Category Archives: Food

Twenty Healthiest Foods for Under $1

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1. Oats
High in fiber and complex carbohydrates, oats have also been shown to lower cholesterol. And they sure are cheap—a dollar will buy you more than a week’s worth of hearty breakfasts.

Serving suggestions: Sprinkle with nuts and fruit in the morning, make oatmeal cookies for dessert.

2. Eggs
You can get about a half dozen of eggs for a dollar, making them one of the cheapest and most versatile sources of protein. They are also a good source of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which may ward off age-related eye problems.

Serving suggestions: Huevos rancheros for breakfast, egg salad sandwiches for lunch, and frittatas for dinner.

3. Kale
This dark, leafy green is loaded with vitamin C, carotenoids, and calcium. Like most greens, it is usually a dollar a bunch.

Serving suggestions: Chop up some kale and add to your favorite stir-fry; try German-Style Kale or traditional Irish Colcannon.

4. Potatoes
Because we often see potatoes at their unhealthiest—as fries or chips—we don’t think of them as nutritious, but they definitely are. Eaten with the skin on, potatoes contain almost half a day’s worth of Vitamin C, and are a good source of potassium. If you opt for sweet potatoes or yams, you’ll also get a good wallop of beta carotene. Plus, they’re dirt cheap and have almost endless culinary possibilities.

Serving suggestions: In the a.m., try Easy Breakfast Potatoes; for lunch, make potato salad; for dinner, have them with sour cream and chives.

5. Apples
I’m fond of apples because they’re inexpensive, easy to find, come in portion-controlled packaging, and taste good. They are a good source of pectin—a fiber that may help reduce cholesterol—and they have the antioxidant Vitamin C, which keeps your blood vessels healthy.

Serving suggestions: Plain; as applesauce; or in baked goods like Pumpkin-Apple Breakfast Bread.

6. Nuts
Though nuts have a high fat content, they’re packed with the good-for-you fats—unsaturated and monounsaturated. They’re also good sources of essential fatty acids, Vitamin E, and protein. And because they’re so nutrient-dense, you only need to eat a little to get the nutritional benefits. Although some nuts, like pecans and macadamias, can be costly, peanuts, walnuts, and almonds, especially when bought in the shell, are low in cost.

Serving suggestions: Raw; roasted and salted; sprinkled in salads.

7. Bananas
At a local Trader Joe’s, I found bananas for about 19¢ apiece; a dollar gets you a banana a day for the workweek. High in potassium and fiber (9 grams for one), bananas are a no-brainer when it comes to eating your five a day quotient of fruits and veggies.

Serving suggestions: In smoothies, by themselves, in cereal and yogurt.

8. Garbanzo Beans
With beans, you’re getting your money’s worth and then some. Not only are they a great source of protein and fiber, but ’bonzos are also high in fiber, iron, folate, and manganese, and may help reduce cholesterol levels. And if you don’t like one type, try another—black, lima, lentils … the varieties are endless. Though they require soaking and cooking, the most inexpensive way to purchase these beans is in dried form; a precooked can will still only run you around a buck.

Serving suggestions: In salads, curries, and Orange Hummus.

9. Broccoli
Broccoli contains tons of nice nutrients—calcium, vitamins A and C, potassium, folate, and fiber. As if that isn’t enough, broccoli is also packed with phytonutrients, compounds that may help prevent heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. Plus, it’s low in calories and cost.

Serving suggestions: Throw it in salads, stir fries, or served as an accompaniment to meat in this Steamed Ginger Chicken with Asian Greens recipe.

10. Watermelon
Though you may not be able to buy an entire watermelon for a dollar, your per serving cost isn’t more than a few dimes. This summertime fruit is over 90 percent water, making it an easy way to hydrate, and gives a healthy does of Vitamin C, potassium, and lycopene, an antioxidant that may ward off cancer.

Serving suggestions: Freeze chunks for popsicles; eat straight from the rind; squeeze to make watermelon margaritas (may negate the hydrating effect!).

11. Wild Rice
It won’t cost you much more than white rice, but wild rice is much better for you. Low in fat and high in protein and fiber, this gluten-free rice is a great source of complex carbohydrates. It packs a powerful potassium punch and is loaded with B vitamins. Plus, it has a nutty, robust flavor.

Serving suggestions: Mix with nuts and veggies for a cold rice salad; blend with brown rice for a side dish.

12. Beets
Beets are my kind of vegetable—their natural sugars make them sweet to the palate while their rich flavor and color make them nutritious for the body. They’re powerhouses of folate, iron, and antioxidants.

Serving suggestions: Shred into salads, slice with goat cheese. If you buy your beets with the greens on, you can braise them in olive oil like you would other greens.

13. Butternut Squash
This beautiful gourd swings both ways: sometimes savory, sometimes sweet. However you prepare the butternut, it will not only add color and texture, but also five grams of fiber per half cup and chunks and chunks of Vitamin A and C. When in season, butternut squash and related gourds are usually less than a dollar a pound.

Serving suggestions: Try Pear and Squash Bruschetta; cook and dot with butter and salt.

14. Whole Grain Pasta
In the days of Atkins, pasta was wrongly convicted, for there is nothing harmful about a complex carbohydrate source that is high in protein and B vitamins. Plus, it’s one of the cheapest staples you can buy.

Serving suggestions: Mix clams and white wine with linguine; top orzo with tomatoes and garlic; eat cold Farfalle Salad on a picnic.

15. Sardines
As a kid, I used to hate it when my dad would order sardines on our communal pizzas, but since then I’ve acquired a taste for them. Because not everyone has, you can still get a can of sardines for relatively cheap. And the little fish come with big benefits: calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and B vitamins. And, because they’re low on the food chain, they don’t accumulate mercury.

Serving suggestions: Mash them with parsley, lemon juice, and olive oil for a spread; eat them plain on crackers; enjoy as a pizza topping (adults only).

16. Spinach
Spinach is perhaps one of the best green leafies out there—it has lots of Vitamin C, iron, and trace minerals. Plus, you can usually find it year round for less than a dollar.

Serving suggestions: Sautéed with eggs, as a salad, or a Spinach Frittata.

17. Tofu
Not just for vegetarians anymore, tofu is an inexpensive protein source that can be used in both savory and sweet recipes. It’s high in B vitamins and iron, but low in fat and sodium, making it a healthful addition to many dishes.

Serving suggestions: Use silken varieties in Tofu Cheesecake; add to smoothies for a protein boost; cube and marinate for barbecue kebobs.

18. Lowfat Milk
Yes, the price of a gallon of milk is rising, but per serving, it’s still under a dollar; single serving milk products, like yogurt, are usually less than a dollar, too. Plus, you’ll get a lot of benefit for a small investment. Milk is rich in protein, vitamins A and D, potassium, and niacin, and is one of the easiest ways to get bone-strengthening calcium.

Serving suggestions: In smoothies, hot chocolate, or coffee; milk products like low fat cottage cheese and yogurt.

19. Pumpkin Seeds
When it’s time to carve your pumpkin this October, don’t shovel those seeds into the trash—they’re a goldmine of magnesium, protein, and trace minerals. Plus, they come free with the purchase of a pumpkin.

Serving suggestions: Salt, roast, and eat plain; toss in salads.

20. Coffee
The old cup-o-joe has been thrown on the stands for many a corporeal crime—heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis—but exonerated on all counts. In fact, coffee, which is derived from a bean, contains beneficial antioxidants that protect against free radicals and may actually help thwart heart disease and cancer. While it’s not going to fill you up like the other items on this list, it might make you a lot perkier. When made at home, coffee runs less than 50¢ cents a cup.

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Best Foods to Buy in Bulk

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Go big or go home. It’s true for job interviews, sports games and reality TV competitions — and often, trips to the grocery store.

Checking the unit price on the shelf tag, which expresses the cost divided by quantity, is a key way to find the best deal. Usually, the bigger the package, the lower that price and the less you’re paying per ounce, sheet or other measurement. That’s often why warehouse clubs are so popular, but there’s no need to pay up for a membership to cut your grocery bill.

Consider going big on these seven foods:

Pasta

Dried pasta can keep for two to three years, provided it’s kept in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. “As long as the pasta is stored in a cool and dark place it should be fine for many months,” says Lina Zussino, co-founder of Grocery Alerts Canada. A 12-ounce of Bionaturae whole-wheat fusilli sells for $4.69 at ShopRite; Amazon.com sells a pack of six one-pound bags for $18.17. (Total savings: $19.35.) One caveat: whole-wheat pasta often has a shorter expiration date, she warns.

Rice

Rice is a survivalist’s staple: some agriculture departments put its shelf life at as much as 30 years. At the very least, it’s good for two years. So don’t shy away from getting a big bag. At Frugal Foodie’s local Associated Market, 20 pounds of store-brand brand long-grain rice will set you back $10.49, or $0.52 per pound. A two-pound bag, meanwhile, is $0.75 cents per pound. (Total savings: $4.60.) Opt for brown rice to go cheap and healthy.

Produce

Pick-your-own farms and farmers markets both offer price drops for buying in bulk. Take advantage when fruits and vegetables are in peak season (and so, at their cheapest) and freeze them in quart and gallon-sized sealable bags, says Jean Fritz of organic herb purveyor Kitty Vista. Fresh, in-season blueberries can be as cheap as $1.50. Out of season, your choices are $5 fresh or $3 frozen bags. (Total savings: $1.50 per pint.) Among those that freeze well: snow peas, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet corn, green beans, peaches, blueberries, strawberries and raspberries.

 Pet food

Owners of large-breed dogs go for the biggest bags they can, but those who have smaller dogs and cats could benefit from considering a bigger-than-usual bag of dry food. A four-pound bag of Science Diet adult cat food is $3.12 per pound; an 8-pound bag drops the per-pound price down to $2.50. (Total savings: $7.52.) Store the rest of the opened bag in an airtight container. Canned cat and dog food often has a discount of 5 percent to 10 percent, too, if you buy it by the case instead of individual cans.

Nuts

Kept in the fridge, shelled nuts will stay fresh for up to a year. In the freezer, they’ll last twice that. “We store our almonds, walnuts, and brazil nuts in our freezer to preserve the flavor and oils,” explains Zussino. A pound of roasted almonds sells for $12 at Kmart, while five goes for $36.49 at Bulkfoods.com. (Total savings: $23.51.) But don’t go big if you don’t have freezer or fridge space: unrefrigerated, shelled nuts don’t typically last longer than three months once you open their container.

Soft grains

Another survivalist favorite, soft grains like rolled oats, barley and quinoa can have a shelf life of eight to 30 years, if stored in airtight containers. But there’s no need to go to such extremes — all are often found in the bulk food bins at grocery stores. San Diego resident Amy Ogden routinely heads to Whole Foods (yes, Whole Foods) to find bargains. “Things that can be pricy in small packages — steel cut oatmeal, nuts, seeds, quinoa, and so on — can be a fraction of the price in bulk,” she says. “The other benefit is that you can buy exactly the amount you need which is less wasteful.” Barley, for example, runs $1.69 per pound at the bulk bins, versus as much as $6 per pound for prepackaged brands at stores like Safeway or Kroger.

Alcohol

Some cream-based liquors have a short shelf life, but most spirits last an indefinite time if stored upright in a cool, dark location. (Try our recipes to clear out lingering bottle remnants.) That means there’s no harm in buying the biggest size, even if you’re not planning a party any time soon. A 750 ml bottle of Bacardi Big Apple runs $13.99 at BevMo, while a 1.75-liter bottle is $23.99. That’s more than twice the amount for just $10 more. (Total savings: $8.65.)

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“I Love You” Parfaits

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Like I mentioned in my previous posts, we are all about DESSERTS! We have dessert time together almost every night of the week. It ranges from ice cream, pies, cakes, cookies etc. Tonight, I decided to make my hubby a lovely treat. I named it the “I Love You” Parfait because when you look it and most certainly when you eat it you feel loved by the who made it for you! Hubby definitely enjoyed this treat tonight. Check out my recipe and pics below!

Layers of Goodness!

Yum!

“I Love you” Parfaits

Ingredients:

– 2 apples (peeled, cored, diced)

– 1 orange (peeled, diced)

– Zest of one orange

– 1 teaspoon of nutmeg

– 1 teaspoon of cinnamon

– t teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice

– 1/4 cup of white grape juice

– Almonds (roughly chopped)

– Raisins

– Granola

– 3/4 cup yogurt

– 13 ginger snaps

– 1/4 cup brown sugar

– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

– 3 tablespoons butter

– 2 goblets

Instructions

1. Place sauce pan on low heat. Add butter, brown sugar, vanilla extract, nutmeg, cinnamon, orange zest, pumpkin pie spice. Stir till well mixed and the sugars start to caramelize.

2. Add white grape juice and stir.

3.  Next, add apples and oranges. Stir well till they are completely coated.

4. Cover pan and turn heat on low. Let it cook down 5-7 minutes till the apples are nice and tender.

5.  Turn off heat and let it cool completely before assembling the parfait.

6. Break ginger snaps in half and put three in each goblet.

7. Next, add 2 spoonfuls of the apple mixture on top of the ginger snaps.

8. Add granola, raisins, almonds as desired.

9.  Then, add two tablespoons of vanilla yogurt.

10. Repeat steps 7-9 till all ingredients are used up.

11. Garnish the top with raisins, granola, and almonds.

12. Let the goblets chill in the fridge for 2 hours before serving.

Yields: 2 servings

A Well Deserved Suprise

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Working full time and going to school full time is definitely a commitment and requires you to give your all. That’s what my husband does. Alhumdulllilah. And I give him major props for that. Most people put school on the back burner when working full-time, but school is really an investment. Its the stepping stone in life to get ahead or else you are really stuck in a rut. So the Fall semester has finally come to an end after a grueling 16 weeks! He was taking FIVE classes while working nearly 40 hours!!!

Strawberry-Mango Limonata

Therefore, I decided I would give my hubby a well deserved surprise: a date night out. I decided we would go out to eat at Olive Garden for a much needed break. Now Olive Garden is a little on the expensive side for us and with the economy the way it is, we try not to eat out too much especially at costly sit-down restaurants. But this time, it was time to treat ourselves out! But not so fast… Although, I was willing to splurge a little on us dining out, I had a coupon clipped and ready to go. $4.00 bucks off two dinner entrees! Hey, you might be thinking its only four bucks, but these days…every dime counts. The way I look at it is this…four extra bucks in my pocket. 🙂

When you work that much and go to school, there really isn’t much time for us to do anything. We like eating at Olive Garden because they have many choices for people who eat only Halal Zabiha meat. They have a wide selection of seafood dishes as well as no-meat and cheese/sauce pasta. Its also nice to be able to sit down and enjoy a conversation. So Friday night, we got there a little before 7 and luckily the wait was only 20 minutes. I was expecting a 45min-1hr wait. We started off with a salad, breadsticks, and a bowl of minestrone soup. For drinks, he got Strawberry-Mango Limonata and I originally got a raspberry lemonade but later swapped it out for a sprite. We decided to skip appetizers since we didn’t want to be too full for the main entrees.

Lasagna Rollata al Forno

For the main entree, he ordered their new Lasagna Rollata al Forno which is Lasagna rolls stuffed with ricotta, mozzarella, asiago, parmesan and romano cheese. Topped with mozzarella and seasoned breadcrumbs, baked in five cheese marinara. It was actually pretty good, because its a new clever twist on the classic lasagna.

Cheese Ravioli

For my main entree, I ordered their Cheese Ravioli, which is Cheese-filled ravioli topped with marinara or meat sauce and melted Italian cheeses. It was delicious expect my plate needed more marinara. We had a few bites of our entrees, but by this point we were too stuffed. We asked for our check and a few boxes to go. I really wanted to try their Piccoli Dolci which means “little dessert treats”, but we really really did not have anymore room for food! Maybe next time!

Being on a limited budget, our bill came out to be $31 bucks for two drinks, (unlimited) salad, (unlimited) bread sticks, (unlimited) soup, and two entrees. However, with my nifty coupon, it was only $27.00 🙂 Saving money definitely feels great! If you would like to save some money, look in the Sunday paper for coupons, sales and deals of the week. You can even check out the company restaurants and surf the web for coupons to print. Couple these with in-store specials and you are on your way to racking up some savings.

Overall, it was a great night out, especially one that he really deserved. It is important for couples to spend time together to reconnect, even if it is a simple dinner date. Next time, you feel like you are being pounded by all that life has to throw at you, take some time out for yourself and go out.

Garlic Herb Cheese Rolls

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Today, I woke up fairly early because hubby had to get homework done on the computer. You are probably wondering what that has to do with my sleep. Well, the computer is a foot away from my bed and I can’t sleep with constant typing and clicking. I woke up and relocated to the couch in the hopes of continuing my much needed sleep. That was a dream. The cat was constantly meowing and even decided to invite herself on the couch to cuddle with me and lick my foot.30 minutes later hubby put in a request for his breakfast! So I dragged myself up and made chocolate chip waffles drizzled with honey butter in the waffle maker. Shortly, thereafter I got a load of laundry done.

All of this before 1pm on a Sunday is quiet astonishing.

This was peanut butter stuffed French Toast that I made for hubby Saturday morning!

As hubby continued to work on his homework, I retired to the couch again. But this time, I wasn’t sleeping. I was racking my brain for ideas as to what I should make for dinner. Finally, I decided to make Chicken Biryani. I had to send hubby to the store for sour cream which luckily was on sale. I also asked him to pick up some yeast and cheese. While he was at the store, I decided I wanted to make these cheese rolls. I’ve been wanting to make bread for a while, but without yeast its pretty hopeless.

I found a basic recipe for dough and added cilantro, parsley, dill and garlic. I then stuffed them with Asiago and Provolone cheese. They turned out so delicious. The recipe stated it would make 12 rolls. That was an understatement. I made close to 25 rolls!

I also toasted cumin seeds, black seeds and sesame seeds to top off the rolls.

Kneaded Dough

 

Toasting all the seeds

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Nice & Golden Brown!

About to go in the oven

YUM! Ready to Eat!

Chicken Fattah & Cream of Vegetable Soup

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After my success yesterday with Lemon Cilantro Kofta, I decided to try another recipe out. I walked over to my freezer this morning and pulled out some drumsticks. Not knowing what I was going to be making for dinner, I decided to browse Ya Salam Cooking. I was looking for any recipe with Chicken. I found quiet a few because chicken is so versatile. You can make just about anything with it. After looking over the recipe for Chicken Fattah, I knew this would be something different but delicious. So here is my review of another recipe.  It was a really quick recipe. I didn’t have boneless chicken breast so I just used drumsticks by removing the bones and skin. Worked out just fine.I altered this recipe by adding a pack of frozen mixed vegetables to the rice to make a little bit healthy. I always try to sneak in some veggies where ever I can.

I also drizzled some lemon juice, honey and soy sauce on the chicken as I layered. But the ultimate touch was the yogurt and butter on top. Oh my gosh! Let me tell you…that yogurt with garlic and butter drizzled all over was outta this world!

I limit my use of butter in cooking simply to cut down on the fat and calories. Instead, I utilize olive oil which is known for many health benefits such as favorable effects on cholesterol regulation and LDL cholesterol. However from time to time, I will use butter but I’ve found a much healthier alternative to just plain old butter. In our house, we use an healthier alternative called Smart Balance. It tastes just the same and you can use to for everything from baking, cooking to spreading it on your bread.  What makes it different is that it has absolutely no hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils and is naturally 0g trans fat. Their buttery spreads contain a unique natural blend of polyunsaturated, monounsaturated and saturated fats designed to help improve the ratio of good HDL cholesterol to bad LDL cholesterol. Aside from butter, they offer a wide selection of products such as peanut butter, milk and sour cream.

Check it out at their website.

Anyways, back to the topic at hand. Sorry about the side rant. After I made the Chicken Fattah, I had some extra chicken broth left over so I decided to make a soup. I browsed the website again and I found the recipe for Cream of Vegetable Soup. I made that in no time as well. I left out the corn syrup since I didn’t have any, but I sure did add three cloves of garlic for an extra punch. It turned out delicious. Hubby raved about these dishes as well!

Here is what the end product looked like! By the way, I only used half a pita because with hubby and I, we wouldn’t be able to eat all of it plus the rice.

Thanks again for sharing such great recipes!