Category Archives: Misc

Sweet Mustard Dressing

Sweet Mustard Dressing (Oil-Free, Vegan Option)

Here’s a yummy sweet mustard dressing, made without added oils. It can be vegan, if desired, by using maple syrup in place of honey. Either option will lend a different flavor, but either way is delicious and works well on any green salad or in any food calling for a honey mustard dressing. Below is a video demonstration of how to make the dressing. The written recipe follows the video.

Enjoy!
Judi

Sweet Mustard Dressing (Oil-Free, Vegan Option)
Makes About 3 Cups

1 cup of cooked or canned (and drained) white beans of choice
1 avocado, diced
½ cup water
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup Dijon mustard
¼ cup maple syrup or honey

One-Half of the Recipe (Makes 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 cups)
1/2 cup of cooked or canned (and drained) white beans of choice
1/2 avocado, diced
1/4 cup water
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp maple syrup or honey

Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Process until smooth. Enjoy! Store extra in a covered container in the refrigerator and use within 4 days.

Fruits and Vegetables

Easy Ways to Add More Fruits and Veggies to Your Day

We all know we need to eat more plant foods…more fruits and vegetables, in particular. Most Americans don’t eat the recommended number of servings of these important foods yet they know they should. If you’re among that crowd and are looking for ways to include more plant foods into your day, I have some easy ideas for you to try.

Effective Way to Make Changes
First, remember that long-time habits cannot all be changed overnight (at least not permanently). The easiest way to make permanent change is to do it a little at a time. (Remember the saying, “Inch by inch, it’s a cinch; yard by yard, it’s hard.”) Pick something that’s do-able for you (such as always adding some type of fruit to your breakfast), make the change, and stick with it until it becomes second-nature to you…until you do it without thinking about it, and then you’re there! You’ve achieved that goal!

Next, keep that new habit and find something else to change in a positive way. Maybe find another way to add a vegetable to your lunch or to a snack food. Repeat the same process. Keep moving forward with this tactic, adding new changes when the others become a habit to you and they are “automatic.” Over time you’ll find that you’ve transformed your life (or at least your diet) for the good. Here are some ideas for adding more fruits and vegetables to your foods…

Breakfast
* Add fruit to cereal.

* Add fruit to yogurt and make it part of your breakfast.

* Add vegetables to an omelet. Mushrooms, bell peppers, onions, shredded carrots, greens (like kale), and tomatoes all blend well with eggs.

* Add fruit and greens (such as spinach) to a breakfast smoothie.

* Try a savory vegetable pancake. Sauté onions, carrots, spinach, and even mushrooms, then add them to a savory (not sweet) pancake batter. Cook as usual and enjoy (without the maple syrup). If you really want a topping, try unsweetened applesauce.

* Add diced apple to hot oatmeal or other porridge.

* Make a 100% fruit puree in advance to have available in the refrigerator. Top morning oatmeal with it.

* Is your morning time short? Try overnight oats with added berries. Add other fruits in the morning and you’ll have breakfast in no time.

* Try a loaded sweet potato for breakfast. Bake or boil it in advance, then warm it on the stove or in the microwave. Or, if time allows, pierce it and microwave it until it’s soft. Split it and fill the cavity with chopped nuts or your favorite nut butter and chopped fruit.

* Or fill a cooked sweet potato with scrambled eggs cooked with veggies such as sautéed onions, carrots, and chopped spinach.

* Sauté assorted vegetables such as kale, carrots, broccoli florets, mushrooms, and butternut squash. Add some beans, or top them with a soft-boiled egg. Have some toast, a side of cooked grain or even oatmeal.

* Add some sautéed vegetables to a breakfast burrito.

Lunch or Supper
* Enjoy a vegetable salad with your lunch (or supper), or as the whole meal. Add some fruit for sweetness, flavor and variety.

* Add as many vegetables as you can to a lunchtime sandwich. Lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, sprouts, avocado, and spinach would all work well.

* Have some veggie sticks with or without dip on the side. Jicama, carrots, cucumbers, celery, bell peppers, grape tomatoes, radishes, and even sugar snap peas and snow peas. Most offer great crunch and chewing experience while the dip can add variety in flavors. This is a healthful alternative to chips.

* Enjoy a piece of fresh fruit for dessert.

* Top meat, chicken or fish with a salsa of choice.

* Add shredded carrots, zucchini, or yellow squash to meatloaf, casseroles, and burgers (both meat and meatless).

* Add shredded vegetables to pasta sauce as it cooks. Carrots, bell peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, and yellow squash all blend well in tomato sauce.

* Add vegetables as toppings to your pizza.

* If you’re a meat eater, plan a meatless meal for one or two days a week. Plan a meal around a vegetable-based soup, stir-fry, or casserole. Add beans or legumes of choice for added protein.

* Use fresh vegetable or fruit slices as a garnish on your plate. Make a point of eating them rather than just enjoying their looks next to other foods.

* Stuff acorn (or other) squash, bell peppers, hollowed out zucchini, or spaghetti squash with a vegetable-bean mixture and enjoy that for supper. Be sure to eat the “bowl” along with the stuffing!

* Add vegetables to lasagna layers. Fresh spinach, finely shredded carrot, thinly sliced yellow squash or zucchini, and finely chopped steamed kale would all work well.

* When cooking rice or another grain for a side dish, add some frozen peas and even finely shredded carrots during the last few minutes of cooking time. Your grain will be embellished with vegetables for added color, nutrition and flavor. Not a fan of peas? Try finely shredded kale or spinach or something else that sounds good to you.

* Need a meal in a hurry? Make a quick quesadilla by stir-steaming or stir-frying some veggies (use a pack of assorted frozen (and thawed in a colander under running water) vegetables to make it even faster). Add in a handful of cooked beans, if desired. Place them on a tortilla and sprinkle with cheese of choice. Fold the tortilla, heat the tortilla on a frying pan to crisp it up some, and enjoy!

* Try cauliflower rice as a way to add more veggies to your meal. We’re not knocking rice here, just adding veggies. If you want the real thing (rice, that is), you could make a mixture of half rice and half cauliflower rice.

* Add finely chopped vegetables to polenta.

* If you’re not a huge fan of vegetables, yet want to add more to your meals, try dressing them up with your favorite salsa, glaze or sauce.

* Add pureed cauliflower, winter squash, sweet potato, or even bell peppers into sauces, mashed potatoes and even pot pies for added flavor, nutrition, and color.

* Try thickening soups and stews with vegetables instead of cornstarch. Okra will thicken, as will starchy vegetables like potatoes. Blended corn, mashed white or sweet potatoes, and pureed cooked root vegetables such as carrots may also do the trick. Although not “vegetables,” pureed beans in liquid can also be used to thicken soups. Blend equal parts of beans and soup broth. Add the slurry back to the pot and your soup should thicken.

* Try adding mashed, roasted cauliflower to mashed potatoes. This will make the potatoes healthier and creamier.

* Try a lettuce wrap. Make your usual taco, tortilla, or sandwich filling (but of course, with added veggies), then wrap it in a stack of lettuce leaves instead. Or take it one step further and try large collard green leaves, turnip green leaves, or flat-leaf kale leaves. Yet another way to add more veggies to your meal!

* Try a fish-less sushi. Use mushrooms, cucumbers, and avocado along with the sticky rice.

* Add some finely chopped spinach to your favorite risotto. Add it toward the end of cooking time since spinach cooks really fast.

* On a cold winter day, start your meal with a small warm bowl of vegetable soup as an appetizer. You’ll get veggies in and also curb your appetite so you don’t overeat.

* On a warm summer day, start your meal with a side salad or veggies and dip. Like with the soup, you’ll get more veggies in and curb your appetite a bit.

Salads
* Add vegetables to tuna, chicken, meat, or bean salads. Tomatoes, radishes, bell peppers, onions, would all work well. Serve on a bed of lettuce or spinach (and EAT the greens!).

* Include a green salad as a side dish with lunch and/or supper. Eat this, in addition to your “side” vegetable.

* Add variety to green salads by adding other vegetables such as red or green cabbage, spinach, carrots, green peas (frozen, thawed), mushrooms, celery, radishes, cucumbers, yellow squash or zucchini, broccoli and/or cauliflower, sprouts, sugar snap peas, snow peas, bell peppers, cooked green beans, scallions, tomatoes, radicchio, or any other vegetable you want.

* For a little sweetness, add some fruit to your green salads, such as pineapple, orange slices, grapes, berries of any sort, diced apples, diced pears, diced peaches, or mango cubes.

* Embrace “slaws.” Cole slaw doesn’t have to be limited to cabbage and mayonnaise. Red cabbage, green cabbage, shredded Brussels sprouts, grated kohlrabi, grated carrots, pineapple tidbits, grated apple, peanuts, hazelnuts, dried cranberries, raisins, celery root, beets, radishes, turnips, parsnips, rutabagas, and even citrus fruits can all be incorporated into assorted vegetable slaws. Experiment and get creative with this one!

* Don’t get stuck in a rut with your salads. Vary your greens. There are plenty to choose from: iceberg, romaine, green leafy lettuce, red leaf lettuce, specialty lettuces, spring mix, baby green mixes, spinach, kale, shredded cabbage, even shredded collard greens…explore what’s available in your local store or farm market!

* Don’t just vary your bed of greens, but vary your toppings too! There are lots of possibilities including tomatoes, shredded carrots, celery, bell peppers, broccoli pieces, cauliflower pieces, cucumbers, cooked green beans, frozen (and thawed) green peas, sliced olives, raw yellow squash or zucchini slices, beet slices (pickled, steamed, or raw), asparagus (raw, steamed or sautéed), parsnips (raw, steamed or sautéed), roasted Brussels sprouts (or even raw), corn (canned, raw, frozen and thawed, steamed or boiled), shaved kohlrabi, jicama, shaved celery root, natural sauerkraut or other fermented vegetables (homemade is mild tasting and less pungent than the canned variety), onions (all varieties), butternut squash (raw, cubed and roasted, steamed, or sautéed).

* Don’t toss the broccoli stems! They’re perfectly edible. If the outer layer is too tough for you, shave it off with a vegetable peeler and save it for vegetable broth. Slice the remaining stalk into your salad for an added vegetable. They are crunchy but not tough, and taste like broccoli. Why toss them???

* Try making a vegetable salad without the greens, just for something different. Load it with tomatoes, shredded carrots, onions, bell peppers, cucumbers, sugar snap peas for sweetness, and any other veggies you want. Top it with your favorite dressing and enjoy!

Snacks and Other Foods
* Have some fruits and/or vegetable pieces available to snack on whenever you have a hunger urge. Sliced bell peppers, carrot and celery sticks, sliced radishes, sliced jicama, broccoli or cauliflower florets, whole cherry or grape tomatoes, raw sugar snap peas, raw snow peas, and sliced yellow squash or zucchini would all work well. Include some whole baby cucumbers for an easy grab and go, crunchy snack. For fruit, peeled Clementine oranges, grapes, apples, pears, sliced kiwi, cubed mango, diced pineapple, strawberries, plums, peaches, cherries (when they’re in season), and bananas would all work well for a quick and handy snack. On the run? Pack them in a to-go bag and you’ll have them whenever your “snack-attack” hits you.

* Boil a whole sweet potato with the peel on. Allow it to cool then store it in the refrigerator. When hungry, cut off a slice or two and enjoy it just as it is…plain and simple. When you get used to eating foods without added sugars, a boiled sweet potato will actually taste sweet to you.

* Add shredded fruits and vegetables to baked goods like quick breads and muffins. Shredded apples, carrots, yellow squash, and zucchini would all work well.

* Use a fruit puree as a dip on a fruit and cheese tray. Pureed raspberries and/or pineapple would be good.

* Use a vegetable puree as a dip on a vegetable tray. (Example: Roasted red bell peppers blended with a little balsamic vinegar.)

* Spread your favorite nut butter on apple or pear slices for a delicious, satisfying snack.

* Add mixed berries to some vanilla yogurt for a filling snack.

* Stuff celery sticks with your favorite nut butter.

* Enjoy a slice of cantaloupe topped with cashew cream or yogurt.

* Try spreading a tortilla or flatbread with your favorite nut butter, top it with thinly sliced banana and a few raisins. Roll it up and enjoy it right away, or wrap it for a to-go snack.

* Add fresh vegetable/fruit juice to your day, not as a meal replacer, but as a supplement.

Desserts
* Instead of making overly sweetened desserts like pie, cake and cookies, enjoy a piece of fresh fruit for dessert. When your taste buds get used to not being overrun with excess sugars, a piece of fruit will actually be refreshing and taste sweet.

* Puree fresh fruit to use as a dressing over another dessert such as cake, pie, pudding, and ice cream.

* Include fruit pieces or fruit puree into desserts like parfaits and puddings.

* Stew or poach pears with a little sweetener (sugar, honey, or maple syrup) and spice (ginger, cinnamon, cloves, star anise) for an elegant dessert.

* Try banana “nice cream” by blending a frozen (peeled) banana. Period. It’s delicious as it is, but can be embellished any way you want. When blending, add in a little vanilla extract, cocoa powder, or another fruit. It can be sweetened with whatever you want, if desired. Top it with chopped nuts, dried coconut, chocolate chips or your favorite fruit puree and you have a delicious, healthy, fruity dessert ready in very little time.

* For a refreshing dessert on a hot day, swirl a freshly made fruit puree of your choice into your favorite yogurt. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze.

* Make a parfait layering pudding or yogurt with 100% fruit puree, chopped fresh fruit of choice, and granola.

* Top your favorite pudding with a fruit puree (unsweetened, of course!), or small chunks of fresh fruit of choice.

* Make a refreshing fruit salad with whatever fruit you have available. Add a topping of 100% fruit puree, or stir in some pineapple tidbits with juice, then sprinkle with unsweetened coconut.

Plan Ahead
* If you know your time will be short during the work week, take some time on the weekend or one evening to prepare some fruits and veggies in advance. For instance, salad greens can be washed, spun dry, chopped, and stored in the refrigerator, ready for fast salad assembly any time you need it. Other salad vegetables may also be chopped in advance and stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for faster salad making.

* On a day off, make a large pot of soup that’s loaded with assorted vegetables. In fact, double the veggies (or at least increase the amount) called for in the recipe (if possible). This will increase the “hearty factor” of the soup along with the nutritional punch. Divide it into containers for grab-and-go lunches for the week, or for quick suppers when time is short.

* “Ditto” the above suggestion for making a large casserole with extra veggies on a day off. You’ll have lunches (or easy suppers) ready to go for the week.

* If you’re cooking something in the oven and have space, add some sweet potatoes wherever there’s room so they can bake at the same time. Enjoy them with meals during the week, or save them for special, sweet and satisfying snacks when needed.

* Keep frozen vegetables in the freezer. They can be ready at a moment’s notice to be used in a number of ways. Add them to soups, casseroles, stir-fries, quiches, pasta dishes, and rice or grain dishes. Thaw frozen vegetables like peas and carrots and add them to a green salad for extra nutrients, flavor, and variety.

* When grocery shopping, look for something new that you haven’t tried before in the produce isle. Make a point of including that in at least one dish during the coming week.

* Keep frozen assorted fruit in the freezer. This is handy especially when they’re out of season or you don’t have time to get to the store. They can be included in smoothies, blended into desserts, or thawed and used in whatever way needed.

* If you’ll be going off somewhere for the day, pack ready-to-go snack bags of easy to munch on veggies, like baby carrots, grape tomatoes, cucumber slices or baby whole cucumbers, sugar snap peas, snow peas, celery sticks, bell pepper strips, and maybe some easy to eat fruit like grapes, a plum, or a banana.

With all the suggestions above, I hope this gives you some ideas as to what will work for you in adding more fruits and vegetables to your day. If you have suggestions not mentioned above, please feel free to share them below! I’d love to hear from you!

Judi

About Judi
Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.

Vegan Mayonnaise

Vegan Mayonnaise (Oil Free)

Here’s a great substitute for traditional mayonnaise, if you’re looking for something that’s vegan and free of added oils. It’s easy to make and blends up quickly. Below is a video demonstration of how to make the mayo. The written recipe is below.

Enjoy!
Judi

Vegan Mayonnaise
(White Bean and Avocado Mayo)
Makes About 2 Cups

1 (15 oz) can of white beans of choice OR 1-3/4 cups cooked white beans of choice
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Avocado, diced
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp water or aquafaba (reserved bean juice from the can)

One-Half of the Recipe (Makes about 1 cup)
1/2 (15 oz) can of white beans of choice OR ½ cup + 3/8 cup cooked white beans of choice
1/2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 Avocado, diced
1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp water or aquafaba (reserved bean juice from the can)

One-Fourth of the Recipe (Makes about ½ cup)
1/4 (15 oz) can of white beans of choice OR Scant ½ cup cooked white beans of choice
¾ tsp Dijon mustard
¼ Avocado, diced
¾ tsp lemon juice
¾ tsp white wine vinegar
½ Tbsp water or aquafaba (reserved bean juice from the can)

Rinse and drain the canned beans, reserving the liquid from the can, if opting to use it. Place all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Use as you would any mayonnaise. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator and use within 5 days.

Cook’s Note: Since this is made with avocado, it will have a pale green tint, which is unlike traditional mayonnaise. However, the flavor is very similar to that of traditional mayonnaise.

Blended Creamy Orange Dessert

Blended Creamy Orange Dessert

Here’s a FAST and easy refreshing dessert or snack to make on a hot summer day. It’s simple to make, with few ingredients and can easily be tailored to your preferences. It reminds me of the Creamsicle popsicles I used to eat when I was young! The recipe makes 1 hefty serving or 2 modest servings, but can easily be increased to accommodate however many you need to feed. Below is a short video demonstration of how to make this dessert. The written recipe follows the video.

Enjoy!
Judi

Blended Creamy Orange Dessert
Makes 1 to 2 Servings

6 each (about ½ cup) frozen mango chunks
6 each (about ½ cup) frozen papaya chunks
1/3 cup orange juice
1/3 cup coconut milk (canned, unsweetened, full-fat variety)

Place all ingredients in a small blender or food processor. Process briefly until smooth. Enjoy immediately!

Note: Sweetener can be added to this, if desired. This recipe can EASILY be increased to make whatever amount you need!

Homemade Vegetable Broth

Homemade Vegetable Broth

Making your own vegetable broth is not hard. Yes, it does take a little time, but it’s a great way to use up some vegetable scraps and can save a lot of money over time if you use a lot of it when cooking. Why not give it a try? You can make a small amount just for starters to see how it goes for you. When you’re comfortable, make a big pot of it, divide it into containers holding the amount you expect to use at one time, and freeze it. It should keep for up to 6 months in the freezer. What you add to your vegetable broth can vary according to what you have available and your personal preferences. There are few “hard and fast” rules to making it, so why not make some? If nothing else, add it to homemade vegetable soup and you’ll be glad you did!

Below is a video demonstration of how I make my own vegetable broth. The written recipe is below that, followed by ideas on ways to use the leftover vegetables from the broth.

Enjoy!
Judi

Homemade Vegetable Broth

1 onion, chopped (or 4 tablespoons of dried minced onion)
4 stalks celery, chopped
4 carrots, sliced
4 to 6 cups chopped greens of your choice (i.e. kale, collards, cabbage, bok choy, turnip greens)
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
2 Tbsp dried parsley
4 Bay leaves
2 tsp dried thyme
Salt and pepper (to taste, optional)*
Water to fill the pot

Optional add-ins of choice:
Bell peppers
Mushrooms
Corn cobs
Any vegetable scraps you saved in the freezer for making broth
Sugar
Garlic
Nutritional yeast
Marjoram

Place all ingredients in a large pot with a lid. Fill the pot with water. Cover the pot and bring everything to boil. Lower the heat, and allow everything to simmer for at least 1 hour (2 hours or more is preferable to get the most flavor out of your vegetables). When the vegetables are well cooked and flavors blended, remove the pot from the heat and allow it to cool some. Strain out the vegetables and place the broth in covered containers and label with the date made. Store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Note: When freezing broth, it is helpful to store it in containers that hold the amount you anticipate needing (or in increments of that amount). For instance, storing it in 1, 2 or 4-cup increments can be helpful when making soups calling for broth. Simply remove one or two containers and you’ll know you have the right amount of broth needed for your recipe.

* Adding salt, pepper, and other seasonings (such as garlic) is actually optional. Remember that your broth will be used in future recipes to add flavor to foods. It is generally not used alone as a soup in itself, but added to soups for flavor. Being conservative on seasonings allows you the freedom to season future dishes appropriately without having to take into consideration what was already added to the broth.

Ideas for using the vegetables from making the broth…
Yes, the flavor of the vegetables WILL be diminished after cooking them to make broth (at least, that’s the goal). But they are still OK to eat and there is still some nourishment left in them, along with their fiber. So, why not use them somehow? Here are some ideas.

* Season them with your favorite herbs and maybe a little salt and pepper, and simply eat them as a side dish with a meal. If the flavor is still too bland, combine them with some vegetables that were not used in making the broth. Cook the “new” vegetables however you want and add in the broth vegetables at the last minute, just to heat them up.

* Add them along with fresh vegetables to soups (especially vegetable soup), stews, and casseroles.

* Add them along with sautéed mushrooms and onions to an omelet.

* Puree them and add them to a Sloppy Joe mixture for bulk and thickening.

* Season them and serve them over rice or another grain.

* Add them to quinoa salad.

* Puree them and add them to chili as a thickening agent.

* Freeze them for later use.

* Squeeze them through a colander, in cheesecloth, or through a nut milk bag to get yet more broth out of them. Make pulp crackers with the pulp or add it to your compost pile.

* Puree them and add them to tomato or marinara sauce.

* Puree them and add them to burger patties or meatloaf (both meat or meatless).

* Puree them in a food processor, season the mash to your liking, spread onto dehydrator trays and dry them into veggie crackers.

* Puree the vegetables and stir them into softened cream cheese, cashew cream, or another base. Add whatever seasonings you like and use it as a vegetable dip.

* Puree the vegetables and use them as a base for creamy potato soup.

* If nothing else appeals to you, add them to a compost pile.

About Judi
Julia W. Klee (Judi) began h
er journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.

(Almost) Tropical Slushy

(Almost) Tropical Slushy

Here’s a REALLY fast, easy and delicious dessert or treat you can whip up in no time on a hot summer day. This is a spoonable treat, not your typical slushy that you sip through a straw. The recipe makes about 3 servings, but it could VERY easily be increased to make whatever amount you want. It’s best served right away, but can be kept in the refrigerator for later use and partially refrozen if needed.

Below is a video showing how to make this treat. The written recipe follows the video.

Enjoy!
Judi

(Almost) Tropical Slushy
Makes 3 Servings

1 cup very cold (or partially frozen) roasted butternut squash*
1 cup frozen mango cubes (not thawed)
½ cup canned pineapple with juice**

Place all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. If you prefer a sweeter mixture, add a little sweetener of your choice. Serve immediately.

Note: This mixture is at its best when it is freshly made and has partially frozen elements in it. It will be like a spoonable slushy. Store any leftover mixture in a covered container in the refrigerator. The leftover mixture will taste good, but will not taste as sweet as when it is icy cold.

* For a true slushy texture, place the butternut squash in the freezer and use it when it is partially frozen (but not rock solid).

** Any type of canned pineapple may be used since it will be blended smooth. Fresh pineapple may also be used, but you may need to add a couple tablespoons of water or pineapple juice so it will blend smoothly.

About Judi
Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.

Black-Eyed Pea Dip

Black-Eyed Pea Dip

Here’s an easy and healthful dip made with black-eyed peas. It’s vegan, SOS-free, healthful, easy to make, and delicious. It works well with vegetable sticks, chips, pita bread, with a salad, and can even be used as a sandwich spread. Try it sometime!

Below is a video demonstration of how to make the dip. The written recipe is below the video.

Enjoy!
Judi

Black-Eyed Pea Dip
Makes about 2-1/2 Cups

2 cups cooked black-eyed peas (or 1 (15-oz) can of black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained)
1/2 avocado, diced
1/4 tsp garlic powder (or 2 small cloves garlic, chopped)
1/3 cup chopped onion, or ½ tsp onion powder
1 stalk celery, chopped
1/3 cup chopped bell pepper
½ tsp dried dill weed
3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar or lemon juice

Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings, if needed. Serve with vegetables, crackers, pita bread, and chips, or use as a condiment on wraps and sandwiches. Store leftover in a covered container in the refrigerator and use within 3 days.

Cabbage

Inexpensive Foods with Tips for Healthy Eating When Money is Short

We’ve all had times when money is tight. It’s never fun, but in the vast majority of cases, things WILL get better. It’s usually a matter of “hanging in there” until it does. In the meantime, here is a list of inexpensive foods and tips for healthy eating that can help you make it through the tough times.

 

Vegetables…

Fresh Carrots

Fresh carrots are a great buy year-round. A one-pound bag is under a dollar in most grocery stores and can go a long way in servings. There is little waste, especially if they are not peeled. Simply wash them very well and cut off the ends and any area that doesn’t look good. They can be eaten raw in salads or as a snack, added to soups, stews, and casseroles, served as a side dish, and included in main dishes. A pound of carrots yields about 3-1/2 cups when sliced. Assuming a serving is about one cup, and the cost of one pound of carrots is $0.75, that brings the cost per serving to about $0.21. The cost of a half-cup serving of cooked carrots, at $0.75 per pound would be about $0.11 each.

Fresh Cabbage

A head of fresh cabbage packs a lot of food within its head. Whether it’s chopped, shredded, fermented, stir-fried, boiled, roasted, sautéed, or used as a wrap, we can get a lot of mileage out of one head of cabbage. One pound of shredded cabbage yields about 4-1/2 cups. Most cabbages weigh well over one pound, so if you opt for a heavy cabbage, you’ll get a lot of servings out of it. Assuming one serving is one cup of shredded cabbage, and assuming that cabbage cost $0.68 per pound, that brings the cost per serving to a mere $0.15.

White Potatoes

A five-pound bag of white potatoes can often be found for around $2.50, or even less. One pound of potatoes yields about 3-1/2 cups chopped or 2-3 cups mashed. Assuming a serving size is 2/3 cup, at $2.50 for five pounds, that brings the cost per serving of chopped potatoes to around $0.09, and mashed potatoes to around $0.13.

Sweet Potatoes

Fresh. Fresh sweet potatoes are usually around $1.00 per pound (sometimes less). As with white potatoes, one pound yields about 3-1/2 cups chopped. So comparisons are equal, assuming a serving size is 2/3 cup (which is what is listed as a serving size on the canned sweet potatoes), at $1.00 per pound, that brings the cost per serving to about $0.19.

Canned. A 40-ounce can of yams sells for about $2.25. The Nutrition Facts panel lists a serving size as being 2/3 cup with 7 servings being in the can (including the liquid). At that rate of usage, the cost per serving is about $0.32. Note that canned yams are usually packed with added sweeteners. If you are trying to avoid such additives, fresh sweet potatoes would be your best option.

Lettuce

Whole heads of lettuce are usually your cheapest option when buying lettuce. They are often the freshest to choose from, offer the most lettuce for your money, and have been shown to have the lowest bacterial count among the options, even when compared with triple-washed lettuce and lettuce blends in bags and plastic boxes. A whole head of non-organic lettuce averages about $1.50, with organic options up to twice that amount.

One head of lettuce yields from 4 to 6 cups when torn, depending upon the variety. For the sake of comparison, we’ll assume one head of lettuce yields 5 cups of torn leaves. Assuming 1 cup is a serving, that brings one serving of torn lettuce leaves to about $0.30. When comparing head lettuce to spring mix baby leaves in an 11-ounce tub that sells for $4.84, a one cup serving comes to $0.69 each.

Cauliflower (Fresh Whole Head vs Frozen Florets)

Fresh. The advantage to buying a whole head of cauliflower is that they are usually priced individually rather than by the pound. Choose a fresh cauliflower that feels very heavy for its size, with no browning on the surface, and you’ll get a lot of bang for your buck. A medium head of cauliflower yields about 6 servings and averages about $2.75 in cost. That brings the cost per serving to $0.46.

Frozen Cauliflower Florets. Frozen cauliflower florets may be found in some stores. When writing this, I found a 12-ounce bag of frozen cauliflower florets for $1.79. The Nutrition Facts panel suggested a serving size as being ¾ of a cup, with 3 servings in the bag. That brings the cost to $0.60 per serving.

Fresh Kale or Other Greens by the Bunch

A one-pound bag of fresh (not organic) kale costs about $2.94. The bag lists about 6 servings per bag. That comes to $0.49 per serving.

Bunches of fresh greens, such as kale, turnip greens, and collard greens often sell for about $1.48 each. Bunch sizes vary, so it’s impossible to precisely state the cost per serving. However, assuming one bunch offers 4 servings, at $1.48, it comes to $0.37 per serving. With that, the individual bunches of greens are cheaper per serving than the prepackaged one-pound bags.

Canned Tomatoes and Tomato Paste

Canned tomatoes and tomato paste are available in just about any grocery store year-round. They are inexpensive and flavorful additions to many foods. They can be added to soups, stews, casseroles, sauces, dressings, and even beverages. Unless you grow your own tomatoes, the canned varieties are usually cheaper than buying fresh tomatoes for the same applications. The price of canned tomatoes (14.5-ounces) usually starts around $1.00 a can, with name brands being a little higher. Generic (6-ounce) cans of tomato paste may start as low as $0.42 a can with name brands being higher than that. Whichever you choose, they are a great buy and can add a lot of flavor to foods.

Frozen Vegetables

Frozen vegetables are a very easy and convenient food to have available. They can be used as side dishes and included into a wide array of other foods like salads, soups, stews, casseroles, etc. Many people are now buying frozen vegetables in steamable packaging, which makes cooking them in the microwave very easy and convenient. However, when comparing the cost per serving, the steamable packaging often adds extra expense to the vegetables. Notice that I said “often.” That is because this is not always the case. In this case, it’s helpful to compare cost per serving to determine which is cheaper…frozen vegetables in steamable packaging or those in regular packaging that cannot be placed in the microwave. Usually, those packaged in regular packaging are cheaper per serving, but not always, especially when comparing like items in a generic brand. That being said, however you buy them, frozen vegetables can go a long way in helping to stretch the food budget, depending upon how they are used.

Fresh Celery (Whole Bunch, Not Celery Hearts)

When shopping for celery, choosing the entire bunch will be cheaper than selecting a package of celery hearts. The whole bunch includes the leaves and root end. Many people cut off and discard the leaves, however, they are completely edible and add celery flavor to any dish they’re added to. If you have aversion to eating the celery leaves, place them in the freezer and save them for soup or stock. The entire bunch of celery often can be purchased for about $1.50, whereas the celery hearts will cost more than that, sometimes up to $3.00 for organic varieties.

Fresh Onions

One 3-pound bag of yellow onions can be found at many grocery stores for around $1.50 a bag. Onions are essential for flavoring some foods, and a 3-pound bag of onions can go a long way when being added to freshly prepared foods. They can be used raw in salads and on sandwiches, added to a huge array of cooked foods, and even caramelized and eaten as a side dish with a uniquely sweet flavor. For anyone who prepares food “from scratch” onions are a very inexpensive essential ingredient.

Fresh Garlic

Fresh garlic may appear to be expensive, since it is usually priced by the pound. However, a bulb of garlic is small and lightweight, bringing the cost per bulb down more than you would think at first glance. When priced by the “each,” garlic bulbs can be found for $0.50 each. Like onions, garlic is an essential ingredient in many home-cooked foods and there simply is no substitution. Considering that many recipes call for only one or two garlic cloves at a time, you can get some flavor bang for your buck when buying garlic.

 

Fruit…

Bananas

Bananas are one of the cheapest fruits available, often selling for around $0.69 a pound (and sometimes less). One medium banana will usually cost around $0.25 each, of course depending upon its size. They are filling and nutritious, so bananas are excellent options when on a tight budget. Even better is the fact that you can buy whatever number of bananas you want, down to only one, if needed.

Fresh Pineapple

Fresh pineapple is a fruit you may not think of when on a tight budget. However, they can often be found for around $2.25 each. Considering how much fruit you get from one whole pineapple, it’s a good buy, especially when comparing it to the cost of canned pineapple. One fresh pineapple contains about 5 cups of pineapple when cut into cubes. One-half cup is considered to be a serving, so one whole pineapple has about 10 servings of fruit. At $2.25 each, one serving of fresh pineapple comes to about $0.23. One 20-ounce can of pineapple chunks (packed in juice) sells for about $1.28. The can holds about 4-1/2 (1/2 cup) servings, bring the cost per serving to $0.28, so fresh pineapple is a better buy.

Watermelon (when in season)

One large watermelon in season offers a lot of servings and is a great bargain when considering the number of servings you get per fruit. When in season, they are usually sold by weight and are very inexpensive since they are usually plentiful. When off-season, many stores still carry them, but they are much more costly and would not be the cheapest option during the winter months and early Spring. Choose a melon that is heavy for its size, sounds hollow when tapped, and is yellowish on the side where it rested on the ground. There may be pre-cut melons available, but they will cost more per pound than the whole melons.

Frozen Mangoes

When thinking about inexpensive foods, mangoes usually don’t come to mind. However, when comparing the cost of a fresh mango to a large bag of frozen mango chunks, the frozen bag wins the prize. I found a 48-ounce bag of generic brand frozen mango chunks for $6.47. That may sound a bit pricey, but when considering the contents vs buying that same amount in fresh mangos, I considered the frozen option to be a good buy. The large bag had 10 each 1-cup servings, which is equivalent to about 10 average size mangoes. With the price of the large bag, that comes to about $0.65 per mango or per 1-cup serving. Where I live, fresh mangos usually sell for about $1.00 each. Sometimes they sell for less, but it’s not often that I can find them for as low as $0.65 each. So, with all things considered, if you enjoy mangoes, the frozen option may be a good choice for you. Also, the advantage of the frozen option is that you won’t be in a rush to eat them before they go bad. You can simply take what you need from the bag without issue.

 

Grain Products…

Oats

Oats have become increasingly more popular these days. They can be used as a traditional breakfast porridge, eaten soaked with milk of choice, made into oat milk, added to burgers and other foods, and even eaten in savory dishes at meals other than breakfast. When comparing prices, I focused on old fashioned rolled oats, either regular or quick cooking. Prices varied a lot, with $0.11 to $0.13 being the lowest cost per ½-cup serving (when measured dry) of rolled oats.

When comparing the price of steel cut oats, the cost per serving was about $0.18.

Rice

White Rice Long-Grain. There are many types of rice on the market, and they each have their own price points. For the most part, whichever type of rice you buy, it will have a relatively low cost per serving. When comparing the ever-popular long grain white rice, the cost per serving ranged from $0.04 to $0.08. This is an EXTREMELY low-cost food when considering cost per serving and can be a staple for many meals when on a tight budget.

Brown Rice, Long-Grain. When comparing the price per serving of brown rice, it was very comparable to the long-grain white rice, averaging about $0.06 per serving.

Pasta

Pasta is a standard low-cost food, often being sold for around $1.00 to $1.30 a pound (for traditional wheat-based pasta). It can be used in salads, side dishes, main dishes, soups, casseroles, and even as a crust for pizza. Food processors often list 2 ounces of dry pasta as a serving. From my personal experience, I find that to be about half what I would normally eat when having pasta as a main course. So, assuming pasta is the main course, we’ll count 4 ounces (dry) as one serving. At $1.30 a pound, that brings the cost of one serving to $0.33. If serving pasta as a side dish, using 2 ounces (dry) per serving, the cost would be about $0.16.

Bread

Bread can serve as a foundational element of many meals, from sandwiches to French toast to being used as a pizza base. Assuming a loaf of traditional bread costs about $3.00 and has 22 slices, the cost per slice is $0.14. The cost of specialty bread such as gluten-free bread is usually twice that of traditional wheat bread, and often has fewer slices per loaf. Assuming the cost of such a loaf is $6.00 with only 12 slices, the cost per slice is much higher at $0.50. If you’re on a tight budget and must eat gluten-free, then such bread may be too costly when money is tight. Opting for something else may be preferred.

 

Protein Foods…

Peanut (and Nut) Butter

Peanut butter can be used as a sandwich and snack filling, and even as a thickener and flavoring agent in sauces, dressings, and other foods. All nut/peanut butters are considered to be good sources of protein and may help meet nutritional needs, especially when dollars are short. Peanut butter is usually cheaper than nut butters, and is available in most grocery stores. Prices per 2-tablespoon serving vary widely among different types of peanut butters. One name brand all-natural peanut butter sold for $4.86 for a 26-ounce jar. The price per serving came to $0.21. Another name brand option of traditional peanut butter sold for $5.44 for a 40-ounce jar, bringing the cost per serving to $.16. A generic brand of traditional peanut butter sold for $4.68 for a 64-ounce jar, bringing the cost per serving to $0.08. DO read the labels because all peanut butters are not created alike. Ingredients DO vary, so be sure you’re getting what you need before making your purchase.

Nut butters vary in price depending upon the type of nut or seed used in the butter. When comparing a name brand of almond butter with a generic brand, of course the generic brand was cheaper per serving. The name brand sold for $6.97 for a 12-ounce jar, with 11 servings, bringing the cost per serving to $0.64. That may be too high when money is tight. The generic brand of almond butter was a little cheaper, selling for $4.98 for 12 ounces, bringing the cost per serving to $0.45. That is still not an extremely cheap food, but it is less costly than meat. So, it may or may not work for you when money is tight.

Dried Beans, Lentils, and Chick Peas

Dried legumes are well known for being inexpensive sources of protein. They can be cooked and used as a main dish or side dish, and added to soups, stews, casseroles, burger, tacos, burritos, and even salads. The prices will vary among the different varieties, but any way you go, you’ll get a lot of food for your dollar. Yes, they must be soaked and cooked, but there is not a lot of hands-on time spent in the process, and it’s actually very easy. Extras can be stored in the refrigerator or in the freezer for a longer period of time. Dried beans, lentils and peas should be a first-choice for a protein source when on a tight budget.

Canned Baked Beans

Canned baked beans are a very inexpensive choice when planning meals on a tight budget. Simply open the can and they are ready to use. They can be used as-is or more flavorings added, if desired, although that is not mandatory. One name brand of baked beans was sold for $1.50 for a 28-ounce can. The can held 6 each ½-cup servings, bringing the cost per serving to $0.25. Putting together a main dish with canned baked beans can’t be any easier when on a tight budget!

Canned Tuna

Canned tuna is another very quick and easy protein option when planning meals on a tight budget. When comparing prices, a 12-ounce can of name brand tuna sold for $2.08. There were three servings listed on the Nutrition Facts panel, bringing the cost per serving to $0.69. Not bad for a complete protein, and it’s cheaper than meat.

Eggs

A dozen eggs can be found in just about any grocery store. They often sell for around $1.50 a dozen, coming to about $0.13 each. This is REALLY inexpensive considering they can be used as a main course, boiled and added to salads and other dishes, used as binding agents in breads, pancakes, and other cooked or baked foods, and even eaten as snacks. When on a tight budget, having a dozen eggs in the refrigerator can help to stretch your dollars in a lot of ways!

 

Dairy…

Milk

Buying milk by the gallon is cheaper than buying it in smaller containers. If you’re a milk drinker, this may be your preferred option. Nonfat dry milk is usually cheaper than fluid milk, but the flavor is certainly not the same. If you don’t use a lot of milk, but want to have some available, consider buying a small box of dry milk and mix up only what you need at the moment.

Non-Dairy Milk

Non-dairy milks are without a doubt more expensive than cow’s milk. However, there are many reasons why some people avoid cow’s milk and opt for plant-based milks. If you prefer plant-based milks yet find them to be too expensive at the moment, consider making your own oat milk. It’s not hard to make, and you can easily make as much or as little as you want at a time. This saves money and allows you to use what you probably already have in your pantry.

 

Tips for Healthy Eating When Money is Short…

Plan Home-Cooked Meals and Make a Grocery List

Take time to plan your meals in advance, if at all possible. When money is tight, it’s far cheaper to prepare meals yourself than ordering take-out or going to your favorite restaurant. Take a look in the refrigerator, pantry and freezer and incorporate what you can that you already have into the next week’s meals. This will not only save money, but will help to rotate your food so it’s used before it gets stale or goes bad. Make a grocery list of what you’ll need (that you don’t already have) to make those meals. Try to avoid adding too many extra things that won’t be needed for the next week.

Stick with Your Grocery List When Shopping

When you’re at the store do your best to stick with your grocery list. When choosing items, look for the cheapest option and choose that, if it will work for you. This might be the least cost per ounce, pound, or by the “each.” Sometimes the label on the store shelf will list the price per unit. This can make shopping easier than trying to do the math yourself. If you see something you forgot to add to the list that you know you don’t have at home and will need for the meals you’ve planned, then get it. If it’s not needed for the next week, let it wait and save those few dollars for the moment.

Save Time by Fixing Large Meals and Using the Leftovers

This saves time over the course of the week. Leftovers can be used for lunches the next day, or used as small portions along with a salad for another main meal. They can also be frozen in individual serving size containers for use later when time and/or money is short.

Avoid Shopping When You’re Hungry

Shopping when you’re hungry is a BIG way to add to the grocery bill. It’s all-too-easy to pick up extra items when you have an empty stomach. Before you know it, you’ve gone way over budget. So, try to arrange your shopping trips after having eaten a substantial meal. It’ll do a budget good!

Buy Less Processed Foods (Strive for None)

Less processed, whole foods are healthier to eat than processed. Sometimes, they are cheaper. For instance, a brick of cheese is usually less costly than shredded packaged cheese. A whole cauliflower is cheaper than packaged cut cauliflower. A whole melon will be cheaper per pound than a cut melon. Nevertheless, many people swear that processed foods are cheaper when groceries are tallied. In some cases, that may be true. However, when considering the toll processed foods have on your health, eating whole, unprocessed foods (and preparing meals yourself from plain ingredients) will help to regain and preserve your health far better than their processed counterparts. There’s an adage that applies here… “You either pay for it at the grocery store, or pay later at the doctor’s office.” Truer words could never be spoken when it comes to food. If you want to keep or regain your health, remember that motto and opt for less processed foods any time you can. Your body will thank you for it. AND, so will your pocketbook in the long run!

Buy Generic Brands When You Can

Buy generic brands if you can. Read the labels to be sure they will meet your needs. Sometimes the ingredients in generic brands will differ than those in the name brands. This may or may not be right for you. If possible, use the generic brands since they will almost always be cheaper.

Avoid Junk Food

If a food won’t promote good health, then it’s not worth spending your precious dollars on. If you yearn for a dessert after a meal, choose fresh fruit instead of something laden with added sugars, fat and empty calories. Those foods are unhealthy to eat and are expensive too. Enjoy a piece of fresh fruit and savor it as you eat it. Slow down, enjoy the moment, taste the natural sweetness, chew slowly, and enjoy nature’s bounty as it is intended to be enjoyed.

Take Advantage of Sales

If items you use on a regular basis are on sale, buy a few extra to save dollars over time. If the items are perishable, make sure you can use them before they go bad. Otherwise, you’re simply tossing your hard-earned dollars in the trash.

Eat More Plant Proteins

Plant proteins such as beans, peas, lentils, nuts and seeds are cheaper per serving than most animal proteins. Such foods also provide an array of vitamins and minerals, along with fiber that is not found in animal foods. Even if you enjoy meat, fish and poultry, making one or two days a week “meat-free” will boost your health in many ways as well as giving your budget some relief.

Shop in Season

Fresh foods in season will often be cheaper than those that had to be shipped half way around the world to reach you during off-season months. Foods in season will also be higher in nutrient value than older ones that had to be shipped long distances to reach your grocery store. So, shopping in season and buying locally when possible not only gives your wallet a break, but also boosts your nutritional intake too.

Don’t Forget Frozen Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are usually frozen soon after being harvested. So in some ways, they may be fresher than their counterparts in the fresh produce isle. There may be some nutrient loss during the freezing process, but there is also nutrient loss over time in fresh fruits and vegetables. The only way to get around that is to pick your own from your personal garden or a local farm. Shopping at a local farm market is the next best thing, but in many areas they are not available year-round. Your next best option would be to choose frozen fruits and vegetables. Frozen fruits and vegetables can be used in meals, added to smoothies, used as a topping for morning porridge, thawed and used in salads and desserts. They are very convenient since they will be there when you’re ready for them, with no worries about perishability in the refrigerator.

Buy in Bulk When You Can

If you have storage room, buying in bulk can save money over time since many foods are cheaper by the “unit” when purchased in bulk. Grains are an excellent example. Rice, millet, barley, and oats can often be found in bulk, whether online or in some grocery stores.

Start a Garden, If Possible

Growing your own food is not only rewarding, but cheaper than buying it in grocery stores. Seeds are inexpensive, considering the yield you get from a mere seed or two. Extra seeds can be kept in the freezer to prolong their life, so they can be good for more than one growing season. Also, freshly grown produce often tastes better than store-bought, and its nutrient content should be higher than that of store-bought counterparts since they are not as old. So, get venturesome and start a garden if you can. Start small as you learn, then plant larger gardens as time, space, and knowledge allows.

Pack Your Lunch

Taking your own lunch ensures you have complete control over what’s in your meals. You’ll very likely be eating more nutritious meals than you would have if buying your lunch out, AND you’ll be saving money too. If you’re used to buying lunch out on a regular basis, taking your own lunch may seem like a daunting task. However, it doesn’t have to be. Make extra food in the evenings, pack it up in a to-go container, and place it in the refrigerator for the night. In the morning, simply take your lunch container to work with you and store it in the refrigerator there, if there is one. If not, put it in an insulated bag with ice packs and it should keep well for you until lunchtime. Most offices have a microwave available, so if it needs to be heated, use the microwave. Packing lunch for the next day while preparing supper (OR packing some leftovers when you’re finished eating supper) makes taking your lunch extremely easy and doesn’t take any extra time in the morning. Simple planning ahead makes this very do-able.

 

Resources
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/29-cheap-healthy-foods#section2

https://tuppennysfireplace.com/best-frugal-foods-buy-broke/

https://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/spending/articles/cheap-foods-to-buy-when-youre-broke

https://familiesforfinancialfreedom.com/cheapest-groceries-list/

https://greatist.com/health/44-healthy-foods-under-1#Drinks

https://www.mymoneyblog.com/cheapest-vegetables.html

https://www.thekitchn.com/best-cheap-fruits-vegetables-258057

https://www.backyardboss.net/cheapest-fruits-and-vegetables/

https://www.almanac.com/content/measuring-vegetables-recipes-pounds-cups#

https://www.walmart.com/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/19-ways-to-eat-healthy-on-a-budget#section5

https://www.wisechoicemarket.com/blog/-the-true-cost-of-processed-foods/

 

About Judi

Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.

Blueberries

How to Keep Blueberries Fresh

Fresh blueberries are certainly seasonal. But with the wonders of modern transportation, we can find fresh blueberries in most grocery stores year-round. To say the least, they’re healthful to eat and most of us would benefit from including them in our foods as much as possible. Yet, we’ve all experienced the disappointment of having our prized fresh blueberries turn to moldy mush in the refrigerator. AND, this happens FAR earlier than expected. So, what can we do to remedy this situation? I found a way…read on!

First, moisture is the problem with fresh blueberries. With these delicious berries, moisture invites mold and decay. So, it’s important to keep your fresh berries as dry as possible. Absolutely don’t wash them until you’re about to use them! “OK, I know that” you say.

Here’s the key…When you get your fresh pack of blueberries home, before putting them in the refrigerator, look at the bottom of the carton. If it has a moisture absorber in it, great! Some packages have them whereas others do not. So, that’s Tip #1…look for a moisture absorber.

Tip #2…If it doesn’t have a moisture absorber at the bottom of the container, OR if the moisture absorber looks damp, you’ll need to add your own moisture absorber. It’s really simple. Gently transfer the berries to a clean, DRY bowl. Fold a paper towel or two to fit the bottom of the container and lay the folded paper towel in the container. Gently transfer the berries back into their original container and store them in the refrigerator. It’s THAT simple. They WILL last longer because the paper towel will help to absorb moisture that is released from the berries as they sit in their box.

Tip #3…To take this one step further and help the berries to last even longer, save a container from berries that you’ve finished up. Wash the container well and allow it to dry completely. When you purchase your next box of fresh berries, follow the same procedure as Tip #2, but also place a folded paper towel in the bottom of your extra container. When you return your newly purchased berries back to their container, divide the berries between the two containers, leaving each container only about half full. This allows for more air flow around the berries, helping them to keep fresh even longer.

I’ve tried these methods and trust me, they work! Our fresh berries have lasted much longer than when we simply put the containers directly in the refrigerator. Now, please don’t ask me exactly how long the berries will keep like this. That depends upon how old the berries are to begin with, so I can’t predict that. Nevertheless, we have not had to toss moldy berries in the trash since I started doing this simple trick.

Below are videos where I demonstrate these tips. I hope this helps!

Enjoy,
Judi

Keep Blueberries fresh longer…

About Judi
Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.

Quinoa

Quinoa 101 – The Basics

Do you enjoy quinoa, but are looking for some new ideas on how to flavor it, or what to do with it? I have answers! Below is a comprehensive article all about quinoa, from what it is and its health benefits, to how to select, store and prepare it, as well as serving ideas and tips, along with what goes well with quinoa. I even have some suggested recipe links to help you in your quest to find that perfect quinoa dish!

Enjoy!
Judi

Quinoa 101 – The Basics

About Quinoa
Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is typically used as a grain, but it is actually a seed in the same family as beets, chard, and spinach. It is not a member of the grass family of plants, as are grains. Quinoa has been enjoyed as a staple food for thousands of years beginning in South America, where it was called “the gold of the Incas.” Still today, Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador remain the world’s top producers of this healthful seed.

There are different varieties of quinoa, usually denoted by their color. We see white or ivory quinoa most often in American grocery stores. But it can also be found in various shades of yellow, red and black. The white or ivory variety has the mildest flavor and cooks the fastest. The flavor of red and black quinoa is described as stronger and more earthy. Nevertheless, all varieties of quinoa have a nut-like flavor. Quinoa is naturally gluten-free is rated as being low in allergenic properties.

Nutrition and Health Benefits of Quinoa
For its size, this tiny seed offers a lot of nutrients. It supplies a lot of manganese, phosphorus, copper, magnesium, folate, fiber (both soluble and insoluble), and zinc. It also has small amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, and more monounsaturated fats than cereal grains. A three-fourth cup serving has 222 calories and 8 grams of high-quality protein (16% Daily Value). Its high fiber and protein content work together to qualify quinoa as a low-glycemic index food.

Furthermore, quinoa is also high in anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, giving this seed even more healthful benefits in the prevention and treatment of disease.

How to Select Quinoa
When buying quinoa, be sure there are no rips in the bag or box. Also look for signs of moisture or insects and avoid any such packages.

How to Store Quinoa
Quinoa will last for several months when kept in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. If kept in the refrigerator or freezer, uncooked quinoa will keep for 2 to 3 years. Cooked quinoa will keep well in the freezer for up to a year.

Once quinoa is cooked, store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Use leftovers within a few days. If you won’t be able to eat it that quickly, place your container in the freezer.

How to Prepare Quinoa
Quinoa seed is covered with saponin, a type of phytonutrient that is actually a protective coating developed by the plant. Although it may have some positive health properties, saponin has a soap-like flavor. Most quinoa on the market has already been rinsed at the processing plant to remove some of this coating. However, because of this objectionable taste, most people opt to further rinse their quinoa well before cooking. To remove any remaining saponin, place quinoa in a fine mesh strainer and rinse it very well with fresh water as you gently rub the seeds. Drain well.

To cook quinoa, place 1 part seeds to 1-1/2 to 2 parts water in a saucepan. (Use the lesser amount of water if you want your quinoa to be less mushy.) Bring it to a boil, reduce the heat, and cover the pan. It usually takes about 15 minutes to cook. When done, the seeds will become somewhat translucent and the germ will partially release, forming a little white spiraled tail around the seed. Fluff the cooked seed with a fork before serving.

For a nuttier flavor, dry roast your quinoa first. Place the seeds in a dry skillet over medium-low heat. Stir constantly for 5 minutes, then cook as directed. Some people will add oil to the frying pan to add extra flavor and texture to their quinoa before cooking it.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Quinoa
* Serve cooked quinoa as a breakfast porridge by adding nuts, fruits, and milk of choice. Sweeten as desired.

* Use quinoa in place of pasta with your favorite pasta or noodle recipe.

* Add quinoa to vegetable soup.

* Add a little ground quinoa flour to cookie or muffin recipes for a protein boost.

* If you enjoy tabbouleh, but must eat gluten-free, substitute cooked quinoa for the bulgur wheat in your favorite recipe.

* To flavor your quinoa, add some herbs or spices to the pot when cooking it. Try a bay leaf, garlic, salt and pepper, or other seasonings of your choice. Some people add thyme to quinoa while it is cooking.

* Try cooking quinoa in broth of your choice rather than plain water. This will add flavor to your cooked quinoa and may add a lot of flavor to the dish you’ll be using it in.

* Add a little flavored oil to your quinoa as it starts to cook. Sesame oil, walnut oil, or coconut oil would all add distinct flavors to your cooked quinoa.

* Top quinoa with your favorite sauce. Alfredo, marinara, pesto, or cheese sauce are some options. Use your imagination!

* Try adding tomato, avocado and lime for a Southwest flavored quinoa.

* Make an interesting succotash by combining quinoa with summer squash, bell peppers, and corn.

* Quinoa soaks up and retains a lot of water. Drain off any extra water after it has cooked to prevent it from becoming soggy.

* Add quinoa to burger patties, whether they are meat or meatless.

* Add quinoa to chili while it’s cooking.

* “Warm up” your cooked quinoa by adding some cilantro and roasted poblano peppers for some heat. Add this to veggies for a quinoa bowl.

* Make quinoa into a pudding by cooking it slowly in the milk of your choice. Add sweetener and fruit, as desired.

Herbs/Spices That Go Well with Quinoa
Basil, cilantro, cumin, garlic, mint, oregano, parsley, salt

Foods That Go Well with Quinoa
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Almonds, beans (in general), beef, chicken, eggs, nuts (in general), shrimp, turkey

Vegetables: Arugula, beets, bell peppers, carrots, celery, chard, chiles, chives, cucumbers, endive, greens (i.e. beet, collard), kale, mushrooms, onions, scallions, spinach, squash (winter), tomatoes, zucchini

Fruits: Avocados, citrus fruits, dried fruit, pineapple, pomegranate seeds

Grains and Grain Products: Corn, grains (in general, esp. those with mild flavors)

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Almond milk, cheese (esp. feta), yogurt

Other Foods: Oil (esp. olive), stock (i.e. mushroom, vegetable), vinegar

Quinoa has been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Baked goods (i.e. breads, muffins), cereals (hot breakfast), Mexican cuisine, pilafs, salads (grain, green), soups, South American cuisines, stews, stuffed vegetables, stuffings, sushi, tabbouleh, veggie burgers

Suggested Flavor Combos Using Quinoa
Add quinoa to any of the following combinations…

Almond milk + cinnamon + nuts
Bell peppers + carrots + parsley + rice vinegar + sesame oil/seeds
Black beans + cumin
Black beans + mango
Cashews + pineapple
Cucumbers + feta cheese + parsley + tomatoes
Cucumbers + lemon + mint + parsley
Dill + lemon juice + zucchini

Recipe Links

Kale Salad with Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette https://damndelicious.net/2013/03/25/kale-salad-with-meyer-lemon-vinaigrette/

Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers https://damndelicious.net/2013/06/03/quinoa-stuffed-bell-peppers/

Blueberry Breakfast Quinoa https://damndelicious.net/2013/09/13/blueberry-breakfast-quinoa/

Roasted Shrimp Quinoa Spring Rolls https://damndelicious.net/2012/11/14/roasted-shrimp-quinoa-spring-rolls/

Garlic Mushroom Quinoa https://damndelicious.net/2014/05/02/garlic-mushroom-quinoa/

Strawberry Quinoa Salad https://damndelicious.net/2014/01/28/strawberry-quinoa-salad/

50 Creative Ways to Eat Quinoa: Healthy Quinoa Recipes https://greatist.com/eat/creative-ways-to-eat-quinoa#1

Healthy Quinoa Recipes https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/photos/healthy-quinoa-recipes

10 Easy Quinoa Recipes https://www.acouplecooks.com/easy-quinoa-recipes/

Resources

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=142

https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/articles/healthy-eating-all-about-quinoa

https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/health-benefits-quinoa

https://www.eatbydate.com/grains/quinoa/

https://www.wikihow.com/Add-Flavor-to-Quinoa

https://www.bustle.com/articles/134474-17-ways-to-make-quinoa-taste-better-because-dinner-should-never-be-boring

Page, Karen. (2014) The Vegetarian Flavor Bible. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.

About Judi
Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.