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Monday, July 28, 2008

fall in love with lentils

what are lentils? lentils are a bean that is extremely protein-rich (3rd most protein-rich in the veggie world after soybeans and hemp). what makes them skinny bovine-worthy?

  • they are CHEAP!!! a 1 pound bag runs about $1.00 at your local Wal-Mart.
  • a little bit goes a long way. most recipes use about 1/4 of your 1 pound bag (1 cup). that's 25 cents for the main ingredient in your meal.
  • lentils are meaty. because they are so loaded with protein, in many recipes they end up tasting very meaty (but without the greasiness and fattiness that often accompany this quality).
  • not only are lentils protein-rich, but they are fat-free and are a good source of fiber, too. hooray for healthy beans!
what kinds of deliciousness can you create with this healthy, meaty treat? soups, stews, salads, tacos (see recipe below), even vegetarian meatloaf. the possibilities are endless. so do your budget, and your health, a favor and fall in love with lentils.

***find some great lentil recipes on
thanks to for the lentil photo

recipe of the week: tasty lentil taco meat

i know these sound weird, but they really taste like ground beef tacos (but better and cheaper). give them a try! use as regular taco meat, in taco salad, in burritos, etc.

tasty lentil taco meat

  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil (i use olive oil)
  • 1 cup dried lentils, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken broth


  1. in a large nonstick skillet, saute the onion and garlic in oil until tender. add the lentils, chili powder, cumin and oregano; cook and stir for 1 minute. add broth; bring to a boil. reduce heat; cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes or until the lentils are tender. uncover; cook for 6-8 minutes or until mixture is thickened. mash lentils slightly.
cook time: 45 minutes from start to finish, makes about 6 servings
recipe found on

start your day with sense, for cents

if you are cooking on a budget, every meal counts. why not make your first meal your cheapest one and leave the rest of your alloted daily food cash for your bulkier meals? despite how cheap the "8 for $8" cereal sales or generic-brand bagels are at the local grocery store, these foods disappear too quickly (and aren't inexpensive enough) to really be considered "cheap".

hot cereal is the way to go for a truly discount and healthy breakfast. what makes hot cereal skinny bovine-worthy?
  • variety. oatmeal, farina or germade (name brand=cream of wheat), 9 grain and cracked wheat are some of my favorites. buy quick oats in bulk basically anywhere, farina or germade at your local grocer and 9 grain and cracked wheat in the bulk foods of any whole foods market.
  • more variety. just a few suggestions of many possibilities for toppings: brown sugar, white sugar, honey, milk, butter, fresh fruit, frozen fruit, canned fruit, seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, etc.), sour cream and salt and pepper. adding fruit or milk are especially good as you knock out an additional food group or two by including them.
  • hot cereal is CHEAP!!! you can feed your whole family for literally pennies. the topping you put on it or the glass of milk you drink with it may be cheaper than the cereal itself.
  • hot cereals are healthy. bagels and cold cereal are full of white flour and nothing with any substantial health benefits, but hot cereals are good carb grains full of fiber and other things from which your body benefits.
i'm a convert to hot cereal. my husband got me hooked - his mother fed all nine members of their family hot cereal for just pennies each morning when he was growing up. so for the sake of nostalgia, our pocketbooks and our health, let's start our day with sense for cents with hot cereal.

for cooking instructions on bulk-type hot cereals, simply search "how to cook cracked wheat", etc. on google... don't you love google?

healthy cooking on a budget

disclaimer: i don't claim to be an expert on cooking, weight loss or even healthy eating, but i do love to cook, find healthy, taste bud-friendly tricks and most of all, i love to eat!

qualifications: what qualifies me to blog on cooking healthy on a small budget? well, as my husband is still a student, my budget is not what you'd call large. and as for the healthy part, when i was 10 i was diagnosed with pancreatitus - a disease that doesn't effect me much anymore unless i eat food that is too greasy or has too much fat (in which case, well, let's just say i get really sick). this had steered my experience and limited cooking expertise in a health-conscious direction.

please feel free to comment, criticise, rate recipes, try ideas and make requests for future posts!