cleanse

12 Tips for Eating Healthy on a Budget

It’s a misconception that eating healthily has to be expensive. In fact, it’s very manageable to have three all-organic healthy and nourishing meals (plus snacks!) each day no matter what your grocery and food budget may be -- I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this concept and testing out new ways to eat well for cheap. There are ways!

If you don’t know where to start, follow these tips for eating well on a budget:

1. Cook As Many of Your Meals as You Can

This is at once the simplest and the most difficult tip: commit to cooking your meals rather than eating out. Not only does eating out add up quick, but it tends to be less healthy than what you would cook at home. Depending on your habits, you could save roughly $180 - 250 each month by not eating out. How’s that for savings?

2. Plan Your Meals Ahead of Time

Once you’re committed to cooking at home more, try planning your meals for the week ahead of time. Make use of versatile ingredients that you can use in multiple different dishes throughout the week, and stick to simple meals that don’t require too many ingredients. Doing this helps with a few things:

  • You can buy bulk, which saves you on the total cost of items.
  • You’ll have less chance of unused ingredients going bad in your fridge and, as a result, you’ll waste less.

  • You’ll put more thought into what you’re eating and how much you’re spending, which will help you keep to you stick to your good eating and spending habits.

3. Eat What's in Season

This might seem like a no-brainer, but in-season foods are always cheaper than out of season foods, which were likely imported from elsewhere in the world.

So, to save money, focus on foods that are in-season. Learn to love cabbage and citruses in the winter, and go crazy with squashes and root plants in the fall. For a full list of in-season produce and recipe suggestions try Wise Breads’s post on seasonal produce. The Center for Urban Education and Sustainable Agriculture also has a very good, comprehensive chart.

Above all, avoid pricey pre-packaged foods. These foods will not only be pricier but also most likely contain ingredients that are not health-enhancing. Remember to read the ingredient list if you are purchasing packaged foods.

4. Take Advantage of Farmer’s Markets, CSAs, and Imperfect-Looking Vegetables

Some of the best places to find cheap and delicious in-season produce is at your local farmer’s market. Try going at the end of the day and asking for deals to save even more. If you don’t have a farmer's market close to you, try an online farmer’s market such as GrubMarket - they deliver straight to your door!

If you have a CSA in your area, you can also save money while getting ultra-fresh produce (sometimes things you’ve never even seen before!) by ordering from them.

Similar to a CSA is a new produce delivery service, Imperfect Produce, which delivers totally edible -- but “too ugly for supermarket” -- fruits and veggies for super cheap. For example, you could order a 7 - 9 pound box, which will last at least a week, of produce for roughly $12. Awesome!

5. Look for Sales and Take Advantage of Them

For the non-produce staples (and, okay, even some produce) keep an eye out for sales and take advantage of them. Be open to adjusting your weekly meal plan to accommodate a good deal you found at the supermarket or stocking up on dry goods when they go on sale.

Hint: in some supermarkets, if you buy one item that’s on a “2 for $3” sale, you’ll still be able to get it half off. Don’t buy both if you don’t need them.

6. Shop at Ethnic Markets

Want a cheap box of coconuts? Go to Chinatown or your nearest ethnic grocery store. Even for some more common items like rice noodles, or a bag of apples, ethnic grocery stores often still have good quality items for cheaper. Keep in mind that organic is ideal.

7. Focus on Plant Foods and Make Fewer Meat-Centric Dishes

I advocate a high plant-focused way of eating in order to get a wide variety of nutrients, but it's also a way to save money if you know how to balance your non-meat meals appropriately.

For those of you who don't want to omit meat entirely (and you don't necessarily need to - your body knows best!), try eating fewer meat-centric dishes. Rather than serving up a steak with a side of broccoli, make meat a compliment, rather than the focus. Cook a quinoa dish with a bit of ground turkey, or a veggie stir fry with some slices of lamb.

8. Start a Garden

Whether you’ve got a yard or a windowsill, starting a garden is the ultimate way to lower your food spending. After all, it’s free (well, almost -- you might still have to make a small upfront investment in seeds, pots, and soil).

Certain things, like arugula or bok choy, are super easy to grow for first timers, whereas others, like tomatoes, require a bit more care and attention. No matter what you grow, gardens are a great way to get a constant supply of nourishing food. Not to mention, there’s no fresher food than what you’re growing outside your front door.

9. Learn to Love Your Freezer

This tip goes back to that whole idea that by letting food go bad, you’re wasting money. Which is why any health-nut on a budget should really learn to love their freezer. There’s two big ways this can help:

First, you can freeze leftovers if you know you won’t be eating them in the next couple of days. Personally, if something’s been in my fridge for 2 days, I’ll either eat it or freeze it to make sure it doesn’t go to waste. Just make sure to mark when you put them in.

Second, if you’ve got a garden, weren’t able to eat all the food you got in your CSA or last week’s grocery store run, you can preserve a lot of fruits and veggies by either canning, pickling, or -- yes -- freezing them.

One of my favorite things to do is to take greens (arugula, parsley, etc.) and turn them into a pesto. Stick them in an ice cube tray and freeze them. That way, you’ll have a stash of homemade pesto you can easily pop on pasta for the rest of the year.

10. Embrace the Health Value of Super Basic Foods

You don’t have to be splurging on obscure and expensive health foods to be healthy. Some of the commonly available foods (brown rice, apples, broccoli, bananas, spinach) are incredibly healthy for you (when organic).

I think that expensive, trendy health foods like chia seeds or acai are part of the reason people assume eating well needs to cost money. Yes, I may be into these more trendy ‘superfoods', but in reality, some of the best stuff for you is downright common and unexotic — you can find amazingly cheap organic produce for less than $1 at the farmer’s market.

To add to that, these more expensive 'superfoods' can go a long way. You only need small amounts to reap the health benefits of these foods, so you won’t need to be purchasing them all that often.

11. Make Your Own Drinks

Buying beverages can get pricey quick -- not to mention, you might not have any control of the amount of sugar and other ingredients in them or whether or not they’re organic.

Personally, I prefer getting around this problem by making my own drinks. Especially since frozen organic berries are cheaper than fresh ones, buying a few big bags of organic frozen berries is an easy way to get my berry fix without breaking the bank. Simply toss some in a blender with water (or milk), lemon juice and a bit of honey (optional) and voila!

12. Get Creative with Your Recipes

This might be the best tip I can give you - There are no rules in the kitchen! Did you know you could make chocolate with mushrooms? Well, you can. And if mushrooms can be a core ingredient for one of your favorite dessert foods, then you should absolutely get creative with leeks, turnips, boysenberries, or whatever else is most affordable at the moment in your supermarket/farmers market.

Matcha Mint Acai Bowl

MatchaAcaiBowl Featured Image

I'm sure you've all seen the beautiful acai bowls popping up at your local shops. I think it's great that we have easier access to these superfoods such as acai and matcha now, which do not originate in our country but are packed with incredible nutrients that support longevity and overall wellbeing. Did you know that both of these foods are two of the top foods highest in antioxidants? Antioxidants are essential vitamins that help our bodies kill off and prevent free radicals, which form in result to cell damage due to acidity in the body from high levels of stress (physical/emotional/mental), highly refined sugars and processed food intake, smoking and alcohol, and environmental toxins. An excessive amount of free radicals in the body leads to disease, illness, and aging at early stages. As an added bonus, antioxidants support beauty and skin health.

That said, let's get some antioxidants in you!

In my opinion, the best part of having access to these wonderful foods is that we can recreate our own goodies with even higher nutrient value and unrefined ingredients at home.

Below I'm sharing one of the many acai bowls I've created. I intentionally added the matcha to this one, not only for it's antioxidant content, but for a nourishing afternoon energy boost that won't spike blood sugar.

MatchaAcaiBowl
MatchaAcaiBowl

Ingredients

1 frozen acai pack (I use Sambazon)

2 cups frozen wild blueberries

1 yellow peach, pitted and chopped

1/2 cup spring or filtered water - just enough to help blend but not too much so it doesn't thin out

2 Tablespoons sunflower seed butter (or any nut/seed butter of choice)

1 Tablespoon raw honey (or 1-2 medjool dates)

2 teaspoons Encha Matcha Culinary Grade - Amazing quality!

Generous handful of fresh mint leaves

Juice of 1 lime

Pinch of sea salt

Procedure

  1. Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. You may need to use a spatula to move things around a few times. It's meant to be a thick sorbet-like consistency.
  2. Top with toppings of choice. I topped mine with some homemade gluten-free granola and fresh blueberries.

Serves 1-2

I hope you enjoy this recipe and share with me what variation you come up with!

xx,

Giovanna

The Easiest Green Drink

APL_Yoga&SmoothiesFEb28_DFY3

Some days there seems to be no time to even blend something for breakfast and take it on the go. On those days, I like to make something that only takes less than a minute, yet is filled with vitamins and minerals. Vitamineral Green is a powdered blend of green superfoods to enhance detox, support the immune system, balance blood sugar, rejuvenation, aid organ function, and support longevity. I simply mix this magical supplement with a few magical ingredients in a jar of spring water to get a healthy start. BCFebPhoto16

Ingredients:
2 cups water
1 Tablespoon of Vitamineral Green
Splash of lemon juice
2-3 drops of Vanilla Stevia
 
Get going on a good, green note! 

Creamy Pumpkin Curry Soup

PumpkinCurrySoup Featured image

Pumpkin everything is going on in my kitchen these days. I love the colors and flavors of fall. Here's one of my favorite creations this season so far. You can use any variety of pumpkin, squash, or carrots as a base for this. They're all delicious.

Ingredients

1 medium sugar pie pumpkin

1 Tablespoon coconut oil

1 onion, sliced

1 clove garlic

4 cups homemade vegetable stock, spring water, or almond milk

1 Tablespoon curry powder

1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon Garam masala (optional)

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Juice of 1 lemon

PumpkinCurrySoup

Procedure

  1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
  2. Cut pumpkin in half and scoop out seeds with a spoon. Don't discard seeds, you can make use of them!
  3. Lay the pumpkin halves face down on a baking dish and add a bit of water to cover the bottom of the dish. Bake for 45-60 minutes, until tender. When fully cooked, pumpkin can easily be separated from skin and scooped out with a spoon.
  4. Transfer pumpkin to blender, add remaining ingredients, and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Serves 6

 

Leave me a comment below to share how your fall curry creation came out!

x,

Giovanna

 

Foods to Eat After Giving Birth to Save Time and Stay Nourished + Rice Porridge Recipe

RicePorridge featured image

I had the great pleasure of being this week's 'Fab Friday Feature' at Chloe's blog from Chloe Jackman Photography. Learn what foods are best after giving birth and get the recipe for this beautiful rice porridge: Foods to Eat After Giving Birth to Save Time and Stay Nourished + Rice Porridge Recipe.

Ingredients

1 cup short-grain brown rice, soaked overnight

2 cups coconut milk (I recommend homemade or canned by  ‘Native Forest’ – organic and BPA-free)

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon or cinnamon stick

1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger or ground ginger

½ teaspoon ground cardamom

¼ teaspoon sea salt

 

Toppings:

½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut, toasted

½ cup hemp seeds

½ cup fresh strawberries, chopped

¼ cup fresh medjool dates, chopped

Extra coconut milk if desired

1 Tablespoons raw maca powder (optional, but will provide great hormonal balancing benefits), you can mix this in before adding the toppings

 

Procedure

1. Soak rice overnight or for at least 4 hours. Drain and rinse. Place in medium size pot with coconut milk, cinnamon, vanilla, ginger, cardamom, and sea salt.

2. Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes, until rice is cooked and it reaches a porridge consistency. Add water or more coconut milk if porridge becomes too thick.

3. Serve and stir in maca powder if using. Garnish with toasted coconut, hemp seeds, chopped strawberries, and chopped dates.

Serves 4

 

Healing Bone Broth

bone broth 2

Bone broth is incredibly healing. It has been used for years to treat illnesses and speed up recovery and healing. Health benefits of bone broth:

  • Promotes healthy bones
  • Heals and supports gut health and digestion
  • Inhibits infection
  • Reduces joint pain
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Promotes healthy hair and nail growth.

Bone broth can be made with chicken, turkey, duck, lamb, or beef bones. I chose to use beef bone marrow for this one. It doesn't matter what you choose to use, but you must make sure they are organically-raised, pastured or grass-fed animals in order to get the health benefits.

Making bone broth can be a nurturing process if you allow it to be. The more love you put into it, the more healing and nutritious it will be for you and your family. It's a great staple to have at home. And the best part is that you can make huge batches like this one and store in the freezer to have for a few months. This will be your best health supplement. Use it as a base for soups, sauces, or drink it as is.

bone broth 3

Ingredients

3.5-4 pounds organic, grass-fed bones. I used beef bone marrow.

4 Tablespoons unfiltered apple cider vinegar

Filtered water, enough to fill pot

4 large kombu strips

4 Tablespoons dulse flakes

4 large carrots, roughly chopped

4 stalks celery, roughly chopped

1 bunch parsley

1/4 cup goji berries

1 Tablespoon organic ground turmeric or a large chunk of fresh turmeric (peeled)

Procedure:

  1. Place bones and apple cider vinegar in a large stock pot. Fill pot with water and let sit for 30 minutes with the heat off. The acid in the vinegar helps extract the minerals from the bones.
  2. Turn on heat and bring to a simmer, removing scum that rises to the surface for the first hour of cooking. Cover loosely and continue simmering on low for 24-48 hours. The longer, the better. I simmered it for about 28 hours total. You will need to add water along the way to keep bones completely covered.
  3. Add remaining ingredients for the last hour of cooking.
  4. Strain broth and place in air tight containers. Let cool completely before storing in the refrigerator. Broth will keep in the refrigerator for 5 days or in the freezer for a few months.
  5. The next day, there will be a layer of fat on the surface. You can discard this, use it for cooking, or stir it back in - it contains valuable nutrients.

Makes ~20-24 cups 

Don't be afraid to use your choice of herbs, spices, or vegetables to give it your own therapeutic touch.

Happy healing!

Will you be making this therapeutic drink? Let me know in the comments below. 

Probiotics + Sauerkraut Recipe

Sauerkraut featured image

Our digestive tract contains both good and bad bacteria. Probiotics are what we call the friendly bacteria, which promote a healthy digestive system and are essential for good health. There are hundreds of types of probiotics. Some of the largest and most common are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. These two support colon health and promote healthy bowel movements. Why is this important to know?

Well, the gut is the heart of most health conditions and we don't even know it. A happy gut is one that has a good balance of good and bad bacteria. The average american tends to feed the 'bad bacteria' more than the good. This provides a imbalanced or highly acidic environment in the gut, which comes form sugar, wheat, alcohol, processed foods, high-stress, birth control pills, radiation exposure, over-the-counter medications, and antibiotics.

A bacterial imbalance in the gut results in:

  • Impaired immune system
  • Impaired digestive system
  • Malabsorption of vitamins and minerals from food - vitamin deficiencies
  • Yeast and fungal infections (Candida)
  • Digestive issues (constipation, diarrhea, IBS, Chron's disease, ulcerative colitis)
  • Skin issues
  • Fatigue
  • Food allergies

This is why it's crucial to eliminate foods and lifestyle habits that destroy the gut lining, and incorporate more fermented foods that are packed with probiotics to help rebalance the bacteria in the gut. There are also probiotic supplements, but having the real deal (fermented foods) is the best way to get them.

My favorite fermented foods are:

  • Sauerkraut
  • Kimchi
  • Fermented vegetables
  • Coconut water kefir
  • Kombucha
  • Coconut yogurt

If you're new to adding probiotics into your diet, start slowly because your body will go into a state of detoxification and you might experiences symptoms such as bloating and possibly skin issues, but you will soon be feeling great and seeing a great difference in digestion and overall health. Then you can move up to having them with every meal (recommended!).

I've been experimenting with making my own ferments at home, and reality is that they're so easy to make and so much more cost effective.

Today I am sharing with you the simplest sauerkraut recipe ever. Hope you enjoy making it!

Ingredients Sauerkraut

1 head purple cabbage, shredded, save outer leaf

1 Tablespoon Sea salt (must be unrefined sea salt)

Procedure

  1. Place the shredded cabbage in a large glass bowl.
  2. Sprinkle with sea salt and massage with hands until wilted and juice covers bottom of the bowl, 3-5 minutes.
  3. Start filling a glass jar by scooping some of the cabbage with it's juice into it with a wooden spoon. Best to use glass or wood because any type of metal will kill off beneficial bacteria. Press down firmly with spoon after each scoop to pack it in tightly. Add remaining cabbage juice to fill jar. Take cabbage leaf that you initially saved, fold, and place at the surface of jar to keep air out and keep cabbage submerged in juice (press down).
  4. Cover jar tightly, making sure no air gets in. Leave on counter and press down on cabbage each day for about 3 days. Taste after 3 days (with wooden spoon). You can ferment it until it reaches your desired taste. Foam and bubbles on the surface are normal and signs of healthy fermentation. When done, cover with a lid and keep in refrigerator.

Enjoy!

Are you new to fermented foods? What are your favorite probiotic-rich foods?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cauliflower Mash

Cauliflower mash featured image

Cauliflower is often an underestimated. It seems like such a plain vegetable, yet it's loaded with nutrients and health benefits. Nutritional Highlights of Cauliflower:

  • High in vitamin C - immune support, cardiovascular support
  • Rich in antioxidant phytonutrients - help lower the risk of developing different types of cancer
  • Vitamin K - highly anti-inflammatory
  • Sulphur - anti-inflammatory, shown to kill cancer stem cells, helps detoxification
  • Vitamin B6 & Choline - two B vitamins important for brain health
  • Fiber - aids digestion

 

Cauliflower mash

 

This side dish has been one of my go-to's at home lately. My personal chef clients love it as well. It's comforting and doesn't leave you feeling stuffed. It makes a great dairy-free and low-carb alternative to mashed potatoes, especially for those watching their weight. It even tastes better, in my opinion.

I make a batch at the beginning of the week and then sauté or roast a ton of vegetables to go with it. Great for lunch, dinner, or snack.

Ingredients 

1 Tablespoon extra virgin coconut oil

1 yellow onion, sliced

1 large head cauliflower, chopped

1-2 cloves garlic, mashed

1/4 - 1/2 cup water

1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil (melted)

Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

Fresh herbs such as chives, parsley, or cilantro to garnish (optional)

Procedure

  1. Heat coconut oil in a large pan or pot. Add onion and sauté over medium heat until slightly softened, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add chopped cauliflower, garlic, and water (enough water to cover the bottom of the pan). Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and turn down heat to low. Simmer for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally and checking to make sure there is still liquid at the bottom of the pan. If water has evaporates, add a little more. Steam until cauliflower is slightly tender.
  3. Remove from the heat and place in a food processor or high-speed blender. Season with oil, sea salt, and black pepper. Blend until it reaches mashed potato consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning. Mix in herbs at this time if desired, or garnish with them.

Note: If you do not have a food processor or high-speed blender, you may mash cauliflower with a potato masher. Cauliflower might need to be cooked a bit more to make it easier.

Serves 2-4

What's your favorite way to prepare cauliflower?

 

 

 

Chia Pudding [Video]

APLChiaPudding

If you know me, you know I love my chia pudding. It's a very easy and tasty energy boost. Chia seeds are packed with fiber, omega-3, calcium, protein, and antioxidants. Chia pudding is a great snack and breakfast option. It only takes 15-20 minutes to prepare and can also be made the night before.

Visit my post on 12 Reasons to Love Chia Seeds to learn more about the great health benefits of chia seeds.

Ingredients

Basic Recipe

3 Tablespoons chia seeds

1 cup almond milk, or milk of choice (recipe for almond milk here)

A few pinches of ground cinnamon

Additional Ingredients for Chocolate Flavor

1/2 Tablespoon raw cacao powder

1/2 Tablespoon coconut sugar, raw honey, or grade B maple syrup

Procedure

  1. Place all ingredients in a bowl and whisk for about 30 seconds. Let sit for 15-20 minutes until it reaches desired consistency. Add desired toppings or enjoy as is.

Serves 1