Tag Archives: Healthy

Weekly Eating #3 – 7/2

 

 

Hey y’all! Welcome to the series Weekly Eating.

Here is where I’ll talk about the week’s meal plan versus reality, what we ate for the week, and how we did budget-wise. I hope it gives readers a behind-the-scenes look into our life through the lens of food, and it’s also a way to keep us on track with meal planning and grocery budgeting.

Feel free to share your wins and lessons in the comments below!

Monday:

Breakfast – microwaved 2 scrambled eggs on top of an everything Bagel Thin and slice of cheddar cheese. Homemade “mocha latte” (coffee + hot cocoa mix + milk, blended)

Lunch – leftover stir fry

Dinner – BBQ pulled pork mac-n-chili (?) This was a weird idea I had to use up several leftovers. 1/2 lb cooked penne, 1 cup bbq pulled pork, 1 cup pinto beans, 1 whole shredded yellow squash, 1 cup shredded cheddar, 2 tbsp butter and a splash of milk. Luckily for us, it turned out really delicious!

Snack – fresh cherries, hummus + cucumber/carrots

Tuesday: Fourth of July!

Breakfast – kind of slept in and skipped this part, mostly just had coffee, and then early lunch

Lunch – chicken, broccoli, rice casserole: this is ridiculously simple, and came out amazingly delicious! Layer chopped broccoli, mushrooms, 1/2 cup rice, and shredded chicken. Add 1/2 cup stock and 1/2 cup milk, and cheddar cheese. Top with some more broccoli, cover in foil and bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes. Done!

Dinner – leftover buffet

The holiday was nice and relaxing, we got some laundry done, played some games and I finished a book. I did also bake up some red velvet cupcakes with blueberry cream cheese frosting! I made way too many, so I took a few plates to our neighbors  🙂

Wednesday:

Breakfast – peach smoothie: 2 peaches, 2 bananas, 1 cup yogurt, 1 cup orange juice

Lunch – out with a work colleague; rosemary chicken panini

Dinner – chicken and dumplings with some of my homemade foccacia

Snacks – brown rice cakes

Thursday:

Breakfast – homemade yogurt with peaches and granola

Lunch – slow cooker “refrigerator soup”. Basically I chopped up all the veggies about to spoil, added some lentils & quinoa, salsa and homemade chicken stock in a small slow cooker on high all day in my cube. By noon, the whole office smells AMAZING and I get a nice hot, filling, super healthy and super frugal lunch.

Dinner – ravioli per hubby’s request

Friday:

Breakfast – parfait with fresh peaches, yogurt, and 1 smashed up Nature Valley Oats & Honey bar

Lunch – pasta salad

Dinner – stir friday: pork! You may wonder, why stir-Friday every week? Doesn’t that get boring? Well, no definitely not because there are so many options! And the reason is simple: it’s delicious and super frugal. It gives me the chance to use up whatever bits of veggies are in the fridge, so that I don’t throw them out.

The Weekend:

On Saturday we just hung out, cleaned inside and outside a bit, and then hosted a dinner party.

I made a recipe from my sister-in-law for a knock-your-socks-off delicious summer salad with arugula, cheese, macademia nuts (from a friend’s family farm in S America!), corn, craisins, and baked salmon. I’m drooling just thinking about it! I made some lime-ade for the drivers, and some tropical rum punch for whoever wanted it.  🙂

Total:  $116.91

My goal is to keep this number under $100 all the time, and eventually get down to $75/week for food.

Oops… This is why I’m not allowed to go to grocery stores by myself anymore…

In my defense, I did stock up on several staples I will not use this week alone, like pasta, lentils, pearled couscous, 3 loaves of multigrain bread for 0.99 that I will freeze, brown rice, sliced cheese. We also were running low on doggy teeth-cleaning treats for the pups, and that is included in the total.

Lessons Learned

I did a pretty good job of using up weird bits of leftovers and creating new meals, so that was a definite plus! But, I also let the grocery gremlin get me, and tell me that “these sales are way too good, you definitely need to stock up on 5 kinds of pasta, more salad than you can actually eat in one week, $10 of beer, and the pups are so cute they totally deserve $20 worth of treats!” All we can do is learn from it, and do better next week.

How about you guys, did you have a great week or a learning week?

Budget Epicurean: Health Coaching

 

Dear Readers,

Exciting news! The Budget Epicurean has been pursuing an Integrated Health Coach certificate through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition this past year, we are about halfway through. However, between online schooling, a new career move, and an upcoming wedding, my plate has been overflowing!

Down side is, I will have to cut back my blogging to once weekly for now. I will do my best to post the best material and/or recipes each week, on Sunday. Once the workload eases I may try to switch back to my 3-per-week posting schedule. But don’t fear, there is still a very large archive of fabulous BE stories and recipes to be perused at your leisure.

This site is a treasure trove of Vegetarian meal ideas, creative Beverages, Slow Cooker recipes, my signature “Less Than Five” section, and informative posts on a wide variety of topics. Search any term and see what you might find.

I am excited to announce that I am now offering Free Health History Consultations! This means you fill out a 2-3 page form, then email me and we can talk over the phone (or in person if you’re lucky enough to live in CT!) and see if Health Coaching is right for you. See my Health Coaching page for more info.

Just click on the form below most relevant to you, and save or print it.  Then shoot me an email at BudgetEpicurean @ gmail .com and let me know you want to talk. I’ll contact you and we can go over the form together, to see if there is any area in your life where I can be of support and service.

Women’s Health History Form

Men’s Health History Form

Non-Gendered Health History Form

I can’t wait to help you achieve your healthiest, happiest you!

BE Health Coaching IIN Links

For questions or to request a FREE health history consultation, please email jenhealthcoaching@gmail.com.

How to health-ify pizza

 

Who doesn’t love pizza? Chewy dough, crispy crust, tangy sauce, myriad toppings. I adore pizza in all its many forms. Deep dish, thin crust, stuffed crust, veggie, pockets, rolls.

The problem is that chain pizza is really not healthy. We all know this. Mountains of cheese, grease that literally drips from each slice, fatty processed meats as the most popular toppings, and dough made with bleached white flour.

However, most people do not want to make a cauliflower crust, with ground flax and chia seed, all-veggie pizza with no sauce and kale.

There must be some middle ground.

Turns out there is! Good news, you can have you pie and eat it too. (Pizza pie that is) If you really have a craving, go ahead and order that $5 hot and ready. But every little step you take to healthify it will contribute to your long-term overall health.

Simply start with the addition of 1 cup of vegetables to your meal every day, and your body will thank you. It’s easier than you think!

Besides adding good stuff, you can also cut down on the not-so-good stuff. Try one step each time, and see which suit your tastes. Over time, your taste buds will become used to less and less fat and salt, and will come to appreciate new flavors.

Here are some tips:

  • Ask for half the amount of cheese, or no cheese at all
  • Opt for vegetable toppings like mushroom, onion, and spinach rather than bacon, sausage, or pepperoni
  • Make pizza at home with store-bought or preferably from scratch dough and fresh vegetables (a great way to clean the fridge!)
  • Just have one slice, and add a bowl of soup or salad to the meal
  • Buy a plain pizza (which will save you money too) and top with your own grilled vegetables at home
    • Topping ideas: wilted spinach, steamed kale, red bell peppers, sliced onions, banana peppers, microwaved sweet potato slices, cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini, squash, tomatoes

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Do you have any ideas of your own on how to health-ify pizza?

Acorn Squash Mac-n-cheese

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This is a recipe similar to one I have shared earlier on how to make Butternut Squash Mac-n-cheese. You could probably substitute in any winter squash you have on hand for the sauce. The acorn squash here gives it a subtly sweet flavor, and packs in TONS of fiber and extra vitamins. Try adding some squash to your mac n cheese, I bet the kids won’t even know!
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Ingredients:
  • 1/2 acorn squash
  • 1 box macaroni and cheese
  • 1 cup spinach

Step 1: Cut the acorn squash in half and roast, cut sides down, on a pan with 1 inch of water at 350 for 1-1.5 hours. Or you can microwave, cut side down, on high for 10 minutes, flip and 10 more minutes.

Step 2: Use a fork or spoon to pull the flesh out of the cooked sqash and mash it or put through a blender.

Step 3: Make your macaroni, and in the last minute of boiling add the spinach. Drain and add the cheese sauce.

Step 4: Stir in the squash, top with an extra sprinkle of cheese or breadcrumbs, and serve!

Barley & Kale Veggie Salad

 

Fall is the time for bumper crops of kale. As the current “It” vegetable, we know all about how healthy kale is for you. But even though kale chips are amazing, sauteed kale in greens makes a great side dish, and Zuppa Toscana is a definite crowd-pleasing soup, sometimes you need a new way to enjoy this power green. If you like light, fresh, great-cold-or-room-temp dishes, this baby’s a winner!

I’ve been meaning to try more grain and veggie salads, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to do so. Kale is on sale for 0.99 per bunch, organic! You can’t pass up that kind of deal. So with a fridge full of kale and a hankering for something new, I made up this recipe. It turned out fabulous! The combination of tomato and cucumber and onion crunch with the soft cooked barley and fresh kale leaves is really addicting.

The best part about it? It makes a crap-ton, and per 2 cups is under 100 calories! So you can stuff yourself on this all you like and feel good about it. Have it for lunch, as an afternoon snack, before dinner to dull the appetite. There really isn’t a bad time for this.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch kale, rinsed, torn and stems removed
  • 1/4 red onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 cucumber, rinsed, skin-on, diced
  • 2-3 large tomatoes, diced
  • 2-3 green onions, chopped
  • 1 cup barley
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • Salt & pepper to taste

 

Step 1: Cook the barley in 1 1/2 cups water by bringing to a boil, then lowering to a simmer. Cover, and cook 20-30 minutes, until all water is absorbed and barley is soft. Add more water if needed during cooking. Let cool.

 

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Step 2: Chop all your veggies and place in a large bowl. Mix the oil and vinegars, and salt & pepper if using. Pour over the veggies.

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Step 3: Combine the cooled barley with the veggies and mix well. Now you have a giant side dish, snacks all week, or a super healthy and vegetarian main course.

 

Rainbow burrito

 

Burritos are one of my favorite ways to sneak in extra vegetables. Because you can’t really see them, you can put all kinds of rainbow goodies in there and help your heart and health with little effort.

Obviously, sub in 1 cup of whatever veggies you have on hand. This is what I had, and it made a pretty breakfast.

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 strips red bell pepper
  • 1 slice turkey bacon
  • 1-2 strips orange bell pepper
  • 2 eggs, scrambled
  • 1-2 strips green bell pepper
  • 2 med purple cauliflower florets
  • 1 10 inch tortilla

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Step 1: In a frying pan, saute the veggies until soft when poked with a fork.

Step 2: Add the eggs, and cook 5-7 minutes, stirring every so often, until everything is cooked.

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Step 3: Pour it onto a warm tortilla and wrap it up, tucking in the ends. You can add in sriracha or other sauces if you like. Enjoy!

Vegan vegetable stew

 

This is a recipe born of necessity while house-sitting for a friend. I was feeding and playing with the puppy, and got hungry. She had said I can use anything in the house, so I took stock of the pantry and fridge and came up with this.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup orange lentils
  • 1/2 purple cabbage, shredded
  •  2 leaves kale, shredded
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp mustard
  • 1 cup rice

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Step 1:Dice all the veggies. Put into a pot with 2 cups of water and the coconut milk. Stir in mustard.

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Step 2: Simmer, covered, for 60-90 minutes. Meanwhile, cook rice in a separate pot.

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Step 3: When lentils are fully cooked, season as you like. Serve over rice.

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This curry is crazy healthy for you and you wouldn’t know by how delicious it is! There are infinite additions you could make too, such as using broth with the coconut milk, adding in shredded chicken or sausage, or varying the type of vegetable or bean. You could also make this in a small crock pot on low for 2-3 hours. Enjoy!

8 Ways to Work Out Without Whipping Out Your Credit Card

 

We all know that our health is our greatest asset. I hope. Health is one of two things you can never get back; that and time. We are only given one body and one life to live. Enjoy what your body can do, use it, and work it out.

“Working out” tends to become a bit of a curse word with some people. They hear that and immediately get exhausted. You think: ‘I don’t have time’ or ‘I don’t have energy’ or ‘I can’t afford a gym’. But all these excuses are just that: excuses. Working out doesn’t have to cost any money at all. And working out can be fun.

Think back to when you were a kid. You went outside and played with friends. Maybe you had bike races or foot races, played basketball or softball, rolled in leaves and climbed trees. Hopscotch, jump rope, kickball, four square. All of these things get you moving, in a way that is fun. As adults, we need to re-discover “play time“.

My friend in college and our box fort
My friend in college and the box fort we built in our apartment.

As a society, we have become more and more sedentary as life becomes full of conveniences. We get out of bed to go sit in the car to go sit at a desk to then sit in the car to come home to sit on the couch. There is no hunting and gathering, building our own houses, gardening, running from danger. This has lead to the greatest health threats and most dire health situation humanity has know. We hear every day about the ‘obesity epidemic’ and how diabetes is on the rise.

You have the power to change that. You have the power over your own body and your own life.

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There are tons of cheap-to-free ways to work out. I’ll list them in order of free to most expensive:

1. Walking: The simplest and easiest way to do wonders for your health. Walking takes no money at all, can be done at any time, anywhere, and you can start at any comfort level. If all you can manage is to the end of the driveway and back, great, start there. If you already walk a half hour after dinner, awesome! Walking has been shown scientifically to be so beneficial for all things health related, there is no reason not to start right now!

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2. Jogging: Only slightly more challenging than walking. Start with walking, then once you can comfortably walk for 30 minutes, pick up the pace for a minute or two. If you like jogging, increase it until you can run a 5K. Who knows how far you can go! The only costs will be a good pair of shoes if you start doing longer runs.

3. Body weight exercises: this includes things like yoga and pilates, push-ups, jumping jacks, planks, crunches, squats. You can drop a few bucks on a yoga mat or something like that. Look online for ideas and free videos to demonstrate. You can get a great full-body workout for free in your own home.

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Image from the very informative website of Bret Contreras, the “Glute Guy”

4. Workout videos: This is borderline because you can find free videos online, or you can buy workout DVDs. Totally your choice. There is a HUGE amount of workout resources free online, just Google ‘videos’ and the type of workout you’re looking for, or check out one of the Top 30 YouTube channels for free workouts. These can be done on your own time in the comfort of your living room.

5. Bands/weights: This category can be very frugal if you pick up a used set of light free weights at a yard sale or Goodwill, or very pricey if you want to invest in a bench and full weights set. Again, your call. Make sure you consult an expert or at least look up information on proper form so you don’t injure yourself if you’re new to weights.

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6. Sports: Playing a club sport for fun or competition is a great way to have fun while working out, and as a bonus you can meet new people and make new friends. Check out the website of your local sports centers or Google sports that you enjoy in your area. This could be free or cheap, costing you just an application fee, or you could sink a few hundred dollars into new gear. Up to you.

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7. Classes: For this you can check Craigslist or Groupon for free or cheap classes offered near you. Or you can usually buy a single class or set of classes from a gym for a discount. Just look for fliers or ask around, you never know what neat new skill you might learn, and the friends you might make. Take a chance and try something new!

8. A gym membership: Typically the most expensive option, it does come with benefits. Most gyms do offer a free pass, or discounted first months membership if you want to just try it out. You will have access to weights, machines, and classes you otherwise might not. They usually have staff to help you use machines properly, or you could invest in personal training. Make sure you will get your moneys worth though, and actually show up.

In the end, it all comes down to the greatest exercise being one you enjoy and will consistently do. If you don’t move your body, you won’t get the benefits. Find ways to make it fun, buy a used bicycle, try kick-boxing, enlist some family or friends for a weekly stroll in the park. The options are endless once you really think about it and look.

And it all comes down to you. Why should you work out? Sure, it’s nice to look hot. Sure, it’s nice to have visible muscles. But the ultimate goal of health is just that: to be healthy. To have energy to play with your kids, to not get winded walking up stairs, to be able to lift boxes to help a friend move.

To live a longer, healthier, happier life.

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Now stop reading this and go move! =)

 

Less than 5: Honey Sweet Potato Snack

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Happy almost 4th of July! Whether you are having a small family get-together, a backyard BBQ, or going out to a picnic-and-fireworks party, enjoy our independence from the Crown and be safe! I’m sure there are overwhelming amounts of recipes involving burgers, apple pie, and anything red white or blue flooding the internet. So I went another way: to highlight a simple, humble veggie that I think doesn’t get enough attention.

Little bright orange jewels, so good for your health, sweet potatoes are more than a Thanksgiving side dish. Any time of the year, they can add nutrients and fiber to your diet and become an easy side dish or snack, even a main dish or dessert.

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Sweet potatoes are one of nature’s best sources of beta-carotene, the provitamin-A carotenoid. And an adequate supply of Vitamin A ensures  proper growth and development, immune system function, and healthy eyesight. Vitamin A deficiency is estimated to affect roughly 1/3 of children under the age of 5 worldwide, leading to developmental problems, eyesight deficiencies, and blindness. However Vitamin A is fat-soluble, not water-soluble, which makes it harder for your body to get rid of excess, leading to the possibility of toxicity if over-supplemented. Always ask a doctor or physician before starting a supplement regimen.

Not all sweet potatoes are orange, they can also be purple due to anthocyanin pigments. These molecules have important antioxidant properties and anti-inflammatory properties. World’s Healthiest Foods states: “Particularly when passing through our digestive tract, they may be able to lower the potential health risk posed by heavy metals and oxygen radicals.”

They also clear up the common confusion: sweet potato vs. yam. They can be very similar in terms of size, shapes, and skin colors, though they both come in a variety of flesh colors. Turns out, sweet potatoes are FAR more common in the US than are yams, so at a store it is pretty safe to assume you are buying a sweet potato, even if a sign says “yams”.

Anywho, sweet potatoes were on sale, and I wanted to incorporate more into my diet, so I bought a few. Luckily they keep for a long time so I could figure out what to do with it. Turns out, these can be the simplest snack ever. Simply take one to work with you, and whenever you need a tide-me-over between lunch and quittin time, or breakfast and end-of-board-meeting, pop it in the microwave, top as you please, and you have a filling, healthy snack. This is a sweet treat, though you could go savory instead with, say, goat cheese.

Ingredients:

  • 1 small-med sweet potato
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • -or- 1 tbsp sugar + 1 tsp cinnamon

So simple, just stab the potato a few times with a fork to let steam escape. Microwave the potato for 8-10 minutes, until soft. Break it open, drizzle on some honey, and enjoy! With about 100 calories per cup, this is a super healthy choice all around.

Try using sweet potatoes anywhere you would use regular potatoes for extra fiber and vitamins. Make sweet potato chips, roast chunks in the oven as a side dish, boil and mash them with some brown sugar and butter (just be careful of amounts, it’s easy to overwhelm the health benefits with sugar and fat!), throw some into soups, stews, and curries. See how you can creatively add some sweet potatoes into your 4th of July festivities!


 

Turkey & Veggie Tacos

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Tacos are always a popular meal choice. They are great for so many reasons:
  • Frugal – use up whatever meat or vegetables are in the house
  • Green – use up vegetables before they go bad & reduce waste
  • Customizable – you can please meat eaters and vegetarians
  • Healthy – easy to add tons of extra veggies and fiber with beans
Unfortunately, tacos are also very easy to go overboard with and make into fatty cholesterol nightmares. If you use fatty ground beef and heap on cheese and sour cream, your arteries will not thank you. The good news is, there are simple swaps you can make that don’t have a huge impact on overall taste but will have an impact on how huge your waistline is in 20 years….
  • Use ground turkey, pork, or chicken instead of beef
  • Better yet, don’t use meat at all! Use tofu or lots of beans instead
  • Make sure to cram in as many sneaky veggies as possible
  • Swap unflavored Greek yogurt for sour cream
These simple switches seem small, but have big long-term impact. You don’t have to go cold-turkey health nut all at once. Try one at a time and see what works for you.
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These turkey tacos are super-charged with healthy greens and multiple veggies. But once rolled up in a warm tortilla, you would never know there is so little fat and far fewer calories than your typical taco. My meat eater s.o. even had to admit that they are delicious!
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Ingredients:
1 pound ground turkey
1 tortilla
1 onion, diced
1 cup diced bell peppers
1/2 head kale
Refried beans
1/2 cup cooked rice
1 tbsp plain Greek yogurt
Sprinkle shredded cheese
Seasoning: garlic salt, cumin, Nature’s Season
Step 1: Brown the ground turkey in a pan. While that is cooking, dice up your veggies. You could use whatever vegetables are in season and that you like, try eggplant, asparagus, spinach, sweet potato…
Step 2: Drain the grease from the meat and season it to your liking. Add in the veggies, hardest ones first. Cook until onion and peppers are soft, and kale is wilted.
Step 3: Open a can of refried beans, or make your own. Heat up in a frying pan or microwave.
Step 4: Warm up a tortilla in the microwave for 10-30 seconds. Layer on the turkey and veggies, 1/4 cup cooked rice, a few tbsp of beans, 1 tbsp Greek yogurt, and a sprinkle of shredded cheddar. Roll it up and enjoy! Alternatively you could use a hard taco shell, or spread over tortilla chips as a fun appetizer.
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Tacos are so endlessly customizable. I love topping mine with salsa, guac, diced avocado, lettuce, spinach, black beans, shredded carrots… the possibilities are endless. They can be extremely frugal too, rice, beans, and tortillas are all easily found for under $1, and make a very filling and healthy meal. It’s super easy to make them vegetarian or vegan too.
What’s your favorite taco toppings?