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Archive for the ‘Budget Friendly’ Category

In an effort to make a easy, affordable, delicious meal, I came up with a new recipe that also saves time and money. I love the crock pot, so any chance I can use it is a plus for me. This recipe starts in the crock pot and then 30 minutes before you are ready to eat you simply transfer to a baking dish and let the oven do the rest of the work.

Ingredients

In Crock pot:

1 package of chicken thighs or breasts (I like to use thighs because they are inexpensive and much more tender. And I almost always double recipes in the crock pot to have leftovers for later in the week)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

salt & pepper

1 small can diced tomatoes

For baking dish:

artichoke hearts

fresh parmesan cheese

fresh basil, lightly chopped

Directions

Add Crock pot ingredients and cook for 4-6 hours on low. Transfer chicken mixture to a baking dish and top with artichoke hearts, parmesan cheese, and basil. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or just until cheese starts to melt and artichoke hearts are warm.

Pair with a side of roasted broccoli, sauteed kale, or a green salad.

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Until recently, I seriously underestimated smoothies, epecially green smoothies. It sounded kind of gross to me, and even though I love greens, I didn’t know if I wanted to drink them. However, once I learned the health benefits and made some of my own, I can’t get enough of them! We recently went to the beach for a week with some friends and I would love to say that we ate perfectly primal, but that’s just not the truth. We did pretty well though and made sure to get our greens though smoothies. A pile of salad isn’t exactly easily portable for the beach. So green smoothies it was – a great hot weather food!

If you haven’t yet watched this video, I would HIGHLY recommend it. It’s about 18 minutes long and well worth your time. Dr. Terry Wahls is a former Tae Kwon Do champion who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. This progressive disease degenerates your brain and leaves you wheelchair bound.  She describes her transformative experience with a primal diet rich in leafy greens, fruits, vegetables, grass-fed meats, organs (I know, eww – I’m willing to try it though), and seaweed. If this doesn’t motivate you to take a serious look at what you eat, I’m not sure anything will!

I have always enjoyed salads and eat them fairly often. After watching this video, however, I started wondering if I was getting enough. Green smoothies are the perfect way to ensure that you get your in your greens and are a great change up from a daily salad. You can also freeze them for a treat in the morning. I will take one out at night, put it in the fridge and it is ready to drink in the morning (great for busy, rushing out of the door mornings).

Leafy greens (spinach, kale, collards, arugula, lettuce, swiss chard, etc.) are a great source of magnesium, calcium, potassium, manganese, folate, and betaine (helps maintain liver health). So, where to begin in making your green smoothie?You really can just throw in your favorite ingredients and taste test along the way. Here is my favorite way to add green into my smoothie:

1 cup plain yogurt (usually greek)

1 cup orange juice, or 4 fresh squeezed oranges

2 big handfuls of greens (spinach, mixed greens, kale, etc.)

1 ripe avocado (adds some healthy fats)

1 banana (I cut up some and have them in the freezer at all times for easy access)

1 cup mixed berries (I get a huge bag of frozen organic blueberries, blackberries, and rasperries at Costco for about $11)

Ice, until you have reached your desired consistency

Makes about 2 very generous servings or 4-6 smaller servings.

Add the liquid and yogurt to the blender along with the greens. You want to make sure you get the greens mixed well with the liquid before you start adding too many ingredients to ensure that you don’t end up with green chunks. (You can ask my husband how that tastes, haha. I almost turned him off of green smoothies for good with a chunky green one. Luckily I have perfected the recipe and now they are one of his favorite drinks.) After the greens are incorporated well with the liquid, start adding the rest of the ingredients. Pour and enjoy, knowing you are doing a favor to your body!

How do you make sure you get your greens? What is your favorite green smoothie recipe? 

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I absolutely love Costco. I love buying in bulk and knowing I’m all stocked up if I don’t have time to run to the store. I also love having a packed freezer so when I make my weekly meal plans I just go by what’s in there. So, if you are like me, you will love these great deals I’ve found lately!

Kerrygold Grass-fed cheese $5.99/lb

Kirkland’s organic cage free, antibiotic free eggs $6.99 for 2 dozen

Cox’s wild caught shrimp $16.99 for 21/25 count

Kirkland’s wild caught Alaskan Salmon $28.99 (maybe a little pricier than you thought, but the “wild caught” is the key – so much better for you!)

Maranatha all natural roasted Almond Butter $6.99 (it is at least two times this at the grocery store for a smaller container)

Kirkland’s raw almonds $10 for a 3 lb bag

Organic spinach $4 for 1lb

Kirkland’s Greek Yogurt $6.99 for 2 32oz. containers (great for smoothies!)

Organic frozen broccoli $6 (4 individual packs)

Let me know if you have found some deals and I will update as I find more!

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I will admit, if you want to eat real, whole food you may have to increase your food budget a bit. I believe the long term benefits of being a healthy person far outweigh digging a little deeper in your pockets to get wholesome food for you and your family. Spending a little more now means spending less in the years to come on things like doctors visits and medications.

With that being said, there are some things you can do to help make every penny count while eating well.

1. Regularly set aside time to plan out meals: This one alone can save you tons of money and time. I find this helps me tremendously financially and mentally throughout the week. Coming up with a dinner menu on a whim can be hard! I would recommend finding a consistent time each week to do this. For me it’s Sunday evenings. This is also the time my husband and I talk about our weekly plans and finances, so it fits perfectly. Below is a sample menu from a few weeks ago (recipes to come!):

Monday – Slow cooker BBQ with slaw and sauteed kale

Tuesday – Curried pan-seared chicken with parsnips

Wednesday – Salmon cakes with brussel sprouts and sweet potatoes

Thursday – Roasted Red Pepper with Quinoa

Friday – Shrimp, Quinoa w/ herbs and onion, broccoli

Saturday – Sausages and salad

2. Drink pure water: That sweet tea, coke, or flavored water can really add up (financially and in the belt line).

3. Use the Crockpot: You might be wondering how this one makes the list. Not only does using your crockpot save time, I have found that I can cook large quantities, which yield leftovers. I try to do a crockpot meal at the beginning of the week (BBQ chicken or pork, roast beef, or stew) and eat on it when we need to grab something quick.

4. Join a CSA: This stands for Community Supported Agriculture. You pay a certain amount each week, monthly, or all at once and you are essentially paying the farmer for a portion of their harvest. It’s also a great way to learn about new vegetables as some you may have never eaten or even seen before.

5. Get a chest freezer and buy meat in bulk: Much of the meat that we buy in the supermarkets is from many different animals ground up and packaged. Buying meat in bulk from a trusted source allows you the peace of mind in knowing where it came from and also what the animal ate (ex: grass-fed is much higher in nutritional content).

6. Fat is good. A benefit of eliminating grain and wheat from the diet is that you aren’t filling up on empty calories, but on good wholesome fat. Fat is not a bad word. Eating more protein and fat helps you feel full longer, therefore, you won’t have to eat as much.

7. Grow a garden: There’s no better tasting vegetable than one that is homegrown. What could be better than walking into your back yard and picking your dinner vegetables? Even if you have a small space, you can do raised bed planters or even buddy up with a friend who has more space and grow one together.

8. Fast: This one probably does not sound great to you, but there is a lot of evidence that suggests that fasting is actually really good for you. Check out Mark Sisson’s website here as he recently did a series on the benefits of fasting.

9. Make smoothies for breakfast: When I eliminated grains and wheat from my diet, I found it hard to know what to eat for breakfast. I ended up eating eggs everyday, which is great for a while, but somedays I needed a change. I started making berry smoothies or a new favorite of mine is the avocado-banana smoothie.

10. Don’t buy processed foods. If you are reading this then #10 is a no-brainer. These packaged items can break the bank and wreak havoc on your insides.

11. Take some time to cook ahead: I try to take a few hours (I don’t have a set time right now as it depends on my daughter’s schedule) each week to make some extra meals. Again, this is a time and money saver.

12. Double and Freeze: I love to double whatever I am making and then freeze the rest for an easy meal later.

I hope this helped you, I’d love to hear other ideas that you have as well!

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