Sunday, August 5, 2012

Burgers and fries, healthified!

Who doesn’t love the ol’ faithful meal of a burger and fries?! Although people insist that a value menu meal is cheaper than anything you can make it home, I have a quick, easy and healthier alternative - Quinoa Burgers and Zucchini Fries!

Quinoa Burgers
1c cooked quinoa
¼ c shredded carrots
2 green onions, sliced
¾ c black beans, drained and rinsed
¼ c Italian seasoned bread crumbs
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1/2 egg, lightly beaten

Mash together (or use the food processor) cooked quinoa,  beans, breadcrumbs, egg, salt, and pepper until combined but still slightly chunky. Mix in carrots, green onions, and additional seasonings.  Form into 2 patties. In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium; cook burgers until browned, about 8 minutes per side.
Put these patties on a whole grain bun, add your favorite condiments, and boom, quick and yummy burgers!
Makes 2 servings. Price: $0.75/serving
Nutrition information: 300 calories, 5g fat, 52g carbohydrate, 9 g fiber, 14g fiber
Baked Zucchini Fries
1 lb zucchini
1/2 c Italian seasoned bread crumbs
2 T grated parmesan cheese
1 egg
Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Whisk 2 eggs together and set aside. Cut zucchini into strips. Dip zucchini sticks in egg and roll in bread crumbs with parmesan cheese. Place strips on baking sheet. Lightly spray strips with non-stick cooking spray (optional). Bake for 10-12 minutes. Flip and bake for another 10-12 minutes until crisp and golden brown.
Makes 4 servings. Price per serving: $0.50
Nutrition Info: 93 calories, 2g fat, 14g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 5g protein
Talk: A value meal burger and fries is $2. This meal is still cheaper than that! The nutrition comparison is pretty obvious too, so why not try and make the swap! 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Starbucks Fix for Cheap

Who doesn’t love Starbucks…well the drinks, not the price.  Starbucks is definitely an occasional treat, but doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy some of my favorite drinks at home. Check out how quickly you can whip up a glass of Passion Tea Lemonade or a Frappuccino for a fraction of the price!

Passion Tea Lemonade
8 packets of Passion Tea
8c water
3-4 Crystal Light Lemonade on-the-go sticks
Directions: Boil water in a pot (or tea kettle). Add packets and let steep then cool. Pour into a 2qt pitcher and add lemonade packets. Stir.

Makes 4 16oz servings.
Nutrition Information: 5 calories
Cost per serving = $0.62

½ c chilled strong coffee (1c water + 2T ground coffee)
2 ½ T instant vanilla pudding – (sugar-free and fat-free will save some cals)
1c skim milk
2 c ice
Get creative and try different pudding flavors, sugar-free syrups, or other milk options. Create your own!
Directions: Put everything in a blender/Magic Bullet and blend until desired consistency. Top with a dollop of whipped cream or chocolate syrup if you feel like treating yourself. Enjoy!
Makes 1 16oz serving.
Nutrition Information: 137 cals, 24g carbohydrate, 0g fat, 8g protein
Cost per serving: $0.60

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Chickpeas, not just for the ladies

The chickpea (aka garbanzo bean), is a tasty legume that is a great source of protein, fiber, and folate. If you’ve tried hummus you’ve had chickpeas, but they can become way more than a dip for your pita chips. Watch my video on some more creative ways to incorporate this nutritional powerhouse into your diet – even as a dessert!

Roasted Chickpeas
·         1 (12 ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
·         2 tablespoons olive oil
·         Seasonings of choice (Ex: salt, cayenne pepper, lemon pepper)

Directions: Preheat oven to 450°F. Drain and rinse chickpeas, and blot dry with a paper towel. In a bowl, toss chickpeas with olive oil, and season to taste with whatever you like! (Examples: salt, garlic salt, and cayenne pepper, hot sauce, lemon pepper). Spread evenly on a baking sheet, and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until browned and crunchy.

Serving size: ~1/2 cup. Makes 3 servings.

Nutrition Information: 180 calories, 20g carbohydrate, 7g fiber, 10.5g fat, 6.7g protein

Price per serving: $0.40

 1 1/2 cups chickpeas (1 (12oz)can, drained)
 1/8 tsp plus 1/16 tsp salt
 1/8 tsp baking soda
 2 tsp pure vanilla extract 
 1/4 cup natural peanut butter 
 1/4 cup milk of choice  
 3T brown sugar
 3T  quick oats
1/3 cup chocolate chips

Directions: Add all ingredients (except for chocolate chips) in to a food processor and blend until very smooth. Then mix in the chocolate chips. Enjoy and try keeping the secret that these are chickpeas =)
Serving size: 2 tablespoon. Makes 8 servings.
Nutrition Information: 141 calories, 20g carbohydrate, 6 grams fat, 4 grams protein
Price per serving: $0.28

Sunday, February 19, 2012


Including whole grains as part of a healthy diet may reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer and can help with weight management.  The most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends making at least half of the grains you eat whole grains.  Not only are whole grains loaded with fiber and nutrients, they have a ton of flavor! It’s time to think outside the box of bread, pasta, and brown rice. Check out the video on some tasty and inexpensive whole grains you can easily incorporate in to your diet!

Southwest Quinoa Salad (modified from
1 cup quinoa
1 ½ cup water or low sodium chicken or vegetable stock
1/4 c chopped cilantro
1/4 c lime juice
1 (15oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup  chopped tomatoes
1 cup chopped bell peppers
1c corn kernels
1 tsp chili powder
Optional: ¼ c diced jalapeno
Makes 8 servings.  $0.83/serving

Lightly toast couscous. Combine couscous and water in a sauce pan and bring to a boil.  Lower heat and simmer, covered, until quinoa is cooked (15-20 minutes).  Fluff gently with a fork. Add remaining ingredients.

Serving size ¾ cup. Nutrition information: 154 calories, 2.3g fat, 214mg sodium, 28.4g carbohydrate, 5.3g fiber, 6g protein.

Italian Couscous
Stock: 1 1/2 c water + 1 can (14.5oz) Italian-style diced tomatoes
**only need 1 1/4 c stock **
1T olive oil
1c whole wheat instant couscous
½ c quartered cherry tomatoes
2T chopped basil
1/3c shredded parmesan cheese
Makes 4 servings.  $0.70/serving

Heat oil in a pan and add couscous. Toast couscous stirring constantly until golden brown.  Pour in 1 1/4 cup boiling stock and immediately cover with lid. Remove from heat and allow to sit for 5-10 minutes. Fluff gently with a fork. Add tomatoes and cheese, and garnish with basil. Serve warm or cold. Enjoy!

Serving size: ¾ cup. Nutrition information:  184 calories, 6.3g fat (2g saturated), 386mg sodium, 23.8g carbohydrate, 2.3g fiber, 7.1g protein

Thursday, February 9, 2012

No Coupons Required!

No Coupons? No Worries!
For those of you that really aren’t ready to take the leap in to couponing or aren’t ready for the potential glares, there are still ways that you can save big at the grocery store!  Here are just a few tips:

Shop the Sales
Obvious I know, but many people don’t do this. My produce selection for the week will be based on whatever is on sale (which is also what is in season).  Weekly ads are available online and some stores will even send you a “sneak peak” so you can plan your shopping trips ahead of time.   Unless I absolutely need something, I often wait until the next week because most of the time it will be on sale!

Take Advantage of Store Promotions
Many stores have promotions where you buy a certain dollar amount and get an instant discount, a coupon to use at a later date or free items. You can use these deals to stock up on the items that have a longer expiration date or items you can freeze.

Oikos Greek Yogurt – Regular Price $1.09
Promotion: Buy $10 in yogurt get $3 off your next shopping trip (coupon prints at checkout)
I bought 10 yogurts for $10.90 and got $3 back so it’s like getting each yogurt for $0.79!
Note: Many brands of Greek yogurt have a longer shelf life than regular yogurt, and yogurt freezes well! Frozen yogurt anyone?

 Keep your eyes peeled for marked down products
Consider shopping early in the week. Grocery stores typically have surplus from the weekend and will offer special savings on products that are nearing their sell by date. I can find salad kits, precut veggies and prepackaged meats discounted by at least 20%!

I went to the store on a Wednesday and found lots of discounted ground sirloin and pork loin packages (both are very lean cuts of meat). I saved over $1 on each package!
Note: Meats will be marked down because they are approaching their sell by/expiration date, so you must use them quickly or freeze them!  I transferred these to freezer bags for longer-term storage.

Give the store brand a chance
Trust me; I’ve had my share of bad generic products. I almost asked for my money back after trying Walmart’s cottage cheese, yuck!  However, there are many basic staples worth buying generic because you really won’t be able to tell the difference: frozen fruits & veggies, canned beans, canned tuna, brown rice and oatmeal are just a few of them!

Basically, it all comes down to being more aware at your grocery shopping trips. Be on the lookout for sale signs, store promotions, discounted items and store brands, and you’ll see how easy it is to save money on healthy staples. No Coupons Required!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Breakfast on a Budget!

It's the weekend! Time to relax, but also an opportunity to prepare for the next week. Check out my video on some quick and cheap recipes for breakfast options that you can prepare ahead of time!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Bars
4 scoops chocolate protein powder
2c quick oats
1 T ground flaxseed
½ c natural peanut butter
Optional: dried fruit
~ ½ c water
Cost Per Serving = $0.76

Mix protein, oats, flaxseed and peanut butter in a large bowl. Drizzle in water and knead with hands until everything sticks together and nothing sticks to the bowl. Press in to a loaf pan lined in parchment paper. Let bars set in the freezer for 30 min before cutting. Cut into bars or bites and store in the refrigerator. Makes 6 servings.
Nutrition Information (1 serving): 250 calories, 12g carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, 12.5g total fat, 20g protein

Homemade Egg McMuffin
1 egg or ¼ c egg white
$0.13 - $0.63
1 whole-grain English muffin
1 slice 2% American cheese
Optional: Spinach, peppers, or mushrooms
Cost Per Serving = $0.78 - $1.28

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray muffin pan with non-stick spray.  Add 1 egg or ¼ c egg white to each muffin tin and add veggies! Cook for 10-15 minutes or until egg sets. Toast muffins in the oven. Assemble egg and cheese onto toasted muffin and let cool in freezer for 1hr. individually wrap and store in freezer.
To reheat: Wrap muffin in damp paper towel and defrost in microwave for 1min then at 100% power for 1-2 minutes.
Makes 1 serving.
Nutrition Information: Egg White Version - 175 calories, 3.5g fat, 28g carbohydrate, 8 g fiber, 15g protein. Whole Egg – 210 calories, 8g fat, 28g carbohydrate, 8g fiber, 15g protein

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Coupons are not just for junk food!

Lots of people think that it’s not worth finding or using coupons because there are only coupons for junk food. I’ll admit that the ratio of coupons for junk food compared to more nutritious products is not equal, but there are still plenty of coupons for the good stuff. I always have coupons for healthy foods on hand: Yogurt, eggs, milk, whole grains, frozen veggies and even fresh produce.  

After my last blog, I went to Meijer to get groceries for the week. In my last blog I mentioned that you could “stack” coupons to save even more money.  That means you can use one store coupon (a coupon distributed by and only redeemable at a specific store) and one manufacturer coupon (distributed by the manufacturer of the product) per a product. Lots of stores allow "stacking" including: Meijer, HEB, CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid, so check out your local store's policy.

I did some stacking of coupons with the store sales and stocked up on some healthy staples for an unbeatable price.I wanted to highlight some of my deals to show you just how much money you could save on healthy products by using coupons I found both online and in the Sunday paper.

Smart Balance Milk (64oz) -- Regular Price: 3.99
Sale Price: 2.59
Manufacturer Coupon: $1.50 off 1
Meijer Store Coupon: $1.00 of 2
Final Price: $0.50 each (when you buy 2)!
I bought a couple because it was such a great deal. I freeze the milk and thaw it out when I need it. 

Starkist Tuna Creations Pouches (4.5oz)  -- Regular Price:  $1.79
Sale Price: $1.43
Manufacturer Coupon: $0.50/1
Meijer Store Coupon: $1.00 off 2
Final Price: $0.43/pouch!
Love this stuff! It’s predrained and makes quick and delicious tuna salad or tuna burgers (I’ll share those recipes soon!)

Splenda Essentials (80 packets) – Regular Price $4.59
Sale Price: $3.44
Manufacturer Coup: $2.00 off 1
Meijer Coup: $1.00 off 1
Final Price: $0.44/box!
We’ll save the discussion on artificial sweeteners for another day. I have one packet with my coffee every day, so I’m stocked up for a while!

 Mrs. Dash Salt Free Seasoning – Regular Price $2.99
Sale Price: 2 for $4
Meijer Coup: $1 of 2
Final Price: $1.50/each!
Flavorful salt-free seasonings that I use to spruce up my  veggies and  lean meats.

 Smart Balance Spread – Regular Price $3.29
Sale Price: 2 for $5
Manufacturer Coup: $1 off 2
Meijier Coup: $1 off 2
Final Price: $1.50 each!
There's nothing wrong with a little trans-fat free spread on my whole grain toast or steamed veggies! These spreads also freeze well.

These are just a FEW of the many awesome deals I’ve been able to score, and you can see that none of these products were junk food. So why don’t you use coupons again?!

For those of you that still think using coupons is too much effort, stay tuned for my next lesson: How to get a great deal on nutritious products without coupons.