Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving Review

Here is a photo of our Thanksgiving meal - we ended up with Tofurky because they were out of Celebration Field Roast. It was salty but okay. I'm not sure I'd buy it again.


Here's the Thanksgiving plate (menu and recipe links HERE). The two winners were the mushroom green bean casserole and Julianna Hever's great pumpkin chocolate muffins. I wouldn't make the gravy (lemon juice wasn't a good addition) or the mashed potatoes/cauliflower with cashew cream again.

We went on a hike nearby - we're lucky to having hiking trails about 5-10 minutes from our house. I took some photos of our Thanksgiving hike - next year I think we'll emphasize the hike over the dinner.





Monday, November 21, 2011

Recipes I've Tried and My Thanksgiving Menu

I've been trying some of the recipes from the Dr. Fuhrman Member Center. One of my faves is the Banana-Oat Bars which contain bananas, oats, coconut, applesauce, and walnuts These can be frozen and used as really quick breakfast choices.


Another Fuhrman breakfast choice is the really hearty Blue Nut Oatmeal. A small amount of oats is cooked with blueberries, raisins, cinnamon, apple, banana, and walnuts.



Here is one of my favorite hummus recipes which I've talked about here before - Dreena Burton's White Bean Hummus with Thyme and Basil. I make it when I want hummus but I don't have any garbanzos available and as you can see I add lots of veggies to the top and for dipping.



Here's my Thanksgiving menu this year. I tried to find recipes that would include lots of veggies and limit the sugar and fat. Plus DH wanted some sort of leftovers for sandwiches so we're going to try a Celebration Field Roast for the first time.

2011 Thanksgiving Menu

Celebration Field Roast (I think I'm going to baste it with orange juice and fresh herbs.)

Dean Ornish's Health Hearty Salad (sans the blueberries since they're not in season)



Dr. Fuhrman's Nutty Green Bean Casserole (from an email)





I knit this cute turkey (free pattern HERE) to adorn the holiday table along with a photo of Peyton the turkey I adopted from Farm Sanctuary. Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

2011 Holiday Challenge

I've signed up to do the 2011 Holiday Challenge at the Dr. Fuhrman Member Support Center. Dr. Joel Fuhrman is the author of Eat to Live and was the doctor featured in documentary Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead which is available to watch free HERE on Hulu. The documentary is such an amazing testament to the power of fruits and vegetables.

I read about the Holiday Challenge at the Carrie On Vegan blog and was intrigued by the idea of doing a challenge at a time of year where it is difficult to stay healthy. I'm especially motivated because we hope to be moving to Colorado early 2012 and buying a foreclosure. It would be great to be in really good shape at that point to deal with any necessary remodeling and all the other moving stress.

Here's what you have to promise to do for the challenge:

1. Eat at least one large salad every day. (I already do this.)

2. Eat generous amounts of cooked green vegetables, mushrooms, and onions.

3. Eat beans every day. (I try but am not always successful.)

4. Eat at least three fresh fruits every day. (I currently eat maybe one or two.)

5. Avoid white flour.

6. Avoid sugars and artificial sweeteners.

7. Use oils sparingly. (I do this already.)

8. I will not allow peer pressure or tempting toxic foods to derail me from my health goals.

9. I will not compromise my health to please others.

10. I will set an example of health-mindedness for those around me.

I think the difficulties for me will be the cooked greens and mushrooms and avoiding holiday baked goods from white flour and sugar. It is free but to sign up I did have to give a credit card number.  I heard from Carrie who told me that I have to remember to call them and cancel after the six weeks is up.
Anyway, there are over 1000 healthy recipes in the member center which I will have access to during the challenge so to me it is worth it to remember to call them at the end of the holidays. There is also a Facebook page for the Holiday Challenge HERE.



My rabbit Bubbles looks like she could use a healthy eating challenge as well! I'm always amazed pet house rabbits can get so plump from just eating greens and other vegetables.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Trying to Reduce My Grocery Spending

I have this theory that grocery prices increase across the board this time of year. Retailers know we're all going to be cooking and baking for the holidays and price accordingly. In fact I was recently at Sunflower Market looking for chocolate chips and every bag was $5 or more. Not just the fair trade, grain-sweetened kinds of chocolate chips but even the Toll House brand.

A lot of the traditional wisdom on saving money on food doesn't apply to me. I rarely see coupons for the food I buy and while I find the Santa Fe Farmer's Market wonderful, I don't think I've ever seen a single bargain. I also don't have storage space for a lot of bulk items. I'm not organized enough to keep a price book but I do keep old receipts so I can look back and figure out how much individual items are.


PLANNING


My current grocery budget is $600 a month for two people who rarely eat out. About $50 of that is fresh greens for Bubbles and that total also includes non-food items such as shampoo, paper towels, and all our supplements. We generally eat oatmeal for breakfast and include big salads with dinner. I also have a green smoothie every day.

I decided to simplify meal planning so DH and I chose two week's worth of meals and we just rotate through those. The benefit of this is that I'm not buying all sorts of random strange ingredients for unknown reasons. I know specifically what I need for those two week's worth of meals. In fact, I made a list of all those ingredients used in those meals so I can refer to it when making the weekly grocery list.

I can still go over budget with this method. Another measure in place is the running list I keep on the refrigerator that lets me know how much I've spent so far each month. If I run rampant at the beginning of each month I have to rein it in at the end of the month.



PRODUCE

Fruits and vegetables are probably my biggest expense and I think they are too important to limit. We are in a year-round organic CSA (photos on this page show various CSA boxes) but lately I've stopped getting the boxes every week. I generally don't waste any of our lovely CSA boxes but there are weeks we get produce I probably wouldn't buy at the grocery store. For instance, lately the boxes have been including lots of oranges but I'm seriously craving apples. So then I'd pay for the CSA box and still have to buy apples. Now I only get the CSA boxes if the items are foods I really want for that week. Our CSA boxes have also recently increased in price - I think they are currently close to $35 a week.

Another strategy I'm trying is to buy fruits and vegetables at one of the local produce markets. None of the items are organic so I focus on the items that are not on the EWG's Dirty Dozen list. I also buy the inexpensive organic fruits and vegetables such as carrots and cabbage. I often purchase frozen veggies and fruits since they can be cheaper and of course last a lot longer.

BAKING

I have to limit my baking. I occasionally try to price out the cost of a batch of cookies or a cake and the results are always unpleasant. I currently let myself bake one thing each weekend but try to focus on fruit or soy yogurt for dessert instead.

iHerb

I order from the online retailer iHerb often. I'm purposely not going to link to iHerb because they give folks who refer them a $5 discount and that isn't the reason I'm recommending them. I'm recommending them because I save a lot of money. I like using iHerb for those items that are a bit pricier in general like agave nectar and nuts and vitamin B-12 fortified nutritional yeast. Their prices are usually very
good, you can easily search for the best price, and they give you free shipping if your order is over $40. You can choose one free sample with each order and if you start ordering from them regularly you will get a special customer status and save another 5% on everything.

PICKING MY BATTLES

I'm trying to figure out what items are worth paying the highest price and what items are not worth it. For instance, i'm a huge fan of the Frontier herbs and spices. I pay more for them than some of the generic
spices at the grocery store. iHerb sells some of Frontier herbs and I also find them in bulk at the natural foods store. On the other hand, I really can't see much of a difference between grocery store whole
wheat pasta and some brand that costs more than $4 a pound at the natural foods co-op. So there I'd buy the cheaper one.

I would love to hear from others on methods they use to save money on food!
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