Frugally Food

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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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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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!

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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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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Summer Fruit


Tis the season for getting lots of seasonal fruit on sale.  The other day I got a huge container of strawberries for half price.  This is all well and good so long as you are able to make great use of them.  There is the jam route that many people take but I don’t have the time or energy to make jam considering how rarely I use the finished product.

So instead I wanted to freeze the strawberries so that I could use them in smoothies for weeks to come.  Nothing could be easier than freezing strawberries.  All you do is:

  1. Wash and dry the berries
  2. Core the berries
  3. Place them on a cookie sheet so that they aren’t touching each other
  4. Put the cookie sheet in the freezer and let the berries freeze solid (only takes a few hours)
  5. Transfer them to an air tight container

And voila you have lovely summer fruit for your smoothies.  As the seasons change you can still enjoy the taste of summer for a fraction of the cost.  And here is a recipe to help you do that:

Strawberry Banana Smoothie

1 frozen banana

3 or 4 frozen strawberries

1 cup vanilla almond milk (no sugar added)

Take the frozen banana from the freezer and put it in the microwave for one minute.  Doing this will make it much easier to get the peel off of the banana while still keeping the banana itself still pretty cold.  Add the banana, strawberries and milk to a blender.  Blend on high.  Enjoy!

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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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Feeding the Landfill


I read a rather unpleasant statistic the other day.  It said that 30% of household food is thrown in the garbage.  Not only is this a huge waste of money for the person doing the throwing, it is a huge waste of embodied energy considering that most anything you get in a grocery store these days is more well travelled than the average human being.

Vast amounts of energy are spent growing the food in the first place then more is spent processing it and packaging it then more is spent shipping it across the continent or around the globe.  Even more energy is spent advertising it to convince you to buy it in the first place.  All so that it can be thrown away where even more energy is spent transporting it to designated spots on the earth where it is allowed to fester and rot creating harmful by products.

Obviously the way to plug this gigantic chasm of wasted energy (and save yourself a lot of money at the same time) is to be diligent about eating all the food you bring into your house.  Since some people can’t think of what to do with leftovers, I’ll help you out.  If the same three vegetables have been staring back at you from the fridge for awhile now, it’s time to make some homemade soup.  Just chop up the veggies, add some canned tomatoes and some herbs, simmer till everything is cooked.  Enjoy!

Bread is another thing that should never be thrown out (unless it’s gone moldy).  If the bread has reached the rock hard stage then get out the grater and grate into bread crumbs.  Keep in an air tight container and it can be added at any future date to meatloafs or hamburgers or croquettes).

However if the bread can still be cut up then it’s time for one of the best things in life: Bread pudding!  And I have a recipe that is very quick and easy.

Microwave Bread Pudding

2 Tbsps butter or margarine, melted

2 eggs

1 cup milk

1/3 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp salt

2 cups bread cubes

Mix the wet ingredients together.  Add to the bread and make sure all the bread is completely soaked.  Let stand for five minutes or so.  Microwave for 5-6 minutes.  (The pudding will start to come away from the sides of the bowl when it is done).  Enjoy!

PS. I also have other ideas for using up leftovers with this article I did a few weeks ago.


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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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