I spent Easter weekend in Edmonton with friends and family. I got into an interesting discussion about eating on a budget. I felt compelled to share the story of my dietetic internship year (I often feel compelled to share stories). Internship is a ten month, full time, unpaid learning experience where you are still expected to pay full tuition. I was determined to not take out any more student loans, so we survived on my husband’s entry-level salary…so no money. It was so no money that we had to think long and hard about renting a movie, “anything in the old release section we want to see?”.
I decided the easiest way to save some money would be at the grocery store. I have always loved a deal, but this was an extra challenge with little room for error. We had about $300 per month for groceries and still wanted to eat healthy meals. How can you do it too?
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tbsp Italian seasoning
pinch of salt
1 cup milk
¼ cup olive oil
Preheat the oven to 425°F with a cookie sheet upside down on the middle rack. Combine dry ingredients then add wet and stir with a fork until a soft dough forms. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead a couple of times. Divide into 4 pieces and pat into 7 or 8 inch circles (no rolling pin required). Top with sauce and your favorite toppings. Place 2 pizzas onto hot cookie sheet and bake for 12-15 min and repeat with last two. In place of the cookie sheet you could use a pizza stone if you have one or perforated pizza pans. (Adapted from the 2010 Milk Calendar).
Turns out great every time. I would love it if you topped your pizzas with veggies like spinach and peppers, lean meats and part skim milk mozzarella cheese. For sure less than ordering in and buying pre-made crusts.
To conclude my story we did make our grocery budget goals and even had a few months at the $250 mark. It was a great learning experience, and really why wouldn’t you want to save on your groceries? Extreme couponing it isn’t (how mind blowing is that show?) but proven to work!
Lets talk salad dressing: sure it is available at any grocery store, but it is so easy to make….it is. If you have a Magic Bullet or some sort of blender or even a whisk or fork, you are in business.
Dinner tonight in our house was in need of a salad and therefore dressing, so into my Magic Bullet went:
½ cup olive oil
½ cup strawberries
4 tbsp balsamic vinegar (or more to taste)
1 garlic clove, chopped
pinch of salt and pepper
Tonight I served it over romaine lettuce, with cucumber, snap peas, mango and goat cheese. Yum. Because it has fresh strawberries in it I would keep it in the fridge for no longer than 4-5 days.
Why do I love this? I control the salt and fat content. Trying to cut back on calories? Use less oil or skip the cheese in the salad. I also like anything that makes a salad more interesting. Plus we are squeezing in some extra fruit…yes!
There are endless recipes on the web for vinaigrettes and most are pretty easy and don’t always need a blender. I hope this encourages you to try your hand at it. Love a recipe? Feel free to share.
My husband and I went out for what we dubbed the “last supper” while I was extremely pregnant with my son. We chose a five star, exclusive restaurant in Vancouver. We knew it was going to be the last time for a while that we would be able to enjoy a delicious restaurant meal, together, unhurried. The funny part is that I don’t actually remember my entrée (fish, chicken?) but I do remember that it was presented on a bed of amazing Swiss chard. It tasted so good that I would have taken more of it over dessert.
I am sure you are thinking only a dietitian would actually say that. Well…prior to that evening I didn’t have a lot of experience eating or preparing leafy greens. In my head it was all a pile of olive green mush. Pretty un-tempting.
Once the dust settled post baby I was ready to try making some at home. I was still skeptical: was it a pound of butter that made them so tasty, was it crazy pregnant food? I decided to start with this recipe for Sautéed Swiss Chard. Turned out fabulous, for real.
For bonus points beyond great taste, Swiss chard is low in calories, high in vitamin A and K as well as antioxidants vitamin C and beta carotene. Swiss chard can be grown locally so you can support your local farmer or try it in your own garden (reported to be one the easier veggies to grow).
I have also had some other leafy greens in my kitchen….but that’s for another day…
I love popcorn. It reminds me of being a kid. When we would rent VHS movies my Dad would pull out the 80’s hot air popper and make my brother and I popcorn in the designated yellow, plastic popcorn bowl. We used to laugh hysterically when the odd kernel would pop and fly out of the machine. Is there anything better than popcorn raining down on you?
Then one day it all changed, we got a microwave and soon after came microwave popcorn. So convenient and less mess. It never tasted as good though.
After I left home I continued to make microwave popcorn as a snack on a pretty regular basis, I don’t own an air popper. I had heard rumblings about popcorn made in a pot on the stove. I had a delicious brush with it as one of my (many) university roommates used this old school method…..it was so good and tasted real. Still, seemed like a lot of work.
I was at the grocery store the other day and there staring at me was a bag of popcorn kernels. Why not give it a try?
I put a large pot with a tight lid on medium heat for about 2 minutes, I then added 1/3 of a cup of kernels and 1 tsp olive oil and gave it a quick stir. Covered it and cooked for 2-3 minutes while shaking the pot often. Once the popping started I was really giving it a good shake (I wonder if this counts as exercise?), I continued to do this until the popping sound had almost finished. I removed from heat and let it stand covered for a bit to allow the last few kernels to pop. Added a few cracks of sea salt then I e-n-j-o-y-e-d! Amazing taste and texture. Only down fall was I had to share with my husband.
This is also great from a nutritional standpoint. Popcorn is a low calorie snack. Olive oil is a healthy fat (unsaturated) and you can control the amount of both the oil and the salt. No worrying about trans fats and other strange, cancer causing additives.
There was the dirty pot, but this could solve that...I will keep you posted….
Welcome to my new blog, website and business! I couldn’t be more excited about the launch of this new chapter in my professional life. I went into dietetics with the intention of starting my own practice, but soon realized there was a lot to learn and the hospital setting was the best place to do it. After spending the last four years working in a hospital I am confident that I can provide excellent nutritional assessment, counseling and education to my clients.
I hope you take the time to look over my website to get a feel for who I am and what I can offer you. If you have any questions or comments feel free to leave them here or if they are of a more personal nature email or call me.
My vision for this blog is a place for me to share nutrition tips, delicious healthy recipes and links to articles or interesting information. It is also a place for you to get to know me, and my approach to healthy eating, better. Have something you want to see here, let me know!
Tiffany McFadden, RD