Tag Archives: produce

Let’s Talk Food

18 Apr

I have a confession — I have not been eating well at all. Dinners out galore (not good for my waistline OR my wallet), lots of beer and cocktails, and out of control snacking has made my weight go up a bit lately. Usually I just don’t worry about the scale at all — I focus on how my clothes fit, but those are also a bit tight so the time has come to do something about it.

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The problem is motivation. While my motivation to work out hasn’t waned (much), my motivation to eat the right way has been nil. The warmer weather brings lots of hang outs with friends, which usually include alcoholic beverages and food.

However, one definite good thing is that I am devouring produce like crazy lately.

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Especially tomatoes and avocados. I’ve really missed them over the winter! If you’re looking for a new way to enjoy an egg sandwich, mashing an avocado on one half and slicing a tomato on the other half is perfection, I tell ya.

But here’s the thing: I need more help than just adding healthy things back into my diet. I need to cut back on the fatty foods, and my portion sizes. I’m about to make another confession and I hope you don’t judge me. Last night, when I got home from work (late), Zach wasn’t home. Since I didn’t have anyone to cook a healthy meal for, I decided to make myself some macaroni and cheese.

Bad idea.

I really like macaroni and cheese. I can’t control myself around it. I made it and thought, “I can have the leftovers for lunch tomorrow!” — there weren’t any leftovers.

Yep, I ate 990 delicious calories of macaroni and cheese. Now, I’m not beating myself up over it — today is a new day — but I did feel awful the rest of the night because I was way too full. No lean protein, no veggies. Just enriched white macaroni covered in salty cheese. Yuck! I think it was the push I needed — I decided to start Weight Watchers, again. But this time I’m doing it right! I actually signed up online and paid the $60 for 3 months. I know I’ll stick with it if my money is on the line.

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So, I started tracking today. I’m feeling better already! Plus, I probably will love it when I fit into my wedding dress in 5 months 🙂

Question of the Day:
Have you ever eaten an entire box of macaroni and cheese? Please tell me I’m not alone. 

 

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A Long Run and Sunday Eats

20 Aug

I slept so well last night.

Like, the best night’s sleep I’ve had in a very long time.

I did not wake up during the night one time. I did wake up at 5:45 AM long enough to decide that I’m going to be keeping Monday as a rest day, and then rolled right back over and went to sleep until Zach’s alarm went off at 7. Ahh, sweet relief!

I’m in a great mood today, because we have officially entered the period of time which it is appropriate to count down to vacation! Although, in the interest of full disclosure, I’ve really been counting down since August began. I really can’t wait, and I have a few vacation related blog post ideas formulating in my mind.

Yesterday was long run day, and I had such a great run! I took a ton of pictures:

From left – right: Me taking a break near my favorite water fountain, my favorite view, and my nemesis/lucky charm, the Muscovy duck that lives in the park where I run. I would have gotten closer to him to take a photo, but I harbor a healthy fear of him, so that’s all you get.

Backtracking a bit, I thought I’d share my meals from yesterday with you. Prior to heading out for my run, I had some greek yogurt with granola and “fruit” (it was really just fruit syrup):

I also had some instant coffee (still no coffee pot), which is surprisingly not bad. I followed it all up with a glass of water and a probiotic (I’m going to do a probiotic post soon, because I’m loving them!) and caught up with some magazines while my food digested.

I had a great run, as I mentioned. My training plan called for 6 miles, but I had to pause my CardioTrainer app (which was tracking my miles) at one point because some guy and I were running a ridiculously similar pace. It was awkward, so I stopped and pulled over to let him go ahead a bit. Apparently I forgot to restart the app, because I didn’t notice it until much later. I estimated I had ran about a mile or so, so I just added an extra loop on at the end of my run just in case I was shorting myself. Well, when I got home, I logged on to Map My Run and I had done 6.81 miles! To be honest, I could have kept running too, so that felt great.

I had planned to make brunch for me and Zach when I got back, but he decided to go golfing with his dad, so I whipped up some lunch for myself. I was surprised that I wasn’t famished right after my run like I usually am, I guess the yogurt/granola combo is a winner for staying power. I’ll have to remember that come half-marathon race day.

I bought some local tofu at the Wild Ramp market which I really wanted to try. I’ll tell you this: I’m never buying any other tofu again. This tofu had the best consistency, I only had to press it for 5 minutes, and I was able to cook it without the tofu breaking up and turning into a scramble. Even when I buy extra-firm at the grocery store, it doesn’t have the firm texture I’d like. I made the Cast Iron Tofu  using Caitlin’s method (Healthy Tipping Point is hands down one of my favorite blogs!), added it to some sauteed Kale and served it over Ramen noodles. Yes, Ramen noodles! I’ll admit I love ’em.

I don’t know if I’ll ever cook tofu another way again. It was so crispy on the outside! I love the texture of tofu, so I left the cubes to be kind of on the large side, but if you made them smaller this would be even crispier. I had a few strawberries on the side also. All of the meals I had yesterday had amazing staying power, and this was no exception. I was full for a long time after I chowed this down.

I went to a 5:30 yoga for runner’s class (which was incredible!) Our instructor focused on the Piriformis, which is a muscle in your glute area. It’s a deep muscle that is hard to stretch, but we sure did stretch it. In fact, I didn’t even know that mine was tight until we started stretching it out. My legs feel  great today! I’m on a budget, so I don’t know if I can afford to shell out the $8 a week to go to this class, but I think I’ll try to make it at least a monthly thing.

After yoga, it was late and we had movie plans with friends, so I whipped together a quick dinner. Earlier in the day, I had made a batch of Indian Curry veggie burgers from the No-Meat Althlete veggie burger formula (found here.) So, burgers it was:

This was an amazing veggie burger! I basically just used the recipe at the end of that post for the Indian Patties, but I didn’t have chickpeas so I used Great Northern instead. Also, I subbed carrots and yellow squash as my veggies. Yum! I made it a double decker because I was quite hungry. Add some baked french fries (yay, health!) and some steamed broccoli w/ a bit of shredded cheddar and it was a yummy meal. I decided to put a dollop of plain yogurt on my burger, and it was a very good decision. After dinner, I was ready for some dessert, so I had a frozen greek yogurt bar (flavor: blueberry), and it was delicious.

It was a great day for food at my house, and I didn’t realize how much yogurt I ate yesterday until I typed it all up. I swear, that isn’t typical!

Question of the day:
What is the best thing you’ve eaten recently? 

Making do with what I have…

16 Aug

Recently I finally made it to the new local food market in my town: The Wild Ramp.

I wish I had taken photos, but here is how it works. The Wild Ramp is a locally owned, non-profit market. All the produce is local (it seems that the farthest anything had travelled was Athens, OH), and most of the people who work there are volunteers. The produce is grouped by farm, so there may be, for example, tomatoes on several different tables. When you pick out produce, you also have to take a bar code sticker to the register so they will know which farm you are buying from. The best part: $0.90/$1.00 goes directly to the farmer, as opposed to buying local produce at the grocery store, where maybe $0.20-$0.30/$1.00 goes to the farmer.

Click on this image (from the wild ramp blog) to be directed to their blog.

The most surprising thing that I found was that it wasn’t all produce. There was locally made tofu, veggie burgers, local eggs (they have a place in the front where you can donate your used egg cartons), even local meat! I bought some local tofu, I can’t wait to try it!

I also bought some tomatoes and peppers, and a few other things I can’t mention because they went to my Foodie Pen Pal this month.

For $50 and 1 volunteer hour per month, you can become a “Friend of the Market”, which I absolutely plan on doing. The perk (although, I think the real perk is helping to support a sustainable local resource for healthy food) is that you can call ahead and have your food ready to pick up when you stop by. You also get a subscription to their newsletter. I can’t tell you how excited I am to have this resource so close by! Huntington, WV is really moving up in the healthy food game. I wish Jamie Oliver could see us now!

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In other news, my training this week is going well. I’ve had two really good runs in a row, so I  think I’m bouncing back from whatever was holding me back last week. Also, I had a really good night sleep last night, although I don’t know if the reason I slept well is particularly healthy:

After work, Zach and I went grocery shopping. Once I got home and got my run out of the way, we had some dinner and rather than clean the kitchen, I asked Zach if he wanted to go out for a drink. We decided to head over to a nearby bar which has a really nice patio and a couple of our friends were already there. Once we sat down, more and more friends kept showing up! It was a really nice evening, but I stayed up too late and had a few too many drinks. So I think maybe the sleeping well had more to do with being a little tipsy than actual, quality sleep. But it felt great, so that’s that.

Last night made me really look forward to my upcoming beach trip. Everyone who was at the bar last night will be at the beach except for one person, and it made me think about how much I’m going to enjoy sitting on the patio of our beach house, listening to the ocean and talking with my good friends. Just 7 more work days to go!

This morning, because I still don’t have a coffee pot, I made instant coffee from a sample that I got from Taster’s Choice, and it’s not bad! How’s that for making do with what I have?

Question of the day:
What’s your local source for fresh produce? 

Financial Fitness #3: Groceries on a budget

31 Jul

Good morning! Did you see Missy Franklin win the gold in the 100 backstroke yesterday!? Wow!

I just love her.

As I said yesterday, the AC wasn’t working and it was miserable, but I refused to let it get me down. I think I was rewarded for my positive attitude, because we ended up closing at noon and I got a half day off! It was much appreciated, as I got a lot done. The AC still isn’t fully functioning, but I’m going to keep up with the positive attitude and hopefully good things will come to me.

Let’s talk about saving money at the grocery store. Other than living expenses, most people spend the largest chunk of their income on food (or at least I do!) So it stands to reason that you want to try to save as much money as possible. Healthy living on a budget, however, can be tricky. If you watch ‘Extreme Couponing’, you know that most of the people on that show aren’t buying produce and whole grains. Which is why I’m going to make kind of a bold statement: Coupons don’t work. 

I hope you are still with me. I know it’s an unpopular sentiment, but I’ve been working toward saving money on my grocery bill and I’ve tried clipping coupons for some time. I’ll tell you that, at least the way I shop, most coupons are completely worthless. Now, this isn’t a hard and fast rule — I’ll get to the exceptions in a few minutes — but generally, this is how it goes: Recently, I had a coupon for $1 off 2 Ortega products. We have tacos at least once a week at my house so I found this coupon to be quite a good find. I brought it to the store every single time, but I realized I never used it. Why? Because buying the store-brand version of salsa and whole wheat tortillas was cheaper than buying the equivalent of the Ortega products and using the coupon. Here’s the thing: Coupons are a marketing technique, not a money-saving tool. Ortega is counting on me not realizing that buying a cheaper brand is more cost-efficient than using their coupon.

Editors note: I actually just had a Twitter conversation with a friend about this, and I think as far as couponing goes, it matters where you live. None of my local grocery stores double coupons, and store brands are relatively cheap, so take my coupon disdain with a grain of salt. 

Now, exceptions. I’m not sure if all grocery stores do this, but my grocery store chain (Kroger) has a loyalty card program (as most everywhere does now), and occasionally they will send me coupons on the items that I most often purchase. These coupons are invaluable. Usually I’ll get a coupon for a free pint of cherry tomatoes, or a free frozen vegetable as well, so that’s always exciting.

So, if coupons don’t work, how do we save money at the grocery store? Well, here, with photos are my favorite ways to save money on food:

1. Store brand items are usually the cheapest
Ok, this is isn’t the most surprising thing I’ll say, I’m sure. Usually, even if I have a coupon, it’s cheaper for me to buy the “Kroger” brand items. However, sometimes, you feel very strongly about a particular brand, but if you save money where you can, you don’t have to worry about spending a little more on the name-brand items. I love Frank’s Red Hot, but I’m obsessed with Sriracha, so I settle for the $1.49 Kroger brand hot sauce and splurge on Sriracha. It evens out.

Confession: These hot dog buns totally have high-fructose corn syrup, but we don’t eat hot dogs all that often. Oh well.

2. Sometimes buying in bulk isn’t the cheapest way to do things
Yesterday, I was at the store and I knew we were out of ketchup. Zach loves ketchup, and won’t let me buy the store brand — it’s Heinz or nothing. I noticed that the 40 oz. ketchup was $2.18, and the double pack of 50 oz ketchup was $6.98. So, basically, I’m paying $0.05/oz for the smaller size, and $0.07/oz for the larger size. Right, it’s only 2 cents, but think about it. For that particular trip, I saved $2.62 by buying 2 40 oz bottles of ketchup instead of that double “value” pack. 10 oz of ketchup just isn’t worth the immediate extra expense. Sometimes, it’s ok to save your money now, rather than ‘stocking up’. As with anything, there are exceptions  to the rule, but a good idea is to bring a calculator with you to the grocery store. If you calculate the cost per unit of things, you can usually figure out if you’re getting a good deal or not. I just use my cell phone’s calculator.

Really, how much ketchup do you need?

3. Pre-packaged greens are not worth it.
Unless you just really enjoy throwing money away, try to avoid buying pre-bagged, pre-washed produce. Especially Kale! I can’t imagine why anyone would buy pre-chopped Kale — it’s the easiest thing to wash and chop in the world, and a huge bunch that will last me a week is less than a dollar. The pre-bagged stuff is almost $4! Absurd. Exception: Manager’s Special. Sometimes, at my local grocery store, produce will get marked down significantly when it is close to expiring. As someone who eats their weight in produce weekly, it’s no problem for me to consume this reduced produce before it goes bad.

My $1 Kale and pre-packaged, pre-washed green leaf lettuce for $1.88 on special

4. Consider going to more than one store
I know. This is not what you wanted to hear. Trust me, I fought it for quite some time. But, I realized that shopping at more than one store really increases my savings (increasing savings sounds awkward, no?). Usually I’ll go to the local discount store for produce, dairy and spices and then head to Kroger for the rest of my shopping trip. It’s important for me to go to the discount store first, because the produce, dairy and spices are cheaper, but also because they don’t always have everything I need. The discount store I go to is Aldi, and they really have great deals on produce. Between Aldi, discount produce at Kroger and the Farmer’s Market, I can keep my produce costs pretty low.

I got apples, bananas, peppers, tomatoes, a few spices, cottage cheese, string cheese and a few other items at Aldi for $15.

5. Meal plan and make a list
Maybe I saved the best for last, but this is the single most important thing you can do, besides always eating before you go to the store. Plan your meals out for the week, make a list and stick with it. Also, try not to run back to the store. If you are missing an ingredient, unless it’s crucial (if you plan, you won’t be missing crucial ingredients), make do with what you have.

If you follow these five simple rules, you will see a vast improvement in your grocery bill.

Question of the Day:
What are your best money-saving tricks for the grocery store?