Health Yoga- 3 Ways to Optimize Your 40’s

(Guest Post from FoundHealth.com)

3 Ways to Stay Healthy in Your 40s

“I want to feel my life while I’m in it.”
– Meryl Streep
By the time that I turned 40 I was comfortable in my own skin. It wasn’t a parting of the Red Sea moment and angels didn’t sing. No huge party. The birthday itself was okay, but the sense of peace I’ve gained is constantly evolving and endlessly gratifying. I no longer obsess about what people think. I define my life by who I am and not by what I do for a living. And while I think the best years are ahead, I need to pay close attention to my health. My life journey now means incorporating changes to my mind, body and spirit.

 

 

Keep Your Mind Young

I can’t speak for all women (and at 40, I know not to), but I make sure to do the things that truly fulfill me. It’s important that I connect with my inner political animal and stay in touch with the world around me. Things weren’t always this way. In my 30′s I was informed but more centered around my own career. I didn’t have time for much else. While that definitely had its downsides I wouldn’t have changed anything. The life I have now is one that I love and without the path I created with my actions I might not be where I am. And while I’m not religious I have an appreciation and respect for the planet and my part in it. ‘An attitude of gratitude’ is my mind mantra.

 

3 ways to stay healthy in your 40's

 

Age Gracefully but Be Smart

I know that 40 is the new 30. Heck, I believe it! I’m lucky enough to have a mother who looks 20 years younger than she is, so I don’t look or ‘feel‘ 40. However, you can’t ignore some truths about getting older no matter how young you look. I keep a youthful glow by using  an anti-aging moisturizer and drinking lots of water. Eating less is also a fact of life when you get older. The metabolism slows down. If you think the shift that happens in your 30′s is big, wait until 40. It was really big for me. Diet. Diet. Diet. I’ve cut down dramatically on white sugar and white foods. I’ve also embraced working out. My yoga practice and runs sustain me physically. Oh I’m not the size 4 that I was in my twenties, but I do love how I look and feel. When I was younger I lifted quite a bit, and when I hit 40, I realized that I needed to bring weights back into my life. Weight lifting can help women stave off osteoporosis. Speaking of my aging bones, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B and Omega 3 are a part of my daily regimen. My 40 year old body mantra is ‘you are your own best investment’.

My canvas shopping bags are good for the planet. What’s inside is great for me!

 

 

Keep Your Spirit Young

Yoga is more than something I do, it’s a way to live my life. By learning to move my body in different ways, I’ve also learned how to move my heart. Stress, anger and negativity does more to make me unhealthy than all the fat in the world. When I stay connected to my mat literally and metaphorically, I move through my day with a greater sense of self and responsibility to the world.

Getting older was never something that worried me. Maybe I’m unusual but I’m thrilled at watching how my life unfolds. My twenties were fun but I wouldn’t want to go back there. My thirties were incredible and helped to set me up to be a woman that relishes the skin that she’s in. I’ve made adjustments to my life so I can keep up with what’s in store! I’m excited to see what comes next!

 

I’m haven’t achieved enlightenment like Buddha, but with meditation I’m working on it.
Namaste y’all
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Food Yoga- Roasted Curry Potato Salad

This isn’t your grandma’s potato salad. Hey, don’t get me wrong- I love mayo. Alas, my booty doesn’t allow it very often. I’ve talked a lot about cutting carbs our of my life. It’s an affair that is hard to end (and quite frankly one of my most successful relationships, see: why I do yoga). But biking has taken over my life (in the best way possible).

It’s been a great addition to my yoga practice, but without carbs I’m crampy and crabby, a lethal combination to be sure. So I decided that once in a while I can splurge on carbs that are healthy yams, quinoa and beans. This potato salad has curry for a unique flavor and can be served warm or cold with lettuce added. I like it with lettuce because the cold lettuce, warm potatoes and honey mustard balsamic dressing- WOO HOO!!! I’m getting excited just typing it!!!

 

Ingredients 

(serves 4)

  • 3-4 sweet potatoes cubed
  • curry powder- I use a curry powder recipe that I’ve doctored up. I’ll include it, but those who really like curry know that it’s a personal experience. So I’m not here to mess with yours, but if you don’t care- use mine, because it’s awesome. Ok, onto the next thing.
  • your favorite lettuce – 4 cups (I used a spring mix)
  • salt – to taste
  • olive oil spray – (use a mister, you can use real olive oil and cut down on calories if you don’t like the spray!)
  • apples – 2 cups cubed (not to be a redundant but what I said about curry applies to apples so rewind and play that then, use what you like. Gala was on sale, so that’s what came home with me.)
  • golden raisins  1/4 cup
  • pistachios (optional) 1/4 cup crushed
  • onion – thinly sliced
  • broccoflower (or cauliflower, I was feeling daring so…) – 2 cups roughly chopped

Dressing

  • honey 1 T
  • dijon mustard 1T
  • olive oil 1/4 cup
  • balsamic vinegar 1/4 cup
  • salt and pepper to taste
Blend or whisk ingredients in a bowl

Preparation 

  1. Pre-heat oven to 425
  2. Coast the potatoes and broccoflower with the olive oil and toss with the curry powder
  3. Spread the veggies evenly on an oiled cookie sheet
  4. Bake for 25-30 minutes
  5. Toss veggies with apples, lettuce, raisins and dressing

 

 

Food Yoga- Mushroom Ragout

mushroom ragout acorn squash


Official Meatless Monday Blogger

I’ve been afflicted with a cooking malaise for the last few months. Actually more doldrums than malaise. Sort of like Milo in the Phantom Tollbooth.

But this morning, a remedy.

I woke from a sound slumber and was monkeying around online. Tea in hand, I was looking for interesting reads about yoga and health, yoga and sleep…you get the idea. Boom down the rabbit hole. Anyway- I was checking out the New York Times Wellness Blog and found stumbled upon this delicious recipe for a mushroom ragout.

This came at the right time for a few reasons:

  1. I’m looking for find recipes that can be dressed up and down.
  2. Inspiration keeps things exciting and extends to more than the kitchen

This recipe is meant to be kept in the fridge and used for a few things, but beware. They are so good it’s hard not to heap spoonfuls in your mouth.

I had mine with acorn squash- just perfect. Tomorrow? Maybe they’ll be tossed with some green veggies.

Anything is possible.

Namaste y’all.

1 ounce (about 1 cup) dried mushrooms, preferably porcinis

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 shallots or 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 pound white or cremini mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed, and quartered or sliced 1/2 inch thick

1 pound wild mushrooms, trimmed and brushed clean, or oyster mushrooms, trimmed and torn into pieces if very large

Salt to taste

2 teaspoons all-purpose flour

1/2 cup dry white wine such as sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio

2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme

Freshly ground pepper

2 to 4 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

1. Place the dried mushrooms in a pyrex measuring cup or a bowl and pour on 2 cups boiling water. Let soak 30 minutes, while you prepare the other ingredients. Place a strainer over a bowl, line it with cheesecloth or paper towels, and drain the mushrooms. Squeeze the mushrooms over the strainer and rinse until they are free of sand. Chop coarsely.

2. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy skillet or a wide saucepan and add the shallots or onion. Cook, stirring often, until tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic, stir together for about 30 seconds, until fragrant, then add the fresh mushrooms, rosemary and thyme, and turn up the heat slightly. Cook until the mushrooms begin to sweat, then add a generous pinch of salt. Stir for about 5 minutes over medium-high heat as the mushrooms continue to soften and sweat. Add the flour and continue to cook the mushrooms, stirring, until they have softened a little more and you can no longer see the flour, about 2 minutes. Add the reconstituted dried mushrooms and the wine and turn the heat to high. Cook, stirring, until the liquid boils down and glazes the mushrooms, about 5 minutes. Stir in the dried mushroom soaking liquid, bring to a simmer, add salt to taste, and cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until the mushrooms are thoroughly tender and fragrant and the surrounding broth is thick, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in some freshly ground pepper and the parsley, taste and adjust salt.

Adventures in this Yoga Life- Petitions, Eggs and Ahisma

QIUCF00Z

Email petitions are the new chain letter. Chain letters at the very least were easily ignored and at best were good for some ridicule. Seriously send ten or you get bad luck? But petitions are different. Petitions come with a cause and a side order of guilt. Guilt that sits on your skin like an expensive moisturizer. I’m thinking specifically of Fresh Age Delay Cream. At $95 bucks for a jar no larger than a quarter it seems, well excessive. And maybe it is, but damn, it works.

The subject lines of the petitions are incredibly effective because the are so urgent (Don’t let Yogaglo steal yoga… Suzy’s dad is going to lose his job) I mean, I want Suzy’s family to eat. Seriously, I’m not kidding. But Yogaglo? Meh.

I’m no slouch. I don’t ignore what needs to get done. I come from political stock and I care about leaving this world better than when I found it.

At Rutgers we marched plenty. I drove down to DC for a pro-choice rally. I went down to Occupy Wall Street and supported Trayvon.

It started by signing just one petition. That one triggered a blizzard. Do they sense the sucker? I end up reading most of them.  I start thinking, ‘You know, maybe I can help from the comfort of my Black IKEA chair, MacBook Air sipping on ginseng tea and honey. Could it really be that easy?’.

Today’s email was from PETA. They want Zara to stop using a particular farm. This farm is yanking the fur off of screaming rabbits. That’s not my word, that’s the word from the petition. I’m really sensitive to violence so things like that trouble me more than I care to admit. I can’t help looking over at Dakota. And though right now (she’s laying on my bed looking over at me with a bored expression) it’s hard to imagine her in any peril- she wasn’t always so comfy. I would adopt every stray dog if I could.

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Back to the petitions. I want to sign. I don’t want rabbits hurt. I was in 4-H (really) and my first pets were rabbits. I love animals. Do these petitions work? The truth is, any change happens with work. You can change or be comfortable- but you can’t have both. Petitions that have a passionate and stirring campaign in conjunction with a petition have a much better shot that trying to rally the tea sipping group of people who want to do good with an index finger.

There are days that the notion of Ahmisa (act of non-violence) is harder on some days than others. And I can’t help but get to thinking.

So what does any of this have to do with eggs?

I’ve started eating them again. I’ve also had fish. Eating a vegan diet wasn’t a moral decision, but…. I don’t really know why there’s a but, but there it is. That’s not true, I feel guilty. There, I’ve said it. I feel guilty for eating eggs (and fish- less about the fish which also comes with its own layer of judgment- but I gotta pick my battles)

My diet choices came mostly out of health reasons and let’s be real a teeny, weeny an enormous sense of vanity. At first, I looked a lot better when I changed my diet. And then, I couldn’t help but notice I felt so much better.

I need you to understand something- this is in NO way me having  some moment about animal rights (Thou doth protest too much, you wonder? Me too. Whatever.) There’s more of a gross-out element that some shaky moral high ground (because I do believe that many fringe groups are on very shaky moral high ground). Fir example, for a long time I couldn’t roast a whole chicken because cleaning it freaked me out. People laugh at dancing raw headless chickens but I find the whole notion incredibly disturbing. I think the chicken crossed the rode because it saw some stand-up comics coming.

Again, I digress. It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged from my icky place.

Ahisma. Eggs. Petitions. Yes, that’s where we are.

I wear leather shoes. My dog eats no grain dog food (her Age Delay Fresh moisturizer).

But I can’t help but be aware of some of my choices. Once my eyes have been opened to something, it’s hard for me to close them again. This may be a due to quitting smoking- when you are aware that you have an ability to lose control, there’s a heightened level of self-awareness as a course of survival.

Anyway, I don’t have any answers just more questions- which makes me feel itchy and annoyed. I like having answers. I’m a fan of the neat bow. Fortunately, I also have yoga so it’s all a little more bearable.

Namaste y’all.

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Vegan Diaries – Roasted Cauliflower White Pumpkin and Leek Soup

Roasted-Cauliflower

I have such a feeling of gratitude over how I get to eat. The past few weeks opened my eyes. It may be what kept me from acting like a damn fool in the grocery store. Though I did pick up some dark chocolate, because I could. And some Pumpkin Ale. It’s fall, had to.

With Autumn on my mind I went to my local Shop-Rite. I many have mentioned but they have a local produce section. It’s not huge, but the prices are good, food is fresh and I’m supporting local farms. Hat trick. Not to mention the reduction of my carbon footprint. Extra 3 points. I know, I mixed my scoring comparisons. It’s all good.

Anyway- I left with:

  • Cauliflower
  • Leeks
  • Mini White Pumpkins (2)
  • Garlic

At home I pulled out

  • Olive oil
  • Veggie stock 3 cups
  • 2 fingerling potatoes

Preparation

  1. I cut the head of cauliflower in half. I’m saving the other half for tomorrow (chickpeas, eggplant and cauliflower curry- say what?!)
  2. I gave it a rough chop and then got to work on the leeks. I only used the light green and white part.
  3. I moved onto the potatoes. You could leave these out, I was looking for a creamier texture. It was a comfort food kind of day.
  4. After peeling three cloves of garlic I put the veggies in a roasting pan. I tossed them with a tablespoon of olive oil and some sea salt and pepper.
  5. The veggies roast for 30 minutes at 425°
  6. I transferred the mixture into a dutch oven (or you can use a soup pot of big pot)
  7. I added another tablespoon of olive oil and sautéed the mixture for about two minutes.
  8. In went the stock and I brought the mixture to a simmer for 20 minutes. (I added another 1/2 cup of broth- but water would do fine- it just looked like it would be too thick)
  9. Then- very carefully I transferred the soup to my blender. I don’t have a vitamix- but my blender still got the soup smooth.

It was all I hoped for. Creamy (without the dairy reprucussions- lactose intolerant), hearty and smoky because I added a pinch of smoked chipotle pepper on top.

Yum. Yum. Yum.

In other weird Wednesday news. I found this strange fact about soup (check the vid below). Enjoy.

Namaste y’all.

photo-12

Vegan Diary Confessions 21 Meals $35 (Days 13-14 and Final Thoughts)

Hummus-details

I’m really happy to get back to my old food shopping habits.

I wanted these recipes to be so much better than they were. But I found myself avoiding having to cook. It wan’t fun. This isn’t normally how I feel about food.

Cooking relaxes me. I enjoy preparing meals and breaking bread with friends. This wasn’t merely a a situation of having to make do with what I had because I hadn’t made it to the store. Unwittingly, I found out for a few short weeks of what it’s like to not have what you want or need.

Now don’t get me wrong, I in no way experienced what it is like for so many families to go without. But the malaise isn’t what I was expecting.

On the last two days I enjoyed ate my oatmeal for breakfast and had leftovers for lunch and hummus sandwich wraps for dinner.

This wasn’t the fun experiment I thought it would be. And the admission of this, makes me a little embarrassed. I realize now that I many have inadvenrtantly been trying to slum it- that makes me feel shitty because that wasn’t what I intended. Pema Chödrön says that everything we do is on the path to enlightenment. I figure this is a step in the right direction.

What I learned:

1. Eating healthy on near nothing is really hard.

2. That said (#1), you can find a healthier way to eat on near nothing. Frozen veggies, dried beans and and shopping the aisles of grocery stores provide opportunities to eat a healthy, tasty diet. It takes planning and some research (blogs and Youtube are GREAT help) but it can be done. Soup, yo. It’s the way to go. Soups and stews can be hearty, healthy and delicious. Better yet, they can be made in bulk, ahead of time and freeze well.

3. That is of course provided you don’t live in a food desert. I can’t help but wonder about the mixed message that we send to kids who live where fresh food isn’t easily available. We tell them about the food pyramid and send them home in neighborhoods that have nothing but fast food or in rural areas– nothing.

4. As a society, food deserts plague urban and rural environments. There are too many parts of the country where people are at least a mile away from a grocery store and don’t have a car.

5. It’s not hopeless. Communities can rally together to start food co-ops. Creating awareness about hunger through initiiaves like Hunger Action Month lets gets the message out. And lastly corporate citizens are stepping in to take responsibility. The CEO or Trader Joe’s is testing an idea that takes slightly expired food and bruised produce to the marketplace and deeply discounted prices. Food expiration dates ahve been debated because more often than not expiration date

I was reading an Old Rebelle wellness article that talked about the idea of Nutrition as an act of revolution.
Yes.
Yes.
Yes.

We should, no, we must realize that when parts of our country are hungry we are all hungry. There is too much food wasted and too many easy we can start to tackle this issue. This temporary change has permanently changed me. I cannot go back to thinking about food the way that I did.

Nutrition should be an act of revolution.

Check out this story from NPR. The CEO of Trader Joe’s is launching a test store that sells slightly bruised food and food that is past the expiration dates. Food will be sold at deeply discounted prices. Foods will also be prepared as meals and the most important part? It won’t be in a cushy ‘hood down the street from a Whole Foods, it will be in a neighborhood that needs it.

Bra-vo. Nutrition should be an act of revolution.

Namaste y’all.

Vegan Diaries 21 Meals $5 Day (Days 8-12)

photo-9

Week 1 is done. Some hits, some misses. But all in all I was pleased with what I got out of it.

Applying what I’ve learned is on the menu this week. This is not as easy as it seems (see past mistakes), but I will do my best.

liz-lemon-eye-roll

I have decided to lean on my pantry more this week (I’ll note the cost per serving).

A pantry building post is on the way.

But first let me do a rundown of the groceries I bought this week with my $35

  • snow peas (2 servings)
  • scallions
  • iceberg lettuce
  • onions
  • soba
  • eggplant
  • tomatoes
  • split peas
  • black eyed peas
  • vegetable stock (this was on sale wee ha!!!! I bought 2 quarts for 3 smackers)
  • popcorn kernals (this was my splurge item at 1.79, but I miss a snack)
  • apples (Trader Joe’s on sale a bag for 2.29 10 in the bag)
  • tortillas
  • oatmeal
  • 2 lemons

I have 8 bucks left that I will use midweek. Leftover from last week: brown rice, white beans, chick peas, kale

Since I had chickpeas left I made a big batch of hummus. I think this is my biggest win so far. Hummus is full of protein, filling and frankly, freaking fantastic on everything. Throw in lettuce and have it on a wrap. A big bag of carrots on sale will cost you $1.59, paired with hummus perfect for snackin’ and relaxin’.

Day 8

Breakfast

  • Oatmeal (why didn’t I think of this last week?)

Lunch

  • Hummus wrap

Dinner

  • Veggie Stir Fry with Soba (Snow peas, scallions, onions garlic)

Day 9

Breakfast

  • Apple (leftover)
  • Oatmeal

Snack

  • Popcorn

Lunch

  • Leftover soba noodles (I had them cold and they were oh so, so good)

Dinner

  • White bean and kale soup (This was only meh. I would have added lots more veggies or some pasta or even some ‘shrooms to give it some umph but I didn’t want to spend the money to beef up this recipe).

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Day 10

Breakfast 

  • Oatmeal

Snack 

  • Popcorn

Lunch 

  • Leftover soup (didn’t finish it. But Dakota liked it over her kibble)

Snack 

  • Popcorn

Dinner

Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Soup

Another win. I have a tried and true recipe that I love. I was worried that it wouldn’t be so great. I was hoping that eating on a very tight budget could be tasty, but it’s been less that successful in my opinion.

Bah! This version was 6 ingredients and freaking awe-some. Do you hear me? Awe-some.

This recipe made dance inside (also on the outside, I couldn’t help but bust a move when I slurped my first sip. My apologies to the people across the street who may have seen me)

Ingredients 

  • One Eggplant cubed (keep the skin on)
  • Large can whole crushed tomatoes (Cento was on sale, score .79)
  • 5 (peeled) cloves fresh garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tomatoes (this is optional- but if you’re from Jerz…you should still have a few) cut in quarters
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

1. Place all veggies and garlic on a cookie sheet. Toss with one tablespoon of olive oil, salt and pepper.

2. Roast for 25 minutes in a 425° oven.

3. Place veggies in a large pot or dutch oven with remaining olive oil.

4. Sauté for 5 minutes and then add stock

5. Bring to a simmer for 15 minutes.

6. Carefully transfer soup in small batches to a blender and blend.

That’s it. It had an elegant taste but hearty feel. And it freezes well (whoop!)

photo-10

Day 11

Breakfast 

  • Oatmeal 

Lunch

  • SOUP! Whoop!

Dinner

SNAP pea soup

Split Pea Soup

Another easy peasy (you see what I did there?) recipe.

So good. In fact, after I made it I forgot to take a photo for this post. No worries I thought, I’ll just get another bowl, take a photo and save it for tomorrow.

Cut to: Oneika slurping. Camera app open but off to the side. Yikes! I’m supposed to take a photo.

I managed to get it *wipes mouth*

Ingredients 

  • one bag split peas
  • small onion- chopped
  • 4-5 cloves garlic minced
  • 6 cups water
  • salt and pepper
  • smoked paprika or smoked chipotle pepper* (this is a pantry usage)

Preparation

1. Saute onions and garlic

2. Add split peas

3. Add 4 cups of water

4. Bring to boil then immediately reduce to medium low

5. Add 1/2 cup water after 20 minutes

6. Stir frequently for another 35 minutes adding water if soup is too think

7. Transfer in batches to blender **

* I debated whether to use this or not. I opted to used it for a few reasons. First, smoked paprika adds richness and meaty flavor to vegan dishes and gives them depth. Second a little goes a long way, so it’s worth getting.

** You could skip this, but I was feeling silky smooth. I’ve also had made split pea without blending and it’s still just as bad ass.

Day 12

Breakfast

  • Oatmeal

Lunch

  • Leftover soup

Dinner

riceandpeas

This second week has been a lot easier on the palate.

I know, you’re saying can  this chick really eat soup every night for dinner?

The answer is yes, yes I could. I still had a few bucks left so I guess I could have grabbed a roll or some fresh bread. There’s a bakery across the street that sells fresh whole wheat loaves for 1.50.

But honestly the soup is plenty. I think a lot of American eating habits are too heavy, focusing on the size of a meal as an indication of success rather than the quality and flavor.

It takes a bit of work. But it can be done.

I felt short changed last week. I kicked rocks a few times. Yeah, yeah, non-attachment.

But I shopped this second week with a determination to make some meals that I could stand behind and say, these are things you can get everywhere.

With two days left, I feel that I’ve done that.

It’s still pretty sobering to know that this is the budget many families have every single day, year after year. This was no game to me. However, next week if I feel like grabbing a green juice after a hot yoga class, I can.

There’s a lot to think about and so much more that we can do to end hunger.

Stay tuned for the last few days (recipes) and my final thoughts about the whole process.

September is Hunger Action Month.

Namaste y’all.

Vegan Diaries – Eat Deliciously with the Seasons

root veggies

I love restaurants that have a seasonal menu. That usually means they shop at local farms. It also tells me they put some thought into the menu.

I’ve applied that same way of thinking to my kitchen. The result? Eating seasonally is a great way to be healthy on a budget.

Let’s face it, buying tropical fruit in the middle of the winter is going to be expensive.

Instead, buy what’s local and fresh. Your food will taste better, cost less and help your local economy!!

At first it may take a litlle planning. But don’t get overwhelmed, your local farmers market is a great place to stock up each week (This also makes the planning easier- you have to cook what you get that week)

No green markets in the area? Many grocery stores also have a local produce section (even the big chains). This makes the process painless! Your family will also look forward to your favorite seasonal dishes!! Frozen seasonal veggies are also a great way to go. Frozen spinach, frozen kale and frozen squash are nice additions to your freezer. They cook fast and are flexible.

I’m a big fan of soups and stews when the temperatures drop. Huge. Ginormous. They are easy, flavorful and easy on the pockets.

Also I run a veggie into the ground, flipping the script as it were.

Roasted pumpkin, pumpkin soup, pumpkin pureé over pasta, pumpkin muffins, roasted pumpkin slices in a wrap…..You get the idea. And pumpkins last for-ev-ver…

sandlot-forever-o

Disparities in food wealth have always bothered me.

Green markets are the new train tracks. After spending just one week on a tight food budget, more than ever I know that taking about healthy accessible food is a service that we owe to each other.

So stay tuned for more recipes that are easy, cheap and delicious.

Namaste y’all.

This New York Times video with Michael Pollan is a great clip on staying healthy in the supermarket.

Vegan Diaries- Building a Pantry

spices_lead

A delicious, nutritious meal is easy to prepare on the day you come home from the grocery store. But as the food dwindles, the urge to order take-out or grab unhealthy frozen pizza grows. Unplanned meals are a way of life. You may not have a personal chef, but with the right pantry you can have great meals that are good for you at a moment’s notice! Great recipes start with a few key ingredients that you can pick up weekly. The secret is adding those ingredients with items already on hand.

A well-stocked pantry isn’t only conducive to a slimmer waist, but it helps fatten the wallet. Over time having supplies becomes more cost-effective. Also, you aren’t racking up extra dollars in the grocery column of your budget!

Feeling a little anxious because your cabinets are bare? Stocking a pantry doesn’t have to done all at once. Make a plan. Give yourself 8-12 weeks to get your pantry in shape. You can spread out the shopping accordingly.

You’d be surprised at how little you need to spend on groceries!

I realized how big a role my pantry plays in my cooking since cutting down my food budget to $5 per day.

Particularly if you live in an area that doesn’t have a ton of markets, a pantry that is properly stocked with things you’ll actually use can

15 items that will get your pantry off to a great start:

  1. Olive oil makes the difference in a recipe as well as adding good fats and antioxidants in your diet
  2. Whole grain pastas have come a long way in the taste department and cook in minutes
  3. Stocks aren’t necessary as a group, but keep at least one on hand- (I LOVE Manischewitz vegetable broth)
  4. Brown rice or whatever healthy grain appeals to you  (barley, bulghur, couscous, quinoa)
  5. Beans, beans and more beans (I keep dried) chickpeas, black beans, navy beans, pinto and black eye peas are currently in mine. They are perfect for soups.
  6. Lettuce like spring greens are appealing because they stay fresh and make any salad a bit more special, but romaine works just as well. And I found some iceberg for .99. Go with what’s on sale and seasonal.
  7. Vinegar like balsamic can be used in everything from salad dressing to roasted veggies
  8. Dijon mustard can be used as part of a marinade or salad dressing in an instant
  9. 1 or two  seasonal vegetables that keep well (With fall coming on the east coast- it’s all about pumpkin and acorn squash baby- cheap and good.)
  10. Canned tomatoes can be used for sauces, on tortillas etc…
  11. Frozen spinach or kale can be added to rice and pasta for an easy meal
  12. Onions are a quick (and cheap) easy way to add flavor without a ton of calories
  13. Garlic that is fresh jazzes up any recipe from salad to fish to grilled veggies
  14. Dried spices like oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary, cinnamon, kosher salt and pepper are critical. You can also add cumin, cayenne and tarragon if the basics are reside in your spice cabinet. Shopping at ethnic grocery stores can help you find good quality spices at very reasonable prices. Buying spices whole also last longer and retain flavor.

Bonus points for:

dried fruits and nuts, firm tofu, tortillas

 

Are there pantry items you can’t live without? Please tell me in the comment section! I’m always looking for new additions!

Namaste y’all!