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Cheap food can be healthy food!

October 15, 2010

Sometimes it’s hard to eat well when you’re strapped for cash. And usually when you’re low on cash, you’re working a lot trying to make money, stressed trying to pay bills and not sure what to buy and end up grabbing something from a “value menu.” It may seem cheap, but cooking at home is still cheaper and so much healthier. Another big temptation is frozen entrees and packaged meals, but again, it’s better to get some fresh fruits and veggies and some grains to prepare- better choice for the wallet, hips and arteries all at once. It’s also really cheap to take dinner leftovers to work the next day, rather than spend $6 on another meal. Often when I really focus on basics and cut out all unnecessary snacks, I find that buying rice, beans, vegetables and herbs is a much, much cheaper and healthier route than my normal list.

Provided you are fairly well stocked with spices and have a salad dressing and various oils and vinegars on hand like I always do, you can create a ton of different salads and soups with just a few staples which all keep well. Carrots, romaine, celery and potatoes are my favorites for staying fresh a week or longer when I don’t have money or time to shop for fresh food very often. Here’s my list when I go back to the basics due to lack of funds. I take a cue from the rest of the world and cut out meat and dairy, and make the bulk of the meal rice and beans. You can do a lot with rice, vegetables and beans. I’m not trying or struggling to get back 100% vegan, but honestly it doesn’t even cross my mind to get any meat, fish or cheese. The only thing I still want are cottage cheese and yogurt and sometimes I get them, but not usually. I’m just completely in the habit of thinking of my meals from the veggies up and I’m glad I’ve come to that point. I don’t enjoy touching chicken or preparing it, though I don’t mind tuna or sushi. Sushi is great regardless, I like veggie just as much as fish varieties. Which reminds me- sometimes I pick a food theme for the week and stick with foods in a certain part of the world or from a specific cookbook. Once I get all the basic ingredients for Asian, Greek, Thai, Italian or Mexican, it’s easy (and value-conscious) to keep making variations on the theme.

Ok, here’s our list:

1 lb. bananas

5 lb. bag carrots

6 pack romaine heads ($3.29 at Costco)

Head of celery (for snacking and adding to soups)

Add a tomato, cucumber and lemon to the list for quinoa tabbouleh if budget allows- this makes several meal’s worth

Bulk brown rice

Bulk quinoa

Bulk oats (main breakfast choice)

Sprouted Tortillas (or if money is super tight La Favorita from Costco)- burritos, wraps, pb&j… cheaper than bread

Canned chickpeas, white beans, pinto beans, black beans if on sale

Lentils, split peas

Natural soups and soup mixes  (add tons of water, broth and veggies to all soups to make several meals out of one)

Frozen veggies to throw in soups once fresh are gone

Large bag of mini sweet peppers or bell peppers if on sale (usually about $5 at Costco)

1 bunch each- Italian parsley, cilantro- both are so cheap and add so much flavor

Pack of buckwheat soba noodles from the Asian market- about $1 for 6 bundles

Canned tomatoes to mix with veggies and herbs for marinara

Bulk popcorn- pop on stovetop for a snack (usually about 67 cents per pound)

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Greener Greens

October 13, 2010

We use eco-friendly reusable bags for lugging home the groceries, but what about all those plastic produce bags that fill them?  Here’s a great solution: bags that are totally affordable, reusable, washable all the good stuff!

 

Reusable Produce Bags

 

Grab these and your favorite handmade tote from Etsy and hit the Farmer’s Market or natural grocer as many times you want, filling up on fresh fruits and veggies with truly minimal waste.

Inspired Asics Ad

October 11, 2010

 

Sound Mind Sound Body Campaign by Asics via Women's Health

 

I saw this ad in Women’s Health this month and it really caught my eye. Right away I liked the bold graphic nature of the composition, but then I looked closer and saw all these little words- rage, fear, sadness, insecurity- on the left side, before the runner is breaking through the sheet of water. It speaks to the way exercise clears your mind, and I know this to be true.

My favorite yoga DVD Dance the Chakras focuses on the mind and the breath and I find it so refreshing. I love the positive narration and the beautiful imagery they describe. At one point they talk you through a pose explaining that when energy flows in that area you can turn anxiety into energy we can use for creativity and self healing and invite us to “perform that alchemy now.” I love how yoga pushes you, reminds you that the mind and body are inextricably connected. I constantly call on this concept whenever I am challenged, either physically or mentally. Exercising to the extent of my abilities trains me to breathe through the tough parts and stay focused on balance and good form.

I’ve just started to train 6 days a week with intense cardio and often I just want to stop, but challenges that push me out of my comfort zone are extremely important to my growth.  So how will I push myself out of my comfort zone and into true discomfort? I want to run the Bolder Boulder 10k next spring and possibly the San Diego Rock & Roll half-marathon the week after… which is a huge challenge, considering I’ve never really been “a runner.” Running is the last frontier for me, the thing I don’t want to do that will stretch me to the limit. My best friend from San Diego wants to run the half-marathon and several friends here want to run the 10k, so I really have extra motivation and good company. I need to learn to appreciate the body/mind meditative state that results from long time & long distance exercise. I love this Asics concept because it’s all about the cleansing power of running I want to discover which I already know a bit of through dancing, yoga and cross-fit workouts. It’s about finding those dark corners of your mind and body, the places it’s hard to go, and going there. Pushing for change, envisioning a new version of you. Believing that you can reach heights you never thought possible! Personal trainers and coaches are invaluable because they see where you need to be pushed. Think of all you could accomplish by taking stock of where you could improve and asking for feedback and ideas from friends and family about lofty goals you could set.

I’ll leave you with this quote by Michelangelo we’ve been discussing at work lately, which applies perfectly.

The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.

Denver Eats & Sights

October 10, 2010

This post isn’t about diet food. It’s about your cheat meal, your day off of hard workouts, one of pure enjoyment! Here are a few places we’ve been here in Denver- I need to take my camera everywhere I go- so many great places! I’ll be posting pics and reviews more frequently as soon as I have the money to go out to dinner every night. Ha! Enjoy, and share with us a favorite restaurant of yours, design-wise or food-wise, and it can be anywhere!

 

Me, a dear friend and my sister at Osteria Marco

 

 

the bar at Red Square; they also have a great patio where we sat

 

 

Red Square boasts 19 varieties of infused vodka! We had to try the dill. Yum!!

 

 

A wine store we visted, which may or may not have been Mondo Vino, can't recall

 

 

A little sake set I admired at T-Trove Asian Decor

 

 

5 Green Boxes has packets with great ethnic recipes + spices to make them!

 

 

On Larimer St in downtown Denver

 

 

Historic Union Station at 17th and Wynkoop, first opened in 1881

 

Party Harder

October 9, 2010

Here is a fun song to fuel your cardio this weekend! Dance like it’s 1999 and you’ll burn some calories the most euphoric way possible, well one of the ways. 😉 What are some of your favorite songs to work out to? I like to go to our local bar, not drink anything but water, fuel with their delicious guacamole if necessary and dance every woe out of my body and mind to songs like this, and other simple (sometimes guilty) pleasures like Kesha, Ludacris, LMFAO, and Kid Cudi.

 

Chia Seed Pudding!

October 9, 2010

I love the nutrition and versatility of seeds, especially chia and hemp. Here, the Vegan Assassin makes a super easy fuel for your body, mind & soul. Love his energy and the song. Reminds me of all the amazing food, people and music back home in San Diego. 🙂

Quinoa, Smoothies and Juice, Oh my!!

October 1, 2010

I’m still enjoying a lot of quinoa- it’s so quick and easy, I like to make it a day ahead. When I have tasty, healthy choices ready in the fridge, I can’t go wrong later when I’m starving. It also frees up my schedule that day. The Hubs and I are doing Insanity workouts 6 days a week, following the suggested schedule and I’m starving when I workout this hard. My strategy is to eat as much as I can early in the day (I’m not normally a breakfast person, but it’s really important), stay super hydrated, and snack healthily in the evening when just I have to- I’m such a night eater!! I’m trying to reverse that and just have water or tea when it’s late. It also helps with so many factors that I’m getting to bed earlier. Not early still, but in bed by 11 or midnight. We used to easily stay up watching shows, playing video games, blogging (and eating) into the wee hours. Shifting everything this way is really making a difference. We can get up, work out, go to work, lunch is ready since I made it the night before… it’s a better groove to be in. And when I don’t feel like cooking or wasn’t able to pre-prepare a meal, we’ve been hitting the Qdoba right across the street. We’ve been doing a good job of steering the car right (Qdoba, Subway) instead of left (Burger King, Wendy’s.) I am addicted to Qdoba’s Mango Taco Salad. I went on their website and was really impressed with their nutritional calculator where you can add exactly what you add to your salad or burrito and it gives you the calories… which could be scary, but isn’t that terrible for the salad. 450 calories is decent- I’m working out and need something totally satisfying. I love eating salad because I can eat so much and feel great after- physically and emotionally. When I get home with the Qdoba salad, I chop a whole head of romaine up small and toss it with all the rest of the salad. It makes it so huge and amazing!! I need to get all the ingredients and start making it myself and not spending so much every day, but it is so good!

Here is the quinoa I made for tomorrow’s lunch: added taco seasoning and cumin to the quinoa while it was cooking, then added a can of black beans, a few chopped mini sweet peppers (which you can get in a huge bag at Costco- awesome crunchy snack!!), a big handful of cilantro, two green onions, and the juice of half a lemon. I prefer lime juice but today I just had a lemon and it’s still really good and tastes super fresh.

Spicy Quinoa with Peppers, Black Beans, cilantro and green onion

And here is a similar quinoa recipe I cooked up last week when I was wanting something spicy again. Salsa, avocado and Ezekiel tortillas…. mmmmm.

Quinoa with black beans, peppers, romaine and salsa

AND! We got a juicer! After all this time of making smoothies and juice in the blender and straining for juice, we now have a juicer. I love it, it is so great for vegetables. It’s not very loud, especially compared to the blender, it just purrrs. We did all sorts of greens and it was awesome. I think we’ll still make a lot of smoothies in the little bullet blender, and it really works well for a lot of things. But for juicing vegetables, I couldn’t be more excited about it. Juice is such a fast, and invigorating breakfast! I love taking my cup of juice to work and sipping on it throughout the morning. I add ice so it’s really refreshing and hydrating at once and with my insulated cup, it stays fresh into the day. Here’s my favorite juice I made last week, though it was in the blender. I’ll have to share some pictures soon (or maybe someday I’ll venture into video…maybe) of using the juicer.

Pomegranate seeds, clementine, wheatgrass

Ready, go!

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