What’s in my pantry

pantryI’d like to say I enjoy getting ideas from other people by seeing what’s in their pantry or fridge. I could also say I’m just nosy. Either way, it’s fun to see what people have stocked in their home. Let me preface the photos by saying they are from AFTER my first big grocery trip of the month when I stock up on all the meat and canned stuff we’ll use for the month. Produce varies week to week and yes… we usually have an unbelievable amount of eggs in our fridge. As the week goes by the fridge becomes empty and we rely on frozen veggies until I restock the fridge.

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Fridge
I cut up lots and lots of veggies to make packing lunches easier during the week. Besides the condiments on the door shelves you’ll usually find (when we’re not eating by Whole30 rules) full fat plain yogurt, cottage cheese, some type of block cheese, more eggs than you’d ever imagine in a fridge for two people (both hardboiled and raw), leftovers, a big container of organic spring mix, meat from our deep freezer that I’m thawing for dinner, hummus, and lots of veggies from the wholesale market we love. That jar on the bottom shelf with the red lid- that’s black bean garlic sauce. If you’ve never tried it you need to go buy it and make our #1 favorite meal. The takeout container on the top shelf contains canned veggies like beets and artichokes; it makes throwing a salad together a quicker process.

Photo: Time seems to be our biggest obstacle when it comes to healthy eating...</p>
<p>Here's my secret to getting more veggies into my diet:</p>
<p> Cut up a bunch of them at once for easy access. It will make packing lunches easier and you can toss a few in with your eggs in the morning. I always keep frozen veggies on hand for when my fridge stash gets low.

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Pantry
Our pantry is stocked with homemade strawberry jelly, our favorite food- PEANUT BUTTER, trail mix, baking staples, broth, various types of canned tomatoes, unsweetened shredded coconut, garlic, olives, tea, sweet potatoes, onions, canned tuna, salmon, chicken, other canned veggies, and nuts. We don’t do snacks you might think of like chips, crackers, etc. Our snacks usually consist of fruit, cheese, nuts, yogurt, or veggies & hummus.

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Freezer
I’ve already covered this when I shared about our handy deep freezer so you can head over to that article if you want to see what’s in there.

What foods do you always keep your home?

 

Grocery cost infographic and a $200 giveaway

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How much would these 12 items cost in your grocery store?

1 pound of bananas
1 dozen eggs
1 pound spaghetti
1 gallon of milk
24 oz cheddar cheese
1 pound of ground beef
1 tube of Colgate toothpaste
1 four-pack of Charmin toilet paper
1 pound of butter
1 loaf of bread

Anne from Money Propeller pulled together the prices of these groceries from 12 different areas around North America to see who’s paying the most and least. I came in 2nd cheapest (urban Michigan) for the total bill of all 12 items! How do you compare?

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Whole30 Week 3 Update

Whole30 week 3Whole 30 week 3 is complete! Here’s a recap of the week and I’ve included what I ate. Be sure to check out my Week 1 & Week 2 updates as well as the prepwork I did to make this a successful challenge. If you want to see daily posts and more on Whole30 stuff you can check in on my Facebook page.

I forgot to take pictures quite a few times this week because the meals were just so good! I haven’t had one Whole30 recipe I found on my Whole30 Pinterest board that I didn’t love so head over there if you want to drool over photos of the stuff I ate.

What we ate: Week 3

Snacks
Since added sugar is out I got creative with my snacks. Aside from veggies and Sweet potato hummus I have been loving frozen blueberries microwaved with half of a peach diced up then I top it off with cinnamon and walnuts. It’s a winner in my book. I made another batch of sweet potato bites and kept my big bowl of veggies stocked with carrots, cucumbers, jicama, bell peppers, and broccoli to go with homemade sweet potato hummus.

Breakfast
Breakfast is my favorite meal and as usual, eggs make their appearance on a daily basis with plenty of veggies. I’ve mainly been cooking with coconut oil since butter is out for Whoel30. Peaches are in season right now so occasionally I enjoyed a juicy peach.

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Lunch
Lunches usually involve leftovers but when there weren’t enough for both of us I’d make something like…
- Tuna salad made with homemade mayo
- Leftover taco meat from dinner with sauteed veggies.
- More big fat PFC salads with homemade balsamic vinaigrette
- Baked sweet potato with almond butter & hard boiled eggs with other veggies.

We ran out of almond butter halfway through the week so instead of driving to Costco just for almond butter I thought I could find it at our local grocery store. Wrong. I went to two grocery stores close to my home and all the almond butter they carried had processed oils added sugar. Read your labels, folks. I ended up getting sunbutter since the two ingredients were sunflower seeds and salt.

almond butter ingredient list

Dinners

Day 15
We attended a surprise birthday part for our friend Sush and since we didn’t know what spread would be there I brought some leftover Moroccan chicken from Monday night. I also brought deviled eggs made with our homemade mayo. There was a huge watermelon and a veggie tray to supplement our dinner but we had to pass on the birthday cake.

Day 16
Shrimp seasoned with a chipotle lime rub from Wildtree and some stir fry veggies. This was our dinner before another potluck and I’m glad we ate beforehand because all we could have at this one was asparagus and another batch of deviled eggs I made. We missed out on some good lookin’ pulled pork sandwiches.

Day 17
Mahi mahi seasoned with leftover olive oil dip from the Moroccan chicken. I also made some baked acorn squash and sauteed zucchini.

Day 18
A hodge podge consisting of ground beef seasoned with homemade taco seasoning, scrambled eggs, guacamole, and sauteed zucchini, broccoli, green beans, and bell peppers. I added some sunshine sauce to my veggies and ohhh my it’s my new favorite thing to do. It’s got a good zip and offers a nice change from salt & pepper although I’m perfectly happy with those two on my veggies. Again, veggies are sauteed in coconut oil.

veggies in sunshine sauce

Day 19|
Repeat of day 18. It’s easier to make extra of whatever recipe I choose so that I don’t have to cook a full meal two days in a row.

Day 20
I made 3 pounds of slow cooker kalua pig to share with Dave’s parents while they were in town for the day. OH MY WORD this was so good. **Important note: I only had to leave it in my slow cooker on low for 8 hours, not 16 like the recipe says. I stuck a meat thermometer in it before we left for church just to check on it and the meat simply fell apart. No fork shredding needed. I pulled the shoulder blade out with my fingers and not a lick of meat stayed on it. This was so good. Unfortunately I didn’t make it with bacon because it was impossible to find any bacon that didn’t have any added sugar. I sauteed a couple pounds of green beans to go with our baked sweet potatoes.

Day 21
Hodge podge scramble (we love these) of eggs, organic all beef hot dogs, a can of diced tomatoes, and frozen spinach.

Overall
This week was an “easy” week in my opinion. Dave and I are still looking forward to having peanut butter, yogurt, and ICE CREAM again but we haven’t snapped and feel like we need them lately. Instead of counting what day we are on we jokingly go by how many days left until we have ice cream. I like how Dave explained Whole30 when a friend asked what it involved. “Whole foods, you know, like whole donuts- not donut holes.”

On to week 4! We are almost through!

Random question: If you could only eat one food forever, what would it be?

Whole30 Week 2 Update

salmon nicoiseWhole 30 week 2 is complete as of Monday! I’ll share ups and downs from this week as well as what we ate. You can see my Week 1 update and if you haven’t read about the prepwork we did to make this a successful challenge you can do so here.

Fresh bread at Eataly

The good
We did well for having a potluck with friends and taking a trip to Chicago to visit our aunt. We even visited the Hershey store and didn’t buy anything! I’m not sure if over-sniffing the air caused any sugar intake but it was satisfying. We walked through an amazing place called Eataly where there were all sorts of freshly baked bread, meats, cheeses, and handmade pastas but of course dairy and grains are a no-no for the Whole30 challenge so we just got to observe.

Attending the potluck with friends made me realize how poor my self-control usually is at potlucks! I had to pass on some delicious brownies and cookies but if I wasn’t being mindful of what I’m eating I probably would have eaten 3 of each. I knew it wasn’t likely that there would be enough food to provide a Whole30-approved dinner so we ate beforehand and snacked on some watermelon someone brought. I was thankful we ate beforehand because everything was off limits for us! Cookies, brownies, a loaf of fresh bread, banana bread, mac & cheese…

The not-so-good
Calcium… You don’t have to get it from dairy since it’s found in dark leafy greens, almonds, sesame seeds, sardines, and other foods but we just didn’t eat enough of it. I entered my first week of eats into MyFitnessPal to see how I did on getting enough vitamins & minerals. I did pretty well but calcium took a hit only averaging 40-50% of my daily needs. Good thing I’m taking a multivitamin to bridge that gap! I tried to add more calcium-rich foods to my meals for week 2.

Sneaky sugars
Sugar hides in so many things! I didn’t want to burden our aunt with accommodating our specific dietary needs but thankfully she eats mostly whole foods and avoids added sugar and grains so it wasn’t that difficult. What snuck up on me was the small stuff. I dipped a shrimp in cocktail sauce and ate it before I remembered there’s sugar in cocktail sauce! My aunt threw a salad together for lunch one day and I didn’t realize until the next day that there was Parmesan in the salad and the chicken & onions were sauteed in a little wine. We ordered jerky and toasted nuts as an appetizer at a restaurant and the almonds ended up being candied so I had to pass on them. I also had bacon with a burger I ordered and since I never found a bacon that did NOT have sugar as an ingredient I’m sure this bacon contained sugar.

What I ate: Week 2
Snacks
I packed plenty of hard-boiled eggs, sweet potato bites, and raw veggies for our 4-hour drive plus enough for snacks throughout the weekend. I also made a smoothie with random things I had on hand at home- canned pumpkin, raspberries, blueberries, pumpkin pie spice, and coconut milk. It turned out to be really good!

smoothie with pumpkin, raspberries, blueberries, and coconut milk

Breakfast
Guess! We only had scrambled eggs the first morning. I had hard-boiled eggs the other two days with a couple sweet potato bites, fruit, and nuts.

Lunch
Before I left for Chicago I was making big ‘ol PFC salads with my homemade dressing for lunch. We had some coconut chicken curry stew I made a big batch of last month for lunch one day and had dinner leftovers various times. I also made some firecracker tuna salad to pack in Dave’s lunch and for myself. It had a spicy bite but was delicious to scoop with carrot sticks.

Salmon nicoise salad from Nordstrom

I didn’t know Nordstrom in Chicago had a cafe but I enjoyed a mouthwatering salmon nicoise salad that came with kalamata olives, capers, grape tomatoes, green beans, and a balsamic vinaigrette. I asked for no potatoes on the salad. We made our own lunch at my aunt’s while in Chicago and it was usually a salad with various veggies, chicken, and olive oil + balsamic vinegar.

Dinner

Crockpot rotisserie chicken

Day 8: My first attempt at making rotisserie chicken in the crock pot! It was so moist and delicious. I even made my own poultry seasoning with dried herbs I had on hand.

Day 9: Pad Thai with the leftover rotisserie chicken. Instead of noodles I used cabbage and instead of any peanuts I tossed it in sunshine sauce (my new favorite sauce!!)

Pad thai

Day 10: Leftover pad thai

Day 11: Baked salmon with asparagus and a salad tossed in olive oil & balsamic vinegar, apples, fennel, and nectarines.

farmhouse burger and kale salad

Day 12: 100% grass-fed burger without the bun topped with mushrooms & bacon with a side of sauteed kale & mushrooms cooked in olive oil instead of butter. I also had the house-made jerky as an appetizer. The restaurant (Farmhouse) had super dim lighting; sorry for the poor quality pic. It was really good and the waiter was very patient with my high maintenance requests.

Day 13: Scrambled eggs with chorizo and a boatload of sauteed spinach.

Day 14: Moroccan chicken with lots of stir fry veggies (Costco has a huge 5.5 pound bag of stir fry veggies for $7.50. I use it for every breakfast and a lot of dinners).

Overall
I think this week went well despite the unintentional hiccups mentioned. I’m fine with pressing on with the next 15 days and am giving myself grace for my hiccups rather than starting over. This challenge is more about mindful eating for me rather than perfectly following the diet. I’m halfway done!

What is your favorite go-to recipe for dinner?

Whole30 Week 1 Update

veggies & eggsMission Whole30 week 1 is in the books; we are now 25% of the way through the Whole30 program! If you haven’t read about the prepwork we did to make this a successful month you can do so here.

Here’s what’s been happening…

Mummy dogs
Dave and I both went through a regret phase where we vocalized all the foods we wished we could have. Let me tell you how ridiculous it got:
We took a long holiday weekend up north (that’s Northern Michigan for you non-Michigan folk) with some friends and were all gathered around a bonfire one night. When someone said “dry ice” this mental tangent occurred: “I went to a Halloween party in 4th grade where they had dry ice by all the food. There were mummy dogs at that party (mini hot dogs wrapped in a croissant)… man I would love a mummy dog right now.” I probably haven’t had a mummy dog since that party but since it was on the no-list I simply craved it.

Georgina's Vaca Frita

Vacation with friends
Aside from craving a mummy dog, I did well for being surrounded by friends and their snacks. I even ate out successfully! We ate at Georgina’s in Traverse City and I ordered the Vaca Frita- pulled flank steak and Spanish onions seared hard in infused garlic oil. It came with rice & beans but I had them swap it for their vinegar-based coleslaw sides instead. I still think about how delicious that meal was. Oh my word.

I had to make sure we had Whole30-approved food for the entire weekend which was a bit of a nuisance at times since we often cooked meals for all 6 of us.

Brats anyone?
No, sorry, there’s carageenan and corn syrup in them. We’ll stick with burgers.

Eggs for breakfast?
Go ahead and make your own. We have to cook ours in olive oil instead of butter.

I did have some eggs that were cooked in butter when a plate of scrambled eggs was ready for me when I woke up. That would be my slip up but I’m not starting the Whole30 program over. Sorry.

I didn’t plan ahead with this either but Dave’s birthday was June 28th and I got him a bottle of Woodford Reserve with some cool whiskey rocks. Happy birthday! Now don’t drink it for a month. What a mean wife…

eggs, veggies, and avocado

Breakfast
The only thing that changed from my usual breakfast is that I cook my eggs & veggies in coconut oil or ghee instead of butter. Thank goodness I still get my eggs. This is my favorite meal of the day.

sweet potato hummus

giant salad

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Lunch
Dave always has a PBJ with his lunch. He usually has a yogurt, tuna is mixed with store-bought mayo, and he dips his veggies in hummus. Therefore, we had to get a little more creative with his lunch. I started packing homemade mayo I’d season with various herbs but it wasn’t that great. Then I found a recipe for sweet potato hummus and fell in love.
I’ve been making giant salads- homemade balsamic vinaigrette first followed by the toppings. That way the dressing stays on the bottom until he’s ready to eat and keeps it from being a soggy mess. I’ve been putting organic mixed greens, artichokes, beets, walnuts, half of an avocado, and some form of protein like tuna or chicken. I add two eggs on top just because they fit in the container; he usually eats those as a mid-morning snack with a piece of fruit. Other items in the lunch include leftovers and some raw veggies with sweet potato hummus. I’ve also made chicken or tuna salad with homemade mayo, raisins, and pecans. Since I don’t need to pack my lunch, it’s been a giant salad with all the PFC+Whole30-approved fixins.

homemade mayo

Dinner
Here’s what we ate for Week 1 of Whole30 starting with Tuesday, July 1st:

garbage stir fry by NomNom Paleo

Day 1: Garbage stir fry
I also added shredded carrots to ours. Since I didn’t have curry on hand I made my own with this recipe.

Day 2: leftover stir fry
Easy night for me!

Day 3: Grilled sirloin steak with mushrooms & onions, asparagus, and some homemade tomatillo salsa

Day 4: Grilled ribeye steak with tomatillo salsa, grapes, and a baked sweet potato with almond butter

Day 5: Burgers on the grill topped with fresh guacamole, a fried egg, tomato, lettuce, and sauteed mushrooms & onions. I had some watermelon too.

Day 6: Taco salad- ground beef with homemade taco seasoning, mixed greens, tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, and a sweet potato on the side.

Day 7: Quiche made with eggs, chorizo, and spinach with a side of really good sweet potato hash. No recipe for the quiche; just whisk 6 eggs together, pour on top of ingredients, bake at 375 for 35 minutes. Tada!

quiche and sweet potato hash

Snacks
You’re technically not supposed to have snacks on the Whole30 program buuuuut I’m not a fan of 3 big meals a day so in order to avoid HANGRY Jess I planned ahead so I could continue my normal eating habits every 3-4 hours. I made a big batch of mini sweet potato muffins (I skipped the vanilla and used almond butter instead of peanut butter) and we also had fresh blueberries or bananas with hardboiled eggs for other snack ideas.

sweet potato muffins

Week 1 = success
Despite the challenge of being surrounded by food we couldn’t have during our holiday weekend I’d say this week was a success. They say it gets better after the first week so we’ll see if that rings true after a weekend trip to Chicago and NOT having Chicago-style deep dish pizza…

All of the recipes I’m using for this month plus extras are pinned on my Whole30 board on Pinterest if you care to take a gander. Get sneak peeks of week 2 on my Facebook page.

Have you done Whole30 before? What was the hardest part of the program?

Whole30 preparation

meal planningDave and I are taking on the Whole30 challenge for the month of July. In a nutshell, Whole30 involves eliminating grains, legumes, dairy, and added sugars from your diet. To save space in this post, here are the rules if you want to learn more about Whole30.

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Why am I doing Whole30?
As a dietitian, I hate diets. The reason I chose to do Whole30 is because, I will humbly admit, I am a dietitian but I am also human. When a sweet tooth marries a sweet tooth you better believe Dave and I will take one of EACH dessert at a potluck and summertime is prime time for potlucks & barbeques. I’m approaching this month as a mindful-eating challenge. Aside from eliminating grains, legumes, and dairy (which I don’t believe is necessary unless you find you actually have an intolerance), the Whole30 plan is very similar to what I preach. I advocate the PFC approach, not counting calories.

Should you try Whole30?
I think if you want to try Whole30, go for it. You might find out you have a mild intolerance to certain foods and it will help you feel better in the long run. It might help you beat your addiction to sugar. It will definitely raise your awareness of all the sugar hidden in foods. It might help you learn better eating habits. Just remember, whatever you choose should be approached as a lifestyle change, not a quick fix.

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Prepwork
You can’t expect to accomplish any goal without some prepwork. For me that involved finding recipes, creating a rough meal plan, and making a grocery list. I usually plan a week at a time so it wasn’t too difficult to just plan for the month. I wrote out a rough draft of what meals we could have for dinner and if they’d make enough leftovers for either lunch the next day and/or dinner. I also made a note on the day I needed to pull something from the freezer so it would be thawed and ready to go on the day it would be cooked. I did all my grocery shopping a couple days before July started and stocked our deep freezer with all the meat we’d need. Produce was the only thing I’d have to pick up each week aside from frozen or canned veggies. Sundays/Mondays are my usual prep days where I chop up a ton of veggies and make whatever sauces I needed for the week (since hummus and store-bought mayo are not allowed).

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Challenges
I’m naturally a label reader because I know companies always try to sneak ingredients I don’t want into my food. This part was tough because that darn sugar shows up in so many things! I wanted to add some jerk seasoning to our burgers… cane vinegar (sugar). I looked high and low for bacon not made with sugar, even at Whole Foods… nope. Too many things also contained carageenan (a thickening agent) or MSG. You think you’re just buying some plain chicken drumsticks… carageenan.

Total cost
Many people think eating healthy is expensive. I’m saving my receipts and will show you how we plan to stick to a budget of $350 for the entire month. That even includes grass-fed/pastured/wild-caught/organic protein sources and restocking items I was running low on like on spices, coconut oil, olive oil, and bulk items from Costco.

Updates to come
I’ll share weekly updates with meals we made, challenges we faced, and other tidbits along the way. I’m also starting a workout program called PiYo on July 7th with my friend Hannah and a bunch of other women who want to hold each other accountable so you will be seeing some updates from that as well. You can wait for those updates or you can follow my Facebook page to see photos of the meals and recipes as we make them.

Have you ever tried the Whole30 program? How was your experience?

Homemade balsamic vinaigrette in one minute

After reading this recipe you’re going to say to yourself “That’s all it takes? I’ve been overpaying for dressing made with cheap oil and unnecessary additives this whole time?!” Salads are a wonderful thing because you can have so much variety. The basic structure I use for a salad is PFC: Protein + fat + carbs. For more details on how to eat PFC, start here. Dressing would contribute to the “F” in your PFC salad and one of my favorite dressings is balsamic vinaigrette. I love balsamic vinaigrette but what I don’t love is the long list of ingredients in the store-bought dressing. 20140624-124601-45961000.jpg Here’s what you get in store-bought Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing (Example below is the Newman’s Own brand; info & photo obtained from their website) Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing Vegetable Oil (Canola Oil and/or Soybean Oil, Extra Virgin Olive Oil), Water, Balsamic Vinegar, Distilled Vinegar, Sugar, Salt, Garlic, , Spice, Onion, Red Bell Pepper, Xanthan Gum, Paprika (For Color)  While you may have been told that canola oil is a healthy oil because of the type of fat in it, the processing phase basically ruins those good properties. Also, canola and soybean oil are super cheap to manufacture so you will likely find them in every store-bought dressing you purchase. Even if the package boasts that it’s “made with extra virgin olive oil” it will likely be the 2nd ingredient following the processed oil (like the Newman’s Own above) . Do yourself a favor and make your own dressing. It will take you 5 seconds to read the recipe and a minute to make it. 

Homemade balsamic vinaigrette

Optional ingredients you can play around with: shallots, garlic, dijon mustard, ground mustard, red wine vinegar

Ingredients

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • Fresh ground pepper

Instructions

  1. Use a 3:1 ratio for olive oil to vinegar (ex: 1 cup olive oil + 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar)
  2. Shake or stir vigorously just prior to pouring on salad.
  3. That's it.
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http://www.budgetforhealth.com/homemade-balsamic-vinaigrette-one-minute/
20140624-124602-45962869.jpgI used to keep my dressing in a mason jar but it gets messy when you pour it. Now I simply use an empty bottle with a no-mess pour spout and pour my homemade balsamic vinaigrette dressing in there. My dressing is currently stored in the balsamic vinegar bottle pictured above. Easy peasy and no mess. What’s your favorite dressing?