Tag Archives: produce

Weekly Eating – 3/11/19 thru 3/22/19

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!

 

Whoops, missed a week there! Sorry guys. We’ve got a lot and not a lot going on at the same time.

The coop is making steady progress. We got 4 pallets for free, plus some dumpster-diving got me a half sheet of plywood. For about $40 I bought a roll of hardware wire and chicken wire, and all we need is nails, staples, and time.

quail coop in progress

The frame is built and the floor is braced and wired, we just need a run for some hinges and a way to keep the door shut. Then the final pieces are putting on the door and roof, and the babies have somewhere to move to when they are no longer babies (which is like, in 2 weeks!)

coop with wire flooring

They have grown so much bigger, and have upgraded to a larger feeder. They are also on a mix of chick and regular flock food, and I use a bigger mason jar for their waterer. They’ve begun to start jumping and bouncing, and trying out their wings. And we had our first escapee when I opened the screen to feed them the other day!

two week old quail

And we (i.e. just the boy) have started adding back in food groups to see if any spark reactions. We had cut out everything but meat, fruit, vegetables, and nuts & seeds. He added back in grains first, and had oatmeal, my homemade bread, and pasta all in one day. No problem.

homemade bread

Then dairy, so I stocked up on kefir, milk, butter, and plain Greek yogurt. Made a huge pan of the tastiest mac n cheese you ever saw. Again, no problems. He did say that he missed dairy way less than he thought he would, so that’s nice. Corn is back, without issue. I think soy is the only thing left, and we don’t use much added sugar products anyhow so I don’t mind permanently dropping those. He will go back to adding honey to tea, for instance.

amazing mac n cheese

Gardening

The seedlings I started have not come up yet. I am concerned that this week of 30-s overnight will kill them… it gets quite hot inside during the day, but not if there is no sunshine. Come on, actual spring! I need warmth so my fig can finally go in the ground.

greenhouse with fig tree

On the bright side, I found some surprises in the garden. I had planted some brassicas and root veggies last fall, but they are super slow growing due to next to no sunlight… and they overwintered quite nicely, such that I may actually get to harvest some kale, cabbage, carrots, and/or radishes soon!

daikon radish

And, this is the first year I have annual flowers coming up. I bought three packs of bulbs on clearance last fall, and planted them even thought it was a bit late in the season. I figured, why not. And now, all these lovely irises and hyacinths and tulips are coming up! It makes me very very happy.

purple flowers

Food Swap

March’s Food Swap was awesome, it was at Hi Wire Brewery in Durham. I had never been, so I was pleasantly surprised with how huge it was, all the indoor lawn games, crazy wall art, and delicious beers on tap. It was Spring Break for UNC and Duke, so it was blessedly empty of students. AND on Mondays they sell a LITER of their own beer for $7!

I made pickled quail eggs the week prior in expectation, one batch turmeric and one batch beet pickled. It was like Easter come early with the fun egg colors. I also took a few jars of my candied orange peels.

turmeric and beet pickled quail eggs

I ended up going home with a half dozen chicken and a half dozen goose eggs, some jam, garlic pickles, homemade yogurt, Irish Car Bomb cupcakes, enzymatic orange cleaner, beef jerky, and preserved lemons! Quite a bounty.

March 2019 Food Swap

Breakfasts:

Egg sandwiches – since I got oodles of eggs and also my quail keep giving me at least 2 a day, we eat more eggs now than ever before. And what better way than on homemade bread?

sausage egg sandwich

Cinnamon sugar toast – speaking of homemade bread, if you’ve never had cinnamon sugar toast on hot out the oven bread, you need to get you some right away! It’s magical.

cinnamon sugar toast

Breakfast burritos – you can see why grains were the first thing the boy wanted to add back. It brings things like toast, pasta, and wraps

breakfast tacos

Snacks:

Apple with almond butter & raisins –this has definitely become my top favorite snack. It is great for the morning, when it’s ten and I will die if I have to wait one more hour for food, or afternoon when it’s 2 or 3 pm and I need a lil something to tide me over until dinner. Peanut butter works too, but I prefer almond.

sliced apple with almond butter and raisins

Nut bars – I’m glad a friend with a Costco membership let us go with them once and buy a ginormous box of these bars. I have one in every bag, car, coat, and purse, and it has saved me more than once.

Kirkland nut bar

Gummy bears – another Costco purchase. I know these are in no way healthy for me. And we also didn’t realize until we got home and opened it that they are not a huge bag of gummies, but a billion individually wrapped packages of like 5. I was crushed. Wasteful and full of HFCS… no use crying over spilt milk, they’re already bought and opened so now we gotta eat them all.

gummy bears

Lunches:

Greek salad – Been trying to get more salads into my daily diet, and to make it more interesting I opened a jar of kalamata olives, and combined with grape tomatoes and cucumber from my Produce Boxes, made a couple delicious Greek salads.

Greek salad

Stuffed potatoes – I had some cheese sauce left from the mac n cheese, so we did a baked potato and sweet potato bar. Mmmmm.

stuffed sweet potato

Lentil soup – lentil soup is super quick, easy, and good for you. It’s a perfect “kitchen sink” meal, because you can toss in whatever veggies or herbs need to be used up soon. This one had celery, carrots, leftover mashed potato, onion, and kale.

lentil soup

Dinners:

Pesto pasta – pesto is one of my all time favorite ways to get anyone to eat greens, and use up any leafies or herbs that are wilty. Things I’ve successfully mixed into pesto: basil, parsley, cilantro, kale, spinach, collard greens.

pesto pasta with shrimp and sausage

Colcannon – we went all-in on the Irish for St. Patty’s Day. We are not Irish by heritage but you know I love me a good food holiday. I made a corned beef brisket and some colcannon, which is basically mashed potatoes with cabbage in it. I’ve heard you can also use kale. It’s a great way to sneak in veggies.

corned beef and colcannon

Taco bowl – since it’s starting to warm up and finally feel like spring some days, we’ve been eating outside on the weekends. Once rice was allowed back, and tortillas, you better believe burritos are back in full force too. And I keep adding in salads.

burrito bowl and salad

Lentil sloppy joes/janes – one of my alltime favorite vegan meals, these are so easy to prepare and crazy healthy for you. I told my grandma I ate mine with pickles and sauerkraut and evidently that is insane? What do you put on a sloppy joe?

lentil sloppy joes

AYCE Sushi – got a bunch of friends who love sushi as much as I go together and went out to RocknRolls sushi! It’s a conveyor belt style all you can eat place, for $12. I love it so much. We put down 73 plates worth of sushi and sashimi.

towers of plates

Food Total: $206.68

Weekly Produce Box = the Harvest Box 2 weeks in a row. Winter strawberries grown in high tunnels, green beans, blueberries, lettuce, cucumber, zucchini, grape tomatoes, corn, onion, sweet potatoes, and purple cauliflower!

the produce box harvest box the produce box harvest box

I’ve started baking bread again, and we’ve gone through about three loaves in a week 1/2! So when flour was on sale for under a buck, I was not about to let that pass me by. I stocked up on some sugar free sausages and a few roasts, plus some organic cheeses and dairy for adding those back. Most of the produce we got from the boxes.

4.92 lb brisket colby & cheddar brick cheese 3lb flour x3 3lb mandarins
pork sausage patties Greek yogurt dipper chips
Bananas 2 bunch
85/15 ground turkey Fairlife milk & choc milk flax wraps
Simply orange juice
2lb peeled shrimp Plain kefir canned tomatoes
Canned diced pineapple 2
lunch meat Kerrygold org slice cheese
grapeseed oil for mayo
Angus sirloin 3lb Org raisins
2lb brown rice
Dry chickpeas x4 lb
Flour 5lb x2
Sugar 4lb

 

Lessons Learned

Cooking from scratch is always the best. The boy could have bread back because I made it, and without added sugar. I tried to find bread at the store that didn’t have honey, or sugar, or high fructose corn syrup, and it was impossible. But also, convenience foods have a place in life. Sometimes when you’re super busy or just not in the mood to cook, it’s really nice to have something you can just pull out and microwave or otherwise not think too hard.

That’s why I try to make my own “fast food”. I batch cook a huge portion of black beans, or pinto beans, or rice, and have it in the fridge or freezer ready to go. Then you just pull out a tortilla or bowl and pile things in and you have ready to go food! And especially with the boy, he will eat whatever is the absolute fastest and easiest. So the easier I make healthy eating (cutting up fruits and veggies ahead of time, portioning out healthy meals into individual containers) the more likely we will eat healthy.

 

 

 

How about you guys? Did you have a learning week or an awesome week of wins?

Weekly Eating – 10/8/18

 

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!

 

The weekend was a blast! I got to meet and hang out with Steveark and wife, and give them a nice walking tour of Durham, to which they are thinking about moving. And they I led an actual Food Tour of Durham, made new friends, and tried all the foods. I definitely had well over 10K steps!

little dipper durham food tour

Sunday was a quiet home day, with lots of reading and kitchen time. I made a big spinach quiche, and some homemade rolls for the week. We also finally got house cleaners to deep clean from Bro Week, and It Is Worth Every Penny.

Monday:

Breakfast – spinach quiche

spinach quiche

Lunch – leftover mashup: some lentils from sloppy joes & veggie fried rice mixed together

leftover lentils and rice

Dinner – pasta with blender pesto

pasta with pesto

Tuesday:

Breakfast – spinach quiche

Lunch – I baked a few sweet potatoes in my pressure cooker and packed them with black beans, spinach and pickled onions & radish. Garlic hummus and veggies for a snack.

baked sweet potato and black beans

Dinner – these Crispy Spinach Gnocchi with Sage Butter

crispy spinach gnocchi

Wednesday:

Breakfast – fruit smoothie

fruit smoothie and coffee

Lunch – more baked sweet potato and black beans. Yogurt & moon grapes as a snack.

baked sweet potato and black beans

Dinner – Thai Carrot  & Sweet Potato soup in the pressure cooker

thai carrot and sweet potato soup

With some quick flatbread to eat it with. Drizzle in some hot sauce, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and a dollop of Greek yogurt. YUM.

thai carrot and sweet potato soup

Thursday:

Breakfast – peppers & onion 2 egg omelet w pastured eggs <3

pepper and onion omelette

Lunch – pressure cooker stuffed red peppers with couscous and lentils. I learned an important lesson: pressure cookers cook FAST. Ten minutes turned the peppers to mush.

stuffed red peppers with couscous and lentil

Dinner – Date Night! We had red wine braised steak with roasted root veggies and listened to the storm.

steak and root veggies with red wine

Friday:

Breakfast – peppers and onions and egg burrito

Lunch – leftovers and more moon grapes

leftover meat and veggies

Dinner – Leftover beef & veg soup with rolls

leftover beef veg soup

The Weekend

sweet potatoes from the garden

I GOT SWEET POTATOES!!! If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you already know I’m pretty excited about it. There is no cooler feeling than pulling up handfuls of food you grew yourself.

sweet potatoes from the garden

I also found an amazing farm called Nature’s Roots Farm that offers tons of pastured meat and dairy options. Yes, I believe your diet should be mainly plants. Yes I think CAFOs and factory farmed meat and dairy is awful for you, the animals, and the planet. Yes I think you can survive off just plants forever, and thrive.

petting a cow

But I also think these are some happy cows. This is some well managed pasture. They are well-loved pigs, and a healthier forest because of it. I think this kind of meat is good for the planet, the animals, and the people who choose to eat it.

Fillaree refill

I further voted with my dollars for zero waste, Earth friendly processes by stopping by local business Fillaree for a hand soap refill! They sell soaps in glass bottles, and refill from large bulk tanks in store. It’s all natural and organic ingredients, and naturally smells fantastic (I chose the Lime Lavender scent).

Yes, it’s five dollars, for which I could get five bottles at the Dollar Tree. But I choose to support local Durham based family business, and eco-smart, waste free practices.

fall garden planning

I also got the last of the fall garden items in the ground. Since I ripped up the sweet potato vines that were taking up all the garden real estate, I had SO MUCH space to work with. It may be a bit too late in the season for some of these, but I’m hopeful at least some of these cool-loving crops will bring me something edible.

fall garden planting

Lovely rows of winter wheat, kale, chard, collards, radish, carrots, spinach, and beets. Let’s see what comes up!

 

Food Total: 24.46 + 86.15

My usual Produce Box delivery, plus a cooler full of farm fresh pastured milk, cheese, sausage, and brisket.

Lessons Learned

Living holistic values can be overall more expensive, for sure. But it tastes so good! It smells great. IT FEELS AMAZING. It’s worth it.

 

 

 

How about you guys? Did you have a learning week or an awesome week of wins?

 

 

Weekly Eating – 7/30/18

 

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!

 

Last week I got a big ol box of tomatoes from Whitaker Farms. This weekend I finally got the time to make a huge batch of my easy peasy blender sauce, and canned 2 huge quarts and several pints. I LOVE homemade tomato sauce so much! The sweetness and complex flavors of locally grown organic tomatoes just can’t be beat.

budget epicurean weekly eating

And since I’m visiting my sister this weekend (more about that below) and she recently learned she has an intolerance for gluten, soy, and corn, I am bringing her a jar of sauce (because I know exactly what is in it) and tried my hand at a new gluten-free noodles recipe using almond flour and tapioca flour. I have no idea if these noodles will hold together or taste good, but at least I tried!

budget epicurean weekly eating

 

Monday:

Breakfast – fruit smoothie with watermelon, local peaches, banana, and blueberries + flax & amla

Lunch – half batch of tuna salad as lettuce wraps, plus some raw veggies and hummus

budget epicurean weekly eating

Snack – cut up fruits

Dinner – I did a crazy clean-out-the-fridge veggie burger with a Turkish twist. I had some roasted beets, leftover cooked potatoes, pinto beans and brown rice. So I tossed it all in the blender with spices and some flax to bind it, and make it into 8 patties, which I lightly fried in coconut oil.

budget epicurean weekly eating

I had some leftover pita bread and tzatziki sauce, and stewed some fresh veggies and cashews in Za’atar and curry powder. It turned out AMAZING all together! Cleaning out the fridge is a great frugal strategy, veggie meals can be truly outstanding, and it prevents food waste, all things that I love.

Tuesday:

Breakfast – Peaches & Cream oatmeal. 1/ cup oats, 1 cut up peach, 3 diced dried apricots, 1 cup almond milk, handful of walnuts. The walnuts added a bit too many calories, so I won’t use them again.

budget epicurean weekly eating

Lunch – leftover shrimp and broccoli fettuccini

Snack – more fruit!

Dinner – Wheat penne with the homemade sauce <3 I steamed some broccoli and cauliflower on the side.

Wednesday:

Breakfast – another round of Peaches & Cream oatmeal, sans walnuts

Lunch – the rest of the curry vegetables and brown rice. Cauliflower, bell pepper, onions, garlic, and fresh tomato. YUM.

budget epicurean weekly eating

Dinner – Chipotle was giving away free guac today only, so of course we had to jump on that! Chipotle is definitely both of our favorite ‘eat-out’ places. The flavor cannot be beat, and I’ve tried to make the chicken and the rice. It is never quite right.

budget epicurean weekly eating

Thursday:

Breakfast – cheerios, because sometimes I just don’t wanna

Lunch – leftover Chipotle. Another reason I love them is because it is almost always enough for 2 meals for me, so basically like half price and I get to eat it twice in a row.

budget epicurean weekly eating

Snack – no way, more fruit?!? 🙂

Dinner – The boy had a tiny bit of ground beef left from making himself burritoes for lunch, and I was craving some warm soup to go with the icky rain. So I tossed together a cup of rice, some stock from the fridge, frozen mixed veggies, and the beef. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 30 minutes. Boom, easy peasy and super cheap comfort food.

budget epicurean weekly eating

Friday:

Breakfast – fruit smoothie with watermelon, pineapple, cantaloupe, and cherry juice, plus frozen blueberries and banana

budget epicurean weekly eating

Lunch – canned soup from my desk at work, because I didn’t have any pre-made leftovers today.

Dinner – on the road!

The Weekend

I’m driving to Ohio this weekend for a wedding shower.

Yup. I agree with you, I am crazy.

It’s about a 10 hours drive both ways. But family. Ya know.

I packed a cooler with some road snacks, granola bars, PBJs, bottled water (re-useable bottles, don’t worry). Hopefully I can make it without giving into temptation for fast food, but who knows. I’m going to give myself grace and roll with whatever happens this weekend. Plus my mom doesn’t know, so it will be a total surprise to her. I can’t wait to see her face. 🙂

Food Total: $27.03

This week I did not go to the grocery store at all! It went by in a blur actually. I meant to go Wednesday but then it was monsooning. Then I was going to go Thursday, but the rain was even worse. So we scrounged and figured it out and it worked out. The produce delivery box was more than enough to get us by combined with what’s in the pantry.

Lessons Learned

Apparently I have far more food in the house than I even realized. We didn’t go to the grocery store this week and barely even noticed. I may be able to spread out grocery shopping to every other week soon, and just stock up on enough yogurt and bananas to get the boy through to the next trip.

Also I need to get back to batch cooking on the weekends again. I’ve been lax on planning and prepping, as summer is just plain crazy. We are definitely gone more weekends than we are here, and weekends are when I have the time, energy, and mental space to do these things. So I’ve been scrounging for lunch and snacks lately, and had a few ‘what the heck do I make for dinner’ moments. Those prepped “food, fast” meals are definitely required.

 

 

 

How about you guys? Did you have a learning week or an awesome week of wins?

Weekly Eating – 7/23/18

 

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!

 

Having the in-laws in town was really great. I’m lucky that they are awesome and we enjoy spending time together. We explored the area, did some shopping, went for walks, cooked good food and went out a few times, and they helped us fix our fence that got smashed in a storm a few weeks ago.

budget epicurean fence fix
The big ol tree that did the smashing is still there next to the fence on the right.

I’ve also decided that I need to get back to my pre-cruise diet habits. I’ve gotten quite lazy about working out (i.e. I don’t…) and more generous in portion sizes, and it’s showing on the scale and in the fit of my pants lately. I hate it.

But it’s all my own doing.

Since I’m tracking other things anyways (like our trash) I started tracking calories on my Fitbit app again. And have been consistently over-shooting my target range by 300-500 calories… whoops. That explains a lot.

So, after we work our way through the silly amounts of leftovers (am I the only one that ends up with infinite leftovers when family comes to visit?) meals will get more boring for me.

 

Monday:

Breakfast – a peach Almond milk yogurt

Lunch – leftovers from the weekend

Dinner – shrimp garlic fettuccini with broccoli & cauliflower

Tuesday:

Breakfast – homemade wheat toast with raspberry jam

Lunch – leftover turkey gyro & fries

Snack – 1 peach, 2 matcha energy balls from a previous food trade

budget epicurean weekly eating

Dinner – Leftover sopas from the weekend. Sopas are a super easy corn pancake basically, then you top with whatever toppings you like. I had pinto beans, guac, tomato, a tiny bit of pulled pork, and lettuce.

Tonight was also a Bull City Food Swap, to which I took my pickled watermelon rind, and some fresh rosemary garlic bread.

In exchange, I brought home Cherry Rum Jam, 6 oz fresh smoked bacon, spicy and garlic dill pickles, gingersnaps, “British flapjacks” and the happy feeling of making several new friends. 🙂

budget epicurean weekly eating

Wednesday:

Breakfast – 2 slices of homemade wheat bread with 1 tbsp PB & jelly

Lunch – Big salad with avocado, cucumber, and tomato

budget epicurean weekly eating

Dinner – we went out with a couple from work to a Mexican place, and got some delicious fried things with beans and rice and all the fixings. I swear, my diet starts tomorrow…

Snack – a peach

Thursday:

Breakfast – fruit smoothie with watermelon, mango, banana, flax, and amla powder

budget epicurean weekly eating

Lunch – tuna salad sandwich and peach & tomato salsa

Dinner – pinto beans & brown rice with steamed cauliflower, broccoli, and corn on the cob

budget epicurean weekly eating

Friday:

Breakfast – green tea matcha latte

Lunch – leftover tofu alfredo. Seriously some of the best alfredo I’ve ever had, ridiculously healthy, and tons of protein. This needs to be a staple in our meals. Also you can see the hand towel I brought to work peeking into the corner of the photo 🙂 This has been awesome to wipe my fingers after lunch, and dry my hands after washing.

budget epicurean weekly eating

Dinner – we had some people over for games, bonfire, and fun. I didn’t have time to eat dinner beforehand, so food ended up being all the snacks: pepper jelly cheese dip, chili cheese dip, raw veggies and hummus, and chips and my soon-to-be-famous Carolina Reaper Salsa! I made a new triple batch with fresh peppers, and a whole pint disappeared easily.

budget epicurean weekly eating

The Weekend

This weekend was supposed to have a food tour, but it ended up getting cancelled. That’s okay by me. We have a huuuuuuuge pile of mulch from cutting down some trees that we need to spread all around the various gardens, some weeding to do, watering, and hopefully some harvesting. And of course a big dose of relaxing.

Food Total: $34.73 + $27.51 = $62.24

This week we got our second delivery of a local produce box, and supplemented it with a trip to ALDI. I’m going to give it a few more weeks, and then I’ll tell you all about this service.

$27.51
Dairy $4.18 Staples $10.93 Fruit/Veg $12.40
Almond milk 1.89 Tortillas 4 4.66 Watermelon 2.69
organic hummus 2.29 pita chips 1.99 Pineapple 1.65
blue tortilla chips 1.89 Mini bell peppers 2.39
gallon vinegar 2.39 Mango 0.59
Celery 0.89
Bananas 2.06
Cherries 2.13

I adore ALDI so much for their low prices and no-frills shopping experience, but boy do they love packaging. The produce especially makes me sad now, all the things are individually wrapped.

I get that people want a sanitary food shopping experience, but why do I need peppers wrapped in plastic, apples in plastic, plastic boxes for the fruits and lettuce, styrofoam under my mushrooms and zucchini and jalapenos with more plastic wrapped around it?

I don’t.

Give me my produce naked! The way god intended.

Take that however you like.

Lessons Learned

The process of cutting down on grocery shopping waste is going to be a long one. Tortillas are a not-optional meal staple here, as the boy will wrap literally anything in one and call it dinner. And though I have made my own tortillas, both corn and flour, it is not an easy process. And without a tortilla press, I can’t get them thin enough without breaking or sticking to my counters.

Another part of the process will be having ‘convenience’ foods on hand at all times. We decided to have people over pretty last minute (like, barely 24 hours in advance last minute) so I did not have time to make things that require forethought, like homemade hummus which requires overnight soaking.

So perhaps I need to rethink the freezer situation. Once we work our way through all the things still waiting inside and empty it out more, I’m thinking a big batch cooking day is in order. That way I can stock it with pre-prepped things like rice, beans of all sorts, waffles, breads, cookies, granola bars, etc.

 

 

How about you guys? Did you have a learning week or an awesome week of wins?

Weekly Eating – 4/9/18

 

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 – The very last sweet potato biscuit with honey, and the very last crepe with strawberry jam. This was my favorite, why wasn’t I doing jam all along?! Next batch I will know better.

strawberry crepe and sweet potato biscuit with honey

Lunch – Last of the Chana Saag and basmati rice. So healthy, so cheap, so easy, so filling. What’s not to love.

Snack – So remember the whole Starbucks points and stars thing? I had earned enough for a free food or drink item. I save these up until I really need an extra coffee or forgot lunch/breakfast, and today was a 2-coffee day (my FitBit can prove how crap my sleep was!). I saw the Hazelnut coconutmilk mocha last week and wanted it badly. But it’s a “specialty” drink and thus more expensive, so I figured this free rewards was the best way to go.

Well… turns out you cannot redeem rewards at the one near me 🙁 Which I found out, once I got up to the counter, with a huge line behind me… a more iron-willed frugalista would have said thanks and walked away. But I wanted the sugar and caffeine real bad… so I gave in and got one anyways, just the smallest size they have (a Short, btw, in case you want fewer calories! Same # espresso shots, less sugar). At least I still had money on the gift card so I didn’t pay for it per se, and now I know what it tastes like and won’t actually use my free reward on it.

Later in the afternoon I had another CLIF cherry-apple-chia bar. I am even more sad I didn’t buy more because the boy loves them too, and ate half the box! I’m NOT complaining, more fruit in the daily diet is always a good thing. Maybe I need to figure out how to make them.

Dinner – I had two health coaching clients with a time gap between which was too short to make sense to try to go home, so I got to go to my fave Indian restaurant! I got the Aloo something or other, with bell pepper and onion and cauliflower.

Indian aloo gobi cauliflower curry

IT WAS AWESOME and the garlic Naan was manna from heaven. I had to force myself to save half and not inhale it all immediately. Gave me a serious need for more cauliflower in my life.

Tuesday:

Breakfast – Chickpea salad sandwich! I had a batch already made and who says lunch things can’t be breakfast things? Crazy people.

Lunch – Leftover cauliflower and rice and naan. Just as good the second time, if not better.

Snack – Handful of dried prunes. No I’m not an old person I just honestly love their taste and chewiness, what of it?

Dinner – Quinoa with stir fried veggies

Snack #2 – I put out a call for cauliflower suggestions, and Sarah from SmileandConquor reminded me that Buffalo Cauliflower “Wings” are a thing! Boy am I glad she did.

roasted buffalo cauliflower 'wings'

I whipped up a batch immediately, and the boy and I proceeded to demolish a half a head of cauliflower in under 5 minutes.

Wednesday:

Breakfast – Blueberry great grains and soymilk. I was a little leery of dried blueberries, because the ones I’ve had previously were really tough, but they worked in this cereal.

Lunch – 5 Bean Vegan Chili. I made a small batch yesterday and just wasn’t feeling it for dinner, so I packed up the leftovers into single serve containers for lunch for myself and the boy today.

Dinner –Falafel burgers. I had a few cups of chickpeas to use up, and a ton of breadcrumbs. I save the heels and pieces of bread we don’t eat in the freezer until I’ve got a big batch, then roast ’em into breadcrumbs. Saves food waste and means I don’t have to buy them at the store! So I added some spices and called it burgers.

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Snack – I wanted to try out a copycat Larabar recipe, but of course ended up using whatever I had. I blitzed an apple and a half cup of dried craisins in the food processor, and then added cinnamon, salt, almonds, and some dates. Pressed into a thin bar, they were chewy and sweet and a perfect snack. I cut it into 10 bars and refrigerated the 8 I didn’t eat immediately.

Thursday:

Breakfast – Coffee & an apple date bar

Lunch – Salad with quinoa, edamame, frozen peppers and onions, and sprouts with some lemon tahini dressing.

Snack – Whoever brought Reese eggs, I hate you and I love you

Dinner – Peanut noodle stir fry with broccoli, cauliflower, and mushrooms

Friday:

Breakfast – PB&J toast

Lunch – Leftover miso soup from the weekend

Snack – 1 lonely leftover swiss roll, and a fruit bar

Dinner – Ravioli & a salad

The Weekend

This weekend is supposed to be sunny and warm and amazing and I am really excited about it! We are spending Saturday doing some spring cleaning and yard work, and having a little cookout. I need to find our metal kebab skewers for the zucchini and peppers and onions and mushrooms.

Then on Sunday I have a Health Coaching client follow up to start my day, and if I can convince the boy I want to take a long hike. Or, we might finish anything that we didn’t get to Saturday. Or, I could plant another set of beans and peas, or weed the front garden and plant my basil sprouts and marigolds. Maybe we will be lazy and play video games all day. Who knows!

Food Total: $70.80

Not bad for 2 different store stops. This does include the Kroger meat and cheese sales ($1.99/lb ground turkey and $0.99/lb cheese of which we got 4 each) for the boy’s burritos, along with some tofu, plain Greek yogurt that we use instead of sour cream, and oodles of veggies.

Spring mix 5oz 0.99
Brocc/cauli steam mix 12oz 1.69
Clover sprouts 0.79
Green bean, onion, mushroom mix 1.99
zucchini / squash mix 1.99
Cauliflower heads 2 for $2 4
Pitted dates 40 oz 8.99
Anjou pears 2 1.25
Bananas 3 0.86
Shelled org edamame 2 14oz 4
Spinach big box 5.99
bananas 8 1.53
avocado Haas 3 2.07

We also spent about $20 on allergy meds: Benadryl, DayQuil, eye drops. Spring allergies are no joke in the south. Cars literally turn yellow with a coat of pollen, and we stay that way for months. Oh well, I’ll take a yellow car over a white one any day!

Lessons Learned

Harris Teeter does produce markdowns on Tuesdays! Haha sort of kidding… but seriously you should consider checking out your local stores on different days of the week and at different times if you are able. You never know when things you use often will be on clearance. The caveat with produce is you have to be sure you will use it soon, or else need to freeze or otherwise preserve it.

 

How about you guys? Did you have a learning week or an awesome week of wins?

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

 

For those who do not know, late summer is when the garden bounty is rolling in, including tomatoes and herbs like basil. Home gardeners are likely giving away baskets of fresh veggies and herbs to friends, family, and neighbors. Those who know how and have the time & inclination are putting up the excess for the long, cold winter ahead by canning, drying, and freezing.

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I planted a few basil seeds in late April, and had no idea they would take off so well! They were tiny seedlings when I had them in a pot in the window, but when I put them outside they just flourished! Now I have a basil bush just outside my front door. It is wonderfully convenient to just run out and grab a few leaves.

This tomato soup recipe is stunningly simple. Don’t let its simplicity fool you though, it is also amazingly delicious. There is nothing quite so amazing as fresh, local produce simply prepared. Orange goo in a can doesn’t even come close.

With only 3 ingredients, this soup is so easy a five-year-old could probably make it. And, honestly, you don’t even need the basil, you can just make a simple creamy tomato soup by leaving it out. I added it because you can only eat so much pesto in one week. 🙂

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And the final bonus, it is both vegetarian and vegan, as well as gluten free! If you just blended it all, I bet it could be made raw too! It is very healthy, as well as Paleo and Mediterranean. There isn’t a diet I know of on which you cannot eat this soup. If you don’t have or don’t like coconut milk, you can omit it for a regular tomato soup, or use cows milk, almond milk, etc instead.

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 can coconut milk (6-7 oz)
  • 4-5 large ripe tomatoes
  • Handful of basil leaves
  • Optional: olive oil, salt & pepper

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Step 1: Open the coconut milk and mix it up with a spoon. Pour half into a pot and begin heating. Dice up your tomatoes into quarters and add to the pot. Bring to a simmer, and cook for 10-12 minutes.

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Step 2: You can stop here if you don’t mind your soup a little chunky and don’t want to add basil, it has a nice rustic texture at this point. Would be great served with some whole-grain bread. But if you want it creamy and smooth, pop it into the blender and give it a whirl.

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Step 3: Add the handful of basil, and blend again.

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(Note: be sure to have the lid on the blender firmly. Otherwise, you end up with a hot, orange mess all over your stove. Not that I would know from experience…)

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Pour your hot, finished creamy tomato soup into 2 bowls, top with sea salt & black pepper and a drizzle of olive oil if you like. This makes a little less than 1 quart of soup, and can easily be doubled to use the whole can of coconut milk. Simply add more tomatoes.

Enjoy!

Creamy Basil Tomato Soup

Creamy Basil Tomato Soup

Ingredients

  • 1/2 can coconut milk (6-7 oz)
  • 4-5 large ripe tomatoes
  • Handful of basil leaves
  • Optional: olive oil, salt & pepper

Instructions

  1. Open the coconut milk and mix it up with a spoon. Pour half into a pot and begin heating. Dice up your tomatoes into quarters and add to the pot. Bring to a simmer, and cook for 10-12 minutes.
  2. You can stop here if you don't mind your soup a little chunky and don't want to add basil, it has a nice rustic texture at this point. Would be great served with some whole-grain bread. But if you want it creamy and smooth, pop it into the blender and give it a whirl.
  3. Add the handful of basil, and blend again. Pour the hot soup into two bowls, and top with sea salt & black pepper and a drizzle of olive oil if you like. Enjoy with some fresh whole grain bread or a nice green salad.
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Cherry Creek Farmer’s Market

 

If you have been following this blog, it’s no secret that I love fresh produce, and especially summertime farmers markets! And if this is your first visit here, now you know that I love fresh produce! =)

As such, when I moved to Colorado from Ohio, one of my first priorities was finding local markets. There actually was one right on my campus the first summer here. It was super convenient, but unfortunately not enough interest to continue it this summer. So I had to find new places to explore and get my fruits and veggie fix.

Wherever you are, Local Harvest has a great farmers market finder. You can also find farms, and local CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) through their site. In Colorado, I’m so thankful that people love fresh, local produce as much as I and there is a website called Colorado Fresh Markets that lists several in the Denver area.

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I live quite close to the Cherry Creek area, so I enlisted a good friend of mine, and we set out one sunny Saturday morning to explore. We were greeted by amazing smells, quiet happy noises, and slow-roasting of the locally famous Hatch chiles.

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The Cherry Creek Shopping Center at the corner of 1st Avenue and University Blvd. fences off a huge area of parking lot for all the vendors. Open every Saturday from May 3 – October 25 from 8am – 1 pm and on Wednesdays June 18 – September 24 from 9am – 1 pm, you have two chances to enjoy the local bounty.

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As we walked around there was a good-sized crowd of people from all walks of life. There were many moms pushing strollers and holding toddler hands, ladies still pregnant with their husbands sweetly carrying bags and boxes, older couples, professionally dressed people, people in gym clothes or yoga pants, plenty of dogs on leashes.  Everyone was simply enjoying the day, no rushing, chatting with friends and strangers. Something about a Farmers Market turns everyone present into friends and time becomes irrelevant.

The range of vendors was just phenomenal. There were mutiple vendors touting hand-made soaps, candles, belts, clothing. Of course I was most interested in the foods, and there was food galore. Many different farmers were set up with tables laden with farm-fresh produce. Tiny plants, flowers, and herbs. Tomatoes, heirloom and not, cucumbers, watermelon, beets, carrots, potatoes, onion, lettuces, corn, exotic looking fruits.

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And there were so many types of cheese! Hard cheese, soft cheese, wedges, wheels. Cheese that was hard outside and liquid inside. Most vendors offer samples so you can try for yourself how silky smooth the “Snowdrop” cheese is.

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Live music is found in at least two different locations. Singers, guitars, and drums keep the mood calm yet festive.

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And the pastries! The breads! The rolls, cakes, doughnuts, pretzels! It’s a carbo-loader paradise. The homemade farm-fresh bread looks artisan and beckons to your nostrils to buy a loaf. And at 2 for $10, why not?! They are huge, and far healthier than a bleached, fortified store-bought bread could ever be.

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This doughnut company had such a clever name, “Glazed and Confused“. And they had very unique and interesting doughnuts, including the wildly popular right now maple bacon. They also had one inspired by the Girl Scout “Samoa” cookie.

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Crazy elaborate doughnuts seems to be a foodie trend that is not going away anytime soon. Luckily for them, because they are celebrating the opening of their brick-and-mortar location at 5301 Leetsdale Drive in Denver as of June 13th!

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I had to sample a dumpling from the Pierogies Factory, because due to my Polish/ Hungarian/ Solvak heritage, I have had literally dozens of pierogis in my life. I must say, their pork pierogi was the bomb. Not the same as a soft mashed potato pierogi like mom makes, but the pork was a totally unique flavor bursting with salty, herby goodness.

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And then we have The Real Dill, a local artisan pickle company. From Habanero Horseradish Dill to Jalapeno Honey, from Caraway Garlic to their Bloody Mary mix made with pickling juice, their flavors will blow your mind.

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And of course they offer samples of each! IF you try the Habanero or Aji Chile, may I recommend having lemonade or bread nearby?

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Then we started to realize that all these great smells and tiny samples had started our bellies to rumbling. The Farmers Market draws a crowd of food trucks, eager to impress. Each is as fascinating and unique as the next, but we eventually settled on Gyros.

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Oh. My. Word. This gyro meat…. so perfectly seasoned and flavorful, bursting with onions, garlic, and herbs. Piled onto thick, warm, homemade pita bread, and then slathered in dressed greens, tomato, feta, and kalamata olive.

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The half-size was more than enough, but they offer a full size, chicken, falafel, and vegetarian options as well.

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An example of some of the brighter characters that Farmers Markets attract.

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We were both looking to restock our honey stores, which had gotten low over the winter due to high tea consumption. And then we found these people. The lady who runs the stand is just the sweetest, friendliest woman you’d hope to meet. She regaled us with stories of beekeeping, and why bees are so critical to the future of our food.

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The tall, white-haired gentleman beside her is her son-in-law, and the inspiration for the name “Bjorns Colorado Honey”. Originally from Sweden, he met the lady’s daughter in Austria and they fell in love. She convinced him to move to Boulder and get married, and he became part of the family honey business. Ah, love. A jar of the honey ended up in both of our bags that day.

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They also make hand cream from parts of bee life usually discarded, the “propolis”. It is a resinous substance made by the bees to protect and seal their hives. It has many biomedical and cosmetic uses. According to WebMD, “Propolis seems to have activity against bacteria, viruses, and fungi. It might also have anti-inflammatory effects and help skin heal.” Clever.

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The huge hot pretzels for sale.

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Fresh hand-made strawberry lemonade to quench your thirst.

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My friend and I headed home after a long, fulfilling day at the Cherry Creek Farmers Market!

 

All in all, the farmers market was a blast. I went home with a huge loaf of farm-fresh bread, chive and garlic goat cheese, a jar of Colorado honey, and a belly full of happy. I also got a little hint of a tan! Bonus.

Farmers markets are a great way to make new friends, relax, and support local businesses and farms. Check out one near you this weekend!