Friday, April 30, 2010

The 10 Cheapest, Healthiest Foods Money Can Buy

Full disclosure: This article is from the website/blog "Cheap Healthy Good"

I found the following list of inexpensive but healthy foods while looking for good eats that are also good for you. We, like so many others, complain about how it costs more to eat healthy and, generally, that's true. We find buying fruits, vegetables, quality yogurts, fish and other foods we know are good for us costs more than the easy, cheap stuff. Frozen foods, especially pizzas, burritos, etc. cost next to nothing but are full of preservatives, bad fat and are extremely high in sodium ("when in doubt, pack it with salt" is the mantra of many food manufacturers).
So, check out the list below and see if there's anything that jumps out as particularly edible that you might add to your diet.
By the way, other things we eat regularly that aren't terrible expensive include:
  • wheat tortillas
  • low fat cottage cheese
  • canned tuna in water
  • whole grain breads (from Costco)
  • bread thins
"To compile the final list, there were three main criteria. Each food is:
  • Versatile. It can be eaten on it own or used as an ingredient in other dishes.
  • Inexpensive. A serving will cost a few dimes or nickels.
  • Nutritious. It packs high percentages of vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber, and/or calories. (Note: To be totally honest, some important, but fairly obscure minerals are included here. Manganese? I thought it was a capital in Southeast Asia. It is not, and oatmeal has 147% of the USDA-recommended daily allowance.)

Are there better-rounded fruits? Absolutely. Berries will single-handedly protect you from every known disease and fight off communism. But they are inordinately pricey little buggers (especially out of season), and for the money, don’t compare to a good ol’ Cavendish banana. Lesson: Always listen to the monkeys.

Serving size: One large (5oz) banana.
Peapod/Stop & Shop cost: $0.33 each
Good source of: Fiber (14% of a 2000-calorie diet), Vitamin C (20%), Vitamin B6 (25%), Potassium (14%), Manganese (18%)
Suggested recipe: Three-Ingredient Banana, Honey, and Peanut Butter Ice Cream

We’ve discussed beans ad nauseum here on CHG, and for good reason: there are fewer cheaper sources of protein and fiber found on Earth. (Maybe Mars?) Their mutability means you can pack them into just about any recipe, and with a range of flavors and sizes, everyone’s palate will be equally pleased. Plus: hilarious farting.

Serving size: Half a cup of cooked black beans.
Peapod/Stop & Shop cost, canned: $0.21 per serving ($0.75/15oz can)
Peapod/Stop & Shop cost, dried: $0.15 per serving ($1.50/1lb bag)
Good source of: Fiber (30% of a 2000-calorie diet), Iron (10%), Protein (15%), Thiamin (14%), Folate (32%), Magnesium (15%), Phosphorus (12%), Manganese (19%)
Suggested recipe: Black Bean Soup with a Fried Egg on Top

Canned tomatoes are here not as a snack or a stand-alone food, but an ingredient. Simply, they’re the basis for innumerable recipes across countless cuisines; sauces, soups, stews, and chilis wouldn’t exist was it not for the humble tomato. And yeah, if you’re the type to dig in a can of Progresso with a spoon, that’s okay too.

Serving size: One cup canned whole peeled tomatoes
Peapod/Stop & Shop cost: $0.48 per serving ($1.67/28oz can)
Good source of: Fiber (10% of a 2000-calorie diet), Vitamin C (37%), Iron (13%), Vitamin B6 (13%), Potassium (13%), Sodium (14%)
Suggested recipe: Tomato and Bread Soup

Bugs Bunny was on to something. But while carrots can be eaten raw to great merriment, they’re also excellent roasted, braised, in soups, and mixed with other foods. Hint: for snacking purposes, skip the bags of baby carrots ($1.50), buy a pound of full growns ($0.66), and chop ‘em up yourself. You save $0.84 every time.

Serving size: One cup raw carrot sticks.
Peapod/Stop & Shop cost: $0.13 per serving ($0.50/lb)
Good source of: Fiber (14% of a USDA 2000-calorie diet), Vitamin A (408%), Vitamin C (12%), Vitamin K (20%), Potassium (11%)
Suggested recipe: Honey-glazed Roasted Carrots

Apparently, Popeye was on to something, too. (What is it with these cartoon characters?) Spinach is just about the healthiest food you can buy, and it’s easy to sneak little bits into a plethora of different dishes. Here, I’m going for frozen spinach over fresh for two reasons. First, it’s generally cheaper, and you can find better sales. Second, it takes up less space. For those of us with limited refrigerator storage, that’s important.

Serving size: Five ounces unprepared frozen spinach.
Peapod/Stop & Shop cost: $0.50 per serving ($1.00/10oz bag)
Good source of: Fiber (16% of a 2000-calorie diet), Vitamin A (333%), Vitamin C (13%), Calcium (18%), Iron (15%), Protein (10-11%), Vitamin K (660%), Vitamin E (20%), Riboflavin (18%), Vitamin B6 (12%), Folate (51%), Magnesium (26%),. Manganese (50%), Copper (10%), Potassium (14%), Selenium (112%)
Suggested recipe: Italian White Bean and Spinach Soup

Full disclosure: I knew lentils were good for you, but didn’t have any idea HOW good until researching this piece. And $0.11 per serving? My god. No wonder they’re eaten for breakfast, lunch, and dinner around the world.

Serving size: One-quarter cup of lentils, unprepared.
Peapod/Stop & Shop cost: $0.11 per serving ($0.79/1lb bag)
Good source of: Fiber (58% of a 2000-calorie diet), Iron (20%), Protein (25%), Thiamin (28%), Vitamin B6 (13%), Folate (57%), Pantothenic Acid (10%), Magnesium (14%), Phosphorus (22%), Potassium (13%), Zinc (15%), Copper (12%), Manganese (32%)
Suggested recipe: Red Lentil Soup with Lemon

Here’s a riddle: what comes in a can, goes in a muffin, or can be boiled with raisins? (If you said “bunnies,” you are sick in the head.) It’s oatmeal, folks! High in fiber and all kinds of exciting minerals, it’s appropriate for every meal. Combine it with sweeter flavors for breakfast, or soy sauce and scallions for a strangely delicious lunch.

Serving size: Half a cup unprepared old-fashioned rolled oats:
Peapod/Stop & Shop cost: $0.12 per serving ($3.69/42oz canister)
Good source of: Fiber (16% of a 2000-calorie diet), Protein (10%), Thiamin (12%), Iron (10%), Magnesium (14%), Phosphorus (11%), Zinc (10%), Manganese (73%), Selenium (16%)
Suggested recipe: Banana Oatmeal Muffins

Throughout childhood, peanut butter was as universal as Sesame Street and possibly even my mother. Even today, spooning some out of the jar is a good time, and adding a dollop into stew or oatmeal positively feels like a treat. And though PB is high in fat, it’s a good kind.

Serving size: Two tablespoons chunky peanut butter.
Peapod/Stop & Shop cost: $0.15 per serving ($2.39/18oz jar)
Good source of: Calories (9% of a 2000 calorie diet), fat (25%), fiber (10%), protein (15%, Niacin (22%), vitamin E (10%), Manganese (29%), phosphorus (10%), Magnesium (13%)
Suggested recipe: Indonesian Bean Stew

Yes, peas.

Serving size: Half a cup frozen peas, unprepared
Peapod/Stop & Shop cost: $0.23 per serving ($3.00/2lb bag)
Good source of: Fiber (12% of a 2000-calorie diet), Vitamin A (22%), Vitamin C (20%), Vitamin K (23%), Thiamin (11%), Manganese (11%)
Suggested recipe: Easy Pea Soup

Rounding out the list, it’s the tastiest of all natural starches: the sweet potato (or yam, if you’re feeling semantic). Sweet potatoes have all the benefits and cooking versatility of regular potatoes, plus lots of fiber, a metric ton of Vitamin A, and an alluring orange color. Enter their world, and you will never want to leave.

Serving size: One cup cubed (about 4.75 oz).
Peapod/Stop & Shop cost: $0.50 per potato
Good Source of: Fiber (16% of 2000-calorie diet), Vitamin A (377%), Vitamin B6 (14%), Potassium (13%), Copper (10%), Manganese (17%)
Suggested recipe: Sweet Potato and Chickpea Puree

Readers, what do you think of the list? What would you add? What would you leave off? The comment section is ready and waiting."
Find the original post HERE.

Finally, if you made it this far, here is the antithesis of this post (may take a moment to load).

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

No Pain, No Gain

It's bed time and I'm exhausted, but I feel compelled to write an entry for all of you who have expressed gratitude in recent weeks to Sarah, me, or both of us, for our little blog which we've done a terrible job of keeping up lately.

If I were to be honest, and I'm going to be, I'd have to write about challenges, so here I go: despite the fact that Sarah and I feel incredibly blessed due to the birth of our third healthy baby, my new position at the district and the myriad other blessings we enjoy such as having our wonderful, still married parents near us and so forth, lately I think both of us feel incredibly challenged, but that's not all bad.

One of the primary challenges from my perspective (Sarah has no idea I'm writing this by the way) is that Sarah is sleep deprived, plain and simple. Tonight I expressed my sadness at arriving home to find what I consider a somewhat listless, sad wife. Since this not the normal character of Sarah, it makes it difficult for me. I don't mean to paint the picture of her slumped over on the couch, indeed I found her with a smile and doing laundry, but it's more of the spirit I detect in her eyes, some of you will know what I mean. I didn't express my concern to her in anger or with disdain, but with genuine sadness and with a great desire to do something to help. Sarah reminded me that she's been like this for weeks and that we've been here before with the other two kids' births and that we eventually get through it, which I know is true.

It's not that I expect her to bubble over with excitement at my arrival home from work, I just miss her big, energy filled smile and the excitement in her voice as she rattles of the goings on from the day and the plans for the future. I know that "this too shall pass" and that William will begin sleeping more and she will not have to get up to breast feed him every two hours. Indeed, this has always been tough on Sarah due to the fact that she physiologically and psychologically requires more sleep than many, including me.

Another challenge is my new job. Being a middle school teacher in Fontana is a great gig since years and years ago, the collective bargaining unit worked out shorter day than many other district enjoy for middle school teachers. At Fontana Middle, teachers start at 7AM and are off at 2PM. The problem is that I am not a middle school teacher anymore. Although I rarely left right at 2PM, I was generally home no later than 3:30PM or so. Even when I needed to stay till 4PM which occurred roughly once per week due to planning, meetings, etc., at least that was once a week. Now, in my new position I am home around 5:00PM and I often have work on my mind due to the much more complicated nature of the work I am now doing which includes change theory, adult learning, budgets and so forth. Now getting home late and working to leave work where it belongs isn't so bad (I could be unemployed), but compared to my old schedule and the fact that we had just two kids before, work now seems like much more of a challenge. Combine that with the fact that I like to be home with the family and, believe it or not, they like to have me home, work now feels like a bigger sacrifice. Now there's simply less time to spend together working, exercising, relaxing and cooking. It also extends the amount of time Sarah is alone with three little children and that can often be difficult as many of you know very well.

There are other challenges as well which I won't bore you with, especially since most of what we face is universal (bills, cleaning, dealing with difficult people, etc.) but what I guess I'm getting at, or what I realize I'm getting at now that I've been writing this, is that every challenge in our life, yes EVERY challenge and that includes sickness, etc., is related to a blessing. Other than the bad choices we make, big or small, which bring additional difficulty and sorrow, the other, natural challenges of life, whether we call them trials, stumbling blocks and so on, are all things that are associated with blessings. It goes back to the adage no pain, no gain.

I am so happy that Sarah and I have three children, I feel incredibly blessed to work with amazing people in the endeavor of helping young people learn and prepare for their lives, I am happy to serve people in my position in the ward and I am grateful for every other challenge life brings in that they all educate and add character and can open up the mysteries of heaven if you have the right perspective and attitude.

I am suddenly reminded of the following verse from the Doctrine in Covenants:

"All these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good" (122:7)

More than anything I hope that I can keep this vision and also work harder in my life-long mission of alleviating others' burdens, especially Sarah's, and to keep in mind the reality of our lot in life which is, in my estimation, to see all things as blessings and not as burdens until that perfect day.

Updated pics of Will (from about two weeks ago):