Frugally Food

Tis the Season


Tis the season for enjoying yourself and relaxing after a long, difficult year.  Thankfully there are ways to indulge this Christmas season and yet still be healthy about it.  For instance:

  • dark chocolate is very good for a person.  The darker the better.  Especially if it has not very much sugar.  The polyphenols in dark chocolate (70% oocoa or higher) are known for their protective effects against cancer.
  • red wine is good for a person (in moderation).  One glass a day to accompany your healthy diet of fruit and vegetables will give you a shot of the molecule called resveratrol which has positive effects on the cardiovascular system and in cancer prevention.
  • berries are anti-cancer powerhouses.  Raspberries and strawberries contain ellagic acid which blocks at least two proteins essential to the development of cancer.

If you want to read more about it, I found this information in a book called “Cooking with Foods that fight Cancer”.  It was written by two PhD’s and talks about foods that are beneficial for people.  Plus the book is chock full of recipes!

So get out there and enjoy your dark chocolate and berries with your glass of red wine.  Mmmm sounds good!


Ten Minute Recipe


Here is a ten minute recipe that is good for any time of year but is especially handy for this season when people want a quick, healthy meal full of crunchy vegetables.  It makes it so much easier not to overindulge in Christmas cookies and Christmas treats when your stomach is full and happily digesting away.

Sugar Snap Pea Stir Fry

1 small package sugar snap peas (enough for one person)

1 small package of deli cut ham (enough for one person)

Rinse the peas thoroughly then cut off the tips of each end of the peas.  Cut up ham into bite size pieces.

Heat a frying pan over medium heat.  (Use a pan that comes with a tight fitting lid.)

Add the peas to the pan and put the lid on immediately.  Let cook for two minutes.  Then flip the peas over and put the lid on again.  Cook for another two minutes.

Add the ham then continue cooking….flipping and stirring occasionally.

When the peas are tender and the ham starts to brown a little, it’s ready.  Enjoy!

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The Perfect Food


Do you want to eat the type of food where you will get all the calories, protein, vitamins and  minerals your body needs without wasting any time on portion control or calorie counting or measuring?  Just eat a plant based diet.  You guessed it,  your mother was right all along.  Eat your vegetables.

Human beings have been scurrying around this planet for millennia and for 99.999% of that time we were munching on plants: fruits and vegetables with only occasional bits of meat from things we could get before they got us.

Our stomachs and digestive systems are used to this diet.  They expect this diet to function properly.  So when we feed it things like junk food and fast food, they rebel.  Big Time.  And you are not going to like the results.

To learn more about a plant based diet watch this two minute video about a documentary called “Forks over Knives”:

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Three Healthy Comfort Foods


So another weekend is fast approaching and so is another snowstorm (unfortunate but true).  However you have no fear, you are prepared!  You went to the library and loaded up on DVDs (like I suggested in this Frugally Fun post).   And to go along with all the nesting that you will be enjoying this weekend, some comfort foods are definitely in order.

Thankfully there are comfort foods that fit the bill for being a) easy to make, b) inexpensive and c) healthy for you.  So let’s begin:

  1. Fruit is the easiest to prepare and hands down the healthiest but if you were looking for something a little more on the indulgent side we go to…
  2. Popcorn!  Air popped popcorn has virtually no calories.   And since you are making it yourself you can control the amount of butter and salt you add to the popcorn (obviously the less of those two ingredients you use the healthier).  From here we move on to the realm of the starchy food in this case in the form of…
  3. Yam Fries.  Lovely starchy, comforting goodness, yams are full of beta carotene (which is good for the skin and eyes).  If you’ve never made them before here is a recipe to try out:

Oven Baked Yam Fries

1 yam

1 Tbsp canola oil

Wash and scrub the yam thoroughly.  Cut into French fry sized strips.  Coat the bottom of a baking sheet with the oil then add the yams, spreading them out so they form a single layer on the bottom of the pan.

Bake for half an hour at 350F, making sure to take them out of the oven after fifteen minutes and flip them all over so they can brown on both sides.  Enjoy!

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Three ways to have a healthy holiday office party season


Holidays are fast approaching and nothing makes for a “better” time than when you mix alcohol (which is a depressant) with sugar (which makes people irritable and anxious).   And nowhere are those two things consumed in higher quantities than at the office Christmas party.   Combine that with spending even more time with the people you can barely tolerate for eight hours a day and you have a recipe for a Really. Good.  Time.

Okay… I’m being a little bit sarcastic here but we’ve all been to the office parties from hell and for better or for worse they are a corporate institution where you are encouraged to attend and show your team spirit.

Thankfully there are ways to prepare a healthy base before you set out for the holiday party that will make your celebrating much more joyful.

1)      Enjoy a light meal before you head out to the party.  Something like hummus (or black bean salad) will slow the absorption of sugar and alcohol into your system.  Also having a nice, light healthy meal in your stomach means you will be less tempted by sugary treats or eating more dinner that  you should at the party.

2)      Consider a clear coloured booze for your drink of choice.  That way when you finish it, you can fill it up with water and no one will be the wiser.  If that’s not an option, then get a glass of water in addition to the booze and drink more of the water.

3)      Bring a small bag of nuts with you to eat later in the evening if the party is supposed to go to the wee hours.  Same principle as with the hummus, the nuts digest slowly thereby smoothing out any sugar highs or lows from booze or sweet treats.

So there are just three ideas on how to have a happy, healthy office party.  So get out there and show them that you are part of the team!

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Holy Crepe Batman!


As I have already confessed my love of pancakes here, it occurred to me with some surprise the other week that I didn’t know how to make crepes.  I have certainly had some crepes in my lifetime…some savoury crepes I had once were absolutely fantastic!  Every time I think about them my mouth waters…but I digress.

So a short time ago I dug out a recipe for crepes and set out to remedy the situation.  I’ve tried a couple different recipes so far and both have been pretty darn good but I won’t be sharing the recipe for crepes yet until I get a good handle on the whole crepe situation.

I will however tell you about some crepe toppings that I tried that are fantastic!  For lunch today I made crepes with bananas and “whipped cream” and toasted almonds.   Boy was it good!  And the reason I put quotes around the “whipped cream” is because it was dairy free!  So check out the recipes below:

Toasted Almonds

Put some raw almonds on a baking dish and put into a 350 F  oven for 10 to 15 minutes.  Keep an eye on them around the ten minute mark.  You want to take them out when you smell that warm, nutty toasted almond smell but before they start to burn.

Easy as can be and the taste is great!

Dairy Free “Whipped Cream”

Get a can of coconut milk.  Look for a premium brand, the higher the fat content the better.  Put it in the fridge several hours ahead of the time you’ll need it.   Just before you need it, open the can and you’ll notice that the milk has solidified.  This is a good thing.  Spoon some of the solidified milk into a bowl and start whipping it up with a spoon.  It takes a little elbow grease but you will end up with the appearance and consistency of whipped cream.   And when you bite into it it has the lovely flavour of coconut.  I made mine without any sugar added and if you were planning on drizzling chocolate sauce over the crepes then you definitely don’t need to add any sugar to the whipped cream.  Enjoy!

Redo Fast Food Part 2


So after reading my last post you got to thinking that an extra $275 per year would be pretty darn nice.  Just by rethinking two lunches.  Pretty easy right?

Well how about if you could save $400 per year with the same two lunches?  Even nicer right?

All you have to do is the next time you go to the grocery store, you get a package of uncooked chicken.  I can get five drumsticks (or five thighs) for $5.  Bring them home, rinse them off, put in a baking dish, sprinkle with herbs and put in a 400F oven for an hour.  That is less than ten minutes of effort to make chicken for five meals.  One dollar of chicken per meal.

Then while you are at the grocery store, get a package of prewashed lettuce.  Just plain lettuce.  I can get a container of baby greens: lettuce, arugula, beet greens – very tasty and very good for a person – for $2.97.  And there are enough salad greens in the container for three meals.

So when you go to work bring the container of greens, a bottle of salad dressing from you fridge (you know you have several in there) and some of the roasted chicken.

Voila!  Lunch for $2.  Four dollars for two lunches means you save eight dollars per week.  Which adds up to $400 per year!

See how easy it is to save money!

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Redo Fast Food


How many times a week do you go out for fast food at lunch time?  Twice a week?  More?  Let’s say it’s twice a week.

In the big city where I am a fast food lunch of sub and soda would go for around $6.  So for two meals that is $12.  And let’s face it sub and soda are not the healthiest foods on the planet.

But you’re busy!  I know.  I hear you.

So how about I show you how to get two much healthier lunches that won’t take any time at all ( and will cost less).

The next time you go grocery shopping, go to the deli section and look for pre-cooked chicken.  The big grocery store near me sells precooked BBQ chicken that has been cut up into pieces.  I can get two legs with thighs attached for around $3.50.  Or two chicken breasts for slightly more.  So pick up one package that will be enough for two lunches.

Then head for the produce section and get yourself a bag of prewashed lettuce.  Having just come back from the grocery store, I am happy to report that there are available ceasar kits that come with the prewashed lettuce, the dressing, some parmesan and croutons…enough for two lunches for the price of ….wait for it….$2.97!  So get one of those and you’re all set.  Two lunches of chicken and ceasar salad for $6.50.

And your lunch is already packed and ready to go.  Just leave it in the grocery bag and put it in the fridge when you get home.  Then when you arrive at work, just put the grocery bag in the fridge at work.  Easy peasy.  And it took no more time than your regular grocery shopping.

Now instead of standing in line at the fast food place for your lunch you can go for a walk.  Or take care of other errands that need looking after.

And you save $5.50 per week.  If you save that every week, you’ll have $275 by the end of the year!  And that’s not nothing!

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Consequences of Meat


While reading “Forks over Knives” by Colin Campbell and Caldwell Esselstyn I was reminded about the environmental consequences of eating meat.

Raising animals for food consumes a huge amount of the earth’s freshwater resources.  According to this book 80% of US freshwater resources are used for agriculture.  To further illustrate this it says that one pound of processed beef requires 2500 gallons of water while one pound of soy requires 250 gallons and one pound of wheat requires 25 gallons.

Another thing to consider is the huge quantities of grain that farm animals consume would be put to better use if it was just used to feed people directly.  Worldwide farm animals consume 756 million tons of grain.  That amount of grain could provide 3 pounds of grain per day to 1.4 billion people.

Now I’ve never eaten a lot of meat largely because meat is one of the most expensive items on the food budget but reading this book has made me cut back even more.  To give you food for thought, if everyone in the US ate a plant based diet for just one day the following resources could be conserved:

  • 100 billion gallons of drinking water
  • 1.5 billion pounds of crops
  • 70 million gallons of gasoline
  • 33 tons of antibiotics! (yikes that’s scary!)

So in case you want to get started right away, here is a tasty and easy to make recipe from the book to try:

The Quickest Black Bean Salad

2 cans black beans rinsed well and drained
1 large tomato

1 package frozen corn

1/2 onion, chopped

1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained and rinsed

1 bunch cilantro, chopped

1 lime, juice and zest

3 Tbsps balsamic vinegar

Add all the ingredients into a bowl and mix together thoroughly.  This recipe serves 4.  Enjoy!

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Sugar Free Life


For years now I have been working my way toward eliminating sugar from my life.  It’s been a slow and challenging process because those sugar cravings are nothing if not persistent.  But even though it’s been difficult at times it has been SO worth it.  At 45 I feel better now than I have at any other time of my life.

So to give you just a short list of the ways that being sugar free has improved my life:

  • I have so much more energy.
  • I don’t feel bone-tired and weary anymore
  • I am a lot less irritable
  • I sleep better
  • I am more calm
  • I don’t get stressed out as much
  • No more aches and pains

These days pretty well any sugar I get comes from the fresh fruit that I eat.  Of course it is a case of always being on the lookout for hidden sugars.  Dried fruit for example has a lot of concentrated sugars and since you usually eat a lot more dried fruit in one sitting than fresh fruit, it’s a lot more of a sugar load.

But nowadays when I do trip up and have a load of sugar, hidden or otherwise, I sure know about it very quickly.  Within hours I feel just awful and all those side effects return starting with the fatigue.  As soon as I’m dragging myself around I know I’ve had some sugar somewhere and I go and search it out.

So speaking from personal experience, it takes awhile to get over the sugar addiction but once you do, you won’t go back because being sugar free is like living in the warm sunshine of a perpetual summer.  Eating sugar is like living in a damp, dark cave on the North side of a mountain.

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