together.  It makes things lots easier to find and it puts thing front and center when I am standing there with the door open thinking, "what should I make for dinner" 

 

Nothing works for everyone, but some of these ideas might spark something that will work for your family. Finding a system that helps you cook at home and has your family eating more healthy food is worth trying a few new things.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Chewy Orange Granola Bars


I love making my own granola bars at home. They are so much easier than you might think and you can complete control of what ingredients go into them. No fillers, less sugar than the manufactured kind and you can make them exactly how you like them. 



For example, I really don't like walnuts, so I used slivered almonds (that I didn't have enough of, so I chopped up some cashews that I did have)

I also can cut the bars into larger sizes for my husband and the older boys and into much smaller ones for my 3 and 5 yr olds. 


If you are hesitant to try this recipe because it seems a bit different. I had never had orange granola bars either. Give it a try, they are amazing. Everyone who has tried them has asked for the recipe. 

Next time I make them, I am going to add dried cranberries, since orange and cranberry is such a classic combination.  


Ingredients:
4 cups quick-cooking oats
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups chopped walnuts
1 cup flaked coconut
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup orange marmalade

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350° F.

In a large bowl, mix together oats, brown sugar, salt, walnuts, and flaked coconut.

Stir melted butter and orange marmalade into dry ingredients; mix thoroughly.

Spread oats mixture into greased half-sheet pan.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned.

Let cool for a few minutes, then cut into bars.  Store in airtight container. I wrap mine individually in plastic wrap and them put them into a large plastic zip bag and put them in the fridge. 



Friday, June 16, 2017

Cucumber Mango Salad


2 ingredients and a 1 minute dressing - that is my kind of recipe. So simple but when you take a bite, WOW! How have I not made this 100 times already? 

Mangoes are in season right now, so you can buy them for a lot less than during the off-season and they taste so much better. We love them, but I won't buy them during the fall and winter, because they just don't taste good and I can't spend a fortune on food that just doesn't taste good. 

So pick up a couple Mangoes on sale and grab a cucumber while you're there and this salad is practically made already. 


Ingredients : 

1 medium mango 
1 medium cucumber 
¼ cup rice vinegar 
2 Tbsp white sugar 
⅛ tsp salt 
⅛ tsp red pepper flakes 

Directions:

Wash the cucumber well to remove wax or other residue. Slice the cucumber.

Cut the mango into slices.

In a small bowl, prepare the dressing. Combine the rice vinegar, sugar, salt and red pepper flakes. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved.

In a large bowl, combine the cucumber, mango and dressing. Stir well to coat. 

Either eat fresh or refrigerate until ready to eat. Stir well before serving to redistribute the dressing.