Category Archives: Recipes

{Recipe} Healthy Pancakes

Pancakes and French Toast are two of my favorite Sunday breakfasts. Top them with a drizzle of maple syrup, some slice strawberries and a side of coffee and I’m a happy girl!

When I calculated my calories and saw my container allowance for the 21-Day Fix, I instantly felt nervous when I saw I’m only allowed two yellows per day. TWO YELLOWS?! Ugh! I can easily go through those in one meal. I know I’m a carb junkie and that’s why I chose this program, but still, I’m allowed to bitch for a minute.

Did I mention I have to give up one of those yellows if I want a treat, like chips, my Oatmeal Banana Cookies or a beer?! Sigh…

Okay…enough of my complaining and onto the recipe. I found some recipes on Pinterest for healthier pancake options that called for cottage cheese and stevia added to them, but I’m not a fan of either so I opted for unsweetened organic applesauce to add some liquid and sweetness to these.

Now applesauce isn’t technically on “the list” but the ingredients had nothing funky so I’m not considering it a “treat” item and I’m treating them like a fruit.

Banana Pancakes
Healthy Pancakes(Makes 6. Serving size 3. Fix container counts per serving 1/2 yellow, 1/2 red, 1/2 purple)

Ingredients:
1/2 cup rolled oats
2 eggs
1 small banana or 1/2 a large one
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1tsp vanilla pure vanilla extract
1/2tsp cinnamon

Directions:
1. Combine all of the above ingredients in a blender and purée until smooth.
2. Lightly grease a griddle pan (I used coconut oil spray) and heat over a medium heat.
3. Using a 1/4 cup spoon, pour batter onto hot griddle.
4. Cook for about two minutes and flip. You may need to drop the heat a little once they set, so they won’t burn.
5. Drizzle with a small amount of real maple syrup (not that fake processed crap) or some raw honey and enjoy!

Mine got a little darker than I would have liked on the first side, which is way I mentioned lowering the heat as you cook them. They were a little tricky to flip too, since they aren’t traditional pancakes, but with a little patience, I did it.

I topped these with maple syrup and some slice strawberries and they were very good. The three remaining are in the fridge, so I’ll let you know how they reheat.

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{Recipe} Banana Oatmeal Cookies

One of the things I like about the 21-Day Fix plan, is that you can trade out one of your yellow contains for a “treat”. I mean, who doesn’t deserve a treat from time to time, right?!

In the nutrition guide, there is a recipe for some yummy looking Banana Oatmeal Cookies. The recipe called for golden raisins and walnuts (which I’m not a fan of) so I swapped out some mini Enjoy Life chips and unsweetened shredded coconut instead!

Banana Oatmeal Cookies
Banana Oatmeal Cookies(Makes 8. Serving size is 2 and replaces 1 Yellow container on the 21-Day Fix)

Ingredients:
Nonstick cooking spray
1 cup Old Fashioned Rolled Oats
2 tsp ground Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Sea Salt
2 medium ripe Bananas, mashed
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life since I have dairy issues)
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Lightly spray baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.
3. Combine oats, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl, making sure to mix well.
4. Add mashed bananas, chips and coconut, mix well.
5. Drop by heaping Tbsp onto your baking tray. (I used the large Pampered Chef Scoop)
6. Flatten the cookies with wet fingers (so they don’t stick) or a silicon spatula.
7. Bake for 14-15 minutes, or until they are firm.
8. Cool and Enjoy!

The results were some seriously yummy cookies that I can eat for breakfast with my coffee, or have as a dessert on days when my sweet tooth kicks in.

What’s your favorite 21-Day Fix treat?

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{Recipe} Southwest-Style Stuffed Peppers

As I mentioned yesterday, I am starting the 21-Day Fix on Monday, so I tried another recipe I had found on Pinterest.

While trying to make my meal plan, I was searching for recipes that were “Fix Approved” and I stumbled on a few for stuffed peppers. Of course I made a few little changes to make it my own and they ended up being a great meal prep item for quick lunches during the week!

Southwest-Style Stuffed Pepper

Served directly in the storage container!

Southwest-Style Stuffed Pepper
(serves 2: with the following container values 1-Red1-Yellow2-Green and 1/2-Blue)

Ingredients:
2 large Bell Peppers (use whatever color is on-sale or that you like)
1/2 cup Brown Rice, or Quinoa, slightly undercooked
1/4 cup Black Beans, (I used low sodium, organic, canned. Make sure you drain and rinse them well)
1/4 cup Frozen Corn
1 jalapeno, diced (optional)
1.5 cups (about 1/2 lb) browned low-fat ground turkey or beef, seasoned with 21-Day Fix Southwestern Seasoning (or homemade taco seasoning)
1 8-oz can Petite Diced Tomatoes (No sugar added. Should only contain tomatoes and ascorbic acid)
1 8-oz Tomato Sauce (No sugar added. Should only contain tomatoes and ascorbic acid)
1/3 cup of your favorite cheese (I’m dairy-free so I didn’t add this. I opted for avocado)

Directions:
1. Preheat Oven to 375 degrees.
2. Cook rice or quinoa according to package directions, but cut cooking time a little short since it will continue cooking in the oven.
3. In a large bowl, combine the meat, tomatoes, beans, rice/quinoa, corn and sauce.
4. Cut the tops off of the peppers. Clean out the ribs and seeds and rinse well.
5. Stuff your peppers, making sure to pack them tightly with filling.
6. Sprinkle with cheese (if using)
7. Place in an oven safe tray and bake for 40-45 minutes. (I like to cover mine with a little water in the bottom of the tray so the pepper steam.)

Meal planning and prepping are very important with this program, so recipes like this are perfect. I actually used my containers to measure everything, but I shared the recipe here with the actual measurements. The ground beef or turkey may be slightly over 1/2 lbs. I actually just cooked up the whole 1-lb package and seasoned 2 Red Containers worth after measuring. I put the leftover in a container in my fridge to season however I want when reheating as a quick lunch.

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{Recipe} Asian Meatballs

Monday I’ll be starting a new fitness and nutrition program called 21-Day Fix. I’m really excited to start this, because unlike other programs I’ve done, this one has the focus on nutrition.

Food is one of my happy places. I love searching recipe books and Pinterest for new ideas. Chopping, slicing, sautéing and grilling are stress relieves to me, most of the time. But eating. Eating makes me happy! It always has, which is how I ended up overweight in the first place.

Thankfully, now I eat whole foods that my body needs in order to function. No, its not boring and bland. It’s actually fun to turn those items into things you crave and want to eat.

21-Day Fix skips the calorie counting and food journals by replacing them with a color coded container system. It takes a little planning and organizing, but once you have a menu plan in place (which you can find tons of on Pinterest) it’s pretty straight forward!

This is a really simple recipe that packs a bunch of flavor. These are considered “Fix Approved” despite the use of soy sauce because it can be found in the nutrition guide in one of the dressings. The best part of this recipe is that you can make a double batch and freeze them, so you have a quick lunch or dinner option in a pinch!

Asian Meatballs

These taste just like dumplings!

Asian Meatballs
(Makes 28 meatballs (6 per serving? – 21-Day Fix container info: 1-Red )

Ingredients:
2lbs lean ground meat of your choice (chicken, turkey or pork)
1 inch piece of ginger, chopped (or more depending on your taste)
1/4 cup soy sauce (or coconut aminos)
1 garlic clove, minced
3 scallions, chopped fine

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix well until incorporated well.
3. Using a scoop (I used the medium Pampered Chef one), make 28 meatballs and place on a baking tray.
4. Bake for about 25 minutes.

I was able to fit 6 of them into my red container (I cut one in half to use all space in the container…I’m not losing valuable real estate to air). We enjoyed these tasty little morsels with some homemade fried rice and steamed broccoli.

Did I mention that they taste just like dumplings?! Steamed dumplings are one of my favorite Chinese Food treats, but since realizing I have a gluten-sensitivity, I had to give them up. Now I get to enjoy my favorite Asian food and red container too!

Have you done the 21-Day Fix? Do you have a recipe or go-to meal? I’d love to hear about it below.

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The Clean in 14 Detox

Clean in 14 Detox

Recently I was given the opportunity to preview Melissa Costello’s new book, “The Clean in 14 Detox“, which was just released yesterday!

I was first introduced to Melissa Costello of Karma Chow, and her recipes in Tony Horton’s book, Bring It, back in 2011, when I followed the cleanse for that program. I was intrigued by the approach and the benefits to following a vegan diet. I managed to stay vegan for 40 days before switching over to vegetarian for 8 months. I learned a lot about nutrition during that time period and it changed the way I looked at food. Meat was eventually added back into my diet, because….well….BACON! (nitrate-free of course)

When I heard about Melissa’s new book, “Clean in 14 Detox” I knew I had to check it out! Cleansing is a good thing, when it’s done correctly. It rids the body of accumulated slow poisons, which can make your metabolism sluggish, lead to stomach inflammation and digestive issues, as well as many other chronic issues and of course…unwanted weight gain. The approach taken in Melissa’s book will  not only flush your body of toxins, but it will free your mind of negative patterns and allow you to find balance in your life.

While there are many detox programs available, “Clean in 14 Detox is the only simple, 2-week plan that’s not about deprivation, frustration or living on shakes or pills. This cleanse is about enjoying delicious plant-based, whole foods that not only taste amazing, but will melt fat, curb cravings and provide your body with the natural energy it needs!

Sounds to good to be true right? Well, if you follow the plan, it’s not. We live in a society hooked on convenient, over-processed food, that is full of chemicals and sugars that we don’t need. The key to eating healthier is changing your relationship with food and Melissa has included everything you need.

  • Detailed shopping lists and mouthwatering mix and match meal plans for 14 days.
  • How to completely eliminate CRAP (Coffee, refined sugar, alcohol, Processed Foods) out of your life
  • How to banish you SAP (Sabotaging Addictive Patterns) that keep you on the diet rollercoaster
  • How to follow through on healthy eating as a lifestyle, not just another fad diet
  • Daily Action Steps to help you stay focused and motivated

This cleanse isn’t just about food, it’s about your mind too. I love that there are daily actions which include journal writing, reflection and even meditation. This book is truly the total package needed to deal with food cravings and sugar addiction, without wanting to kill everyone you comes into contact with, during the 14 day process.

The best part of this cleanse is that it offers a wide variety of delicious, unprocessed foods, like Baja-fajitas, chopped salad with creamy pepita dressing, coconut yam soup, oven-baked sweet potatoes and this yummy protein shake, which is from the Breakfast and Shakes section of the book:

Photo from KarmaChow.com

Photo from KarmaChow.com

Ruby’s Raspberry Dazzle Protein Shake
1 serving

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups almond milk
1/2 cup frozen raspberries
1/2 frozen banana
1/2 cup frozen strawberries
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
1 tablespoon raw almond butter

Directions
1. Blend the ingredients in a high powered blender until smooth and creamy.

 

If you are looking to kick your sugar addiction, increase your immunity, have better digestion, a more efficient metabolism and glowing skin, I highly recommend that you pick up this book, cut the CRAP and truly take a look at your relationship with food. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Have you ever completed a cleanse? What kind of cleanse was it and how did you feel during and after?

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(I received one copy of Clean in 14 Detox from Dunn Pellier Media to review. All opinions in the post are my own, honest feeling on the item.)

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Sausage and Vegetable Casserole

I apparently have two speeds when it comes to this blog, over productive and complete slacker. I truly apologize for that.

It’s been a crazy few weeks. Between snow storms, everyday tasks and studying for my certification, I’ve been highly overwhelmed and stressed. When I get that way, I try to remove things from plate that aren’t essential to day to day living, so blogging tends to take a back burner, which I hate, because I enjoy doing it.

With that, I’ve still been in the kitchen and sticking with clean eating (with the exception of the Papa John’s Pizza and the burger I had while at Super Bowl Boulevard the other day – more on that soon) and I have a new recipe to share with you!

I found the inspiration for it on Pinterest of course. It’s more like a crustless quiche than a casserole but I’ve never made a quiche so I can’t say for sure, therefore we shall call it a casserole.

Sausage and Vegetable Casserole

Sausage and Vegetable CasseroleIngredients:
1lb Italian sweet sausage (you can use hot if you prefer)
¾ lb broccoli florets (about 4 cups)
2 medium zucchini, sliced into ¼-inch thick rounds
½ medium onion, finely chopped
1 small pepper (any color), chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
¾ teaspoon fine grain sea salt, divided
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
A pinch of red pepper flakes
3 free-range organic eggs
½ cup milk (you can use non dairy)
A handful of fresh basil, chopped
A pinch ground nutmeg
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Place sausage on a baking sheet and roast for about 30 mins (Turn them halfway through cooking. Slice into 1/4 round pieces, like the zucchini)
3. Grease an 8×8-inch baking dish and set aside.
4. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and a pinch of salt and saute for about 2 to 3 minutes until translucent. Add broccoli florets, zucchini, pepper, black pepper, ½ teaspoon of salt, red pepper flakes and about ¼ cup of water.
5. Cover with a lid and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes stirring often. The vegetables should brown a bit and must be thoroughly cooked, but still retain some of their crunchiness. Turn off the heat and let cool for 5 minutes.
6. In a large bowl whisk eggs, milk, ¼ tsp of salt and nutmeg for a couple of minutes until fluffy. Add chopped basil and stir to combine.
7. Add the sausage and vegetables to baking dish and spread them on an even layer. With the back of a spoon press them down gently.
8. Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese (if desired).
9. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.

This was a quick a simple recipe to make. You could add any vegetables you have on hand to it and you could even use chicken if you prefer. I was craving sausage and peppers but I didn’t want to have bread or pasta, so this worked out perfect.

I haven’t tried too many new recipes lately. Since I’ve been so pressed for time, I’ve been sticking with what I know and keeping meals very simple.

If you have tried any new recipes that you loved, please send me a link to them! I’m always looking to try new things.

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{Slow Cooker Recipe} Asian Five-Spice Pulled Pork

There are days that I don’t know what I would do without my slow cooker. Those days are usually Mondays. I don’t know what it is about Monday that usually leaves me running around like a chicken with their head cut off. Maybe it’s getting back into that weekday routine after being relaxed all weekend, or maybe it’s because I tend to cram everything humanly possible into the few short hours that the kids are in school. My guess is a combination of the two, but thankfully, the invention of the slow cooker makes one Monday task an easy one.

As I mentioned in my Eating Healthy On A Budget post, I like to purchase meat in bulk. I have staple meats that are always on hand in my freezer, ground beef, pork loin, chicken thighs and chuck roasts. These are staples for me because they can be prepared using different cooking methods, and are perfect for tossing into the slow cooker while still frozen!

Sometimes I plan my week with grand intentions of trying tons of new recipes, but then I wake up with a headache, end up having to go out somewhere or just flat out don’t feel like cooking (I know, that last one is crazy, but it happens from time to time). Those are the times I thankfully for my supply of frozen meat options, my slow cooker and my collection of recipes on Pinterest!

This recipe is actually intended for pork ribs, but I didn’t have pork ribs…I had a pork loin roast, so I figured why not?!

Asian Five-Spice Pulled Pork
Recipe Inspired by The Clothes Make The Girl

Asain Five-Spice Pulled PorkIngredients:
2-3lb pork loin roast
2 tsps Chinese five-spice powder
1 tsp garlic powder (I used a garlic pepper combo)
2 Tbsps apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsps coconut aminos
1 Tbsp tomato paste
salt and pepper
1 sliced jalapeno (optional – I used some jalapeno hot sauce because I didn’t have a fresh jalapeno on hand)

Directions:
1. In a small bowl, mix together the salt, pepper, Chinese five-spice, and garlic powder, then massage the mixture onto the pork.
2. If using the jalapeno, toss the sliced piece into the bottom of the slow cooker. Add the vinegar, coconut aminos and tomato paste. Stir well to combine the tomato paste with the liquids.
3. Add the pork roast and cook on low for about 8-10 hours.
4. When the pork is done, shred and mix with the juices in the slow cooker. Serve.

This pork had a wonderful, sweet flavor with just a hint of spice from the jalapeno. I served this with sweet potato mash and sauteed spinach, but this is yet another dish that would work perfect as a lettuce wrap. There are really very few meats that wouldn’t work well as a lettuce wrap, right?!

I’ve clearly been on a Asian kick with my meals this week. I think it might just be an excuse to eat lettuce wraps and Sriracha, because that is exactly how I used the left overs from this meal today.

Do you own a slow cooker? If so, do you use it a lot or does it just sit on a shelf in the pantry?

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Easy Korean Style Beef

Yesterday was one of those days where time just got away from me. I meant to do my meal planning and some meal prepping, but I ended up taking down the Christmas tree and cleaning up the living-room. Before I knew it, the Broncos vs. Chargers game was on and I still didn’t know what I was cooking for dinner. These are the times I am thankful for Pinterest!

I opened up my laptop, plugged in the words healthy, ground beef and recipes and I had plenty of options to choose from. I knew right off the bat that chili was not an option since Mike is not a fan of it. I was not in the mood for red sauce so meatballs were out. Thankfully I stumbled on this recipe inspired by Korean Bulgogi, which is traditionally made using thin slices of marinated beef.

Easy Korean Style Beef
Recipe adapted from Kim Kim Cooking
Serves 4

easy korean style beefIngredients:
1 pound lean grounded beef
1 tsp olive or coconut oil
1 tsp chopped garlic
1 tsp chopped ginger
1/4 cup soy sauce or coconut aminos
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup water

Directions:
1. In a pan or wok, add oil and heat over medium heat.
2. Add the garlic and ginger, cook for about 2 minutes.
3. Add beef, stir well.
4. Add brown sugar, soy sauce, and water. Stir will to mix with the beef.
5. Cook for 7 minutes over medium-high heat, until cooked through.

This meal was super quick to prepare and cook. I made some jasmine rice to serve this over, and I added snap peas to the pan as I cooked the beef. Of course I topped everything with Sriracha, because…..Sriracha! The Sriracha actually balanced out the sweetness of this dish really well. Today I had the left over beef and snap peas as lettuce wraps for lunch, and that was a really yummy too!

Meals like this just show that you don’t have to spend a ton of money or time in the kitchen to have a healthy meal. What is your favorite quick, healthy meal?

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Eating Healthy On A Budget

Eating Healthy on a Budget

If you are like me, you don’t have a ton of extra cash and that money tree you attempted to plant last spring just never bloomed.

One of the most common things I hear from people is “There is no way we can afford to eat healthy on our food budget.” I get it! I really do. I lost my job almost a year ago and while I didn’t make a ton of money, it helped to cover things like groceries, especially once I switched us to organic produce and grass-fed meats. Now I’m forced to really think about where we spend our money and quite honestly, we don’t go out to eat as often (it was just hindering my goals anyway) and we were forced to prioritize where our money went. Groceries are more important than almost anything I can think of (after the mortgage, car payment and utilities, of course) so in my case, that is where my extra money is allotted to.

So how do I feed my family healthy foods without breaking the bank? Well…. here are a few of the techniques I’ve been using, as well as a few I would like to begin implementing soon.

1. Meal Planning: I’ve spoken about meal planning a little bit on here before. I’ll sit down and figure out a weeks worth of dinners (with enough leftovers for Mike to take to work) and make a shopping list based on them. I usually try to choose recipes with similar ingredients but different flavor profiles, so I can buy items in bulk and we don’t get bored eating the same thing over and over. The upside of meal planning is that you are creating a plan. This plan helps you to save money at the grocery store (as long as you stick to the list), plus you’ll save time in the kitchen because you’ll know what you are cooking each day. You will also save money by being prepared because you’ll have dinner on hand and you won’t need to order a pizza or go to the drive-thru. As much as I love pizza and a good greasy burger with fries from time to time, they hold very little nutritional value, but they have a decent sized price tag when feeding a family of four.

2. Meal Prep: Many people meal prep these days. You know it’s becoming popular when Rachel Ray makes a cookbook and show about the topic, right?!  (She has some good options and ideas on the show but she tends to be heavy handed on the cheese and oil, so please adjust those recipes to fit your goals if you watch that show or have the book.) Meal prepping is taking your meal planning a step further. You do a bulk grocery shopping, lay out your recipes and then have a marathon cooking session, usually on a Sunday, so you are all set for the week. There are two different approaches to this that I have seen. Some follow recipes for casseroles or slow cooker meals and prepare everything to be either tossed into the slow cooker the morning they plan to eat that meal or reheat the casserole when they get home from work on a particular day. The other method is to roast, steam or sautee large batches of vegetables, grill, roast or sautee chicken, ground beef or other proteins and cook large batches of rice or pasta. They use a general seasoning (usually just salt and pepper) to the foods to keep them generic, then when packaging them into plastic containers (try to make sure these are BPA-free) they may add different seasoning and combinations or sides to change the taste profile of the meals. Both techniques are excellent, I think it just depends on your lifestyle to see which fits better. I tend to use both, since I like to have options ready for me at lunchtime, but I also need full meals for dinner. Here are two of my favorite meal prep lunches.

3. Buy Food in Bulk: I don’t think I know anyone who doesn’t have a membership to Sam’s Club, Costco or some other warehouse club. If you don’t have one, you probably have a friend or family member who does, so ask them if they would mind taking you one day. While these stores don’t always have grass-fed meat and organic produce, I’m okay with that. As much as I would love to buy everything organic, grass-fed or free range, it’s just not possible and I take the time to wash non-organic produce well (make sure you use white vinegar mixed with water to remove the pesticides). Buying in bulk gives you a big bang for your buck. It may seem like a lot of money to lay out at once, but if you purchase items you use on a day to day basis, you’re going to save money in the long run. I tend to purchase nuts, oils, spices and produce there. I also like to stock up on meat. I save a ton of money by buying club packs of meat and then breaking them down and freezing them. I buy chicken thighs with the skin and bones and just remove them myself when I get home. I’ll buy thick boneless pork chops and slice them in half to make thinner ones because it saves a ton of money. Yes, it’s a little time consuming, but I save money and still get to feed my family real meals each night, so it’s worth it! If you use a lot of dried fruits, whole grain pastas, brown rice, quinoa, coconut or almond flour I would recommend looking for bulk options and purchasing them that way.

4. Shop The Reduced Produce Rack: Every grocery store has a reduced produce rack. These may not be THE freshest produce items in the store, but most of the time there is nothing wrong with them and they just get bumped back there to make room for the newest shipment. I use a lot of bananas so I always shop the reduced rack when I need them. Most of my bananas go into smoothies, so when I get them home, I take the peel off, toss them into a freezer bag and pop them into the freezer. I get ripe bananas for pennies compared to the green bunches that have to sit on the counter for days before they can be used. As a matter of fact, I purchase a lot of vegetables from here. Peppers are perfect because I just take them home, cut them up and toss them into a freezer bag as well. If they have spinach or green beans back there, grab them, par boil them and freeze them!

5. Buy Frozen: When vegetables are out of season, they cost more. What’s worse is that they cost more and they aren’t even really fresh. They’ve traveled halfway around the world to get to your local grocer store. Do yourself a favor and just buy frozen vegetables when they are out of season. Frozen veggies are usually picked and then flash frozen so they most likely have more nutritional value than the “fresh” produce that travel the world to get to you. They also go on sale all the time! Many grocery stores have their own brands and you’ll only pay around $1-$2 per bag. You can also keep an eye out for sales and manufacturer coupons and then stock up. I would be lost without my stock of frozen vegetables in my freezer!

6. Buy Locally: Buying seasonally is a huge money saver as I mentioned above in the reduced produce and buy frozen section, but so is buying locally! Spring is the best time because that is when many local farmers markets open up. In summer, they are in full swing and there is an abundance of fresh produce available. Talk to the local farmers, get to know them and ask questions. Many times their produce is only minimally sprayed (or not sprayed at all) but they can’t afford the organic certification. If you plan on buying in bulk, be sure to speak to them because they may be able to cut you a deal. To find local Farmer’s Markets and when they open near you, visit Local Harvest and Eat Well Guide.

7. Join A CSA: I have not yet joined a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) but it’s something I’ll be looking into. CSA’s have become a popular way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer. When you join a CSA you usually receive a box, bag or basket consisting of local, seasonal vegetables, but other farm products may be included. If you are a big fan of shopping at local farmers markets, joining a CSA might be a logical next step for you. For more info on CSA’s visit Local Harvest and Eat Well Guide.

8. Grow Your Own Food: I know not everyone has a yard but there are different options for growing your own food. I have tried my hand at this but I lack a green thumb. I seem to only have luck with herbs and it’s better than nothing. I found a website while lurking around on Pinterest called Square Foot Gardening and it’s something I plan on looking into more this season. I would love to be able to plant my summertime staple vegetables and be able to control the full growth process AND have the fresh from the vine when I need them. If you already grow your own vegetables, I would love to hear some of your tips and trick for keeping the squirrels away!

9. Use Whole Grains and Legumes: Unless you are following a Paleo or Gluten-Free lifestyle, using whole grains and legumes in your recipes will help you to stretch your dollar without sacrificing nutrition. They are filling and can be found in a ton of vegetarian recipes, so incorporating a “meatless monday” into your schedule can help cut back on the money you spend on meat, as well. I’m pretty sure if you are here and reading this far into the post, you know that white, processed pastas, breads and rice are not your best choices and that you should be opting for whole grain versions. Stock up on these in bulk and make them the stars of your dishes, but like everything in life… use them in moderation!

10. Avoid Processed Foods: While these foods seem like they fit into your budget easier, they leave your body nutritionally starved and begging for nutrients.  You end up eating more of these foods because your body is never truly satisfied by them due to the lack of nutrients. These over processed foods are filled with sugar, ingredients you can’t pronounce and unnatural food coloring. They are also designed to make you crave them, so you end up eating more, so what are you really saving by buying them?

When you do your grocery shopping, avoid the center aisles of the store. That is where the majority of the over processed foods are. I know that 10 for $10 seems like a budget saving deal, but in the long run, it is not unless we are talking plain ol’ frozen vegetables. All of those frozen diet entrees should be avoided like the plague. Ever flip one over and look at the ingredients?! It’s disgusting! They are full of gross additives and sodium. Skip them. Another area to skip is the yogurt in the dairy section. If it has a name like red velvet cake, boston cream pie or cherry cobbler, that means it is loaded with sugar. I don’t care if it says it is fat free. You can’t only look at one component of the ingredients. If you like yogurt, stick with plain greek yogurt and add your own fruit to it. Juice is another pitfall. Most commercial juices are full of sugar and additives. Your best bet is to purchase foods with less than 5 ingredients in them. If you can’t pronounce and ingredient, leave it in the store. Potatoes, strawberries, carrots, spinach, chicken and ground beef all have one single ingredient to them. That is the key to eating healthy and it is possible to do on a budget, you just have to plan a little more and be creative.

Here is list of produce you should try to purchase organic versions of because they are known to have the highest levels of pesticides:

  1. Peaches
  2. Apples
  3. Sweet bell peppers
  4. Celery
  5. Nectarines
  6. Strawberries
  7. Cherries
  8. Pears
  9. Grapes
  10. Imported spinach
  11. Lettuce
  12. Potatoes

Don’t worry if you can’t get the organic versions all the time, it’s not the end of the world. Just take the time to clean them properly with equal parts water and white vinegar or a commercial veggie wash. Pesticides are designed to withstand rain, so just rinsing them with water is not enough to remove them.

If you have any tips for eating healthy on a budget I would love to hear them! Please share them below or over on my Facebook Page.

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{Slow Cooker Meal} Jerk Chicken

Yesterday afternoon, I was doing my workout and began debating what to make for dinner. I remembered I had a recipe for Jerk Chicken that I wanted to try. So as soon as I was done, I ran downstairs, mixed some recovery drink and began prepping my spices and chicken for cooking.

Now the recipe I found wasn’t a true Caribbean style jerk chicken, but it has spice and looked really tasty, so I had to give it a try.

Slow Cooker Jerk Chicken
Recipe from Ancestral Chef
Serves 6

jerk chickenIngredients:
12 chicken legs
4 teaspoons of salt
4 teaspoons of paprika
1 teaspoons of cayenne pepper (add more or less depending on how spicy you like your chicken)
2 teaspoons of onion powder
2 teaspoons of thyme
2 teaspoons of garlic powder
1 teaspoons of black pepper

Directions:
1. Mix all of your spices together in a bowl to make a rub for the chicken.
2. Rinse your chicken legs in cold water, then place into a bowl. Sprinkle the chicken with the spices and rub them into the meat thoroughly. Make sure you try to get it under the chicken skin, too.
3. Place your rubbed chicken into your slow cooker (no liquid is necessary to cook this dish)
4. Set the slow cooker on low heat and cook for 6 hours or until the chicken meat falls off the bone (slow cooker times and setting vary so adjust accordingly).
5. You can serve the chicken on the bone, or remove them since the meat falls off so easily.

This recipe made my kitchen smell amazing and was very moist and flavorful. I used the full teaspoon of cayenne pepper and didn’t find it to be very spicy, but feel free to use less if you are sensitive to spicy food. You could even substitute with other spices that are more traditional to the Caribbean style if that’s what you prefer. Play with it. Have fun! That’s what cooking should be about!

I served the chicken with some mashed cauliflower, and steamed snap peas. Everything was simple, quick and healthy, which is so important to me.

What kind of recipes do you tend to gravitate to? Do you like to try new things or do you tend to stick to what you know?

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