During this time last year our family of four was gearing up for our “100 Days of Real Food on a Budget” pledge. But once the pledge ended (in January 2011) I stopped sticking to our strict food budget of $125/week, and I often wonder how I even managed to do it. Just the other day I was reading some of my old budget blog posts, and on one shopping excursion I somehow left my favorite grocery store (Earth Fare) after only spending $67. If you want to know what I spent at Earth Fare earlier this week….well, just add about $100 – yikes! It is amazing how much more you spend when you don’t have a specific budget in place to help you keep it cheap. The scary thing is though, I sort of was “trying” not to spend a lot the other day. Now my effort didn’t go beyond a conscious thought in my head, but I should know by now that just thinking about being on a budget never really works. :) As some of you know, my husband and I were fortunate enough to go on a very adventurous – and expensive! – trip to Asia earlier this month. So, for us, there is no better time than now to get back on the food budget bandwagon. I won’t be doing another official budget “pledge,” but since I’ve already proved this could be done I don’t really have any good excuses to convince my husband to let me off the hook (darn!). So for all of us – me included – here are some budget tips that I could never be reminded of enough. And if you have any advice I left out please share in the comments below…
Archives for September 2011
Whether fall is officially here or not I think anytime is a good time for some hearty, tasty soup! And this soup is so darn easy that my 6-year-old practically made it by herself (with close supervision of course). All I had to do was chop an onion and garlic…oh and buy the ingredients and help her read the recipe, but she pretty much did the rest. So the point is if a child can make this soup then so can you. :) And the best way to get your own child to possibly eat this pea green soup is to get them involved in making it with you. I suppose topping the soup off with chopped hot dogs or bacon might help lure them in as well. My other daughter, who is the pickier one, didn’t dig right into this soup like I had hoped. But as soon as she saw the bacon (which is her fav!) floating in there she ate a decent sized portion of the soup, which made me happy. So without further ado here it is!
Carrie Vitt with Deliciously Organic once told me that she spent four years putting together her cookbook, and I believe it. Her book is so beautifully done that it honestly puts a lot of other cookbooks to shame! Plus it has such a wonderful personal touch and page after page it’s just obvious she’s poured her heart and soul into this publication. A lot of people ask if there is a “whole foods” cookbook I can recommend and here is your answer…Deliciously Organic! Here are some of the things I adore about this cookbook… The pictures: Oh my gosh the pictures! Carrie takes amazing pictures herself (just check out her blog), but she hired a professional food stylist and photographer for her book and it shows. The resources: This is a great book for “real food” beginners because it is full of helpful resources on everything from understanding oils to reading food labels to making homemade mayo to navigating recommended websites. The personal touch: Carrie shares her own personal story, which includes her struggle with debilitating migraines that she eventually got under control with nothing other than organic food. Plus don’t miss the pictures of her adorable family right before the dessert section. Today, I want to share a dessert recipe from Carrie’s book that is the perfect replacement for all those highly processed boxed chocolate pudding mixes. We made a batch of this chocolate mousse over the weekend and let me tell you what; my girls could not get enough! The flavor is just divine, but don’t take my word for it, you must try it yourself….
Farmers’ market season isn’t quite over yet, and we’re actually lucky enough to have a market close by that goes all winter long. It took me almost a year from the first time I ever stepped foot in a farmers’ market (which was just at the beginning of last year!) to figure out there is definitely a method to the madness. So following are some of our best tips to help you navigate and optimize your local market! Find and shop at a grower’s only farmers’ market. This ensures all products are local. Here in Charlotte we love the Matthews Farmers’ Market (pictured) because it is the biggest grower’s only market in the area. I once went to the Charlotte Regional Farmers’ Market, which allows third party vendors, and saw blueberries from Chile for sale. Ask if the market manager sends out an email or newsletter showing what you can expect to find on upcoming market days because it can be a big help with meal planning. Arrive as close to the opening time as possible because the “good stuff” can run out fast. I also prioritize my shopping list. For example, if it is the first weekend that greenhouse tomatoes or field-grown corn are available, I go to those vendors first because I know they’ll be gone in no time. On the flip side if you show up at the end of the market you might find some smashing deals because I guarantee no farmer wants to take their produce back to the farm. Map out which farmers are certified organic or are not necessarily certified but follow organic practices and be sure to give them most of your business. All you have to do is ask if they use chemical pesticides/fertilizers or more natural methods instead and if […]
And the winner is….Amanda! Amanda left her entry on September 21, 2011 at 5:49 pm, and she also has an email waiting in her inbox. Congrats! Today’s giveaway is brought to you by one of our sponsors, Imprint® Comfort Mat. I don’t know about you, but I spend a lot of time standing in my kitchen whether it is to prep for a meal or clean up after one, and thankfully Imprint® has our poor little backs in mind. Their Anti-Fatigue Comfort Mats are proven to reduce fatigue, from standing on a hard surface, by over 60%. They do this by incorporating a university tested multi-layer foam cushioning system for superior comfort. And by entering the contest below you have a chance to win one of these floor mats for free! Or, if you’d rather not wait, you can order one for 10% off (and free shipping!) by using the promo code “100RF” on www.imprintmats.com. Giveaway One 20” X 36” Imprint Nantucket Anti Fatigue Comfort Mat in “Cinnamon” color valued at $69.99
Two weeks in Asia surprisingly left me with a huge craving for Mexican food! I am normally a big fan of Asian cuisine, but I’ve never tried to eat it 24/7 for two weeks straight. Only a few days into our trip I wasn’t sure how much more rice I could handle. And I felt a little guilty about it, but on our very last night there, which was in Hong Kong, we actually went out for Italian food! How silly is that? Silly or not though, it was some of the best ravioli I’ve ever had in my life (my husband had total entrée envy). So I guess what they say is true…Hong Kong has amazing food to offer no matter what you are after. This trip was of course a tour of Asia though, and we had the opportunity to sample lots of amazing local cuisine as well. We were fortunate enough to visit Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, and Hong Kong on our travels and here are the highlights from each location… Singapore My cousin is currently working abroad in Singapore so that was our first stop.
Read the ingredients label before buying anything. For years, if I even looked at food labels, I was reviewing items such as fat grams, calorie count and sugar content. While this may be important to some, the best indicator of how highly processed a food is can actually be found in the list of ingredients. If what you are buying contains more than 5 ingredients and includes a lot of unfamiliar, unpronounceable items you should reconsider before buying. – Increase your consumption of whole foods, especially vegetables and fruits. I am sure you’ve heard similar advice a thousand times, and I hate to tell you it is true. This will help to displace the processed foods in your diet, and will actually make your food selections in general very simple. No more counting calories, fat grams, or carbs when your only concern is selecting whole foods that are, as more the product of nature than “the product of industry.”* – Buy your bread from a local bakery. I actually used to eat white bread, but what I bought for my husband from the grocery store was what I thought was whole-wheat bread. When we finally checked the ingredients and found 40 different items on the list, including white flour and sugar, we decided it was time for a change. Why would there be so many on the list if it only takes a handful of ingredients (like whole-wheat flour, water, yeast, and salt) to make bread? – In addition to your bread choice, when selecting foods like pastas, cereals, rice, and crackers always go for the whole-grain option. And don’t just believe the health claims on the outside of the box. Read the ingredient label to make sure the product is truly made with only 100% whole grains – not […]
by Andrew Wilder Hello, 100 Days of Real Food readers! Lisa has asked me to share a guest post with you while she’s on vacation, and I’m thrilled to be here. My story is remarkably similar to hers and her family’s: Until a couple of years ago, my diet was filled with processed and fried foods. After slowly gaining 30 pounds — and eventually having my “ah-ha!” moment — I started exercising and eating more healthfully. I lost the extra weight, and felt great. During that time, I read The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food, which led to my own October Unprocessed challenge last year. I discovered 100 Days of Real Food somewhere around the same time, and Lisa and I met in person at a conference a few months later. We immediately became friends, of course, since we’re kindred spirits! Any time I can find tips, tricks, or tools to help make eating healthfully easier, I get really excited. One device that has helped me tremendously is my iPhone. With this little magical gizmo always at my side, I can look up nutrition information, figure out which seafood is the best for my family and my planet, and a whole lot more. A little while back, I posted a list of 27 Apps for Healthy Foodies, on my own blog, and for this post Lisa has asked me to narrow the list down to just ten — with a focus specifically on apps that will help busy families. So without further ado, here’s my list of top ten apps for healthy foodie families. If you have other favorites, please share in the comments!
This is another one of those recipes where you can throw in whatever veggies you have on hand (and need to eat!). That is my favorite kind of recipe because I love it when you can still make a dish even if you don’t have all the “exact” ingredients. Plus if you don’t like a certain vegetable then leave it out…you can use whatever you and your family like! And I must share that my picky daughter, who normally doesn’t even eat very many vegetables, asked for thirds of the pictured vegetable pancakes. I used a mix of sweet potatoes, carrots and zucchini. I think the sweet potatoes helped to “sweeten it up,” and she absolutely loves sour cream so this side item ended up being a very big hit!
Winning over your picky eater is no easy task, but (in most cases) it can be done! Following is a list of tactics to hopefully convince your child that “real food” is good stuff. Also, don’t forget that it can take time for one’s palette to adjust to new tastes so if you experience some failed attempts at first don’t be discouraged! 1. Start by switching out the refined and processed ingredients in meals they love for healthier ones. Some recipes to consider: Whole-Wheat Macaroni and Cheese, Homemade Chicken Nuggets, Whole-Wheat Pizza and Whole-Wheat Banana Pancakes (pictured). 2. Give your child a good first impression of the real food you want them to try even if it means deep frying sweet potatoes to make French fries, making sweet zucchini bread, or coating fish in almonds and topping it with a butter sauce. Once your child thinks they like “fish” you’ll have a better chance of getting them to eat it next time (even if you cook it differently).
The winner of the L’EQUIP Nutrimill Grain Mill is Alecia Shannon! _____________________ There is no better way to kick off “Whole Grains Month” than with giving away a Nutrimill Grain Mill! Valued at more than $250, I am absolutely thrilled that our newest sponsor L’EQUIP asked me to give one of these away. I was the lucky recipient of a Nutrimill at Christmas last year and before that I honestly never knew how easy it was to grind your own grains. And I also did not know how good and fresh food would taste when made with freshly milled flour. You can completely forget that pungent and stale “whole-wheat” taste from store-bought baked goods! I admit though, when I first heard of people milling grains at home I thought it was a little crazy myself. So in order to help break down that barrier I recently published a post (with a video) entitled “Grinding your own wheat is not crazy after all.” As you can see in the video the process is really fairly simple, especially with a high-quality machine such as the Nutrimill. And for me the process is completely worth it knowing it allows me to make the most nutritious and best tasting whole-grain foods possible! Giveaway Nutrimill Grain Mill (pictured) by L’EQUIP Product Features: 20-cup capacity grain mill that keeps all the vitamins and nutrition in every batch of flour The world’s first variable texture control mill for creating fine or course flour