Showing posts with label healthy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label healthy. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Zucchini Pancakes

Read the entire post about quick and easy breakfast tips by clicking here.

Yield: 10-12 pancakes
Click here for a printer friendly PDF

2 Tablespoons of flax meal
6 Tablespoons warm water
3 tablespoons applesauce or coconut oil
2 Tablespoons dark brown/light brown or sucanat
¼ cup almond milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups shredded zucchini (make sure they are non-GMO)
1 cup whole wheat flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
⅛ ground or freshly grated nutmeg
¼ cup chopped walnuts
Oil for the skillet
Optional (healthy upgrade):
1-2 Tablespoons whole flax seeds

  1. In a small bowl, combine flax meal and water and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine eggs, applesauce (or oil), sugar, milk, and vanilla.
  3. Stir in zucchini into large bowl.
  4. In a small bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir dry ingredients into zucchini batter.
  5. Fold in flax seeds and walnuts.
  6. Heat skillet over medium heat and grease with coconut oil. Scoop ¼ cup dollops of batter into pan.
  7. Cook until bubbles appear on surface (2-3 minutes), flip and cook for another minute or two. These take longer to cook than normal pancakes because of the moist zucchini and trust me raw zucchini does not taste good!
  8. If making a lot pancakes place cooked pancakes in a pan in the oven at 200F to keep warm.

Other pancake and waffle recipes:

Friday, January 30, 2015

Saving Money on Ground Beef - Taco Meat Recipe

Meat is often the most expensive part of any meal, especially if you try to buy high quality organic grass fed ground beef like us. Even after shopping around we still pay $4.99/lb at Costco, but we looking into buying part of a cow from a local farmer (post to come!).  An easy way we have found to save money on meat is simply to use less with each meal. Meals with meat as an ingredient such as chicken noodle soup, lasagna, or enchiladas use a lot less meat than a meat centered dish such as steak, pork chops, or marinated chicken. You can easily decreased your grocery bill by replacing one meat-centered meal a week with a vegetable or bean-centered dish.

Another method to reduce your meat budget is to stretch your meat! Not with artificial fillers like many fast food restaurants, but instead with wholesome legumes such as lentils. The easiest example of this is with taco meat. After cooking our ground beef we add cooked lentils and then season them both with taco seasoning. Most people can hardly tell the difference which we observed when we cook tacos for a group of young adults at a weekend retreat. Cooking for 40 people on a small non-profit budget teaches you to be frugal!

The ratio of meat to lentils is up to you and can easily be adjusted. For those that are not used to lentils we recommend starting with 75% meat to 25% lentils and transitioning to 50/50 (we go even further and usually use 75% lentils to only 25% meat). With anything, change can be hard so gradually transitioning to more lentils is usually better. When you first start eating more beans and lentils you may notice increased flatulence (farting! lol). The good news is that your body adjusts within two weeks. So that old saying schoolyard saying - Beans, beans...

.. is only half true! Even if you only cut your meat from 100% to 75% your price will be greatly reduced.

For those that need proof: Let’s figure a family of 4 (two adults and two children) are going to be eating tacos for dinner. To be generous we will estimate that each person will eat 1/2lb of taco meat.
4 people X ½ lb =2 lbs
2lb meat x $5/lb= $10 meat

If you replace 50% of the meat with lentils which usually cost less than $2 for a 1lb bag (5 cups cooked) you can cut your cost by $4.20.
50% meat= 2 cups (1lb)
50% lentils= 2 cups cooked lentils

with lentils being $2 for 1lb bag or 5 cups cooked
$2/5 cups= $0.40/cup

Total total of “taco meat” (50% meat 50% lentils)= $5.80
Total Savings using 50/50 “taco meat”= $4.20
(Of course bigger families would save even more!)

Still not convinced? Let’s pretend you make our “taco meat” once a month you would save $50.40/year. That is not including using lentils in enchiladas, burritos, spaghetti sauce, meatballs, sloppy Joe's, Shepard's pie, etc.

  1. Rinse lentils in a strainer
  2. Cover with water in a saucepan or pot (use the same one you plan to cook them in to save dishes)
  3. Soak overnight on the counter
  4. Drain and cover with water again
  5. Bring to a rapid boil then reduce heat to a simmer and cook uncovered for 20- 30 minutes or until soft. Drain any remaining water.
No time to soak or forgot to plan ahead: Follow the same directions but increase cook time to 30-45 minutes.

How to Cook Lentils (Dry and NOT Soaked)
  1. Rinse lentils in a strainer
  2. Cover with water in a saucepan or pot
  3. Bring to a rapid boil then reduce heat to a simmer and cook uncovered for 30-45 minutes or until soft. Drain any remaining water.

Time Saving Tips (Time is Money!)
When cooking lentils you can cooked the whole bag and freeze in two cup portions for using later. Two cups of frozen lentils quickly thaw when placed in the pan with cooked ground beef. Make sure you have enough seasoning (link) for both the lentils and beef after they are mix together. If it becomes too dry add some water you saved after draining cooked lentils.

Save even more money by making your own taco seasoning. I make a triple batch of the spicy version and save it in an airtight container. Here is the recipe for homemade taco seasoning(link):

Taco Seasoning

2 TBSP chili powder (spicy version: 2 1/2 TBSP)
1 tsp Oregano
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp sea salt
½ tsp black pepper
¼ tsp crushed red pepper or cayenne (spicy version: ½ tsp cayenne)

Directions: Mix together and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months. If you want a spicy version add more of the chili powder and cayenne pepper. Those that do not like spicy feel free to reduce chili powder and cayenne or completely leave out.  To make a smoky version add smoked paprika instead of sweet paprika.

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Saturday, January 24, 2015

Save Money by Using an Egg Substitute...Flax Meal

This post is somewhat inspired by this morning's breakfast, oatmeal raisin pancakes.

As a family we try to limit our consumption of animal products. This is not only for health reasons, but it is also a money saver. We do eat eggs from time to time but when we do we usually spend a little more for higher quality organic eggs from Costco for about $0.28 an egg. Most people pay closer to $2.00 a dozen or $0.166 an egg.

You can easily get that price per "egg" down to $0.036 (between 3 and 4 cents) per egg by using a simple and effective flax meal substitute. I came to that price per egg by taking the price of a regular bag of organic flax meal and dividing by the number of servings. I guess you could round up to 4 cents to account for the price of the water you will use, but it wouldn't even equal that four thousandths of a dollar.

Anyway, here's how you do it for one egg!

In a small bowl mix a tablespoon of flax meal with three tablespoons of warm water.
Let it sit for about 3 minutes.

Stick a fork in it because it's done! (don't actually stick a fork in it).

It will look like this.

We use this as a substitute in all kinds of recipes that include baking, cooking etc.

We have also used a hybrid for some things that need that super strong binding ability of eggs in which we will use one flax meal substitute egg and an actual egg. However, we find that this quick trick works really well for daily uses and it saves us money while givings us a wider range on nutrients.

The health benefits of flax meal are wonderful as it is very high in fiber and in essential fatty acids.

Here is a great blog with much more information about flax in general by Kitchen Stewardship:

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Friday, January 23, 2015

Get Yourself a Cooler for Traveling!

So here's a quick money saving trick that saves us hundreds of dollars annually; using a cooler when traveling or staying somewhere over night!

My wife and I tend to travel often. Both for short family vacations and traveling to see family members. We don't live in the same areas as our parents so we seem to be on the road frequently.

When I was growing up we would always stop at fast food or a gas station to load up of drinks and snacks whenever we were on the road, even if it was just a hour drive to where we were going. As we started our own family we decided that was way too expensive and impractical.

We now have a little travel cooler that goes with us whenever we travel. Here is a link to the one we have (although we did not pay this much for it): . When heading out on the road some things that are often packed are, but are not limited to...

Soups in Containers (can heat with microwaves at gas stations)
Pre made pasta dishes (can heat with microwaves at gas stations)
Water (in reusable bottle that you can fill at gas stations)
Homemade Iced Tea
Sandwiches (Canned tuna or salmon mixed with avocado are our favorite for the road)
Salsa for chips and salsa
Hummus and Veggies

and many more...

It costs less than $10 to fill that cooler with enough food for a meal and snacks easily and we are not spending money on needless drinks at the gas station.

If on a longer vacation make sure to hit up a grocery store when possible to replenish. When we're traveling we really like finding a Trader Joe's to stock back up on our fruit and veggies. Also, we've had some great luck getting free ice when stopping because we show the cooler to gas station attendants and tell them we'd be wasting a lot of ice if we have to purchase a bag. In the worst of cases they'll charge 50 cents.

All of the ways we've used the cooler to save money:
Overnight at the hospital
On the road
Overnight at a family or friend's home
To the park
Running errands all day
All day sporting event
Overnight in a hotel without a fridge

Make sure to check out this LINK for tips on packing and some great road-trip recipes. 

You can also use it to incubate your homemade yogurt (look for how to in a later post)

Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed the blog please subscribe by entering your email into the email update box on the right column.


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