Saturday, August 13, 2011

Get the skinny on fruits and veggies

Vegetables are so important. They provide iron for energy, potassium and other nutrients that help make the heart healthy. Plus, the roughage is good for the colon. Yet, they are also quite expensive. I found that it was a challenge to insert fresh fruit and vegetables into a thirty dollar a week food budget. Yet, it can be done. I didn't have to buy canned fruit all the time either. It meant lowering portions, sharing fruit, and not buying several kinds at once. But, fruit and vegetables are important. Otherwise, starch and carbs would make us quite large and suseptible to all sorts of depressions and disease.

1. Try to buy what is in season. You can find a site on the web that will tell you. But, even then…it’s hard. Summertime is a good time to get fresh tomatoes, watermelon, cucumbers and more. If you have some land where you can plant, it’s so easy to grow tomatoes. Even patio tomatoes are a plus for your budget.

2. I buy a package of frozen vegetables and keep them in freezer. The mixed vegetables are best. I add a cup here, half a cup there to casseroles and soups. They add color and make the plate look attractive. This cuts down on depression too. You don’t feel like a pauper when the plate is pretty.

3. A bag of carrots is less expensive than bite sized baby carrots. They make great snack food too. They go on sale more than most vegetables.

4. Canned tomatoes are so inexpensive and they too are a staple in our home. I like the diced ones with oregano and basil in them. They are an antioxidant and low fat. They go in so many recipes too.

5. When you buy bagged salad, it doesn’t last as long as when you buy a head of lettuce, or package of romaine. You end up throwing away half the bag if you don’t eat it up in a day or two.

6. Check the sodium count on the canned vegetables. Some are not so bad, even sodium free.

7. When trying to lose weight, think color! Spinach, cucumbers, broccoli, etc. I have found that my finicky husband will eat broccoli mixed with a few slices of onion, and carrots if I steam them, rather than boil. Then, sprinkle a tablespoon or large pinch of shredded cheese on top. I make a turkey burger with no rice or potato on the side. The veggies take up half the plate!

8. When cauliflower is on sale, it goes well steamed! Plus, you can mash it like potatoes and add butter!

9. Here’s a summer plate that my husband loves!


Start with peeling and slicing 2 carrots
Slice about 4 radishes
Slice up some sharp cheese
Slice up a cucumber
½ cup of cottage cheese

Arrange it like this, put the cottage cheese in center of plate, think of a clock…radishes at twelve o clock, carrots at three o clock, cucumbers at six o clock and cheese at nine o clock. You have white, red, orange, yellow and green! A pinch of oregano on the cottage cheese is a nice touch! A slice of homemade bread on the side doesn’t hurt.

Fresh fruit was a treat years ago. Most of the time families ate whatever was canned during harvest season. In the north, apples were made into pies, apple sauce etc. The best advice is still to choose what is in season for the best buys.

While on a budget, I steer clear of fruit juices with lots of sugar and little juice. [That’s where I began making lemonade]

I found that a bag of oranges give off great vitamin C. I take one orange and cut it in half. Then, flat side down, I slice the orange into thin wedges and put them on a plate next to the eggs in the a.m., or p.m. for a dessert after dinner. The secret is the presentation. Spread the slices into a half circle. A smile stares up at folks as they eat their breakfast. One orange for two people, means a bag of oranges can last for a week.

Bananas have a bad rap for high in calories. Yet, the potassium in a half of a banana is sufficient for a person. There again, smaller portions. For a large family, half a banana can round out a breakfast of cereal.

Strawberries are great in season, but out of season they are not so good. When on sale, you can wash and slice them in half and put them in a bowl with ¼ cup of sugar [or two packets of splenda] and mix. Watch them disappear!

If the price of frozen berries frightens you, check out the frozen section of your store. The fruit you eat has antioxidants and helps fight off winter colds, and depression as well.

Remember to always be thankful for everything you have. Ask God to bless your food and not let any harmful chemicals hurt you.

Psalm 37:28 ‘For the Lord loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones.'

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