Posts from 2016-12

Cooking Healthy On a Budget

budget foods



So you’ve decided to commit to the kitchen…preparing food yourself instead of ordering out is a big step towards the betterment of your health. You control the fat, salt and sugar content of your foods, and this is much healthier than letting a restaurant do it for you.

 How do you do it without breaking the bank? Here are some tips for saving money at the grocery store:

 • Shop for those lean cuts of meat with a discerning eye. - Meat typically gets marked down on the third and fourth days following the packing date.  By law, the packing date is printed clearly on all packages, so if you see a nice pork tenderloin that’s on day two, there’s a good chance the meat man will mark it down tomorrow in an effort to sell it. Just make sure when you’re buying that cheap meat that you cook it that day, or freeze it right away.

 •The same goes for vegetables. - Produce ripens quickly, and that’s ok, we just have to be ready to use it. Fruits and vegetables that may have a tinge of over-ripening to them are still fine for consumption, and most likely marked down. Again, just make sure you’re cooking or freezing them right away. There’s also a super top secret at almost every market…it’s called “the quick sale” rack or bin. Ask your grocer about it, in a hushed voice, because you do not want everyone knowing about this gem. You never know exactly what is going to be there, but there’s  good stuff sometimes.

 • Buy in bulk. - Anytime you can get a two-for-one deal, it’s a good day. Whether it’s a whole chicken, milk, or whatever, just make sure it’s something that has a nice long shelf life (eggs), or you can freeze the extra.

 • Fresh is best, but you gotta do what you gotta do. - Yes, we prefer that fresh vegetables be used, because the nutrient content is superior to that of canned vegetables. BUT, sometimes you can save a buck by purchasing frozen…they are a close second to fresh when it comes to nutrient content, and many times it’s cheaper than fresh.

 • There’s few things in this world that are cheaper than dried beans. - Beans are ridiculously cheap, and dried beans are even cheaper than that. Beans are also easy to throw in a crockpot with plenty of water or broth for a meal or side dish that requires little thought. Combine these beans with a little rice (also inexpensive) for a complete protein.

 The best tip I can offer about cooking on a budget is don’t get frustrated. Food prices fluctuate all the time due to droughts, worker strikes, and who knows what else. If you’ll just keep an open mind and try out new recipes, you’ll be a thrifty pro in the kitchen in no time. Try this Cooking Light Chicken, Butternut Squash, and Roasted Potatoes recipe for a healthy and frugal fall dinner.


Slow Down with a Slow Cooker



As we near Christmas and New Year’s the hustle and bustle of the holidays can become overwhelming. All the chaos can be stressful and rob us of the joy of this time of year. Sometimes, we need to just slow down and use simpler, more hassle-free ways to celebrate. This is a great time to pull out the slow cooker that is hiding somewhere in your kitchen cabinet or pantry. You can assemble the recipe in the cooker in the morning and then let it cook throughout the day while you go about your other holiday activities.  Afterward, you can come home to a meal that is well on its way to being ready to serve. Slow cookers can also be handy for preparing, holding and serving hot items for holiday gatherings and parties.

            There are tons of tasty and healthy recipes available on the web. These range from traditional soups, chilies and stews to items you may never have thought about preparing in a slow cooker. In fact, almost anything can be cooked in a slow cooker. You could use it to cook your appetizer, entrée, sides, bread or even the dessert. Check out the links below to gather recipes and be inspired:




Although slow cookers can certainly make cooking a great meal or preparing for a party easier, there are some safety guidelines to follow when using one: 

·         Take time to read and follow the instruction manual for your specific appliance.   

 ·         Thaw meat or poultry properly in the refrigerator prior to placing it in the slow cooker.

 ·         Fill the cooker ¼ to ¾ full and keep the lid on throughout the cooking process to help keep heat in and the food at a safe temperature.

 ·         If the power goes off when you are not at home and you do not know how long it was off, throw the food out even if it looks completely cooked.  If you are at home during a power outage, finish cooking the food immediately by some other means.

 ·          Store leftovers within 2 hours of removing them from the heat of the slow cooker.

 ·         Do not reheat leftovers in a slow cooker. If you want to hold food in a slow cooker bring it to a safe temperature on the stove or in the microwave first. 

Do you have any great slow cooker recipes for the holidays that you would like to share?

Save Room for Dessert! Benefits of Cocoa Powder

cocoa powder

Natural cocoa and cocoa products have attracted a great deal of attention due to its beneficial effects on immune system and cardiovascular disease. Recent studies have shown that cocoa powder significantly helps to reduce serum cholesterol and triglycerides levels and increase white blood cell counts. Cocoa powder is also rich in flavonoids which is a plant based substance that functions as an antioxidant and helps us fight back against cold and flu season.

A tip for choosing your cocoa powder: opt for dark, unsweetened cocoa powder. According to recent studies, the darker the powder, the more beneficial compounds it contains. Try spinkling cocoa powder over a bowl of oatmeal or into your favorite serving of fruit or yogurt. 

During this time of year, I want all the cold/flu fighting components I can get! So yes, you heard me right; save room for dessert this year, and try out the recipes below that are made with 100% natural cocoa.


Perfectly Minty Hot Cocoa serving size 4:

3 tablespoons crushed hard peppermint candy

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup 100% natural cocoa powder

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 cups (1 qt.) skim milk

1/3 cup hot water

Serve with peppermint candy stick, if desired and Miniature marshmallows

1. Stir together sugar, cocoa and salt in medium saucepan; stir in water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Boil and stir 2 minutes. Add milk; stirring constantly, heat to serving temperature. Do Not Boil.


2. Remove from heat; add vanilla. Beat with rotary beater or whisk until foamy. Serve topped with marshmallows


Banana Fudge Pops:

1 ripe, medium banana

6 wooden ice cream sticks

6 paper cold drink cups (5 oz. each)

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (5-oz. can) evaporated milk

1 1/2 cups orange banana juice

1/2 cup sugar

¼ cup 100% natural cocoa powder


1   Slice banana into blender container; add juice. Cover; blend until smooth. Add sugar and cocoa; cover and blend well. Add evaporated milk; cover and blend.



2.    Pour mixture into cups. Freeze about 1 hour; insert wooden sticks into fudge pops. Cover; freeze until firm. Peel off cups to serve. 6 pops.   

   Chocolate Mousse


1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1 cup (1/2 pt.)cold whipping cream


1/2 cup sugar


2 tablespoons boiling water


1/4 cup 100% natural cocoa powder


1teaspoon unflavored gelatin


1 tablespoon cold water




1.    Sprinkle gelatin over cold water in small bowl; let stand 1 minute to soften. Add boiling water; stir until gelatin is completely dissolved and mixture is clear. Cool slightly.




2.    Stir together sugar and cocoa in medium bowl; add whipping cream and vanilla. Beat on medium speed of electric mixer, scraping bottom of bowl occasionally, until mixture is stiff. Pour in gelatin mixture; beat until well blended. Spoon into serving dishes.