Tag Archives: organic

Cheap Eats: Fruits

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Ah fruits, nature’s candy! With all the health benefits that come from even the most common of fruits, like an apple, can you really blame Adam and Eve for wanting to take a bite?

Nature’s candy can run up your grocery bill, especially with new “superfoods” that come into vogue every month. There are plenty of satisfying and healthful fruits at the store.  Here is a list to bring with you:

BANANAS

 

Bananas do not last long in my apartment. I have at least one every day in my Easy Morning Protein Shake. They are delightful right out of the peel too and are very easy to transport. Organic bananas run about $1 per pound! That’s usually about $0.20 per banana!

It gets better because they are chock full of benefits:

1. Rich in potassium, which helps alleviate cramps, lowers blood pressure, and lowers your risk for heart disease.
2. Rich in vitamin B-6 (35% of your daily value) and Vitamin C (15% of your daily value)
3. Easy to digest and full of carbohydrates to give you energy without the crash. Bananas are also full of fiber, which helps you stay fuller longer.
4. Contains trace amounts of amino acids.

APPLES
 


Another one of the usual suspects, but mounting research keeps reaffirming the old adage “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Apples are versatile and easy to carry around. You can add them to a dessert, top a salad with some granny smiths, or eat it plain. There are enough varities for everyone to pick a favorite. My personal love is the honeycrisp apple, but at $2.99 a pound there are many more cost-efficient varieties ringing it at around $1.50 a pound. It is best to stick with what is in season locally. Here are just a few benefits of apples:

1. Weight loss and maintenance- the fiber in apples keeps you full and happy!
2. Boost your immune system with a valiant dose of vitamin C. They aren’t quite as good as oranges, but they put up a good fight.
3.Full of antioxidants, the little compounds that help fight free radicals that cause cancer.

FROZEN FRUIT

I love a good blackberry, blueberry, mango, and cherry, but they are often WAY too expensive to have in my fridge every week. The solution? Buy it frozen! I love smoothies and by buying the fruit already frozen it cuts down on the amount of ice I need to use, making a smoothie with a better consistency (hey, I work at a smoothie cart!). Frozen fruits are fresh! And sometimes frozen fruits are even fresher than the fresh produce at the front of the store because immediately after being picked they are frozen. Most stores carry organic varieties too.

 

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I am a problem solver. The most common problem I have heard from anyone trying to maintain a fresh, plant-based diet is the price. Oh the price of organic vegetables, fruits, specialty flours, nuts, pretty much anything that is healthy is going to come with a high price tag. What bothers me more than the price of good food are the health nuts that continue to spew the mantra of “it’s ok if you spend a lot on food because it is an investment in your health.” I totally get this argument and I don’t necessarily disagree with it, but for some of us (ehem recent college graduates) it’s not possible to spend hundreds of dollars on food every month. That’s right it’s IMPOSSIBLE, especially if you want to be fiscally responsible and not add onto your debt load. The solution? I’ve compiled a list of healthy eats, arranged by category, that are the best bang for your buck at the grocery store. Today we take a look at everyone’s favorite: vegetables!

1. Sweet Potato

I have been eating a ridiculous amount of sweet potatoes recently because on top of being cheap (usually between $1-$2/lb) they are SO easy to prepare. Just turn the oven on to 400 degrees, wrap that potato in aluminum foil, wait one hour, and voila, a delicious sweet potato awaits you! I like to add coconut oil to enhance the flavor.

But wait, it gets better! Sweet potatoes contain all sorts of awesome vitamins, like B6 for heart health and magnesium for natural stress-relief. There’s also a serious amount of vitamin C, beta-carotene, and potassium in those tiny little sacks. They are less starchy than a regular potato and they’re SWEET. Make sure you pick up a real sweet potato and not a yam. Sweet potatoes taste better than yams AND are healthy, crazy right?

 

2. Carrots

Ah, the carrot, the poor man’s staple. They are typically around $1/lb and can be used in everything from stews, to chilies  to side dishes, and even eaten raw as a healthy alternative to a chip. I like to cut up carrot sticks and dip them in hummus, mmm mmm! : ) While these suckers are cheap, you will literally turn orange if you eat too many (my cousin Sydney learned this the hard way by age 1).

Carrots contain a sick amount of beta-carotene, that awesome form of vitamin A that helps to regulate skin health, improves vision, and slows  aging. But the carrot isn’t done yet! It also is known to help prevent certain cancers, packs a punch of fiber, and even has a bit of protein. Even my meat-loving dad can’t help but swoon over cooked carrots. However you like them, pick up a bunch, they stay fresh in the refrigerator for a long time. If you have outdoor space grow your own, they are one of the easiest vegetables to maintain.

3. Onions

Truth time: I am a bit obsessed with onions. I think the smell of caramelizing onions is what is wafting around in Heaven. There’s something about the smell that makes me go weak in the knees. Don’t get me wrong, raw onions are delicious too and can really jazz up a salad, but when a caramelized onion touches my lips my brain goes crazy for the slightly sweet vegetable that is about to pass through my digestive system. Onions, onions, opinions!! Add them to a chili, a stew, a soup, a salad, or a sauce and you will NOT be disappointed.

Onion Clip Art

And of course, they are good for you too, they are a vegetable after all ; ). Onions are packed with flavonoids, which act as antioxidants, those amazing entities that bolster our immune systems. Onions also help lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and prevent blood clotting. Each type of onion has other specific health benefits.

4. Whatever is in season

Pick vegetables that are in season where you live. The less a vegetable has to travel, the less expensive it is and the more nutrients it contains. Pick out a cheap option, like root vegetables in the winter, and base a recipe off of what you found on sale. Preparing your own meals always cuts down on costs and is the only way you can be certain what you are putting in your mouth. Instead of going out to a restaurant for a date, cook a meal together at home, it’s much more romantic, stimulating and private.  What are some appropriate foods for a date night at home? Now that’s a post for a different time!

Portland Farmer’s Market

Cheap Eats: Vegetables

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Coconut oil is one of the healthiest foods on earth. Click here for a concise article from my favorite health advocate, Dr. Joseph Mercola, about its many health benefits. It can be used as a substitute for butter or olive oil. Do not be scared away by the high amount of saturated fat in coconut oil, it is used in your body in a vastly different way than saturated fats from foods like cheese, meat, or a decadent chocolate cake.

So coconut oil can used to make everything from a chocolate fudge to a healthy quinoa salad, but did you know it also makes one of the best lotions? Recently, while I was cooking with this awesome oil, I noticed that when I rubbed some of the oil on my hands it didn’t feel greasy like butter, but instead it left my hands feeling clean and soft. After doing some research I found that many use it as a natural moisturizer. It is organic, sustainable, eco-friendly, and cheaper than most lotions. The oil leaves a faint smell of coconut as well as nourishment on your skin. There are recipes for homemade lotions all over the internet, but for coconut oil all you have to do is…

Grab your favorite variety of coconut oil (preferably fresh pressed or cold pressed), use a spoon to scoop a tbs and lather all over your body. Your skin with feel luscious, smooth, and look radiant.

Best of all it’s quick, sustainable, and good for you!

Coconut Oil: Unexpected Use #1

Updated Easy Morning Protein Shake

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Medjool dates

Before I moved to Portland I always drank the same natural protein shake every morning. I like to stick to natural, whole ingredients, and have my doubts about adding supplements and boosters to my food.

Greek yogurt is an amazing source of protein and it’s delicious, but it can be expensive and it can be hard for some people to digest dairy. This new recipe does not include any dairy products.

Updated Easy Morning Protein Shake:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons organic creamy peanut butter (or substitute almond butter)
  • 2 medjool dates, cored
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 organic banana
  • 3 ice cubes

Directions:

  1. Load ingredients into blender starting with milk, cocoa powder, peanut butter.
  2.  Next layer dates, banana, and ice cubes on top.
  3. Blend it up!
  4. Enjoy

I always jump out of bed because I know it’s time for my yummy shake. This shake provides you with a lot of energy for the day.