Deli meat: Packaged or fresh?

I do not often visit my supermarket’s deli counter.

One time I asked for lamb shoulder, and the butcher looked at me like I was nuts. Apparently, lamb was out of season?

Whatev.

I usually just shop the meat sections and grab the usual: ground beef, ground turkey, chicken, pork chops and veal (if it’s on sale). I only buy frozen fish: salmon and tilapia.

I did not, however, realize that the supermarket deli sold sliced meat for sandwiches. I avoid packaged sliced deli meat unless it’s on sale. Not just because I don’t want to pay full price, but also because I don’t actually like deli meat that much. It’s so salty.

But if I can get fresh sliced deli meat from a butcher?

Um. Yes.

According to Recipe.com, the only instance you should visit the deli counter is when you only need a few slices of a product.

And, really, packaged deli meats come in 8- and 16-ounce portions. Husband and I do not eat that many sandwiches.

The next time I decide to make Italian Turkey Sandwiches, I’ll get my sliced turkey (and pastrami for Husband) from the deli counter.

Healthy eating on a budget

Two weeks ago, I wrote a blog about EatingWell’s five-night, $50 dinner menu.

I liked the idea of reducing my weekly grocery budget, but I didn’t focus on the nutritional-healthy-food aspect as much as I should have.

According to registered dietitian, Pamela Nisevich Bede, the least costly health foods are located in your grocer’s produce department.

…add to that… as long as you’re buying seasonally.

I find good deals at Dillon’s on apples, oranges, celery, carrots and bananas. Onions, potatoes and tomatoes rarely change price. Berries vary every week.

In the same article, Livestrong featured 10 Items that Provide the Most Nutrition at the Lowest Prices:

  • Spinach
  • Baby carrots (I like regular-sized carrots.)
  • Frozen edamame (Gross. No.)
  • Canned beans, legumes
  • Chicken breast, boneless, skinless
  • Canned salmon
  • Cottage cheese
  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Whole grain rice
  • Popcorn (Butter-free, of course.)

Stir-Fry Thursday is still on with this list. I think I’ll add Movie Night Saturday to my weekly menu.

Unhealthy health food

Occasionally, I eat a Larabar for a midday snack, especially if I’m on the run or planning an evening workout.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough is my favorite Larabar, which contains 4 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber and 11 grams of fat. It is 220 calories (and it. is. del. icio. us.). The Apple Pie or Banana Nut Larabars are probably better for me, but I cannot get enough of that cookie dough.

I like Larabars because they’re made from all-natural ingredients that I can pronounce. I do not eat Larabars because I think they’ll help me lose weight.

However, Larabars are one of the six healthy-sounding foods that aren’t really healthy. According to EatingWell, energy bars, like the Larabar, are about as healthy as a Snickers.

I disagree.

Snickers do not have fruit. Snickers do not contain only ingredients I can pronounce. Snickers are way worse for your teeth.

Larabars win.

Granola is also a non-healthy health food because it’s loaded with sugar, which is probably contributing in part to my weight loss plateau. (Note: I am never giving up granola. I put less than a 1/4 cup in my Greek yogurt every day. I love it. Screw the facts.)

And guess what! Yogurt, even Greek yogurt, is a non-healthy health food.

Figures.

Whatever. I get lots of calcium.

Salads, smoothies and sushi rolls made the EatingWell list, too. It never crossed my mind that sushi would be healthy except for the fact that I get omega-3 fatty acids from the fish.

Here is how I make my non-healthy health foods healthy again.

  • I do not load my yogurt and smoothies with sugar.
  • I do not cover my salad in salad dressing.
  • I do not eat refined carbohydrates and sugar on a regular basis.
Tada. Have a Larabar. Eat some granola and yogurt. Have a salad.

Post-run beers from Runner’s World

When I am wrong, I admit I am wrong (unless I’m wrong about something Husband was right about, then I’m still right).

Well, folks, I was wrong about drinking alcohol after a workout.

I said that I preferred a cold glass of water and a shower, not grabbing a light beer or meeting the girls for cosmos. But I might have to have a beer after my next long run.

Why?

Runner’s World posted a slide show featuring 7 Tasty Post-Run Beers that can boost your energy and rehydrate your body.

And I trust Runner’s World as a source of information for runners… and drinkers, apparently.

Now, I plan on hunting down the Smuttynose Old Brown Dog and drinking it when I’m dog-tired after a good long run this summer.

Wish me luck.

A palate of green: Soups and smoothies for the spring

When I was young, spring began in March.

At the beginning of March, my grandfather would start preparing his gardens for vegetables and flowers. I cannot wait for the sun-warmed tomatoes!

Homegrown in Home Garden skinnyshae grandfather

The first purple flowers of phlox began to bloom, and the song birds came back to bathe in the bird bath in the back yard.

Last Sunday, I visited my grandparents, and Papa plucked the first phlox flower of spring for my grandmother. The flowers are about the size of a nickel so it was a sweet gesture more than a romantic one.

Plus, they’re in their 70’s. Anything lovey-dovey is cute. (No disrespect.)

Papa also pointed out the Cardinals and Robins bathing in the pool of water that had collected after some wintry ice melted.

Flowers, birds and so much green. I love spring, and I’m glad it is finally spring in Kansas.

…well, as spring as Kansas can get… It sleeted-snowed last Thursday.

I crave greenery and outside during spring, especially since I know the summer will kill me (and all the flowers) with its stupid hotness.

I also crave green eats (and if I’m at a picnic… Holy cow! I’ll be a happy camper.) Fresh, crunchy salads are my favorite go-to lunch during the spring. It just feels right to be eating spinach in the spring.

Of course, green salad after green salad after green salad can get a little boring. What do we do when we’re bored? Eat French fries… or maybe that’s just me.

I am going to switch up my green routine this spring by adding in sweet smoothies and savory soups.

Last December, Lisa and Maria of Healthy Diaries posted the “12 Days of Green Smoothies” for the “12 Days of Christmas.” The Gingerbread Cookie Smoothie made me think of Christmas, but the green-ness of the smoothies just screamed spring! I’m excited to feed Husband the green Peanut Butter Fudge Smoothie. His favorite flavor but probably not his favorite smoothie color.

Another option I plan on trying is the Green Monster Smoothie from My Little Celebration!

Spring evenings can get a little chilly, and a warm bowl of soup feels good when the house is drafty regardless of the season. I found vibrant green soups at EatingWell, and I want to make the Spinach Soup with Rosemary Croutons for my chilly March evenings.

Green season! Green salads, smoothies and soups!

I’m so happy it is time for spring!

Buy dinner for a week with $50

My monthly grocery budget is huge.

Feeding Hobbes, Ivan and Husband (and myself!) can get expensive. Ivan and Hobbes eat pricey pet food but don’t eat that much, and neither of them like people food… unless, of course, they’ve sneaked it out of the trash.

Then it’s a treat.

But Husband and I have ever-changing palettes. Some weeks we want veal and duck, and other weeks we’re happy with ground beef and Kroger chicken.

However, veal or chuck, the grocery budget is still huge.

Admittedly, I do purchase pricier food items than I used to buy. I spend an enormous amount of money on Greek yogurt, granola, Kashi cereals and power bars. (I usually hit a 10-4-$10 on Greek yogurt and a 10-4-$6 on Husband’s yogurt with coupons, but I can still spend upwards of $20 on yogurt alone.)

Fresh fruit and vegetable costs vary weekly and meat is always a different price per pound. Eggs got more expensive, and I’ve given up on fancy cheese and nuts.

But why not just buy cheaper food like I used to advocate?

Well, I research and blog about diet and health, and I post recipes (that may or may not be that healthy)… I just feel like I ought to eat what I preach, you know? Husband is on board, and the dog has been eating expensive food since birth for his health.

…the cat licks his own business… he doesn’t get to vote…

The point is that I spend way too much money on groceries weekly. I want a smaller grocery budget, and EatingWell created one way I can put some greens on my plate and keep some in the bank.

EatingWell designed a five-night dinner menu made up healthy food for $50. The magazine even created the shopping list including what I would have in my pantry.

I am ALL about Stir-Fry Thursday.

What’s your grocery budget like? Do you coupon? If you don’t, you really have to obsess yourself with it. I find my shopping trips to be happily more stressful! ;)

Paleolithic for a gluten-free, dairy-free diet

What do you think about eating like a caveman? Mostly red meat, crunchy vegetables, sweet berries and raw nuts every day all day?

Yes, please. (Right now I’m craving crispy greens tossed with almonds and strawberries with a raspberry vinaigrette.)

Cavemen ate a Paleo diet, which is less of a fad diet and more of a lifestyle change. Cavemen killed and searched for food, of course, and I plan to purchase my red meat, crunchy carrots and juicy blackberries at Dillon’s, but the principle is the same.

But what about cinnamon toast? And what about spaghetti? HOLY CRAP WHAT ABOUT YOGURT?

Cavemen did not eat cinnamon toast, spaghetti and yogurt – not even Greek yogurt with berries and granola. (For that matter, cavemen did not eat salad dressed with raspberry vinaigrette. Nothing’s perfect.)

I love crunchy veggies and sweet berries, especially blackberries, but can I eat a Paleo diet?

The answer to that question is clearly “no.” I cannot give up dairy. I do avoid cheese and drink almond milk instead of cow milk but only to make up for the fact that I consume an unnecessary amount of Greek yogurt daily.

My on-a-break* workout buddy, Ashley, and her husband are eating Paleo. She said it was a little expensive and strict, but she weighed the benefits and figured it was worth it.

I want to try to eat Paleo. Paleo eating just makes sense to me.

The United States Department of Agriculture changed the pyramid to a plate to better represent a healthy diet. Most of the plate is vegetables and grains, but grains are not a part of the Paleo diet. (I agree that ditching the pyramid model was a good idea.)

Eating according to the USDA makes less sense to me, especially since I want to cut back on the amount of wheat I consume.

I do not want to go full-on gluten-free because I do not have Celiac disease, and I doubt I have a gluten sensitivity. I also do not want to go full-on gluten-free because I want to lose weight.

Anyway, according to registered dietitian Bonnie Modugno, it doesn’t really work that way.

“You’ll spend a lot of time reading food labels,” she said. “You might get the same effect by limiting your starches and sugars. Moderation takes a lot of skill and discipline. My recommendation is to stick closer to the earth with beans, legumes, starchy vegetables, nuts and seeds.”

But a gluten-free friend told me that by feeding her son a gluten-free menu, his skin cleared up and just looked healthier. I would love to benefit from a Paleo diet with clearer skin.

Would LOVE it.

Other than food choices, the Paleo diet promotes sleeping when it’s dark, waking with the sun and getting outside for activity. I am OK with all of that.

Have you tried the Paleo diet? What do you think? How do you feel? Expensive? Hard to follow? Can I do it and still eat Greek yogurt if I skip the granola?

*Ashley and I are only on a break because it’s our last semester of grad school and we’re both crazy people. We’ll be running together again soon I hope.