Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Eating Healthy Doesn't Have to Bust the Budget!

YIKES - Summer’s just around the corner and, hey, here in Florida, swim suit season is almost year round. If you have added a few pounds this winter, you can control your weight and stay within your budget, while eating healthier & less expensively - even with a hectic college class schedule. Try these suggestions to avoid expensive vending machines to save money and calories too!

  •  Drink water. Carry a refillable water bottle with you. Water is a healthy choice that increases stamina at work and play, fills you up, and costs less than sodas and coffee drinks. Now there are even bottles with water filters, so you can save money & the planet – what a deal!
  • Substitute and save. What are your favorite high-calorie foods? A chocolate donut for breakfast? Sugary sodas? Look for lower-calorie substitutes such as cereal bars, brewed coffee or tea, and fruit. Cut calories and costs. (see the three really easy, quick breakfast ideas below).
  • Try different stress busters. Many people turn to food-especially gooey, fatty kinds-when stress levels go up. Develop other stress busters that can work for you with minimal calories and cost, such as a brisk walk, a workout, or tea with a friend.
  • Plan ahead. Does your resolve to eat better weaken when your schedule is hectic? Take healthy snacks such as fruit and nuts with you on busy days. This helps you avoid vending machine and snack bar purchases.
  • Cut back on pre-packaged, pre-prepared food. Single-serve packages are more expensive(not to mention filled with lots of sodium and fats), so buy them sparingly. Flavored oatmeal in individual packets costs more than $3 per pound, while bulk oatmeal costs under $1. Loose popcorn, ready in seconds in an air popper, costs a fraction of microwave popcorn packages. Frozen dinners cost more than meals made from scratch
Healthy, Tasty Snack Choices

When hunger strikes and you've only got a few minutes between classes or you are rushing from work to class, often your options consist of expensive and usually high-fat, high-calorie snacks from vending machines or fast food outlets. As an alternative, keep a supply of healthier options in your fridge or cabinet and stash some in your backpack before heading to class. These are great to stuff in your family’s backpacks too, if you have a group to get out the door in the morning.

Protein-rich snacks such as peanut butter and low-fat yogurt or cheese, combined with meals that contain complex carbohydrates such as whole-grain breads and cereals, can help you keep your energy level up and your weight down. Try out a new snack food now and again. You may be surprised to find how many good-tasting, good-for-you options there are, including:

Fresh fruits: grapes (try them frozen!), bananas, oranges, pears, apples
 Dried fruit: apricots, raisins, mangoes, cranberries
 Yogurt
 Yogurt fruit smoothies (great way to use the fruit that is getting past prime!)
 Trail mix
 Nuts and seeds: almonds, peanuts, walnuts, soy, pumpkin
 Sesame sticks
 Low-fat granola bars
 Low-fat string cheese
 Graham crackers
 Whole grain crackers
 Rice cakes
 Peanut butter
 Low-fat hummus: try all the flavors!
 Plain popcorn: try spray butter or soy sauce
 Pretzels or Baked chips
 Licorice bits

Three Quick Tasty, Healthy Breakfast Ideas to save you Time & Money: Courtesy of SWFC CashCourse and "Good Eats: Quick & Easy Food for Busy College Students", by Suzanne Sonneborn, R.D., L.D. and Cynthia W. Harriman.
1 serving, prep time: 3 minutes

• 1 large banana (the riper, the better)
• 1/2 cup frozen blueberries, or any other frozen fruit
• 1 cup milk (low-fat cow's milk or soy milk)

1. Put everything in a tall container (a really large empty jar is great!)
2. Blend with blender wand until smooth.
3. Drink!

Use strawberries, raspberries, or any fresh fruit. Of course you can use a regular blender. (Remember that fruit that is getting a little ripe?)

1 serving, prep time: 5 minutes
cook time: overnight, but with no effort on your part!

• 1/2 cup fruit (frozen, fresh or dried)
• 1/4 cup steel-cut oatmeal
• 1 cup boiling water

Before you go to bed at night:
1. Put fruit and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
2. Put the oatmeal in a large wide-mouth thermos.
3. Add the boiling water & fruit, swish to mix, then cap the thermos.

In the morning the oatmeal is ready when you are!
1. Eat from the thermos, or dump it in a bowl.
2. Add maple syrup or brown sugar if desired.
3. Add a little milk (soy or dairy) if desired.
4. Enjoy!

Blueberries, dried apples, peaches... actually, just about any kind of fruit tastes good.You could substitute rolled oats. But once you've tried the nutty, chewy flavor of steel-cut oats, you'll wonder why anyone eats rolled oats.

You can cook steel-cut oats on the spot. Just bring water and oats to a boil, turn down to just bubbling and cook uncovered (stirring occasionally) until all liquid is absorbed - about 20 minutes.  You can actually cut the cooking time in half by toasting the oats before cooking, but I personally recommend the overnight method - great for grab & go breakfasts, when you don' have time to think, let alone cook!

While You Shower !
2 servings, prep time: 2 minutes
cook time: 25 minutes, while you do other things

• 2/3 cup bulgur (dried cracked wheat)
• 1 1/3 cups water
• some dried fruits (cranberries, apricots, etc. – any amount will do)
• some nuts (pecans are yummy; again, any amount will do)
• some favorite spices (like cinnamon & nutmeg, vanilla)
• some seeds (sunflower, pumpkin; you can use in place of nuts)

1. Put the bulgur and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover tightly, turn it off, and leave for 25 minutes while you shower and get dressed. If you like your fruit a little less chewy, you can add the dried fruit at this point & it will “plump” up nicely!
2. Add "mix-ins" - fruits, nuts, seeds, any spice or flavoring - whatever you want.
3. Dump everything into a bowl. Add sweetener (sugar, honey, syrup) and/or milk if desired.

Bulgur takes about 12 minutes to cook (instead of 25) if you leave the heat on low and simmer it. But then you couldn't shower and get dressed while it cooks! Make a double batch and stick some in the fridge before you add syrup or milk. It's good later hot or cold!
For more great recipes, visit SWFC’s CashCourse: