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Saturday, August 16, 2008

veggies, veggies and more veggies

so we all know that fruits and veggies are healthy for you, but they are often a challenge for we healthy, budgeted eaters. the "5 a day" campaign has drilled into my mind getting 5 servings of fruits and veggies a day, but veggies are the hard part of that for me. i just have never loved them, but a few adjustments in my eating and shopping and i've learned to like them. veggies can be a bit more expensive than other things you could buy at the grocery store, but the benefits are more than worth the sacrifices in soda, cookies and granola bars you'll make. make small adjustments in your budget and your tummy will thank you. here are some of the cheaper veggies that i love and sneaky ways to use them so you don't feel like an under-fed health nut! :)

a few cheap veggies to love and ways to use them

spinach - spinach is a "superfood" (read about superfoods here) so it's super good for you. it's the easiest vegetable to use and disguise so that the fact that you may not love spinach won't ruin your meal. toss it in with your regular lettuce in a salad, get gutsy and make a salad of just spinach, put it in your hot pasta sauce or your chicken noodle soup and watch it basically disappear. i've heard it's good disguised in smoothies too, though i've yet to venture that far...

squash - yellow squash and zucchini are my favorites - they're cheap and a single yellow squash or zucchini goes a long way in a recipe! squash can be yummy all by itself as a side dish or you can add it to other recipes to sneak in an extra veggie serving for the day. it is yummy sprinkled with your favorite seasonings and grilled or baked. my husband loves to sprinkle cheese on top too. try slicing it up and putting it in your favorite saucy dish like pasta, curry or soup (add near the end so it doesn't get too mushy - squash cooks fast this way). pan-cook it with meat and other veggies and serve over rice.

green beans - fresh, frozen or in a can, you can always find green beans for cheap. they are great to throw into soups and sauces as well or as a side dish. pan-cook some with a little bit of italian dressing and you've got a tasty, easy and cheap little side dish... and an extra serving of vegetables for the day.

tomatoes - I KNOW, I KNOW! tomatoes are a fruit, but i'm including them in the veggie post because they taste and cook like veggies. another superfood, i once bought 6 romas for 86 cents!! hooray for tomatoes. again, salads, pastas, mexican food - the sky is the limit! canned tomatoes (crushed are my favorite) are a good base for many soups and sauces too.

broccoli - yet another superfood, broccoli is another veggie you can sneak into meals. try putting it in your blender first and then adding it to a sauce if you don't love it. you'll hardly know it's there. my friend lindsay has 2 boys under 4 and she says this is a good way to get kids to eat it too. i love it as a side dish, especially with my mom's cream cheese sauce which is skinny bovine-worthy for taste only (not healthy or particularly cheap) but if you're interested leave a comment with your email address and i'll tell you what's in it.

adjust your budget, your shopping list and your eating habits and push harder to get your "5 a day". and give vegetables a chance. you might like them more than you think you do.

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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!