Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Edamame Hummus

Clearly I am on a hummus kick with all these posts about hummus! I guess I'm craving the stuff. Back when I lived in NYC, my old roommate and I loved Trader Joe's edamame hummus. I've yet to find any other place that sells an edamame hummus. Since there is no Trader Joe's close to where I live now, I have been stuck longing for edamame hummus with no way to satisfy my craving. That is until I stumbled upon this recipe for edamame hummus the other day from Gina's Skinny Recipes. As I have all the ingredients, except tahini, in my pantry and refrigerator, I plan to give this recipe a try tomorrow. I plan to substitute sesame oil for the tahini as I happen to have some in my pantry.

                                                    Photo by Wokintime

What is edamame?
If you are not familiar with edamame, they are a type of green soybean often used in Asian cooking. Translated literally, edamame means "beans on branches." Edamame are slightly larger and sweeter than traditional soybeans grown in the United States.

Why should I try edamame?
Unlike most other beans, edamame provides all the essential amino acids, making them a source of complete protein. This means the protein they provide is very similar in quality to that found in meats, eggs and dairy products. This makes edamame a great option for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians. In addition to their protien quality, these soybeans are also an excellent source of dietary fiber. Furthermore, the isoflavones present in soy may help protect against certain diseases such as heart disease.

The Nutrition Facts
Each 1/2 cup of edamame provides 120 calories, 11 g protein, 13 g carbohydrate, 9 g fiber and 2.5 g fat (1.5 g polyunsaturated fats, 0.5 g monunsaturated fats). In addition, these soybeans also provide vitamin C, vitamin A, B vitamins, calcium and iron.

How much will edamame cost me?
With all those health benefits, you are probably thinking edamame are too expensive for your budget. This is not true. On average, a 12 ounce bag of frozen edamame will cost around $3.00. This is only slightly higher than the cost of your average bag of frozen vegetables, but edamame are more than just your standard bag of frozen vegetables. Since they provide a source of complete protein, you can replace your standard protein of choice with edamame. Jump on the "Meatless Monday" bandwagon, and swap out your chicken, steak or seafood for some edamame.

Also, keep on the lookout for coupons for brands of edamame that are sold at your local grocery store. Publix recently had a sale on Cascadian Farms frozen vegetables. I paired that with a coupon I was able to find on the Cascadian Farms website, so I was able to stock-up on organic edamame for an even more budget-friendly price. (I'm not endorsing that brand over any other brand of edamame, it just happened to be on sale so I took the opportunity to stock up).

Where can I find edamame?
Edamame can be found in many grocery stores throughout the United States. I typically purchase frozen edamame still in their shells, as I find this to be a convenient and affordable option. If your grocery store has a sushi counter, you can typically find fresh edamame there, as well. Some stores, such as Trader Joe's, sell pre-shelled edamame that can make an easy addition to a salad or stir-fry. If you have never tried edamame, I suggest trying some today!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Homemade Hummus

Although delicious, storebought hummus can be expensive, even with coupons and store sales. Try your hand at making your own hummus with this recipe from A Few Shortcuts. If you have a stocked pantry, you should be able to save the cost of purchasing many of these ingredients. Tahini is probably the most expensive ingredient this recipe calls for, but as you only need to add 2 tablespoons, a jar will last you a long time. To prolong the shelf life of tahini, store it in the refrigerator rather than in your pantry. If you are not familiar with tahini, it is a paste made from ground sesame seeds. Tahini is often used in Mediterranean dishes including hummus and baba ghanoush. You can also try your hand at making tahini at home, if store bought breaks your budget.

Other Substitutions for Tahini
Try substituting another natural nut butter such as peanut butter. The flavor will be somewhat different than traditional hummus but still delicious. If you have toasted sesame oil on hand, you can use that to substitute for tahini, as well. Keep in mind toasted sesame oil has a stronger flavor than tahini, so it may provide a more pronounced flavor in your hummus.

Homemade hummus is a low-fat and affordable source of protein that makes a great addition to any meal or snack. Looking to jazz up your bagged lunch? Spread hummus on whole wheat pita bread and layer in your favorite raw or roasted vegetables. Not sure what to give your child for an afternoon snack? Offer hummus with veggies and baked pita chips for dipping.

Homemade hummus is delicious, and in my opinion, often better than the store-bought variety. You can even get creative and make roasted red pepper hummus or artichoke hummus. The possibilities are endless!

Have any of you ever made your own hummus? What is your favorite kind of hummus?

Friday, June 17, 2011

All You Magazine Grocery Challenge

If you are not familiar with All You Magazine, it is a magazine that offers money saving tips, healthy recipes and coupons.  Beginning this Sunday June 19th, they are running a grocery challenge to encourage you to eat healthy and save money on your grocery budget.  Go here to enter.

The Challenge is to spend no more than $25 on groceries per family member per week of the month long challenge.  This means, if there are two people in your family, your goal is to spend less than $50 each week of the challenge. They also want you to get creative and prepare well-balanced meals.  This challenge is a great place for you to start trying to re-evaluate your grocery budget, especially because the focus is on well-balanced meals rather than just stocking up your pantry with pre-packaged, processed foods.  

The winner of the challenge will receive a $1000 grocery card and appear in All You magazine. I'm definitely excited about this challenge, and I think you should check it out too! Also, it seems like today may be the last day you can sign up, so don't waste time!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Organic Blueberries on Sale at Whole Foods Tomorrow, June 17

Unfortunately I do not live close to a Whole Foods anymore, but if you are lucky enough to live by one, you should take advantage of this sale! Tomorrow, Friday 6/17, organic blueberries are on sale for $1.99 a pint. This is a great price, especially for organic berries.  If possible, purchase extra and freeze for later! Blueberries make a great addition to smoothies, oatmeal and pancakes.  They can be even be mixed with plain greek yogurt or enjoyed by themselves.

Blueberries get their characteristic blue-red color from the pigment anthocyanin.  These anthocyanins are also responsible for the antioxidant activity of blueberries.  Out of all the berries, blueberries have the highest antioxidant activity, so not only do blueberries taste delicious, but they are also good for you! In addition to being touted as antioxidant-rich, blueberries are also high in vitamin C, manganese and dietary fiber.  Even if you are not a blueberry-lover, their role as a nutrition powerhouse food should hopefully spark your interest!

Go here to learn how to freeze your blueberries for later.

Here are some great blueberry recipe ideas to use your fresh blueberries:

Chicken & Blueberry Pasta Salad

Filet Mignon with Blueberry-Bourbon Barbecue Sauce - I'm not much of a red-meat eater, but this sounds like something I might be able to convince my boyfriend to taste, as he loves meat!

Blueberry-Ricotta Pancakes

Low-Fat Blueberry Muffins

Blueberry Blast Smoothie

Old-Fashioned Fruit Crumble - This is the only recipe I have actually made before.  I used fresh raspberries and blueberries. It was quite delicious. Even my picky-eater boyfriend had a few bites.  This typically means a recipe is quite good, especially since he rarely eats fruit, especially for dessert. So go ahead, give it a try!

Although I haven't tried most of these recipes, they all sound really fantastic.  Once my boyfriend and I can find some time to go blueberry picking, I will try some of these recipes. Until then I will be holding out for a good sale on blueberries at the local Publix!

Image: Grant Cochrane/

Brown Bag Your Lunch

Packing lunch isn't just for school-aged kids.  Bringing your lunch from home is a great way to ensure your lunch is healthy as well as affordable.  Spending $10 per day on lunch may not seem like much, but over the course of a year those dollars can really add up. Bringing your lunch from home also allows you complete control over what you are eating including the portion size.  The majority of restaurants serve oversized meals increasing the likelihood of overeating.  If the idea of packing your own lunch seems too daunting a task, start simple--leftovers from the night before, a turkey sandwich or the old standby of peanut butter and jelly.  Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Make sure your lunch is balanced and provides a mixture of whole grains, lean protein (beans, nuts, poultry, fish, lean red meat) and fruits and/or vegetables.  These foods provide protein and fiber that will help you stay full for the remainder of the work day.  
  • Don't be afraid to get creative! Bringing the same lunch every day can get quite boring, so don't be afraid to jazz up your selections.  Try almond or cashew butter with a banana or fresh berries instead of the traditional peanut butter and jelly.  Opt for hummus instead of ranch dip to accompany your favorite veggies. Bring a salad made with grilled or roasted vegetables instead of raw ones.  You can even go the route of breakfast for lunch and bring cereal, hard-boiled eggs or yogurt.
  • Plan ahead.  On the weekends or on a weeknight when you have a little extra time, cook up some extra food.  If you are making soup or chili, make extra and freeze into individual portions.  This makes an easy meal you can grab out of the freezer on your way to work. Grilled chicken makes a great addition to your favorite salad or sandwich.  Shred grilled boneless, skinless chicken breasts over brown rice and your favorite veggies for an easy meal.  
  • Pack your lunch the night before, so you are not racing to get your lunch together as you are trying to head out the door to make it to work on time.
  • If your office does not have a refrigerator available, make sure to add an ice bag to your lunch box to keep your food from spoiling.  
  • Invest in a re-usable lunch box or bag, like Aladdin's Chill Lunch Box or Reuseit's Insulated Zipper-Top Lunch Bag, as well as re-usable tupperware.  This will reduce the impact paper and plastic bags have on the environment.  It will also help keep your food from turning in to a big unappetizing mess before lunch hour arrives.  Re-usable bags and tupperware are an initial investment, but they will save you money in the long-run.
  • Encourage your co-workers to bring their lunches from home as well. You can all save money together and exchange creative lunch ideas to help keep you on track.
Now that I've shared some of my favorite tips, I'd love to hear some of your favorite foods to pack for lunch.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Some Great Tips from the June 2011 issue of Today's Dietitian

This article from the June 2011 issue of Today's Dietitian provides some great tips on organic eating and overall healthy eating when on a budget.  I recommend checking it out!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

New to the Blogging World

I've been meaning to start a blog for about a year now, but never quite got around to getting one up and running.  Between struggling to find a name that I found fitting for my blog and the craziness that came with finishing grad school, moving out of NYC, moving to Texas and then moving again to Florida, starting a blog got put on the back burner.  With the help of my friend Alison, I finally hunkered down and decided today was the day to start my blog.  

I've been a registered dietitian since February 2010, but nutrition and healthy eating have been a passion of mine for a long time.  In this economy, money is tight for most people.  I know that it can seem difficult and daunting to eat healthy on a budget. I want to show you that not only is it possible to do so, but it can be enjoyable as well.  Follow me on my journey to save money, eat healthy and please my picky-eater boyfriend!