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Butternut Squash

Butternut Squash 101 – The Basics

 

About Butternut Squash
Butternut squash is a winter squash with orange-flesh and a sweet flavor. It’s commonly treated as a vegetable, but technically, it’s a fruit since it contains seeds. Butternut squash is very versatile with many culinary uses from both sweet to savory dishes. It is a popular winter squash featuring a large bell-shaped bottom section and a slimmer, tapering neck. It’s often recognized by its tannish colored skin.

Butternut squash, like other squash varieties belongs to the Cucurbitaceae plant family. This family contains a lot of foods many people enjoy regularly, such as watermelons and other melons, and even cucumbers.

Winter squashes and related plants appear to be native to Central and South America. Not surprisingly, such foods have been an important part of the diet of the indigenous people for thousands of years. Since they are rich in nutrients and they store well in cooler temperatures, winter squashes were nutrient-rich foods that helped to nourish ancient people through the colder months when such foods were not in season.

Nutrition and Health Benefits of Butternut Squash
Butternut squash is an excellent source of Vitamin A from its carotenoid content. It also provides plenty of Vitamins C, B6, B2, B3, and K, along with fiber, manganese, copper, folate, pantothenic acid, potassium, and magnesium. Enjoy the seeds for a good supply of Vitamin E. One cup of cooked, mashed butternut squash has a mere 82 calories.

The bright orange color of butternut squash is a clear indication that it is packed with carotenoids, Vitamin A precursors. This makes them powerful antioxidant foods, protecting eye, skin and cardiovascular health, as well as warding off cancer.

Despite the fact that some people consider winter squash to be high-carbohydrate foods, winter squash is considered to be low on the glycemic index, with a rating of 55. Winter squash has been found to steady the release of sugars in the digestive tract, lowering the glycemic response to meals.

How to Select a Butternut Squash
Choose a butternut squash that is free of blemishes or decay, and feels firm and heavy for its size.

How to Store Butternut Squash
Butternut squash will keep well in a cool, dry, dark place. The ideal storage temperature is 50 to 68°F. Freshly picked squash have been stored in these conditions for up to 6 months. Most should store well for 1 to 3 months.

If mold appears on your squash, the molded area should be cut away and the remaining parts of the squash that are still good should be used immediately. Sometimes, commercial growers wax the squashes to prolong their shelf life and deter mold. If yours was not waxed and you want to extend the shelf life, you could oil the squash yourself. Wash the squash well to remove any dirt. Dry it well…make sure it is completely dry before proceeding or moisture left on it may invite decay. Place a small amount of food-grade oil of your choice on a paper towel or cloth, and wipe the entire surface of the squash, spreading a thin layer of oil all over. Be sure you get oil in all cracks and crevices of the squash. Buff off any excess oil. The surface should be shiny, but not oily to the touch. Store it in a cool, dry, dark place.

Once your squash has been cut, it should be tightly wrapped or stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for no more than a week. Cooked butternut squash should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, and used within 3 to 5 days.

Cooked butternut squash may be frozen in an airtight container. It will keep well for 10 to 12 months. Beyond that, the quality may decline, but it will still be safe to eat.

How to Prepare a Butternut Squash
First remove any label that was placed on your squash at the store. Then rinse the squash with water to clean it off. Butternut squash does not need to be peeled before being cooked, but you can peel it, if desired or if a recipe calls for peeling it first. The peel is tough, but they can be peeled with a vegetable peeler or a knife.

When cutting butternut squash, it’s easiest to cut it in half, separating the neck from the bulb end. Then the seeds need to be removed from the bulb end. They can be removed by scooping them out with a spoon, or by first cutting the bulb in half from top to bottom, then scraping the seeds out with a spoon. The stem end can then be cut off the top of the neck end. The neck end can then be stood upright to remove the peel, then the flesh can be cubed. Or the neck end can be cut in half lengthwise for roasting or cooking in another method.

Roasted Butternut Squash. Butternut squash can be roasted different ways. The squash may be cut into four large pieces (cutting the bulb end from the stem end, then cutting both the bulb and stem ends in half lengthwise) and removing the seeds as described above. Place all pieces, peel side up, on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and roasting it at 375°F or 400°F until a sharp knife can easily be inserted through the pieces. Remove the tray from the oven and allow the squash to cool enough to be handled. Scrape the flesh from the peel with a spoon and use accordingly in your recipe.

This method can be simplified by placing your entire uncut, washed squash on a baking sheet and roasting it until a knife can easily pierce through its thickest part. Remove it from the oven, allow it to cool enough to be handled, then cut it, removing seeds, stem end, and scraping off the flesh to be used as needed.

Butternut cubes can also be roasted by first cutting the squash in half, separating the bulb end from the neck. Then trim off the stem end, stand the squash piece upright and remove the peel with a knife or vegetable peeler. Then slice the flesh into cubes. Most recipes for roasted butternut squash cubes call for placing the cubes on a parchment-lined baking sheet and coating the cubes with oil, then sprinkling them with salt and pepper to taste. Roast at 400°F or 425°F about 20 to 30 minutes, until fork-tender.

Steamed Butternut Squash. Place medium size chunks of peeled and seeded butternut squash in a steamer basket. Add water to the pot, but not so much that the squash pieces sit in water. Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and bring the water to boil. Steam for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the squash pieces are fork-tender. Remove the squash pieces to a bowl and proceed with desired recipe.

Sautéed Butternut Squash. Peeled, seeded butternut squash cubes may be sautéed in oil or butter in a skillet over medium heat. First, warm the fat in the skillet, add the squash cubes, then stir frequently and sauté until lightly browned and caramelized, about 10 to 15 minutes.

How to Freeze Butternut Squash
Cooked, pureed and frozen butternut squash is ready to be used in pies, soups, baked goods or in any recipe calling for pureed pumpkin or other winter squash. Simply wash the squash, cut it as desired, and cook it in whatever way you prefer…roasted with or without oil, steamed, or boiled. Scrape off the pulp from the peel, and puree the pulp in a food processor. Pureeing the pulp is not mandatory, but makes it much easier to work with when it’s time to use it. Place your pureed pulp in a freezer bag or container (leave about one inch of headspace). Label it with the date and store it in the freezer. Frozen pureed butternut squash will keep for 10 to 12 months. It is safe to use beyond that, but the quality may deteriorate.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Butternut Squash
* To make butternut squash easier to peel before cooking it, microwave it for 2 or 3 minutes first.

* The peel of butternut squash is edible, but tough. If you want to eat the peel, slow roast the squash and the peel will get softer as it roasts.

* For something different, try butternut squash fries instead of potato fries.

* Top salads with cubes of roasted butternut squash.

* Add chunks of butternut squash to stews.

* Stuff a roasted butternut squash half with a mixture of cooked grains and vegetables for a delicious and filling dish.

* Add roasted butternut squash to breakfast for something different.

* Add thin slices of raw butternut squash to salads for added flavor and texture.

* Enjoy roasted butternut squash in place of potatoes, pumpkin, or sweet potato.

* Mash cooked butternut squash with a little milk of choice and cinnamon and serve it instead of mashed potatoes.

* Use pureed butternut squash in place of pumpkin when making pies and tarts.

* Add cooked butternut squash to pasta dishes, or puree it and make an interesting pasta sauce.

* Combine pureed butternut squash with coconut milk for a creamy squash soup.

* Butternut squash seeds are edible! They can be saved and roasted as you would pumpkin seeds. Once scooped out, separate the seeds from the stringy pulp, and rinse them well. Coat the seeds with a little oil, and season them as desired. Spread the seeds in a single layer on a parchment or foil-lined baking sheet and roast them at 225°F for about 15 minutes until the seeds start to pop. Allow them to cool on the baking sheet before serving.

* Do you want to enjoy pureed squash, but are not sure how to flavor it? Try topping pureed butternut squash with cinnamon and maple syrup.

* For an interesting side dish, steam cubes of butternut squash. Then toss with a little olive oil, soy sauce, and ginger. Sprinkle with toasted squash seeds for a little added crunch.

Herbs/Spices That Go Well with Butternut Squash
Allspice, basil, bay leaf, cardamom, cayenne, chili pepper flakes, chives, cilantro, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, curry powder, garlic, ginger, marjoram, nutmeg, oregano, paprika (smoked)

Foods That Go Well with Butternut Squash
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Beans (i.e. adzuki, lima, pinto, white), chicken, chickpeas, eggs, lamb, nuts (esp. almonds, pecans, walnuts), pork, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, tahini, tofu

Vegetables: Artichokes (Jerusalem), arugula, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, celery root, chiles, fennel, greens, kale, leeks, mushrooms, onions, shallots, spinach, tomatoes

Fruits: Apples, berries, coconut, cranberries, dates, lemon, lime, orange, pears, pomegranate seeds, raisins

Grains and Grain Products: Bulgur (wheat), corn, couscous, farro, millet, quinoa, rice

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Butter, browned butter, cheese (esp. cheddar, Parmesan, ricotta), coconut milk, cream, milk (dairy and non-dairy), yogurt

Other Foods: Miso, oil, sugar (esp. brown), stock (mushroom), tamari, vinegar (esp. balsamic), wine (esp. dry white)

Butternut squash has been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Baked goods (i.e. muffins), casseroles, gratins, pasta (i.e. gnocchi, lasagna, ravioli), pizza, purees, risottos, soups and bisques, stews, succotash, tarts

Suggested Flavor and Food Combos Using Butternut Squash
Add butternut squash to any of the following combinations…

Allspice + cinnamon + cloves + maple syrup + vanilla
Apples + cinnamon + ginger + maple syrup + walnuts
Apples + cheese + honey
Apples + nuts
Balsamic vinegar + mushrooms + pasta
Browned butter + pine nuts + sage + pasta
Fruit (cranberries, dates) + nuts (pecans, pistachios)
Ginger + tamari + tofu
Orange + sage
Quinoa + walnuts
Rosemary + tomatoes + white beans
Sage + walnuts

Recipe Links
Roasted Butternut Squash (No Oil) (Judi in the Kitchen video) https://youtu.be/rVCS19OnNXY

Roasted Butternut Squash with Apples (Judi in the Kitchen video) https://youtu.be/XtuEkykDp08

Roasted Butternut Squash https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/roasted-butternut-squash-recipe-1921606

Sautéed Butternut Squash http://www.eatingwell.com/recipe/261206/sauteed-butternut-squash/

Side Dish Recipe for Roast Chicken—Pan-Seared Butternut Squash with Balsamic and Parmigiano Shards   https://www.thekitchn.com/a-side-dish-recipe-for-roast-chicken-balsamic-butternut-saut-with-parmigiano-shards-pick-a-side-from-tara-mataraza-desmond-195791

Sautéed Butternut Squash with Garlic, Ginger, and Spices https://www.justapinch.com/recipes/side/vegetable/sauteed-butternut-squash-with-garlic-ginger.html

Sautéed Butternut Squash https://tastykitchen.com/recipes/sidedishes/sauteed-butternut-squash/

Caramelized Browned Butter Butternut Squash https://www.onelovelylife.com/caramelized-browned-butter-butternut-squash/

26 Delicious Butternut Squash Recipes to Make This Fall https://www.delish.com/cooking/g3003/butternut-squash/

33 Butternut Squash Recipes We Love https://www.foodandwine.com/vegetables/squash-gourds/butternut-squash/butternut-squash

55 Best Butternut Squash Recipes Everyone in Your Family will Enjoy https://www.countryliving.com/food-drinks/g2701/butternut-squash-recipes/

10 Things to do With Butternut Squash https://www.thekitchn.com/10-things-to-do-with-butternut-squash-128579

Vegetarian Thanksgiving Dinner on a Sheet Pan https://www.liveeatlearn.com/vegetarian-thanksgiving-dinner-on-a-sheet-pan/

Crock Pot Steel Cut Oats with Butternut Squash https://www.liveeatlearn.com/crockpot-steel-cut-oatmeal-with-butternut-squash/

Roasted Butternut Chickpea Hummus Wraps https://www.liveeatlearn.com/roasted-butternut-chickpea-hummus-wraps/

Golden Squash Soup http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=33

Steamed Butternut Squash with Almond Sauce http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=112

Steamed Butternut Squash with Red Chili Sauce http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=179

Resources
http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=63

https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/videos/techniques/how-prepare-butternut-squash

https://www.healthline.com/health/carotenoids#benefits

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3257702/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/butternut-squash

https://www.liveeatlearn.com/butternut-squash/

https://www.stilltasty.com/fooditems/index/18397

https://www.afamilyfeast.com/butternut-squash-puree/

https://www.thespruceeats.com/preserving-pumpkin-butternut-and-winter-squashes-1327938

https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/54873/roasted-winter-squash-seeds/

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.

 

 

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.

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!

Simple Pineapple Dressing

Simple Pineapple Dressing

Here’s a REALLY simple dressing that can be used on a green salad or changed slightly to dress up your favorite fruit salad. These three simple ingredients whip into a fast, delicious, and tasty dressing…Try it! The recipe can VERY easily be increased for you to make whatever amount you need. Below is a video clip showing how to make the dressing. The written recipe follows the video.

Enjoy!
Judi

Simple Pineapple Dressing
Makes About ½ Cup (1 to 2 Servings)

½ cup canned pineapple with juice*
1 Tbsp hulled hemp seeds
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar**

Put all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Enjoy this over a mixed green salad or a fruit salad where you want a little tang. Store extra dressing in a covered container in the refrigerator and use within 3 days.

* Any type of canned pineapple can be used, whether it’s crushed, tidbits, chunks, or rings. Fresh pineapple may also be used, but you may need to add a tablespoon or two of water to help it to blend smoothly.

** Red wine vinegar is delicious when using this dressing on a green salad. Try balsamic vinegar for a little sweetness when used on a fruit salad.

Note: If preferred, add a little sweetener of choice. For more of a savory dressing, add 1 clove of garlic or 1/8 tsp garlic powder, and a little salt and pepper to taste.

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.

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.

Lettuce

Lettuce 101 – The Basics

Lettuce is a leafy green vegetable that we’re all familiar with. Many of us eat lettuce every day, whether it’s in a salad or included in a sandwich of some sort. It’s simply everyday fare. Yet, it’s a vegetable we can do more with than we think, and it often has more nutritional value than we give it credit for. I invite you to explore the possibilities of what you can do with lettuce and use more of it where you can. It’s more than just water packed in a green leaf! Check out the information below to learn more about this humble, noteworthy leafy vegetable!

Enjoy,
Judi

About Lettuce
Lettuce is an annual leaf vegetable of the aster family, Asteraceae. There are four varieties that are commonly grown: (1) asparagus lettuce with narrow leaves and a thick stem (i.e. celtuce, popular in China), (2) head or cabbage lettuce with leaves folded into a compact round head (i.e. iceberg), (3) leaf or curled lettuce, with leaves that are loose, curled and smooth-edged or oak-leaf in shape (i.e. green leaf), and (4) cos with smooth leaves that form a tall, oblong, loose head (i.e. romaine).

There are two classes of head lettuce: (1) Butterhead types (i.e. Boston and Bibb lettuces) with soft, large leaves that separate easily from the base of the stem, and (2) crispy types (i.e. iceberg lettuce), with crispy leaves that form hard, compact heads. Lettuces can have colors ranging from different shades of green to deep red and purple. Some newer varieties have variegated colors. The crisp head varieties are very popular in the United States.

Lettuce is by far the world’s most popular salad vegetable. It is native to the eastern Mediterranean region and western Asia. Lettuce was first cultivated by ancient Egyptians who transformed the plant from a weed with seeds used to produce oil, to a food grown for its leaves and seeds. The plant was introduced to Greeks and Romans, who gave it the name “lactuca” where the name “lettuce” came from. The plants eventually made their way around the world, where different varieties were eventually developed and cultivated, especially in Holland. People in most countries eat lettuce raw, whereas celtuce lettuce is often cooked in China. Most lettuce eaten in the United States is grown in California.

Nutrition and Health Benefits of Lettuce
Lettuce is one food you can eat without guilt, with only 11 to 20 calories in 2 cups, depending upon the variety. It has extremely little fat, little carbohydrate and protein. However, the nutrient content starts to pick up with fiber, having about 2 grams in 2 cups, depending upon the variety. When comparing nutrient value of assorted types of lettuce, romaine lettuce often tops the list with higher levels of specific vitamins and minerals, while iceberg is often toward the bottom. Nevertheless, iceberg lettuce does have nutritional value.

Romaine is the lettuce to choose when shopping for the most nutrient-dense lettuce. It supplies good amounts of Vitamin A (carotenoids), Vitamin K, folate, molybdenum, dietary fiber, manganese, potassium, biotin, Vitamin B1, iron, copper, Vitamin C, Vitamin B2, omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin B6, phosphorus, chromium, magnesium, calcium, and pantothenic acid. Despite its high water and low calorie content, that’s a lot to be said for romaine lettuce!

Heart Health. Considering the wide range of nutrients provided by romaine lettuce, this lettuce in particular, can be considered a heart-healthy food. The Vitamin C and beta-carotene work together to help prevent oxidation of cholesterol, which would cause it to become sticky and cling to arterial walls forming plaque. The fiber in romaine lettuce helps to remove bile from the body, forcing the production of more bile. This in turn, lowers blood cholesterol. The folate in romaine helps to keep the amino acid homocysteine in check, thereby lowering the risk of heart disease. Furthermore, the potassium in romaine helps to keep blood pressure in check. There’s plenty of reason to opt for romaine lettuce when you can!

How to Select Lettuce
No matter what type of lettuce you’re buying, you want your lettuce to be as fresh as possible. Look for brightly colored leaves that appear crisp, not wilted, and are free of blemishes. If possible, choose heads with stems that are not browning from the base.

How to Store Lettuce
To stay crisp and fresh, lettuce needs moisture and air. Here are the steps to keeping lettuce fresh and crisp, according to https://thespruceeats.com:

Loose Leaf Lettuce. Remove any damaged leaves, then wash your lettuce. Dry it in a salad spinner or on paper towels. Wrap the lettuce in dry paper towels or a clean cloth and place it in a rigid storage container with a lid. The towel will absorb any excess water while helping to maintain a humid environment. It’s helpful to store the washed lettuce in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator for proper temperature during storage. If not possible, store them toward the bottom of the refrigerator and try to keep the container from resting against the back of the refrigerator where the lettuce might freeze. Replace the paper towel or cloth when it feels wet. Check the lettuce every day or two and remove any leaves that are not at their best. Use loose leaf lettuce within 7 to 10 days for best quality.

Head Lettuce (Unwashed).  Remove any outer leaves that are wilted or damaged. Leave the heads intact and do not wash them until you are ready to use the lettuce. Store the head of lettuce wrapped in paper towels or a clean cloth in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. Replace the towels when they appear wet. Head lettuce can last from one to three weeks when stored like this. If the outer leaves start to look bad, remove and discard them until you reach inner leaves that look good. Use them as soon as possible.

Storing Washed and Cut Lettuce. Wash and spin dry cut lettuce. If you do not have a salad spinner, allow the lettuce to air dry on paper towels or a clean cloth towel. Wrap your washed/dried lettuce in a dry paper or cloth towel and place it in a rigid covered container. A plastic bag may be used, but they may keep better in a covered container since that will protect them from getting bumped and bruised. Store it in the crisper drawer if possible, for optimal temperature. Replace the towel if it gets wet, and remove any damaged/aging leaves for optimal storage life.

Tips for Lettuce Storage. (1) Lettuce bruises or gets damaged easily. So, try not to shove other foods or containers against your lettuce in the refrigerator. That’s why storing lettuce in a container can be helpful. (2) Try not to push your lettuce to the back of the refrigerator, where it might freeze. If this happens, it will not be good for salads, as freezing lettuce makes it mushy. (3) If you’re slow to eat your lettuce, choose romaine or iceberg, which seem to keep the longest.

Reviving Wilted Lettuce. If your lettuce starts to wilt, revive it by placing it in a bowl of ice water for a few minutes before you use it. Dry the soaked lettuce, then use it as planned.

When to Discard Lettuce. If your lettuce starts to look slimy, brown, moldy, and/or develops a bad odor, it’s time to toss it out.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Lettuce
* Add lettuce of any type to your sandwiches, burgers, or wraps for added crunch, flavor and a little nutrient boost.

* Just about everything goes with lettuce. When making a meal salad, get creative! Add a variety of your favorite foods from different categories…proteins, fruits, other vegetables, grains, dairy and non-dairy. Add your favorite dressing and enjoy! Change it up as often as you can for variety and nutrient balance.

* Enjoy a lettuce wrap with your favorite foods. Use large lettuce leaves, and double or triple them for strength if needed. Fill with your favorite sandwich, taco or burrito filling, wrap and enjoy!

* Years ago, lettuce was always cooked…mostly in soups. If you’re really looking for something different to try, add some lettuce to a vegetable soup at the end of cooking! The heat will wilt the lettuce while it still maintains some of its crunch. The same thing can be done with arugula and spinach.

* If you’re concerned about bacteria or other microbes on your food, opt for whole heads of lettuce (those with leaves still attached to the base). Researchers have found that whole heads of lettuce had FAR less bacteria on them than the cut, bagged varieties. This is true, even for those labeled as being “triple washed” and “ready to eat.”

* Lettuce can bruise easily. When washing/cutting lettuce in advance to be stored in the refrigerator, either tear the lettuce or cut it with a plastic lettuce knife (rather than a metal knife). Cutting lettuce in advance with a metal knife can bruise the lettuce, causing brown edges on the leaves where it was cut. This is not a problem if you will be eating your lettuce right away, but may be noticeable for stored prepared lettuce.

* When storing lettuce, keep it away from ethylene-producing fruit, which would cause the lettuce to age prematurely. Such fruit includes apples, bananas, tomatoes, avocados, kiwi fruit, and cantaloupe. [Note that this is not an all-inclusive list.]

* Lettuce contains a lot of water. Why not add some to your next smoothie?

* Try adding some shredded crisp lettuce to your next vegetable stir-fry!

* Next time you grill something, take a head of lettuce like iceberg or radicchio, slice it in half through the core, and grill it, cut side down. It will have grill marks, and a hint of smokiness what will add an interesting flavor twist to your next salad.

* When you’re braising something, try adding some crispy romaine along with or instead of cabbage. Lettuce absorbs other flavors readily, so this should enhance the flavor of your dish.

* When you want a quick snack, top some crispy lettuce leaves with your favorite cracker topping, like nut butter and fruit, hummus, egg salad, chickpea salad, refried beans, cheese, or anything like that.

Herbs/Spices That Go Well with Lettuce
Basil, capers, cayenne, chervil, cilantro, cumin, dill, garlic, ginger, lovage, mint, mustard, parsley, pepper (black, white), salt, tarragon, thyme

Foods That Go Well with Lettuce
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Almonds, beans, beef, cashews, chicken, chickpeas, eggs, hazelnuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, seafood, seeds (i.e. pumpkin, sesame, sunflower), tahini, tempeh, tofu, turkey, walnuts

Vegetables: Arugula, beets, bell peppers, carrots, cauliflower, celery, celery root, chayote, chiles, chives, cucumbers, fennel, greens (baby and other salad greens), jicama, leeks, mushrooms, nori, onions, parsnips, peas, potatoes, radicchio, radishes, scallions, shallots, sprouts, squash (summer and winter), sugar snap peas, tomatoes, watercress

Fruits: Apples, avocados, citrus fruits (lemons, lime, grapefruit, oranges, tangerines), cranberries (dried), mangoes, olives, pears, pomegranates, persimmons, raisins

Grains and Grain Products: Bulgur, corn, corn chips, corn tortillas, croutons, quinoa, rice

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Buttermilk, cheese (dairy and nondairy), crème fraiche, yogurt

Other Foods: Honey, mayonnaise, miso, oil, soy sauce, tamari, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce

Lettuce has been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Lettuce wraps, salads, sandwiches, soups

Suggested Flavor or Food Combos Using Lettuce
Use lettuce with any of the following combinations…

Almonds + Avocado + Carrots + Smoked Tofu + Tomatoes
Almonds + Jicama + Orange
Apples + Celery + Lime + Raisins + Walnuts
Avocado + Grapefruit + Pecans + Radicchio
Carrots + Cucumbers + Dill + Feta Cheese
Chickpeas + Cucumbers + Feta Cheese + Olives + Red Onions + Tomatoes
Dill + Garlic + Lemon + Scallions
Dijon Mustard + Lemon + Olive Oil + Scallions
Fennel + Grapefruit
Figs + Goat Cheese + Tarragon
Gorgonzola Cheese + Hazelnuts + Lemon + Olives
Pears + Sherry Vinegar + Walnuts

Recipe Links
Stir-Fry Lettuce https://www.thespruceeats.com/stir-fry-lettuce-recipe-695327

Thai Basil Chicken Lettuce Wraps https://www.thespruceeats.com/thai-basil-chicken-lettuce-wraps-3217221

Classic Wedge Salad https://www.thespruceeats.com/classic-wedge-salad-4688322

Stir-Fried Garlic Lettuce (vegan) https://www.theperfectpantry.com/2009/10/shao-hsing-wine-recipe-stirfried-garlic-lettuce.html

Strawberry, Blueberry & Greens Salad with Honey Vinaigrette https://www.thekitchenismyplayground.com/2015/05/strawberry-blueberry-greens-salad-with.html

Parmesan Crusted Romaine and Chicken https://sweetphi.com/parmesan-crusted-romaine-chicken-eating-better-health-key/

Lettuce Salad with Tomato and Cucumber https://ifoodreal.com/lettuce-salad/

38 Recipes using Salad Greens https://www.bonappetit.com/test-kitchen/ingredients/slideshow/lettuce-recipes

Orange Romaine Salad https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/89712/orange-romaine-salad/?internalSource=rotd&referringId=16350&referringContentType=Recipe%20Hub

Roasted Lettuce, Radicchio, and Endive https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/246655/roasted-lettuce-radicchio-and-endive/?internalSource=staff%20pick&referringId=16350&referringContentType=Recipe%20Hub&clickId=cardslot%201

Strawberry and Feta Salad https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/62686/strawberry-and-feta-salad/?internalSource=hub%20recipe&referringId=16350&referringContentType=Recipe%20Hub&clickId=cardslot%208

Holiday Lettuce Salad https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/holiday-lettuce-salad/

40 Lettuce Recipes You Can Get Excited About https://www.tasteofhome.com/collection/lettuce-recipes/

Cranberry Almond Lettuce Salad https://www.food.com/recipe/cranberry-almond-lettuce-salad-105318

Resources
https://www.britannica.com/plant/lettuce

http://justfunfacts.com/interesting-facts-about-lettuce/

https://www.tasteofhome.com/collection/protein-packed-lettuce-wrap-recipes/

https://www.thespruceeats.com/store-lettuce-for-freshness-996048

https://www.thespruceeats.com/all-about-lettuce-2217514

https://www.thespruceeats.com/how-to-wash-lettuce-and-greens-2216968

https://www.thekitchn.com/we-tried-3-ways-to-store-salad-greens-and-heres-our-winner-tips-from-the-kitchn-211770

https://www.thekitchn.com/lettuce-is-so-much-more-than-salad-here-are-10-more-ways-to-eat-it-tips-from-the-kitchn-220136

https://www.thekitchn.com/lettuce-is-so-much-more-than-salad-here-are-10-more-ways-to-eat-it-tips-from-the-kitchn-220136

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.

Lima Beans

Lima Beans 101 – The Basics

About Lima Beans
Lima beans, often called butter beans because of their buttery texture, are thought to have originated in South America. Early European explorers first discovered them in Lima, Peru. With that, their name as “lima beans” was established. It is believed that the beans have been cultivated in Peru for over 7,000 years. They were carried around the world by explorers and have since become an important crop in Africa and Asia. In the United States, most commercial production is in California.

There are many types of lima beans, with the most popular in the United States being the Fordhook (also known as the butter bean), and the baby lima bean. The pod is flat, oblong, slightly curved, and usually about three inches long. The pods often contain two to four seeds that have come to be known as lima beans. The seeds are usually a cream to green color. However, some varieties can have white, red, purple, brown or even black seeds. Limas have a starchy, potato-like flavor and a grainy yet slightly buttery texture.

Nutrition and Health Benefits of Lima Beans
Lima beans are an excellent source of molybdenum, with one cup providing 313% of our daily needs of this important trace mineral. Limas are a very good source of dietary fiber, copper and manganese. They are also a good source of folate, phosphorus, protein, potassium, Vitamin B1, iron, magnesium and Vitamin B6. One cup of cooked lima beans has 216 calories, 13 grams of fiber, and almost 15 grams of protein. They have very little fat, zero cholesterol, and are very low in sodium.

Caution. Lima beans should never be eaten raw. This includes grinding them for flour, which should not be done. They contain compounds that, when damaged, can release cyanide. To destroy the enzymes that release these compounds, it is extremely important to soak and completely cook your lima beans before eating them. Once this is done, they can be a very beneficial addition to a healthy diet.

Iron. One cup of cooked lima beans provides about 25% of our Daily Value of iron. This can be important, especially if you have low iron levels. Serve your lima beans with a Vitamin C-rich food (such as bell peppers or citrus fruits) in the same meal and your iron absorption will be increased.

Heart Health. Lima beans are rich in fiber, folate, potassium, and magnesium, all of which contribute in unique ways to improve and maintain heart health. Limas are rich in soluble dietary fiber which helps to remove cholesterol from the body, helping to reduce the risk of heart disease. Folate, which is plentiful in lima beans, is known to help keep homocysteine levels in check, thereby helping to reduce the risk of heart disease. Limas are rich in potassium and magnesium. These are important in helping blood vessels to relax, maintaining proper blood pressure.

Free Radical Protection. Limas are a very good source of manganese. This mineral is a key factor in antioxidant compounds that seek out and destroy harmful molecules in the body, reducing oxidative stress. This helps the immune system to function at its best warding off disease and helping to prevent various health conditions.

Sulfite Sensitivity. Lima beans are an excellent source of molybdenum, a trace mineral that is part of the enzyme that metabolizes sulfites. Sulfites are added to many foods and even medications as preservatives. Yet, some people are sensitive to sulfites, causing a rapid heartbeat, headache and disorientation. Those who react to sulfites may be deficient in molybdenum. If this is the case, lima beans may help alleviate that problem.

How to Select and Store Lima Beans
Fresh Lima Beans. Fresh lima beans are not easily found, and are usually sold in specialty markets or farmer’s markets where they are locally grown. If you find fresh lima beans, look for ones that are firm, dark green and glossy, and without blemishes, wrinkling or yellowing. They are extremely perishable, so if they are shelled, examine them closely for mold or decay.

Fresh lima beans in their pods should be refrigerated and used within a few days. For optimal storage, shell the beans, blanch them, then freeze or dehydrate them. Frozen lima beans do not need to be thawed before being cooked. Once cooked, they should be used quickly as they will only keep refrigerated (in a covered container) for 3 to 4 days.

Dried Lima Beans. Many grocery stores carry dried lima beans, as prepackaged or in bulk bins. Make sure there is no evidence of moisture or insect damage. Store your dried lima beans in an airtight container in a cool, dry, dark place, where they will keep at good quality for 2 to 3 years. However, when stored properly, they will be safe to eat well beyond that.

Canned Lima Beans. Most grocery stores stock canned lima beans, and they are usually stamped with a “best by” date. For long-term storage, look for a stamped date as far in the future as you can find. Read ingredient labels, as some canned lima beans may contain additives that you may or may not want. Salt, coloring agents, firming agents, and flavorings may be added. Organic lima beans may not have coloring or firming agents, but still may have some flavorings added, so it’s important to read the ingredients list to be sure the contents will meet your needs. Also, some canned foods still contain liners made with BPA (Bisphenol-A), an anticorrosive agent, whereas others are not. If BPA is a concern to you, be sure to read the label carefully and also check for information stamped on either end of the can itself. If there is no mention of BPA anywhere on the can, it most likely has a liner that contains BPA.

Canned lima beans should be stored in a cool, dry place. If you notice rust, leaking, extreme damage to the can, or bulging, discard the can. The contents may not be safe to eat. If your canned beans have an off odor, flavor or appearance, or if there is mold in them, they should be discarded. Unopened, properly stored cans of lima beans will maintain a good quality for 3 to 5 years, but will be safe to eat beyond that, even if it is beyond the “best by” date. Note that over time, even though the beans will be safe to eat, the flavor, texture and color may change.

Once opened, canned lima beans should be stored in the refrigerator in a covered container and used within 3 to 4 days. If you cannot use them within that time, simply place the lima beans in a covered, airtight container and store them in the freezer. They will maintain their best quality for 2 months, but will be safe to eat beyond that.

Frozen vs Canned vs Dried Lima Beans
Cost. When comparing the cost per serving, there were a number of options to compare: frozen limas in steamable packaging, frozen limas in non-steamable packaging, dried lima beans (baby and large), and canned lima beans (non-organic (baby and large), organic, and seasoned). There was a wide swing in price per serving based on prices I found at the moment and the type of bean, brand, vendor and organic vs non-organic options available. Because prices can vary so much considering all the variables, the best way to find the cheapest price per serving would be to carry a calculator to the store with you and compare among what is available at the time. However, here are my findings that could very likely apply to most scenarios.

Cost per 1/2 cup serving:
$0.13 Baby dried lima beans (generic brand) at $1.72 per 16 oz bag
$0.17 Large dried lima beans (generic brand) at $2.22 per 16 oz bag
$0.27 Frozen lima beans (generic brand) in regular packaging at $1.34 per 16 oz bag
$0.27 Canned large butter beans (Bush’s) at $0.94 per 16 oz can
$0.33 Canned seasoned lima beans (Margaret Holmes) at $1.16 per 15 oz can
$0.34 Frozen lima beans (generic brand) in steamable packaging at $1.34 per 12 oz bag
$0.67 Canned organic butter beans (Eden brand) at $2.34 per 15 oz can

Overall, the dried lima beans were the cheapest per serving, with BABY limas, generic brand, at a large discount store being the cheapest at $0.13 per serving. Considering the difference in cost per serving between the dried lima beans and the next in line with respect to cost, it seems safe to assume that dried lima beans are your cheapest option. Even when considering the cost of electricity or gas and water to prepare the beans, the dried beans will probably still be your least costly.

When comparing canned vs frozen lima beans, the frozen generic brand in regular (not steamable) packaging tied in price per serving with Bush’s brand canned large butter beans. This was an interesting discovery and makes some brands of canned beans worth adding to your pantry for an emergency food or when time for food preparation is short.

Price per serving increased with specialty packaging (steamable) or treatment of the beans (seasoned or organic). So, it’s helpful to have this knowledge when shopping for lima beans, understanding which would be your least expensive per serving, and knowing that you’ll pay more per serving for specific options, especially organic.

Overall winner = Dried baby lima beans

Convenience. Needless to say, canned beans are more convenient than dried beans, and even frozen lima beans since they still need to be cooked. You simply open the can, rinse and drain the beans, and they’re ready to use. The canned beans are an excellent choice if you’re always short on time and can’t (or don’t want to) take the time to cook dried beans. However, it does not take a lot of time to prepare frozen lima beans. They usually cook in about 15 minutes. They can be put on the stove first to cook as other foods are being prepared. So, they are a close second to canned beans with regard to convenience. With that being said, canned beans should be a staple item kept in your pantry in case of an emergency. If the power goes out or if you temporarily lose your water supply, canned beans can be eaten straight from the can (where frozen or dried beans cannot be eaten without being cooked first). Canned beans can be a lifesaving source of food when there is no way to cook. It’s better to be prepared, and not need it, then need it and not be prepared!

Many people believe cooking dried beans is a big ordeal. However, when considering “hands on” time, it’s actually very little. It takes little time to sort and rinse the beans then cover them with water in a pot. After being soaked, it takes little time to drain them then refill the pot with water. The cooking process pretty much takes care of itself. Then draining them takes little time, again. So, it’s really not hard nor time-consuming to cook dried beans when considering actual hands-on time. Furthermore, they can be cooked in a slow cooker or pressure cooker to make things a little simpler.

Overall winner = Canned lima beans

Nutritional Value. The nutritional value of canned or frozen lima beans is about the same as cooked dried lima beans. Either way, the beans need to be cooked completely before being eaten or canned, so they should have about the same nutrient content. So, this factor should not be a determinant when considering which form of lima bean to buy.

Overall winner = Three-way tie

Additives. If you want to avoid any additives in your foods, cooking dried or frozen lima beans is an excellent option. In this case, you can control what is added to the beans. Canned beans may have added salt and other ingredients as firming or color retention agents. Organic canned beans will not have firming or color retention agents, but still may have added salt. Some beans are canned without salt, so read the label to be sure. So, organic beans may be a good choice for you. Otherwise, cooking dried beans gives you complete control as to what is added to your beans. Frozen lima beans usually do not have any additives in them, so they are another excellent option if you’re avoiding additives of any sort. When in doubt, read the label to be sure.

Overall winner = Tie between dried and frozen lima beans

BPA. BPA (bisphenol-A) is an anticorrosive agent that has been used in can linings and other applications such as water bottles, bottle caps, water supply lines and even dental sealants. Research has found that this agent may cause harmful effects such as increased blood pressure and damage to unborn fetuses and young children. If you’re concerned about the possible harmful effects of BPA, it’s wise to look for cans labeled as BPA-free. Progressively, more manufacturers are using BPA-free cans, but not all. So, it pays to read the label or the information that was stamped on the end of the can. To avoid BPA from cans, cooking dried or frozen beans ensures you’re not ingesting any of the chemical.

Overall winner = Tie between dried and frozen lima beans

Flavor and Texture. Taste perception is subjective and differs from person to person. However, the overall consensus is that cooked dried beans taste better than canned beans. I agree with that statement (in my humble opinion). When adding frozen lima beans to the comparison test, I personally find the flavor of frozen lima beans to be the best among the three options (canned, frozen, dried and cooked). If flavor is a big factor for you, then cooking frozen lima beans may be your best option, followed by cooked dried, then canned. The advantage of cooking your own frozen or dried beans gives you the opportunity to flavor them to your liking. Adding onions, garlic, and/or herbs during the cooking process allows flavors to infuse in the beans that would not otherwise happen. If you still need the convenience of canned beans, adding them to soups, stews or other dishes where they will be combined with a lot of other foods, may mask the flavor difference of canned beans.

Overall winner = Frozen lima beans

How to Prepare Dried Lima Beans
First sort through your dried beans to remove any stones, debris, or damaged beans. Then give them a good rinse, and drain the beans. Then they need to be soaked. There are two ways to soak your dried lima beans…

Long Soaking Method. Simply place your sorted and rinsed beans in a large pot with a lid. Cover them with at least two inches of water and allow them to sit in the covered pot for 6 to 8 hours or overnight. Drain the water and cover them by at least one inch of fresh water. Cook as directed below.

Quick Soaking Method. Place your sorted and rinsed beans in a large pot with a lid. Cover them with at least two inches of water and bring them to a boil. Boil the beans for two minutes, then remove the pot from the heat. Cover the pot with its lid, then allow them to sit for two hours. Drain the water and cover them by at least one inch of fresh water. Cook as directed below.

Cooking Your Soaked Beans. Bring your soaked beans that have been covered with fresh water to a boil. Lower the heat to simmer and tilt the lid on the pot. Allow them to simmer slowly until the beans are tender. This will usually take about 45 minutes. Skim off any foam that forms as they are cooking.

Important! Do not add any salty or acidic ingredients to your beans as they are cooking. This will cause them to become firm and will be hard to cook properly. If seasoning is desired, add any salty or acidic ingredients toward the end of cooking time. If desired, aromatic ingredients such as onions, garlic, and herbs may be added at the start of cooking to flavor your lima beans.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Lima Beans
* Try a succotash burrito or taco filling. Combine cooked lima beans with corn, chopped tomatoes and scallions. Top with diced avocado, cilantro, and a little hot pepper if desired. Enjoy!

* Blend cooked lima beans and sweet potatoes together. Serve with your favorite grain and vegetable.

* Add lima beans to your favorite vegetable soup.

* Lima beans are very versatile. Use them as a main dish, a side dish, in soups, stews, and curries, and even in salads. Get creative!

* Try roasted lima beans! Dry cooked lima beans on a cloth or paper towel. Transfer them to a bowl, coat them with a little olive oil, and sprinkle with salt, lime juice, and some cayenne powder or paprika. Spread on a baking sheet and roast at 425F until they are slightly browned. Watch carefully, as they can burn easily. Enjoy them hot or at room temperature. Store extras in the refrigerator to enjoy later.

* For easy and flavorful lima beans, cook a pack of frozen lima beans in stock or broth of your choice. Add in a little onion, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper and you’re done!

Herbs/Spices That Go Well with Lima Beans
Basil, bay leaf, chervil, chili pepper flakes, cilantro, dill, fennel seeds, garlic, horseradish, marjoram, mint, nutmeg, oregano, parsley, pepper (black), rosemary, sage, salt, sorrel, sumac, thyme

Foods That Go Well with Lima Beans
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Bacon, beans (green), chicken, ham, pork, seafood

Vegetables: Bell peppers, carrots, chives, cucumber, eggplant, fennel, kale, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, onions, scallions, spinach, squash (winter and summer), tomatoes and tomato paste

Fruits: Lemon, olives

Grains and Grain Products: Corn, quinoa, rice

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Butter, buttermilk, cheese (esp. cheddar, feta, Parmesan), cream, yogurt

Other Foods: Molasses, oil (esp. olive), tamari, vinegar (esp. cider, red wine), wine (dry white)

Lima Beans have been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Casseroles, dips, purees, salad (i.e. three bean), soups, Southern (U.S.) cuisine, spreads, stews, succotash

Suggested Flavor or Food Combos Using Lima Beans
Add lima beans to any of the following combinations…

Chili pepper flakes + garlic + lemon juice + olive oil
Corn + tomatoes (succotash)
Corn + garlic + rosemary + tomatoes (succotash)
Fennel + garlic
Feta cheese + olives + tomatoes
Feta cheese + spinach
Garlic + lemon + olive oil + oregano
Garlic + onions
Scallions + yogurt

Recipe Links
Corn and Lima Bean Salad https://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/corn-and-lima-bean-salad

Garlicky Lima Bean Spread https://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/garlicky-lima-bean-spread

Bacon-Wrapped Chicken with Basil Lima Beans https://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/bacon-wrapped-chicken-beans

Herbed Lima Bean Hummus https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Herbed-Lima-Bean-Hummus-103043

Southern Lima Beans with Rice https://www.food.com/recipe/southern-lima-beans-with-rice-51795

Baby Lima Beans (Butterbeans) https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/trisha-yearwood/baby-lima-beans-butterbeans-recipe-2116626

Lemon Salmon with Lima Beans https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchen/lemon-salmon-with-lima-beans-recipe-2106927

Lima Bean Tahini Dip https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchen/lima-beantahini-dip-8246428

Farmer’s Caviar https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/farmers-caviar-5407929#reviewsTop

Butterbeans with Butter, Mint, and Lime https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/butter-beans-with-butter-mint-and-lime-51238420

Greek Style Baked Lima Beans https://holycowvegan.net/greek-style-baked-lima-beans/#wprm-recipe-container-13108

Resources
http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=59#descr

https://www.stilltasty.com/fooditems/index/17565

https://www.stilltasty.com/fooditems/index/17564

https://www.livestrong.com/article/42153-lima-beans-nutrition-information/

https://www.organicfacts.net/lima-beans.html

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods-high-in-soluble-fiber#section2

https://www.dovemed.com/healthy-living/natural-health/7-health-benefits-of-lima-beans/

https://www.livestrong.com/article/280126-health-benefits-of-lima-butter-beans/

https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/roasted-lima-beans-recipe-1969781

https://healthyeating.sfgate.com/dried-beans-vs-canned-beans-nutritional-values-3026.html

https://cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/67651/do-frozen-lima-beans-contain-cyanide/67660

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.

Spring Mix Salad with Carrot-Orange Dressing

Spring Mix Salad with Carrot-Orange Dressing

Here’s a delicious, very healthful and easy salad to put together. Of course, feel free to vary the vegetables according to your preferences and what you have available. The suggested dressing is Carrot-Orange Dressing and the recipe is below. This dressing is light, with it being free of oil, salt and sugar. It’s healthful and the flavor is adjustable according to your taste. Give it a try sometime!

Below are videos showing how to make the dressing and the salad. The written recipes follow the videos.

Enjoy!
Judi

Spring Mix Salad with Carrot-Orange Dressing

This recipe is designed so you can make as much or as little as you want, and of course, change the vegetables according to your preferences. The dressing recommendation is below, but you could use any dressing you prefer.

Spring mix
Shredded red cabbage
Onion (diced red, yellow, or scallions), optional
Cucumbers
Celery
Shaved or diced carrot
Broccoli sprouts, or chopped fresh broccoli
Blueberries
Clementine segments
Fresh cilantro, chopped, optional
Garbanzo beans, or beans/peas of choice (cooked or canned, rinsed, drained)
Green peas (frozen and thawed)
Avocado slices, optional
Sliced almonds or walnuts, optional

To make the salad:
Wash all vegetables and cut them into desired size pieces. Arrange ingredients in a serving bowl and top with a few avocado slices, if desired. Mix dressing ingredients as directed and drizzle over salad. Enjoy!

Carrot-Orange Sauce, Dip, or Salad Dressing
Makes About 1-1/4 Cups

This delicious mixture can be used as a sauce over cooked vegetables or grains, as a dip, and as a dressing for green salads. The key is in the amount of lemon juice or vinegar you add. See the suggestion below!

¾ cup chopped carrots (raw, blanched, or frozen and thawed)*
2 Tbsp ground flaxseed
½ cup orange juice
½ tsp ground coriander seed
2 to 4 Tbsp lemon juice or apple cider vinegar**

Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor. (See notes below.)** Pulse or process until smooth. Transfer to a covered container, and place in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes to allow it to thicken. Use within 1 week.

If you have a high-powered blender, the raw carrots can be pureed until smooth. If you do not own such a blender, using blanched, or frozen and thawed carrots will give you a smoother product since they will be easier to puree.

*Cook’s Note: To blanch fresh carrots, placed diced carrots in boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain and allow to cool some before processing.

** Suggestion: The amount of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar you add to this dressing transforms it from a sauce to a dip, or to a salad dressing. Use less acid (2 to 3 tablespoons) if you want to use this as a sauce over vegetables or a grain. Use a medium amount (3 tablespoons) if you want to use this as a dip. Use the full amount (4 tablespoons) if you use this as a salad dressing, so the tang will bring the flavor out above the salad greens. If you’re not sure, add just 2 tablespoons at first, taste it, and add more acid as desired.

The flavors will blend well when this mixture is allowed to sit in a covered container in the refrigerator overnight. This is especially helpful when adding 4 tablespoons of lemon juice or vinegar. When using this as a sauce with less lemon juice or vinegar, it may be used right away. However, allowing it to rest for 20 to 30 minutes gives the ground flaxseed time to thicken the mixture before it is used.