Monday, June 20, 2011

Saving a Buck

My mom sent this to me a while back, and I thought some of you might find it helpful. In my menu planning, I usually have a beans and rice night (I have several recipes I rotate), fish and potatoes of some kind night, Friday pizza night, and some kind of different ethnic food night. Sunday is usually some kind of prepare ahead casserole, and that leaves only a leftovers night or some other dish of choice. It makes it easy and economical.

Saving Dinner Monday

How to Cut Back Without Sacrificing Nutrition

by Leanne Ely, C.N.C

Dear Friends,

According to the USDA, the average American family of four is spending $80 a month more on groceries than they did a mere 3 years ago. For a lot of families, the upturn in grocery spending does not reflect an upturn on family income. Clearly something has got to give!

We've all noticed how much food has gone up--I can't think of one thing that hasn't. And while I cannot control food prices, I can control my own budget and as it becomes necessary, cut back to keep my food expenses in line. Here are 10 ways to cut back without sacrificing nutrition:

1) Eat vegetarian one night a week (rice and beans is a favorite with my kids).

2) Eat breakfast for dinner one night a week (pancakes and eggs are way cheap). Light candles and serve juice in wine glasses for fun.

3) Eat greens and beans one night a week (I use frozen collards, turnip greens etc. on sale to keep the cost down). Give your big guys Tabasco sauce to bump it up!

4) Eat homemade soup one night a week (try the one below!).

5) Cook with your crockpot one night a week (utilizing inexpensive cuts of meat and poultry).

6) Only buy meat and produce on sale and/or marked down.

7) Eat from your freezer one night a week (you'd be surprised at how many meals are in there just waiting to be thrown together!).

8) Buy dried beans and make your own instead of buying canned (instructions on how to cook them are right on the bag).

9) Make your own chicken broth from your leftover roast chicken (throw the carcass, an onion, carrots and celery into a pot, cover with water, simmer for an hour or so).

10) Pack PB & J's, some carrot sticks and waters for dinner the night you're all running all over the place (nixing the drive thru). No one will die from not having a "proper meal".

This is all easy stuff and doesn't require a lot of thought. Eating vegetarian for example, could be combined with eating greens and beans for dinner or eating soup, or breakfast for dinner. The point is the thought process of cutting back, making do and using up what you have. You can live on less than you think, that includes food.

Try some of these suggestions. Go shopping in your freezer and fridge before you even begin to plan your menu this week. Likewise, check out that pantry for anything that might turn into dinner this week.

Keeping clutter at bay requires cutting back on unnecessary purchases. This includes food!

Crock Bean Soup with Kale
Serves 6

3 tablespoons olive oil
3 medium onions, chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 bunch kale, trimmed and sliced (or use 2 cups frozen greens)
1 pound cannellini beans, soaked overnight (you can also use white beans)
4 cups low sodium chicken broth (make your own or buy canned)
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onions, carrot and garlic. Cook until onions are translucent. Add kale and cook till wilted, about 3 minutes. In a crock pot, place soaked, drained beans; add crushed red pepper flakes and the contents of the skillet; cover with broth (add a little water if necessary, but crock pot should be 3/4 full).

Cook on high for 8 hours, or until beans are tender. Once beans are tender, add the tomato sauce and salt and pepper to taste.

SERVING SUGGESTIONS: Some whole grain rolls and a big salad.

Monday, June 13, 2011


I grew up with a couple of big plants of rhubarb around, but was under the impression that I din't like it. Well, let's be honest, paired with strawberries and plenty of sweetener (a treat, for sure), this stuff is good.

Here's a little snippet from Anitra from

Rhubarb's in Season...

bright and gorgeous, rhubarb is in...

Rhubarb is often dubbed the "pie plant," and the stalks, though tart by themselves, do make a divine pie filling when paired with berries. But pie is by no means the only way to experience rhubarb. This tart vegetable is as delicious in a savory dish as it is in a sweet one.

In Season: Rhubarb can be found from late winter to early spring with a peak season from April to June.

What to Look For: Thin, red, crisp stalks have the best texture. If stalks are floppy, it indicates they were picked too long ago.

How to Store: Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for up to 1 week.

And here's a whole foods version of a classic rhubarb recipe:

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp


  • 3 cups rhubarb, cut into small pieces
  • 3 cups strawberries, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup unrefined sugar (or agave-- if you use agave, don't be shy to do a bit less. I did, and it was still plenty sweet.)
  • 1 1/3 cups spelt flour, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup sucanat
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup butter (or coconut oil), melted


Prep Time: 15 mins

Total Time: 50 mins

  1. In large bowl combine rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, 1/3 cup flour and cinnamon. Put into to greased 9 x 13 inch baking dish.
  2. In another bowl combine remaining 1 cup flour with sucanat, oats and nutmeg. Add butter and blend well. Sprinkle over rhubarb/strawberry mixture pat gently.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes in preheated oven.
Serve this with some real vanilla ice cream. It's good. And really easy.

And if you want a more savory use, you can give this a try. Thanks, Anitra.

Oh, my goodness...oh my goodness


Be careful, this could get addicting!

This tangy condiment is delicious on top of sharp cheese and crusty bread. It's also great over roast chicken and pork, which benefit from the sour fruitiness.

Makes 1 1/2 cups

Rhubarb Chutney
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon finely grated peeled fresh ginger (from one 1-inch piece)
Sea salt
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup golden raisins, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup sugar or 1/3 cup Xagave
1 1/2 cups rhubarb, trimmed and cut crosswise 1/4 inch thick

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook onion, garlic, ginger, and 1/2 teaspoon salt until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and add wine and raisins.

Return to heat, and bring to a boil; cook for 1 minute. Add sugar, and stir until it dissolves. Stir in half the rhubarb. Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat; simmer, partially covered, until rhubarb breaks down, about 5 minutes. Stir in remaining rhubarb. Raise heat; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer until second batch of rhubarb just begins to soften, about 2 minutes. Let cool completely.