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Posts Tagged ‘grocery shopping’

I had a question in my inbox about a month ago regarding how to eat healthy on a budget. I know this reader and I are not the only people trying to live a healthy lifestyle without breaking the bank.

Eating healthy can easily be done with a bit of preparation and knowledge. My wife and I plan our meals and make a grocery list before heading to the supermarket. This saves us a lot of time while shopping and ensures we have all the necessary ingredients to make nutritious home cooked meals.

The following tips should help you save money and stay on track with your eating.

1 – Buy in bulk – Shop from the bulk section whenever possible. Things like rice, quinoa, nuts, seeds, flour and dried fruit are all great items to have on hand and buying in bulk is cheaper and eliminates all that extra packaging.

2 – Eat vegetarian as often as you can – Vegetables, organic wherever possible, are far less expensive than meat and go a long way. Staples in our house are broccoli, green beans, carrots, kale, cucumber, onions, yams, potatoes, peppers and garlic. You would be amazed at how many meals you can make with all those veggies and they offer great nutritional value! Be sure to use the “dirty dozen” list to ensure you’re getting the most highly sprayed fruits and veggies organically.
dirty-dozen-list
3 – Avoid highly processed or pre-packaged foods – Making things from scratch at home not only allows you to control every ingredient but it also saves you money. Homemade granola bars (see previous blog), healthy muffins, soups and casseroles are great to make at home and leave you with enough leftovers for a few days to a week.

4 – Buy produce in season – Purchasing seasonal produce is a great way to keep costs low. Don’t buy fruits and veggies that are shipped from miles away; when you purchase locally grown produce that’s in season they’re generally cheaper and you are supporting your local farmers. It wasn’t too long ago that people accepted seasonal scarcity as a fact of life, so the only way you had berries and fruit in the winter was to preserve them or make jams and jellies. I personally think that we need to go back to this way of living.

5 – Buy items that are on special
– Most grocers have monthly or weekly deals. Check out what they have to offer before grabbing your groceries. Although making a list and meal plan is important, so is being flexible once you see what’s on sale.

Heading out to the local farmer’s market is another way to save money, eat locally, organically and seasonally!

What does your family do to stay on track, eat healthy and keep costs low?

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When it comes to food I’ll admit it, I am the Queen of Snacking. I generally eat five or six smaller meals throughout the day as opposed to three large ones. I almost never leave home without a snack. Grazing is a great way to keep the metabolism running on high speed as well as limiting the caloric load on the digestive system.

One of the most common questions I am asked by clients when it comes to nutrition is, what are the best snacks to consume that will leaving me feeling satisfied without blowing my caloric input for the day?

Here are my six favourite quick, easy and healthy options:

hummos

1 – Hummus & Veggies
Hummus is low in calories and fat and comes in many different flavours. I like olive hummus or basil garlic hummus with carrots, celery, cucumber and cherry tomatoes for dipping. This is an easy way to increase your vegetable intake for the day and is very inexpensive.

2 – Crackers & Cheese
Although cheese is higher in fat it’s a good source of calcium and protein. Many low fat cheese options exist such as mozzarella or marble. If you read the label and consume the recommended portion, cheese is a healthy snack. “Hot Kids – Rice Crackers” or “Ryvita” are both great wheat-free and tasty crackers to pair with a few slices of cheese! Again, add a few veggies sticks and you have a well rounded lower calorie option.

3 – Apples & Nut Butter
Apples are a great source of fiber, help to detoxify the liver and can help alleviate the symptoms of irritable bowel. Sliced into pieces and dipped in nut butter, you will have a whole new appreciation for apples. I enjoy Gala and Ambrosia apples dipped in peanut or almond butter. Many people have the idea that because nut butters are higher in fat they should avoid them when in fact, if eaten in moderation they are just fine and provide you with a source of good fat and energy.

4 – Yogourt or Cottage Cheese & Berries
Cottage cheese is a great source of protein, low in fat and supplies the body with calcium. When enjoyed with frozen or fresh berries you also get added fiber and naturally occurring antioxidants. Although the protein content in yogourt is not as high as cottage cheese, it’s a great alternative to cottage cheese if you don’t like the texture (a texture I myself have never been able to get used to).

5 – Organic Nacho Chips & Salsa
Nacho chips are a good source of fiber, carbohydrates and go well with salsa and/or guacamole. I like my chips with “Que Pasa” or “Fresh is Best” homemade salsa. Salsa is a great source of lycopene (found in the tomatoes), low in calories and can contribute 1-2 servings to your vegetable intake for the day. Homemade guacamole is also a great addition to this snack. Guacamole is a great source of omega 6 fat and is best if eaten in moderation.

6 – Homemade Organic Popcorn
I say homemade because making popcorn from the kernel allows you to add any seasonings you like and control the amount of butter or oil. Organic Popcorn that is air popped is also the cheapest route to go! Pre-packaged non-organic popcorn is genetically modified, loaded with salt and often contains added chemicals that you just do not need. I make popcorn a few nights a week. It’s a great alternative to chips when settling in to watch a movie as it’s higher in fiber and lower in fat.

popcorn
Depending on how we’re feeling, I either make a savoury or sweet rendition:
Sweet:
1/2 cup of popcorn kernels
1 TBSP Coconut Oil
1 TBSP Butter
1 TBSP Honey (or if you prefer a sugar-free version you can use a few drops of stevia and powdered cinnamon)
Sprinkled with sea salt
*all melted together in the microwave or sauce pot

Savoury:
1/2 cup of popcorn kernels
1 TBSP Coconut Oil
1 TBSP Butter
*melt in microwave or sauce pot
Sprinkled with basil, oregano, nutritional yeast & sea salt!

I hope you enjoy these simple snack options and remember, eating smaller meals throughout the day will keep your energy level high and your metabolism humming away!

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I was first introduced to quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) 6 years ago while working at the Kootenay Co-op in Nelson, BC. This ancient grain, native to South America, has become a staple in my home ever since. It’s versatility, nutritional value and taste make it the perfect all around superfood. When comparing quinoa to other grains, meats and white rice, here’s how it stacks up:

* great source of protein
* contains all 8 essential amino acids (not the case with any other grain)
* ideal for those who suffer from digestive disorders, wheat and gluten intolerance, Celiac disease, Crohn’s disease or colitis
* helps promote weight loss, stabilize blood sugar levels and even helps to build muscle
* can be used in both savoury and sweet dishes and takes mere minutes to prepare…15-20 to be exact!
* it’s even great cold and stores in the refrigerator for up to one week
* great for pregnancy as it contributes to a healthy baby and enhances a mother’s milk production
* contains the amino acid histadine, which is necessary for human development therefore ideal for growing children
* it’s chock-full of fiber, iron and calcium among other vitamins and minerals – necessary for children and adults alike

Not only do I enjoy quinoa for its many health benefits but also because it’s great for people who have a wheat or gluten intolerance; something I have just discovered I do. My digestive system has been compromised for several years (see my previous blog post) but I was unaware of exactly what the culprit was. A recent trip to the Naturopathic Doctor and Colon Hydrotherapist have indicated that I suffer from non-celiac gluten intolerance, and in order to heal my digestive tract, I must avoid gluten all together.

Although this news did not come as a total surprise to me, regardless if you’re prepared or not it always takes time to adjust to a new way of eating and essentially, living. If you find yourself dealing with digestive discomfort, wheat or gluten intolerance or even more serious digestive diseases, quinoa is a grain I think you will appreciate.

One of my all time favourite dinner recipes –


Quinoa and Veggie Bake (from Vegetarian Times)

1/2 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cups celery tops
4-6 kale leaves, shredded
3 Tbsp. olive oil (divided)
1 medium onion
2 green onions thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill or 1/2 Tbsp. dried dill
1/4 cup feta cheese
1/4 cup grated cheese (we use white cheddar)
1 egg lightly beaten

1- Rinse quinoa in a sieve. Toast in small pot over medium heat for 1-2 minutes, or until almost dry. Add 1 cup of water, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium/low and simmer covered for 15 minutes.

2- While quinoa is cooking, prep veggies and sauté onions for 6 minutes, using 1 Tbsp of the oil. Add celery and green onions and sauté for another 2 minutes.

3- When quinoa is ready, pour 1 Tbsp. olive oil into 9-inch glass pie pan. Place in oven to heat.

4- Put shredded kale in a large bowl and then cover with the cooked quinoa. Then add the sautéed veg, dill and cheese into the bowl. Stir in egg and season with salt and pepper.

5- By now the oil in the glass pie pan should be hot. Remove from oven, ensure oil is covering the bottom, and then pour entire quinoa veggie mixture into pie pan. Bake 20 minutes, then drizzle 1 Tbsp over the top and bake 20 minutes more until golden brown.

Be sure to be on the lookout for quinoa grains on your next trip to the grocery store. They come in red, black, white or golden coloured seeds as well as ground for use as a creamy textured flour.

The majority of the information presented in this blog was taken from the cookbook “Quinoa – The Everyday Superfood 365” by Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming. This book is amazing! It’s filled with all kinds of great recipes that use quinoa as the main event for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacking options. Enjoy!

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Being a Personal Trainer, most clients approach me with the goal of losing weight.  This isn’t surprising given the rise in today’s obesity and related diseases.  There are plenty of mixed messages which confused consumers about what to eat, what to avoid and how to stay healthy.

One of the biggest culprits in that “battle of the bulge” is of course the fast food industry.  Aside from providing today’s families with quick, palatable and cost-effective meal options, fast food is of poor quality and is extremely high in sodium and sugar: two major contributing factors to many of the health related diseases we’re seeing today.  For those of you who have not seen the documentary “FOOD INC” (youtube trailer below), I highly recommend watching it.  It gives a very detailed look at the fast food and agricultural industries and may have you thinking twice about the choices you make- it did for me!

One of the easiest and basic ways to take control of your weight, besides regular exercise, is to make a weekly meal plan and cook as much as you can at home. Limit eating out to once or twice a month.  People who have a plan are less likely to grab and go and more likely to be healthier overall.  Make dinner a time of connecting with loved ones and decompressing from the events of the day.  As a kid, it was always nice to know that regardless of how busy our schedules were we always made an effort to enjoy a meal together.  I’ve carried that tradition on into my adult life and still value it to this day.

Another thing to keep in mind is when shopping at the grocery store: shop the perimeter.  This basically means that most of the foods we need and should be eating are on the outside perimeter of the store.  This includes things like fresh produce, meats, eggs, bread and dairy.  The middle of store is generally filled with processed, packaged and less healthy alternatives.  I know, I know, we still need the condiments, spices and bulk rice and pasta section but it’s those pre-packaged cereals, chips, pop and canned soups and veggies we can ultimately do without.  By providing healthy foods to your family, cooking at home and getting adequate exercise the struggle to lose that unwanted weight should begin to happen naturally.

The bottom line is there’s no magic pill or one-size-fits-all formula when it comes to losing weight.  Changing your eating habits and striving to make better choices overall is key.  By avoiding unhealthy additives such as aspartame, MSG, synthetic dies and large amounts of sodium and sugar, and eating more whole foods, our health will improve- as will our quality of life.

This is the first of a three-part series on weight loss.  Next week I will discuss the Body Mass Index scale as well as the  hip-to-waist ratio formula and it’s implications to health and disease.  The final blog will focus on the healthiest way to lose weight and keep it off.

If you have a moment, watch the trailer for “FOOD INC” right now:

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