Tag Archives: tea

Weekly Eating – 3/5/18


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!


Well, we picked a great weekend for a dinner party! Harris Teeter was having a 10% off all wine sale, and I also got a coupon for $20 off an order of $100 or more. Without the booze for the party, I would not have hit that $100. Yes, I know, it is justifying spending I didn’t necessarily have to make. But between the sale and the coupon, the alcohol was basically half price!

the Budget Epicurean weekly eating

The party was on March 3rd, so I had a “3” theme. I made three dips: buffalo chicken, beet hummus, and vegan spinach artichoke dip, along with a nice antipasto platter. I had homemade pickles, bacon jam, olives, nuts, figs, dates, and prunes.

antipasto platter

Then I had three different types of pasta (one of which was tri-color) and three sauces: marinara, pesto, and alfredo. That way people could mix and match with whatever they wanted; alfredo plus pesto was a popular combo.

three types of pasta

And for dessert, triple chocolate brownies with chunks of dark chocolate, cocoa powder, and chocolate sauce drizzle, and a Tres Leches cake! It was totally awesome and delicious. We had a great time chatting, and playing games late into the night.

tres leches cake

I paid for it on Sunday though! Good thing it’s supposed to be a day of rest, because I didn’t leave bed all day.


Breakfast – Oatmeal with golden raisins & craisins. I don’t know if this is a different type of oatmeal, but the individual oats keep their shape and don’t stick together well. Even after multiple rounds of microwaving. I like my oatmeal to be more mashed-together like, so I was pretty unhappy with it. But I ate it anyways. I’ll have to try it as overnight oats and see if that goes better.

raisin oatmeal

Lunch – Leftover pasta, made new by adding some veggies and shrimp from the freezer, with a lemon garlic sauce.

veggie pasta with lemon butter

Dinner – Spinach Artichoke Melts + Tomato Soup. I had a ton of spinach artichoke dip left from the weekend, and read that one way to use it is to put it into a grilled cheese… well, hell yeah!

spinach artichoke grilled cheese

It turns out whoever wrote that is a flipping genius, and these sammies were hands down AHmazing. Not sure I can have a “plain” grilled cheese ever again…

spinach artichoke grilled cheese

Snack – a chocolate peanut butter granola bar in the car on the way home. Good thing I put one in the pocket of every coat…

choc peanut butter granola bar

*Soaked beans overnight in the crock pot for tomorrow’s chili


Breakfast – Uh, so, I’m usually pretty behind the times with food trends. I’ve heard of “sweet potato toast” for years, where you thinly slice a sweet potato and just toast it like in a toaster. So I decided to try that. One of the slices ended up kind of charred on the end, and the other was evidently so thick that even putting it through the toaster four times, it was still crunchy… so I microwaved it for 2 minutes and that did the trick.

sweet potato "toast"

Once softened, it was pretty dang tasty. I spread a smashed avocado with lemon on one for the bougie-est toast ever, and then I had some more cooked white beans, so I figured, what the hell why not. DUDE. Why did no one ever tell me that white beans and sweet potato is a DELICIOUS combo?? With a squirt of lemon, sprinkle of salt, I was in heaven. New favorite.

sweet potato "toast"

Lunch – I had bits of random veggies all over the fridge, and a batch of cooked rice, so naturally I whipped up a super quick stir fry. The boy was funny, he goes “awww I got all excited because it smelled really good, but then I look and it’s just vegetables”  😛

veggie stir fry

Dinner – Slow Cooker 5 Bean Chili. We stirred in a few spoonfuls of spinach artichoke dip too, just for funzies, and it was pretty ok. Not a thing I’d be sad about not having, but it used up more dip, so, win.

5 bean chili with spin artichoke dip


Breakfast – Pineapple Kiwi Green Smoothie! with a pear tossed in because it was bordering on spoiled.

kiwi pineapple smoothie

Lunch – Leftover white bean soup and a big salad. I also used the lemon tahini yogurt dip from last week’s Turkish koftes as dressing

white bean soup and salad

Snack – Beet hummus with cut veggies

beet hummus n veg

Dinner – Bowtie pasta with meatballs, of course. We had a LOT of pasta in the fridge…

bowties and turkey meatballs

Evening snack – herbal tea and a Stroopwaffel!


Breakfast – Peaches & Cream Smoothie

peaches and cream smoothie

Lunch – Pasta with meatballs, a salad, with roasted sweet and hot Brussels sprouts

pasta and brussels sprouts

Dinner – Roasted beet & sweet potato veggie burgers. I used cooked brown rice and breadcrumbs as the binders, and tossed in the little bit of cooked white beans left along with the roasted beets and sweet potato. These were softer than the last batch but I liked the flavor better. Still working on the exact right blend.

beet veggie burgers


Breakfast – Banana walnut bread

banana bread

Lunch – Vurgers on rice cakes w hot sauce and lettuce

beet veggie burgers on rice cakes

Snack – Beet hummus & veggies

beet hummus n veg

Dinner – Pizzas! Pork and pineapple for the boy and a veggie for me using the last of the artichoke dip and some peppers and olives

spinach artichoke pizza and hawaiian pizza

The Weekend

Saturday is a lazy day for me, but the poor boy has to work the weekend. A big project launched this week, and he is ”on call” for fixing all the things. So I’ll be cleaning the house, lots of grocery shopping, and prepping for Sunday.

Sunday I’m having a tea party!! If you know me on Twitter you’re probably already aware, I am simply bursting with excitement! I adore parties, and tea, and tiny sweet and savory snacks. I’m super pumped to have a half dozen lovely ladies over in our Sunday best to sip oodles of tea, use terrible fake British accents, and talk about life. Hopefully it will be an absolute blast and become a regular thing.

mountain of tea
Uh, yea, that is all actually tea or tea related items. Bags, loose leaf, herbal, matcha… a French press, honey of different flavors, cups with built in spoons, and more…

And guys, I realized, I have a serious tea problem… I’ve always loved tea and everyone knows it, so between being unable to stop myself around new flavors and gifts from family and friends, I have amassed a formidable collection. The newest addition, of which I am most proud, is this gorgeous porcelain cup and saucer:

yellow gold rose tea cup

I was at the thrift store, and sifting through the housewares section (honestly, in search of a tiered serving tray for this party, which I sadly did not find). The cup jumped out at me with its’ royal pattern and those big yellow roses just immediately made me think of Beauty and the Beast. I had to have it.

I carried the cup around the store another 2 aisles, hoping to find a saucer that looked at least okay with it, but it was coming home with me regardless.

And then, when I was about ready to give up and leave with my few gems, I saw on a lower shelf THE MATCHING SAUCER! It was clearly meant to be. The universe wanted me to have this set. And for only $1.48 total, how could I say no?!?

yellow gold rose tea cup

Food Total: $75.52

Man I’m excited about this week, pretty much nailed it! Even with the impulse purchases and tons of produce we came in at our $75 goal. I’ve also decided that alcohol gets its own category now, so the booze we got for our dinner party was not included here.

Dairy $21.72 Staples $28.38 Fruit/Veg $22.63
Greek yogurts 10 8 Pretzel crisps 2 bags 5 Fresh beets 3 2.99
2lb sharp cheddar cheese 7.99 Canned tomatoes 12 5.64 Bag spinach 2.49
Dozen lg eggs 0.77 Canned garbanzo beans 2 1.54 Fresh stir fry veggies 1.5
Cream cheese 2 2.38 Brownie mix 1.69 Stir fry veggies frozen 1.98
Evaporated milk 0.59 Yellow cake mix 1.49 3lb clementines 2.99
Sweet condensed milk 1.99 Crackers 2 kinds 5 Bananas 8 2.12
Northern beans 2 cans 1.54 Frozen spinach big bag 2.99
Stroopwaffel 8 3.49 Bag spring mix 1.99
Pasta sauce 2 2.5 Cucumber 0.59
3color bowtie pasta 0.49 Basil plant 2.99

Lessons Learned

I did totally give in to temptation at the store when I saw a whole shelf full of Stroopwaffles! I held a box in my hand, then put it back, almost walked away… picked it back up… and then put it in the cart. At least I checked the “per unit” prices, and though the bag full of tiny waffles was close, the not-individually-packaged box of 8 was the best deal, so that is the one I chose.

shelf full of stroopwaffels

Part of me wants to add breakfasts into the meal plan. But then the other part of me knows it is currently the least predictable part of my day. Some mornings a smoothie sounds amazing, other mornings toast is the only acceptable answer. And more and more frequently lately nothing at all sounds good, so I just open the fridge and force something in my face because I can’t in good conscience not eat breakfast at all… c’est la vie, we all go through seasons of eating.


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

Health benefits of tea


A huge portion of the world begins each day with a warm, caffeinated beverage. While coffee dominates the Americas and continental Europe, tea is preferred in most of Asia and the former Soviet Union, at least according to the Pew Research Center’s interactive map. The playing field is becoming more leveled, with many countries beginning to drink both beverages in almost equal amounts. And this is great news not only for tea and coffee producers, but also for our health in general.


The science on coffee has gone back and forth for decades, from coffee being a heart-harming stimulant to an antioxidant-rich elixir. As for tea, the data have been nothing but encouraging. As of yet, “no solid data exist concerning harmful effects of tea consumption” (ScienceDaily) but you should consult a doctor if you are thinking about drastically increasing your consumption or attempting to use tea to treat or cure any disease and/or symptoms.


Types of Tea

The average person usually considers “tea” to be any type of beverage made by steeping something in warm/hot water. The definition of true tea is any beverage which contains leaves from one particular plant — Camellia sinensis — and includes only four varieties: green, black, white, and oolong. Anything else (like herbal “tea”) is an infusion and isn’t technically tea.

green tea 254x254
Photo from SeacretSpa website “Green Tea Extract

The Camellia sinensis is a small evergreen plant but can grow up to 8 feet in the right climate. It needs moist air and mostly warm days with direct sunlight to grow best. The deep shiny green leaves are harvested in the first blush of spring, with the outermost three leaves and bud considered the best tasting for tea. To learn about different ways to prepare tea and more, visit The Tea Spot website.

tea farm
Photo from the fascinating Tea4U blog.

Tea contains various amounts of caffeine based on how the leaves are prepared.

Herbal infusions
Herbal infusions are made by steeping fresh or dried herbs, flowers, and/or berries in hot water. These include but are not limited to: spearmint, lemon balm, rose hips, licorice, ginger, rooibois, chamomile, hibiscus, and more.

Generally since they do not contain actual tea leaves they are 100% caffeine-free, though they may offer many health benefits and an array of flavors and scents. Steep infusions for 6-7 minutes in freshly boiled water for the best effect.

This type of tea is the most delicate and subtle of all teas. The leaves are not rolled or processed in any way, and the leaves are generally picked while still tightly enclosed in leaf buds. Those become Silver Needles tea, and if the next two lower leaves are picked and also not processed, they become White Peony white tea.

Caffeine content ranges from 10-15mg per cup. Steep 2-3 minutes in freshly boiled water.

This type of tea is made by gently heating the fresh leaves directly after plucking. This prevents oxidation, and the dried leaves retain their green color. Sometimes charcoal or smoke is used during the heating process to impart extra flavors.

Steep 2-3 minutes in freshly boiled water at 160–190° F. Chinese green teas contain about 30–35 milligrams of caffeine per 8 oz cup, and Japanese green teas contain 25 – 30 milligrams of caffeine per 8 oz cup. 

This type of tea is semi-oxidized, putting them halfway between green and black tea. The caffeine level and antioxidant amount are also halfway between black and green, making them healthy yet also palatable. For this reason oolongs are most sought after by tea connoisseurs. All oolongs are grown in either China or Taiwan.

Preparation of oolong teas requires pure water at 190–205° F. They may be infused multiple (3–7) times, each steep lasting 1–3 minutes. The caffeine content of oolong teas decreases dramatically from the first to the third brew, about 30–50 mg/cup in first cup, 15–25 in second, and 5–10 in the third.

This type of tea is made by fully oxidizing tea leaves to produce a rich brown-black or brown-red brew. After the leaves are picked they are crushed or rolled, allowed to oxidize fully, then fired in an oven.

Black tea is the most popular tea in the Western countries, likely due to its caffeine content of 40-60mg per cup. All black teas originate from China, India, or Sri Lanka.

Yerba mate
Pronounced “yer-ba mah-tay”, this is an ancient medicinal drink deeply ingrained in many cultures of South America such as Brazil and Argentina. Though not a tea, as it contains no C. sinensis leaves, Yerba Maté is an appetite suppressant and is high in Vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, and manganese.

Mate has 35mg caffeine per cup, and contains many other chemicals which drinkers claim mellow the experience, providing focus and alertness without negative side effects. Yerba Maté should be steeped for 6–7 minutes using hot, but not boiled water. Boiling water can make mate bitter, just like tea.


Health benefits of drinking tea

The claims of health benefits from teas are varied and wide-spread. Tea as herbal medicine is a thousands of years ancient practice. Native Americans, native Asians, middle Easterners, have long regarded tea as a cornerstone of health, happiness and wisdom.

With the rise in power of Western nations and the increasing rigor of scientific study in health, more and more evidence supporting the health benefits of tea is being found. Studies have shown that some teas may help with cancer, heart disease, and diabetes; encourage weight loss; lower cholesterol; reduce risk for Parkinsons and Alzheimers; and bring about mental alertness. Tea also appears to have antimicrobial qualities.

I could write up a huge list of all the ailments tea is said to relieve or cure, but instead I will direct the science-minded to the fact that the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition featured 11 articles from the 5th international scientific symposium on Tea and Human Health concerning the various health benefits of tea.

Various types of tea contain catecholamines, EGCG, antioxidants, and flavonoids; compounds we are terrible at reproducing in a lab, which is a good thing. These delicate molecules are released as the tea leaves are steeped in hot water, and absorbed by our body when we drink it. Although a lot of questions remain about how long tea needs to be steeped for the most benefit, and how much you need to drink, nutritionists agree any tea is good tea. Still, they prefer brewed teas over bottled to avoid the extra calories and sweeteners.

green tea egcg
Photo from Examine: “Green Tea Catechins

For a simpler list, check out the TIME article “13 Reasons Why Tea Is Good For You“. You can find information on the various types of tea and their health benefits at WebMD. While not all the health claims of tea are verified, there are as yet no negative findings. Most teas are benign, but the FDA has issued warnings about so-called ‘dieter’s teas’ that contain senna, aloe, buckthorn, and other plant-derived laxatives. These could be harmful to your health.

The FDA cautions against taking supplements that include:

  • Comfrey
  • Ephedra
  • Willow bark
  • Germander
  • Lobelia
  • Chaparral

If you live in Zone 7-9 in the US and feel inspired to grow your very own tea bush(es), check out Go Organic Gardening for tips and info on how to grow, harvest, prepare, and more.

green tea


How to stay cool, plus a Keurig give-away!


Summer is winding down, but there are still a few scorchers ahead. And even through the fall and winter, sometimes it’s nice to have a frosty beverage pick-me-up. Iced drinks are my number one favorite way to keep cool, as they taste great and also cool your internal body temperature, making it easier to beat the heat.

It’s no secret that I love my caffeinated beverages, and have finally figured out the secret to Perfect Iced Coffee. This trick works with tea, juices, or any other drink as well. Try it yourself and see how great it is to no longer have watered-down drinks that are still icy cold.

This summer, Keurig is sponsoring a nation-wide #StayCool contest! If you share a photo of how you stay cool on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, you are entered in a contest to win a Keurig K Cup and other fun goodies!

  • On your mobile device, take a photo and share it on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #StayCool & #Sweeps. Make sure to share your location!
  • Your photo will appear on the interactive map where you can see how everyone else is riding out the summer heat. You’ll automatically get a chance to win a Keurig® brewer and Brew Over Ice K-Cup® packs!

In other exciting news, The Budget Epicurean is partnering with Keurig for a K Cup beverage give-away! Readers who enter will have the chance to win:

  1. A variety pack of Keurig K Cups
  2. Coupons for BOGO K Cups
  3. An ebook with drink recipes

Top three entries will receive the prizes in order. One other mode of entry is to send an email to BudgetEpicurean (at) gmail (dot) com with your name and how you #StayCool! Raffle ends 8/25/2014. Winners will be notified and posted about on 8/26/2014.

BudgetEpicurean Keurig giveaway, by Rafflecopter.

This is why I was super-pumped to get a Keurig K-Cup brewer! IMG_4471

I’ve long laughed at the idea of a one-cup wonder, as I tend to brew a big ‘ol pot of java on Monday and use it throughout the week (or freeze it… hint hint). However, I’ve been more and more curious as tons of new options come out for this bad boy. What if I only wanted one cup of hot coffee? What if I wanted to try a new type of tea? What if I wanted cold tea?


Well, now Keurig has the answer to all these dilemmas! Hot tea, any kind you want, just one cup, and no tea kettle required. Cold tea, perfect for sunny days, porch sipping, or watching your show on the couch. Coffees, flavored coffees, decaf too. All at the touch of a button.


I have to admit, I’ve only tried a few varieties so far and I’m already in love! This guy had earned its counter space the first day I had it. Set-up was a breeze, and it was ready to brew within minutes of leaving the package.


The first thing I tried was the Vitamin Burst acai berry Cold Brew. It smelled delicious the second it began brewing.


Simply fill up a tall glass with ice cubes, pop in the cup, and hit ‘brew’. Easy peasy.


This is a 24 oz cup I think, and it was done in less than a minute.


I just popped on some berries and a cute umbrella as garnish, and enjoyed!


The flavor is delightful, refreshing and light. I found the highest brew setting was just sugary enough for me, though you could choose lower amounts of water if you like it stronger.

keurig ice splash

Trying to re-create the ice cube “splash” on the box. =)


The Keurig obviously works wonders for coffee. For just one cup in the mornings or afternoon, pop in your favorite and hit the button. You can have six people with six different favorites, and serve up a hot fresh round in minutes. My counter is now half dedicated to beverages.


The brew-over-ice coffee is equally wonderful. Yes you will get some watered down effect, unless you use my tip

In case you missed it above, The Budget Epicurean is partnering with Keurig for a K Cup beverage give-away! Readers who enter will have the chance to win:

    1. A variety pack of Keurig K Cups
    2. Coupons for BOGO K Cups
    3. An ebook with drink recipes

Top three entries will receive the prizes in order. One other mode of entry is to send an email to BudgetEpicurean (at) gmail (dot) com with your name and how you #StayCool! Raffle ends 8/25/2014. BudgetEpicurean Keurig giveaway, by Rafflecopter!

Disclaimer: Keurig machine and K-Cups were provided by Keurig Green Mountain, Inc., all opinions are those of the Budget Epicurean.