Tag Archives: What’s for Dinner Ma?

I’m tired of excuses; You can still eat healthy on a tight budget

As I’m searching through my recipes for a healthy dinner option tonight, I noticed one for stuffed bell peppers. Mmm, I haven’t had those in a long time. The recipe called for brown rice, which is not allowed in my paleo diet. But, being a young student there isn’t a lot in my cupboard and I decide to cheat, just this once.

I had completely cut cereal grains out of my diet and I decided to cook my bell pepper stuffing with the tiny bit of brown rice I had left from before I altered my diet. I hate to see things go to waste when I’m already searching the couch cushions for change.

This all reminded me of the common excuse Americans have for not eating healthy; that healthy food is expensive. I suppose when you’re trying to feed a family of four on a salary below poverty line, it can be hard.

But bell peppers only cost seventy-something cents. And a pound of ground turkey cost $3.98. You could make four stuffed bell peppers without the rice for less than $7.00.

There are ways to stretch your budget. But I think that it’s a mindset that is the problem here and not the money.

People are too stuck in their ways. People like sugar and sweet tasting foods. People don’t want to be healthy. I get the strangest looks when I tell people the changes to my diet I’ve made. Jaws drop when I tell people that I eat my sandwich on two romaine leaves. They don’t get it.

“Instead of investing in material goods, invest in yourself, your health, your mind, body and soul.” Photo Credit: healthdoctrine.com

My last grocery bill before I started the paleo diet was about $94.00. My most recent grocery bill from when I first  started the paleo diet was $163.08. But I bought a portable heater for $17.00 and some puppy food for $12.44. Those are things I don’t  buy everytime I go to the store. So my actual bill for food was $133.64.

Ok so that is still more than the $94 before the paleo diet. But I had to buy some start up foods like olive oil, coconut oil, almond meal and some more spices.

I bought garlic powder, minced garlic, parsley, and oregano. All together these cost $17.22.

The coconut oil was $5.98.

The almond meal and the olive oil were a little harder to buy.

The almond meal cost $9.00 for a mere pound.

And I thought that the almond meal was bad until I got to the olive oil. I decided to go ahead and buy the largest size. It’s not like I wasn’t going to use it or it was going to spoil and it would save me money in the long run. For 3 liters of olive oil it cost me $22.12.

Everytime I go to the grocery store, I’m not going to be buying $22.00 worth of olive oil or four different spices. I like to consider all these foods part of a “start-up cost” for the paleo diet.

If I subtract all these expenses from the $133.64, then my bill comes out to be $79.32. That’s about $15 cheaper than the bill before the paleo diet!

Still, I’m sure there are some people who find it hard to justify buying $22.00 worth of olive oil or a 1lb $9.00 bag of almond meal/flour when you can buy 5lbs of regular flour for $2.00.

But think about it this way. You’ve probably bought a cotton shirt for $20.00 that cost mere cents to make. Shoot, some of you have probably bought designer jeans for $150 that cost nowhere near that price to make.

Or what about electronics? That ipod you have is built to break. That laptop, it’ll need an upgrade in about two years. These things cost hundreds of dollars.

I hope next time you’re shopping, you think about buying healthy options, even if they are a dollar or two more. Instead of investing in material goods, invest in yourself, your health, your mind, body and soul.



Filed under Feature, Features, Food, Health, Paleo Diet, People, Personal

When vegans attack I ask, ‘is there one right way to eat?’

Last week, I had the pleasure of reading some very heated ramblings about a college course an acquaintance of mine was taking, called the psychology of food.

Being a vegan, she went onto say that the book her professor wrote was “backwards.” 3o comments later, her Facebook friends, many of them vegans as well, were supporting her, giving her “intelligent” advice such as “Pardon me, my dear []… Fuck that shit. You tell her what’s up!” and “You need to fight this bitch!”

Funny, I always thought vegans were peaceful people, abstaining from meat to save the animals or some bullshit like that. But they showed more malicious behavior towards their fellow man than they did to some soulless creature that cultures all over  the world have been eating since the beginning of time.

I have to agree with this young lady that I find it upsetting that the professor doesn’t believe in eating fruits or vegetables. But I also find it hard to believe the professor actually believes this. I suspect there might be some human error in misunderstanding the text.

Assumptions aside, I put my two cents in, agreeing that fruits and veggies are a vital part of a diet, but that meat is also good and can be substituted with other protien-filled options if one is not comfortable consuming meat. And then, the vegan attacked me.

I didn’t reply. There is no arguing with someone set in stone.

She made my point, however, but from the viewpoint of cereal grains. We’ve been brought up to think whole wheat is a healthy option. People eat bread everyday to make sandwiches, as a side item to their spaghetti, a roll to their bbq, toast. Think about toast. A piece of bread with fat and sugar spread on it, optionally of course. Our bodies can’t digest all this grain.

I believe in meat. I don’t believe in over-indulging in meat. But I believe that we should eat meat. I think that the way it is prepared now days, in filthy conditions with animals being fed a largely corn diet, which our bodies also can’t digest, is contaminating the sacredness of meat. Combined with a weathly country that can afford to buy meat and eat it all the time, along with boxed fatty foods and no desire to go outside and play anymore, of course the obesity and diabetes rates in this country are spiked.

This young woman did mentioned there have been studies about meat that links it to cancer, as many other things in our daily lives are linked to cancer. So I found a study and analyzed it.

First off, the study was done by The National Cancer Institute. Not a completely unbiased party. They’re out to link everything to cancer. They’re expecting things to cause cancer. They want to scare us.

Second off, the study only regarded red meats, such as “beef, pork, bacon, ham, hamburger, hot dogs, liver, pork sausage, steak, and meats in foods such as pizza, stews, and lasagna.” But what about white meat such as turkey, fish and chicken? So, I say to my dear acquaintance, is all meat bad, or just half of it?

Third, the study was done with 50 to 71 year olds. Come on! 71? They’re almost dead anyways. There are too many other health problems that these over-the-hill participants could have developed, say I don’t know, throughout their whole life, that could have accounted for an early mortality rate.

Plus, what about the corn diet these animals are eating. Our bodies can’t digest corn. And the filthy conditions they’re grown in and prepared in. They wash meat with ammonia. That sounds more cancerous to me than the meat.

I do agree that meat does have cholesterol and that red meat shouldn’t be consumed nearly as much as Americans eat it. But I don’t believe that we should completely knock it off a diet.

Of course, there are many that would disagree with me. You can still have a healthy diet being vegan. I guess there is just no one right way to eat.

Mmmm, surf n' turf, my favorite. Photo Credit: partyblueprintsblog.com

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Filed under chicken, Facebook, Feature, Features, Food, Health, humor, Kitchen, Paleo Diet, People, Personal, Vegan

I just can’t give up the alcohol

Photo Credit: babelwine.com

I love to drink.

And not just socially. I get home and have a glass of wine. Or I go to the beach and bring a six pack of tropical beer. I would hit up happy hour at least twice a week and then still had time to go out on the weekends.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a hard partier. I maintain a 3.7 GPA, have taken over 16 credit hours for the past four semesters and have had internships and jobs. I’m not an alcoholic…at least not yet.

Lately I’ve been noticing that the glass of wine I have at night, has turned into a bottle of wine. Easily. And with barely any sense of buzziness.

Then, that bottle of wine turned into a bottle and a half of wine.

That’s when I put a cork in it…literally.

I decided to stop buying alcohol for my house, and instead only go out on weekends. So far, it’s been a success.

Alcohol is not part of my paleo diet, but it’s just one thing I can’t give up. I gave up the bread, the cereal, the milk, oh the cheese. Sadly the cheese. But I just can’t give up the alcohol.

But is it a matter of can’t or won’t?

In the wake of a hangover, I was sifting through The Chart, one of my favorite places to read about health issues, and I stumbled across an article on “how the brain can make quitting alcohol harder.” Different people release different levels of opioid when they drink, leading them to perceive alcohol as more pleasurable than other people do.

This hardly sounds shocking. Studies have been done on alcoholics and brain chemistry for awhile.

But what really interested me about the study was that the “participants were 13 ‘heavy social drinkers’ and 12 healthy control subjects. Women considered ‘heavy social drinkers’ usually consume 10 to 16 drinks per week, and heavy-drinking men typically have 14 to 20 drinks per week.  Those in the control group drink fewer than five drinks per week among women, and seven drinks per week among men.”

And the “heavy social drinkers” would “have on average two drinks a day, which isn’t necessarily going to lead to dependency.” The article also mentioned, “It’s important to note, however, that this study did not involve alcoholics.”

I felt like this article was speaking to me. I wasn’t an alcoholic, but I was a heavy drinker.

The scary part of this study is that I pretty much conditioned my brain to love drinking. And in turn, it now reacts on its own.

“It’s hard to stop because part of your brain has learned that drinking is important and compels you to continue,” the article says.  “Your brain is telling you this is something important to you.”

The brain is truly a complexed wonder.

“The orbital frontal cortex makes them subconsciously learn to want that rush of pleasure again – making them seek and crave alcohol in a way they’re not even aware of.”

I’ve already taken a step in the right direction by limiting my intake. But I guess I’ll always subconsciously have the urge.


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Filed under Alcohol, Feature, Features, Food, Health, Paleo Diet, Personal, Science

Facebook community shocked by picture of chicken

Night before last I posted a delicious looking picture on Facebook of a pizza I made, using cauliflower for the crust. Within minutes I had two Facebook messages asking me for the recipe and another comment asking for it. 

When I made cinnamon chicken and posted a picture, the same thing happened in the form of two comments.

Looks like my Facebook friends are interested in good looking food and good tasting food. But good food can be healthy and alternative. In fact, it’s the mainstream restaurants and corporations that are duping us into eating food that has gone through so many processes, that it’s not really even food anymore.

Today I am pleased to get on Facebook and see this rather unusual looking picture being circulated. It looks like a gigantic spiral of play-doe that is being folded into a box. Can you guess what it is?

 For years McDonald’s has had a bad rep for their fatty foods. Documentaries like “Super Size Me” have sought to combat its grossly unhealthy menu. In this picture is what the chicken nuggets from McDonald’s used to be made of until 2010, according to a 2010 Huffington Post articleMany frozen chicken nuggets at the grocery store and other meat products are still made out of this paste. So what is this mush exactly?

It is mechanically separated chicken.

Ok…so what exactly is that?

“Mechanically separated poultry is a paste-like and batter-like poultry product produced by forcing bones, with attached edible tissue, through a sieve or similar device under high pressure to separate bone from the edible tissue. Mechanically separated poultry has been used in poultry products since the late 1960’s. In 1995, a final rule on mechanically separated poultry said it was safe and could be used without restrictions. However, it must be labeled as “mechanically separated chicken or turkey” in the product’s ingredients statement,” according to the USDA.

The real story as explained in the HuffPost article, which they got from Fooducate:

“Someone figured out in the 1960s that meat processors can eek out a few more percent of profit from chickens, turkeys, pigs, and cows by scraping the bones 100% clean of meat. This is done by machines, not humans, by passing bones leftover after the initial cutting through a high pressure sieve. The paste you see in the picture above is the result.”

“There’s more: because it’s crawling with bacteria, it will be washed with ammonia… Then, because it tastes gross, it will be reflavored artificially. Then, because it is weirdly pink, it will be dyed with artificial color.

But, hey, at least it tastes good, right?

High five, America!”

On Tuesday, Deb Mahan posted the picture on Facebook. So far it has generated 7 likes, 3,261 shares. Although she explains the process of mechanically separated chicken accurately, she wrongly says it is still in McDonald’s nuggets.

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I am no domestic goddess…or so I thought

I am terrible at cooking. I can mess up the easiest task. I mean, come on, I burn my toast every single time.

No one ever taught me the ways of the kitchen. My parents wouldn’t let me near a stove until I was 17 because they were scared I would burn the house down. And so, my potential with food suffered.

Now that I am on the paleo diet, I can’t have any cereal grains, which includes wheat, rye, brown rice, any kind of beans, etc. which means a lot more cooking with meats and spices and a lot less of throwing pasta on the burner or a pizza in the oven.

At first I was deterred. All I knew how to make was a chicken stir fry, which for the first week was all I had night after night.

But then I grew some balls and decided to try out a new recipe for cinnamon chicken.


I was so proud of myself. The meat didn’t dry out, the cinnamon and other spices weren’t too overpowering. It would be something I would serve to my husband, who by the way cooks very well, and would not be embarrassed.

My hope is to live healthier through eating unprocessed foods and of course experience new flavors through becoming a better cook.

My dog, Riley, is begging for my cinnamon chicken

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Filed under chicken, Feature, Features, Food, Health, humor, Kitchen, Personal