Frugally Food

Dairy Substitute


I was reading an interesting book the other day.  It is a book that was written to accompany the documentary called “Forks Over Knives” which is a very good film about the health benefits of a plant based diet.  Soon after watching the documentary I found the book in the library which is chock full of wonderful recipes and interesting information.  It’s written by two doctors: one is Colin Campbell (who also wrote “The China Study”) and the other is Caldwell Esselstyn Jr.

One of the interesting bits of information in this book is about dairy.  It says that casein, which is the primary protein in cow’s milk, may be one of the most potent chemical carcinogens ever identified.  Apparently this finding is written about in more detail in “The China Study” which I haven’t had a chance to read yet.

“Forks over Knives” also says that cow’s milk is full of casomorphins, which are addictive compounds similar to morphine, which is in the milk to ensure the calf stays close by its mother safely nursing.  That is all well and good for the calf but makes it difficult for humans to give up their dairy “fix”.

To help out in this regard there are plenty of dairy substitutes available from almond milk to soy milk to rice milk.  I prefer almond milk myself and this book has a recipe for just that.  Although I personally haven’t tried this recipe since buying almonds or buying almond milk would cost about the same amount in my neck of the woods but if you happen to live somewhere almonds are cheap and plentiful this might be the recipe for you.

Fresh Almond Milk

1 cup raw almonds

Soak the almonds overnight in water.  Be sure to cover the almonds completely because they expand as they absorb water.

In the morning drain and rinse the almonds really well several times.  Put the almonds and 3 cups of water into a blender and blend on high until liquefied as much as possible.

Place a straining bag in a medium sized bowl and pour the almond mixture into the bag.  Twist the bag closed and lift the bag up to let the milk drain into the bowl.  Squeeze the bag until all the liquid is pushed out of the almond pulp.

Any unused milk will keep, refrigerated, for two to three days.

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Small Changes Add Up


One of the best ways to improve your life is to take tasks that have to be done anyway and make them a source of fun and learning.  This can work in many aspects of your life (with the possible exception of cleaning – nothing can make cleaning fun).

No what I am talking about is cooking.  Everyone needs to eat.  Heck we do it three times a day.  So it is a major task.  And if you look at it like a task, it will become an odious chore.  But if you look at it as a way to try new recipes, experiment with new flavours, stimulate all your taste buds, it becomes a wonderful source of fun and learning.

Most people get into the rut of eating the same five meals over and over again until it just becomes too tedious.  But small incremental changes will make huge improvements in the quality of life.

For instance, people eat fried eggs.  All well and good. Very functional.  But with just a little more effort you could make scrambled eggs.  A tiny step above that and you could add some salsa to the plate with your scrambled eggs.  A little more effort and you could be enjoying a lovely cheese omelette.  Next thing you know you could be cooking up a veggie and cheese omelette with some basil on top.  Oh my can croissant be far behind?

Small incremental improvements such as this can be applied to all aspects of your daily meals.  Suddenly eating is a lot more flavourful and a lot more fun.  And the good news is that all of this can be accomplished for a lot less money than eating out.  Not only are you saving money on food, you’re saving money on gas driving to and through restaurants.

So give it a try and see what small changes you can make.

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Advantages of the Avocado


In the continuing series of foods that are good for a person, this post will talk about the benefits of eating avocados.  And since it is still summer (okay I’m in a bit of denial over that one) at least there are still some deals to be had with avocados.  As is often the case, it is cheaper to buy in bulk when it comes to avocados instead of buying them individually.   Thankfully avocados are so versatile that they can be eaten every single day…guacamole one day, smoothie the next…another great way is to just cut the avocado in half, yank out the pit and just starting eating the avocado right out of the peel.  It makes a wonderful snack.

And now, from some reading that I’ve done, I find that avocados are also really good for a person.  I always knew that they were rich in omega-3 which is a good thing.  But I also discovered that they act as a “nutrient booster”, essentially increasing the body’s ability to absorb and make use of various nutrients.

However I think the reason some people don’t want to eat avocados is they perceive them as being fattening.   So here are some calorie comparisons so you can see for yourself.

Avocado  190 calories per 100 g

Banana   95 calories per 100 g

White Bread   280 calories per 100 g

If you want more information about the avocado or many other foods that are good for a person, I read all about it in “Improve your Mood with Food” by Alexandra Massey.

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Quick Dinner


Today I have a quick recipe that I came up with after a looooong day at work.  I looked in the fridge to see what was in there, picked three ingredients that would go well together and cooked them.  Simple, delicious and filling.

This recipe calls for frozen peas and you will be happy to know that vegetables don’t lose much nutritional value during the freezing process.

Mushrooms and Peas with Eggs

3 or 4 mushrooms

1 cup frozen peas

2 large eggs

Clean and dice the mushrooms.  Start them cooking in a frying pan over medium low heat. When the mushrooms are halfway cooked, add the peas and put the lid on.  Let that cook for four minutes or so.

Meanwhile crack the two eggs into a bowl.  Add a tablespoon of water and whip together until well mixed.  Once the peas are done, clear a spot in the frying pan and pour in the eggs.  Slowly mix the eggs and veggies together.  Stir occasionally until the eggs are cooked through.  Enjoy!


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Food and Moods


I’ve been reading an interesting book recently called “Improve your Mood with Food” by Alexandra Massey.  One of the bad foods that people eat is sugar and this book explains why it is so bad for us.

It says that in order for the body to properly digest carbohydrates, specific nutrients such as B vitamins and magnesium are also required.  Sugar however has none of these nutrients (and in fact sugar has no nutritional value whosoever) so the body needs to pull these nutrients from its reserves in order to digest the sugar.  This depletion of nutrients in our bodies is what makes a person feel lousy which explains the fatigue and anxiety and general aches and pains that come shortly after eating sugar.

This book also had some shocking statistics such as: sugar consumption has increased 30 percent in the last two decades!  And that nowadays enough sugar is consumed to make it equal to every man, woman and child ingesting a teaspoon of sugar every half hour – 24 hours a day!

If you want to reduce your sugar intake here are some suggestions:

  • eat a handful of nuts instead of a sugary snack
  • put cut up fruit on your pancakes instead of syrup
  • halve the amount of sugar you use now in coffee, on cereal, in baking
  • add spices to baking and lessen the sugar
  • eat fruit instead of sugary desserts

For other ideas as well as recipes I recommend this book.  It has a lot of interesting information about all types of food (both beneficial and not so beneficial).

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Hidden Sugar


By now everyone has heard the news that sugar isn’t good for you.  From obesity to diabetes to many other health issues, sugar plays a big role.  So it is worth the effort to get sugar out of your life.

Some sources of sugar are obvious.  Soda pop for example is loaded with sugar.  However if you thought that switching over to fruit juice would be a way to reduce sugar you would be wrong.

After a quick trip to the grocery store to read some labels I found that soda pop has 30g of sugar per 250mL!!  That is 30g of sugar in one cup of pop!  A teaspoon of white sugar is 4g.   So there are 7.5 teaspoons of sugar in one cup of liquid!  That is unbelievable.

Walking over to the juice aisle revealed that fruit juice has 26g per 250mL!  Almost the same amount of sugar!

So the healthiest drink you can have (and the least expensive I might add) is water.  Plain water.  Don’t add “flavour” packs or buy it with vitamins added (I checked the label on those too and sugar is the second ingredient!)  Just have water.  Plain and simple.

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Not just for Fighting Vampires


I have been reading an interesting cookbook lately called “Cooking with Foods that Fight Cancer” by Richard Beliveau and Denis Gingras.  It is actually half cookbook and half scientific information written by two Phd’s talking about the health benefits of certain types of food.

Garlic for example is an excellent source of cancer fighting food.  And to make the cancer fighting properties even more potent, the authors advise crushing the whole garlic clove with the flat of a knife.  When you do this you transform the molecule alliin into a more unstable molecule called allicin which becomes 30 other compounds all of which have anti-cancer properties.

So they advise that you crush the garlic clove then wait ten minutes before chopping it up any finer thus allowing all the new molecules to develop.  I’ve tried this and I can really tell a difference in the smell and the taste of the garlic.  It becomes a more subtle flavour, less sharp.  Try it out for yourself.

In fact you can try it out with the following recipe that I got from the same book.  (Note I’ve modified the  recipe somewhat just to keep the number of ingredients down.)

Cumin Coriander Eggs

Dash of oil

1 garlic clove, crushed then wait ten minutes then dice finely

Cumin to taste

1/4 can of diced tomatoes

1 egg

1 tsp cut up coriander leaves

Once the garlic is to the diced up stage add it with the oil to a frying pan and put on medium low heat.  Sweat the garlic until it is translucent.  Add the cumin and stir for 1 or 2 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and simmer for 20 minutes, until the mixture thickens.  Crack the egg into the centre of the tomato stew.  Continue until the egg whites are cooked.  Garnish with the fresh coriander and serve immediately.


Not all Snacks are Created Equal


When I say the word “snack” what are the first images that come to mind?  Cookies?  Ice Cream?  Chocolate Bar?  What do all of these things have in common?  That’s right…sugar.  For some reason the word snack has become associated with sweetness but that doesn’t have to be the case.

Today I’m going to talk about a wonderful concept…the savoury snack.  And I have a great one that is easy to prepare and very filling.  This is a great snack in the evening.  I find I never wake up in the middle of the night with hunger pangs when I’ve had this snack.

I’m talking about hummus. I like to have it with rice cakes but it is also great with some raw veggies.


1 can chick peas

1 clove garlic

1 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice

Drain and rinse the chick peas thoroughly.  Chop the garlic into quarters.  Add the chick peas and the garlic to a blender.  Squeeze the lemon juice over top.  Add enough water that it just starts to show through the chick peas.  Blend on high.  You may need to add more water to make it more the consistency that you like but only add small amounts of water at a time and blend each time (it’s hard to judge just by looking…only by blending can you be sure).   Enjoy!




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Breakfast of Champions


If you want to save money on your food budget, don’t buy store bought cereal.  I have a great alternative that is just as fast and a whole lot tastier.

Oatmeal. Breakfast of champions for many, many generations.  I’ve been enjoying oatmeal for breakfast for years now and I find that I never get bored with it.  Some days I have it with cut up fruit on top.  Other days with a handful of raisins and/or nuts cooked in with the oatmeal.  The variations are pretty well endless.  And it is a great filling way to start the day.

Now I’m not talking about the individually packaged, sugar and “flavour” added instant oatmeal here.  I’m talking about the big 1 kg bag of oats, just oats, nothing else.  The quick oats kind you can microwave in two minutes or less.  To this base you can add many different combinations of food to arrive at breakfast heaven.

Still haven’t convinced you?  Okay let’s do a price comparison.  One box of store bought cereal costs anywhere from $3 to $5 or more.  That works out to around $0.50 per bowl.  And how many people do you know that just have one bowl of cereal in a day?  I know people who have a bowl of cereal when they get home from work at night.  I know people who have a bowl of cereal before they go to bed.  That’s a lot of cereal.

Compare that to a two dollar bag of oats (that’s the BIG bag of oats) which means each bowl of oatmeal is costing you ten cents!  And if you add some seasonal fruit or some raisins, that’s maybe twenty cents more.

However the biggest cost savings comes from the food value.  When I eat my oatmeal breakfast, I’m not hungry again until lunch.  I don’t feel the need to snack in the morning.  The same certainly cannot be said for store bought cereal.  When I used to have that for breakfast, I’d be starving again by 10 am.

So put those Shredded Cocoa Captn Puffs down and reach for the oatmeal.

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Change would do you good


Why is it so hard to change?  I look back over my life and marvel at how every major change has resulted in a drastically increased quality of life.  By now you would think that the message would have gotten through my thick skull that change is good.  And yet every one of these changes was only accomplished after the maximum amount of resistance was applied with all the attendant tears, anger and drama.

Why do we resist change so much?  Is it hard wired into our Paleolithic brains?  I would have thought that hunter gatherers would have had to deal with change 24/7.  What was that noise?  Is it a lion?  Where did I put my spear?

When did we change (haha) into static, immobile, immovable entities?  Granted change takes effort.  It is easier to stay in one place and hope that the perfect life will stay the same all around us.  But life is never perfect.  And the rare time when one or two things are perfect they rarely stay that way.  In fact, everything is changing all around us all the time as we sit there clinging to our comfy chairs resisting change ourselves.

And the more everything else changes, the more angry and bitter we get because we remember how it used to be and how we liked it better that way but it’s not like that anymore.  Fume.  Stew.

It would be so much easier and adventurous and exciting if we could just embrace change and try things out to see if life would improve.  The other day I heard on the radio about a scientific study that showed that paramecium even when they are presently in ideal conditions in terms of food and temperature, etc will still leave their little piece of paramecium heaven to see if life is better somewhere else.  If conditions are better, they stay.  If conditions are worse, they go back.  Makes sense right?

Hell if paramecium can embrace change, surely we can too.