Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Bite to Eat

I had a pasta dish at noon.

I made it quickly here at home by sauteing some onion slices, some diced eggplant and zucchini in a dab of olive oil, and then adding a can of diced tomatoes (not drained), some salt and pepper, and some Italian seasonings. I boiled some fettecini noodles, put some on a plate and topped it with the vegetable sauce. Very delicious (and very inexpensive!)

My three-year-old granddaughter loved it!

This evening I found I wasn't so hungry. I had munched on almonds and some peach slices mid-afternoon, so for dinner I fixed a snack plate with some crackers, some garlic and artichoke hummus (I buy it at the store ~ lots of flavor varieties), a sliced tomato with basil, olive oil and balsamic vinegar sprinkled over it, and a few more peach slices. A small glass of wine and a glass of water accompanied that ~ also a very healthy, inexpensive, EASY meal.

Almonds are a great thing to have around because they provide a quick snack that's healthy, cuts the food cravings, and gives you an energy boost.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Refrigerators Should Be Smaller

What if our refrigerators were smaller?

You'd save money on your electric bill ~ and you'd probably save money in your food budget. Considering Americans waste 40 percent (some estimates are higher) of the food they buy ~ whether in the grocery store or restaurant ~ it could make a lot of sense.

That being the case, those huge refrigerators we own turn out to be pretty expensive storage units, when a well stocked pantry and a down-sized fridge would be much more efficient.

Here's why.

Let's say you clear a closet, install some shelves, and spend $100 - $150 on a list ranging from a variety of beans and pastas, diced tomatoes, olive oil, vinegar, a five or six spices, oatmeal, peanut butter, some cans of chicken and vegetable broths, and some raisins and nuts.

That gives you a pretty good boost for the ingredients for a lot of very healthy recipes.

For example, you could make a delicious dish of Mexican tomato, rice and beans, a great minnestrone soup, or a hearty vegetable stew by picking up a few things at the store ~ like carrots, onions, celery, and some cabbage.

They go in the refrigerator, but you don't buy a huge amount ~ just enough for a couple of meals.
Those things would be sharing space with whatever diary (or vegan) products you might use. Those things don't require a lot of room.

If you take a good look at what's taking up space in your fridge now, notice how much you're not even using.

Something to think about ...

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Expensive Food Stop

Last week my daughter, my two granddaughters and I had lunch at one of their favorite lunch dining spots here in Grand Junction.

Lots on the menu. They do a good business.

But I found myself scrutinizing what we got for what we paid. Twenty-nine dollars was the total, not including tip. But I didn't see a lot of nutritional value in what I was served up.

I ordered an Asian salad ~ which turned out to be mostly ice burg lettuce with a few shredded veggies, some a few watercress and mandarin orange slices, and a crunchy topping. The salad dressing was sugary and super sweet. A grilled chicken breast sliced into strips was laid across the lettuce, and I opted to divide those with between my granddaughters.

So they wouldn't have needed the deep-fried tater tots or fried mashed potato "smilies" ~ or the chicken nuggets that they ordered, because they didn't eat them.

My daughter had a French dip roast beef sandwich, which she later said was twice as much as she needed. She didn't touch the mound of fries.

"Do you have a George Foreman grill at home?" I asked her.

I suggested that considering how much was left on the plates, for the several dollar tip alone she could have purchased a chicken breast, grilled it at home in the few minutes that takes, and then served the girls some chicken strips and a side of slices apples and a few chips. There woud probably still be enough for her to make a chicken sandwich.

I'm convinced that for many of us, eating out is sort of a "place holder" when we're not sure what we want to do next ~ and a very expensive one, at that!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Easy Vegetable Medley

Here's an easy dish that's inexpensive, takes little time to prepare, and is so good for you!

I pulled from my vegetable crisper a yellow squash, a zucchini, a stalk of celery, a carrot, an onion and a handful of mushrooms. No labels to read ~ just wonderful, nutrient-packed, food!

I think there's merit to taking your time to slice the vegetables (about 1/2 slices), because it gives you the chance to slow down and focus your attention. A very healthy practice in and of itself! I wash the vegetables good, but don't peel the skins off because there's good nutrition to be gained.

Meanwhile, heat some water to boiling in a sauce pan and then add some fettucini or linguini.

The rest is easy: Just heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a large saute pan or skillet, and cook the onion for a few minutes first. Then add the carrots, because they are denser than the other vegetables, and cook them for 3 -5 minutes before adding the rest. Move them around with a spatula or spoon until their tender (but not soft!)

Season with salt and pepper, some basil and oregano, and cook for another minute.

Prepare a bed of pasta and spoon the vegetables over it. Grated Parmesan cheese tops it off nicely!

(This recipe serves 2 -3 people, so if more are dining, add enough vegetables and pasta.)

ANYONE can prepare great, healthy meals at little expense!

Monday, August 9, 2010

"Apple A Day" May Help Shed Pounds!

I don't know how long that old adage has been around, but from experience, I know it's been longer than 60 years!

Way back, people most likely were eating an apple a day ~ in season, anyway ~ because fruit was a luxury. (My mom said one Christmas when she was a child she got an orange, and thought it was a wonderful gift!)

But we're finding more and more that if wealth is health, then fresh produce is a gold mine. Another bit of evidence ~ I read an article linked to Dr. Oz's website about how bad microbes in our gut may contribute to obesity, and an abundance of the good bug can slim you down. According to the article, we're talking trillions of these things, the key being the proportion of good bugs to bad.

A study showed that obese people are three times more likely to have a virus called Ad-36 in their digestive tracts. (Chickens that have it get fatter!) It seems to trigger bigger appetites and store more calories as fat.

But the good bugs that work in your favor are those probiotics ~ and apples have it! So do bananas, asparagus, onions and garlic, to name a few other sources.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Cook When You're Traveling!

My husband and I accompanied my daughter and her little family over to Denver for my granddaughter's birthday celebration. The zoo was the main attraction.

But even just a weekend trip can be pretty expensive when you're eating all your meals in a restaurant! Of course, eating out is part of the fun, isn't it?

But this time I decided to bring the food with us. I've never done this before, but now I'm sold!

I reserved two adjoining rooms and upgraded one of them to include living room and full kitchen. I made sure the hotel stay included breakfast. Then I planned a menu for the evening meals, and bought things to pack for lunch snacks. I think I spent $45 total.

It was great!

Friday night's birthday dinner was spaghetti, with meatballs on the side (so my husband and I wouldn't have to eat meat), and a large romaine lettuce vegetable salad I prepared ahead of time and packed in a cooler ~ so we'd have enough for both nights. My daughter brought along birthday cupcakes.

On Saturday after we visited the zoo, we decided to eat lunch at the Denver Aquarium because you can see the fish swimming around you while you eat. We spent $120 there, but decided to skip the cost of general admission to the aquarium (about $80 for all of us) because we enjoyed some of it while we ate. (The kids were satisfied with that because what they really wanted to do was swim a the hotel!)

That evening's entree was Spanish rice with tomatoes and black olives, pork chops for the meat eaters, and again, the salad.

No loading up in the car to go out to eat. Everyone could just relax ~ and really spend time together!