Banana-Orange Smoothie

Smoothies are a great breakfast beverage to have alone or with a separate protein source. I’ve been adding pea protein to mine, but sometimes I’ll enjoy them with an egg. I don’t consume the smoothies regularly during the autumn and winter months, but I begin to enjoy them each spring and through the summer.

I may change this habit, drinking them during the colder months more often. They are a great way to extra nutrients into your diet.

I used store-bought bananas as a base, but the rest of the produce was from my Madness Box from Misfits Market (Affiliate Link).

Everything but the bananas were organic. In all honesty, I don’t usually bother with organic bananas because the skin is so thick on the fruit. This may change in the future, as I learn more about things. But, for now. non-organic is the way I am going with store-bought, thick-skinned produce.

Note that I do use a personal blender, not a full-size one. There is a fill line, so I don’t measure things out. I just fill until I hit that line.

Banana-Orange Smoothie

Ingredients

1 small banana, peeled

1 orange, peeled

1 tbsp pea protein powder

1 tsp honey

frozen spinach or kale, a few sprinklings of it chopped

almond milk (can also use soy, rice, cashew, or even dairy milk if your body can handle it)

Directions

  1. Add a little liquid to the blender cup.
  2. Break banana into small chunks and add to the blender cup.
  3. Add orange slices to the cup.
  4. Add pea protein and honey.
  5. Sprinkle frozen kale or spinach bits to the blender cup.
  6. Add milk choice to cup, up to the fill line – or however much you need.
  7. Blend a few seconds, then pulse until smooth.

Tips

  • Serve at lunch with a salad.
  • Serve with a hot breakfast for added nutrients.
  • Drink a smoothie at snack-time for extra nutrients.
  • Make a thicker smoothie by using less liquid. Pour into a bowl, and top with more fruit, nuts, seeds, and coconut.

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Shrimp Scampi Salad

Salads are common fare during the spring and summer months, as we try to eat lighter after a winter of hearty meals. Experimenting with different combinations of foods keeps our meals new and exciting. I don’t know about you, but I get so bored with food after a while I need to break out and try something different or I wont feel like eating at all.

This recipe is super-easy, and is so good. I use the same recipe for shrimp scampi that I used to make Lettuce Wraps: Shrimp Scampi & Veggies. As a matter-of-fact, I used leftover shrimp from the scampi made for that meal with no loss of flavor.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck, copyright 2017. http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/shannonbuck

What a beautiful salad! How about making one for yourself.

Ingredients

about a dozen shrimp from the scampi recipe (I used the one from Paleoplan.com) (Hot or cold. does not matter.)

2 romaine lettuce leaves, rinsed, patted dry, and shredded

a little cabbage, shredded

3 slices cucumber, cut in fourths

3 slices zucchini, cut in fourths

7 or 8 sugar snap or snow pod peas

4 baby carrots, diced

  1. Layer the vegetables on your plate, however you like.
  2. Top with the shrimp scampi and a little of the sauce from the pan.
  3. Enjoy!

I try to use mainly organic vegetables when possible, though sometimes cost trumps everything.

This is a good-size salad, so I count it as a main meal.

Tips

  • Use whatever vegetables you can get affordably to save money.
  • Try different types of seafood.

Serving Suggestions

What are your favorite salad recipes?

Shannon

 

Frugal Popsicle Ideas

Spring and summer are the best times for popsicles. Sitting on the front porch with the family on a warm evening, enjoying a popsicle, and watching the stars, was one of my favorite things when Skye and Zowie were little.

These popsicles are easy for children to make, though mom or dad may need to cut the fruit for them.

You can make popsicles from these drinks by simply pouring them into popsicle molds bought for $1 per set at a dollar tree, making these very frugal treats for everyone. Pull them out when you hear the ice cream truck approaching.

Liquids for Popsicles

Fruit add-ins for popsicles

Adding fruit to the popsicles will make them extra special.

  • kiwi
  • banana
  • apple chunks
  • pear chunks
  • strawberry chunks
  • raspberries
  • blueberries

What are your favorite popsicle liquids and add-ins? Let us know in the comments.

Shannon

 

 

Cheeseburger with Vegetables, and a Chocolatey-Good Smoothie

When the weather starts to warm, I like to be outside more and my food choices change. Now I want more fresh vegetables and less heavier foods. Fruits and vegetables make up the bulk of my meals, especially during the spring and summer months, and healthy smoothies are made almost daily.

My lunch today included a burger (minus the bun!), a smoothie, and corn on the cob. Then all the vegetables came in to play. A few notes:

  • I don’t usually eat corn. Once a year, in the spring, I buy four ears of corn and that’s it for the year. Corn is such a huge GMO crop, and I’m pretty sure the corn sold where I shop is not organic.
  • Notice the lack of bun. I’m going back to limiting grain intake substantially, because I always seem to gain weight back so quickly when I eat pastas and breads.
  • The vegetables on the cheeseburger plate are all organic, and oh-so tasty!
  • The cheese is all-natural. I don’t eat cheese often, either. I feel like it is also a contributing factor when I gain weight, so I’m back to limiting it.
  • The ketchup I use is organic.
  • The parsley is organic, and I dried it at home and keep it in a canning jar.
  • I’m using coconut butter more often than not, rather than regular butter. I find it brings out the natural flavors of different foods, and is far healthier.

Cheeseburger and Vegetables

1 quarter pound ground beef

1 slice of mozzarella cheese

coconut oil

sea salt

pepper

garlic powder

onion powder

dried parsley

4 homemade bread and butter pickles

3 slices of cucumber

3 baby carrots

6 each snow peas and sugar peas

fresh broccoli

raw spinach

organic ketchup

  1. Melt a tablespoon of coconut oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Form 1/4th pound of ground beef into a patty, and place it in the hot skillet. While this is cooking, I flip it four times.
  3. After I’ve flipped it three times, I grind a little salt and pepper over the patty, then add a little of each powder.
  4. Place the fresh spinach at the center of a plate and top with the cucumber slices and pickles.
  5. Chop the carrots, and place those and the remaining vegetables around the plate.
  6. After flipping the patties for the last time, I repeat step 3, then sprinkle the dried parsley over the top.
  7. Turn the burner off, and place the cheese over the patty.
  8. Make the smoothie. (see recipe below)
  9. When the cheese is melted, place the cheeseburger on the spinach, cucumber slices, and pickles.
  10. Add ketchup to the burger.

Corn

1 ear of corn

water

coconut butter

  1. Fill a small pot half way with water.
  2. Place the pot on the stove over high heat. (I did this when I started melting the oil for the beef patty.)
  3. Break the corn in two, and place in the pot.
  4. When the burger is done, the corn should be hot enough to eat.
  5. Place the corn on a plate, and spread a little coconut oil over each half.

Chocolatey-Good Smoothie

(I use a one-serving blender, so this recipe is catered to that.)

almond milk

about 7 or 8 baby spinach leaves

1 small banana, sliced small

frozen fruit mix (today I used apple slices, cherries, grapes, strawberries, and blueberries.)

  1. Pour a little almond milk in the bottom of the cup.
  2. Place the spinach in the cup.
  3. Add the banana slices.
  4. Add the mixed frozen fruit up to the fill line.
  5. Fill the cup to the fill line with more almond milk.
  6. Cover and blend about 10 seconds.
  7. Let sit a few seconds and blend another 10 seconds.
  8. Let sit again, then blend again until well mixed. 10 to 20 seconds, usually.

Tips

  • Buy organic when possible, but don’t feel guilty when you can’t. My meat, corn, and fruit was not organic. It is too expensive for me to eat all organic foods, so I simply do the best I can. You’re still going to be eating better than when you buy mostly processed foods. I have a very limited budget for groceries, but I make the best choices I can.
  • Mix up the vegetables. Use whatever is affordable when you shop for this meal.
  • Change the frozen fruit mix once-in-a-while.

This was a delicious meal, and I’m planning to have it for lunch tomorrow as well.

Shannon

 

 

Earth Day Activities for Frugal Meal Preparation Throughout the Year

Happy Earth Day! The Earth Day Network wants to plant 7.8 billion trees as a way to combat climate change. What a wonderful thing to do! Want to help? Check out how to do so here. You can bet I’d be planting trees if I had the space to do so.

There are many ways the frugal cook might choose to celebrate Earth Day. Here are a few ideas for your consideration:

When Shopping…

  • Use canvas totes or reusable shopping bags.
  • Try making your own produce bags. I plan to do this at some point. Now that I purchase more fresh produce, I seem to collect those plastic produce bags like crazy. I use them as bags for used cat litter when I’m scooping the boxes, but I don’t want to collect them at all. The homemade bags will have to be lightweight, as the produce is measured in terms of pounds. Reusable produce bags may also be purchased, if you’re not a particularly crafty person.
  • Or opt not to use any produce bags at all when possible. It is perfectly okay to place 3 apples, 2 pears, 5 oranges, and 4 peaches on the conveyor at the register, and expect them not to package each type of fruit separately.
  • Look for items with less packaging. Bulk purchases may seem like the way to go due to cost, but they may also provide extra packaging that will only end up in a landfill.

While In the Kitchen…

  • Cook from scratch whenever possible. By doing this, you can by items with less packaging.
  • Use cookware and other items that are meant to last. Cheap cookware ends up in a landfill more quickly, as do cheap plastic measuring utensils. Use items that were made to last, from a material that does not have known toxins. In the long run, you’ll save much money and be less wasteful. I am working toward getting cast iron cookware, as much as is reasonable for my situation. And I’m researching other types of cookware.
  • Bake more than one item at a time to save money and energy.
  • Use small appliances more, large appliances less.

While On The Go…

  • Use reusable water bottles.
  • Walk or bike everywhere you can.

When In the Garden…

  • Use empty milk and juice jugs, rather than dispose of all of them. Save them in the shed when not in use. In the garden, these make wonderful mini greenhouses that will aid you in extending your growing season. Cut the bottoms off and leave the cover off. A jug with a screw on lid makes a good watering jug because you can poke holes in the cover.
  • Start a compost, after constructing your own bin.
  • Plant a vegetable garden to save money and other resources.
  • Plan an herb garden. This alone will save money on your shopping bill if you cook or craft with herbs. You’ll also be able to make your own teas. And you wont be wasting all the packaging.
  • Reuse water from cooking eggs and vegetables to water plants.
  • Collect rain water in buckets or rain barrels for watering the garden, if it is legal to do so in your area. If not, it might be time to fight for your right to do so. This will save money only if you pay for water. It will save on use of this precious resource either way.

In what ways do you celebrate Earth Day, and work toward a better planet?

Shannon

 

Trying New Foods, Harmless Harvest, and Earth Day

During my journey into eating healthier, I’ve been trying new foods. It’s important to do this, to make sure we’re getting all the nutrients we need. One of the ultimate goals to healthy eating is to get almost all of your nutrients through food, minimizing the supplements we need to take. Another ultimate goal is to learn how to prepare these foods in healthy ways, to stay on track with our nutrition goals. Many people also want to eat in a more sustainable way.

Try new foods!

By trying new foods, we can meet at least the first two goals. I’m not saying we’re going to like everything we test out, but it is important to at least try. There will be hits and misses, and that’s fine. When something is a miss, rather than ruling it out completely, we might try it another way.

When I started this journey, sweet potato was something I knew I wanted to try. I didn’t really like it, so I decided to try it again, differently. The second time, I had only half a serving with a half serving of white potato. I mashed the two together, and it tasted just fine. Over the course of my experiment, I slowly added a bit more sweet potato and took away a bit more white potato each time. Eventually, I came to like sweet potato without the white. Later, I used the same process with squash and am able to eat that without potato now.

Unfortunately, this experiment did not work with carrots. I need to be able to mash them up with white or sweet potato, or even squash, or I can’t eat them cooked. However, I do love them raw!

I’ve tried mango a few times and can’t stand it, unless it is in smoothie form with other tropical fruits. Yum!

Other things I’ve been able to add without mixing, such as raw spinach and kale (who knew they would be so good!). I can’t eat them cooked, yet. I love almond and cashew milks, even though I’ve never been able to stand almonds and cashews. I’ve even gotten to the point where I can add sliced almonds to some things. Now that is progress!

Considering I’d only ever had sweetened coconut flakes, I was surprised to find I love the organic, unsweetened flakes, as well as all other coconut products I’ve tried. I almost solely use coconut oil, I like coconut cream with cocoa powder or pure extracts, and coconut milk is delicious. I even use coconut water in my smoothies sometimes.

I don’t always have the extra money to try some of the new organic, non-gmo, Paleo-friendly, items that I want to try but, during months when I have a few extra dollars, this is exactly what I choose to use the extra money for. If I like something, I try to budget for it every so often.

And once in a while, a company will contact me to try and review a product. I don’t review it unless I like it and know I’ll use it again at some point. You may have read my piece on Leap Organic Smoothie Bowl Powders. I’m trying protein powders in my smoothies as well. These were free for me to try, and they help me to decide if something is worth buying.

What new foods will I be trying next? I have a list, and am trying them as I can. The list includes items such as cashews, papaya, raw Brussels sprouts (don’t like them steamed!), sunflower butter, and coconut probiotics.

Harmless Harvest

Harmless Harvest has a coconut probiotic I’ll be trying soon, and I’ll be sure to let you know what I think of it. It’s made with pure coconut water (yum!), and I like what I’ve read about the company so far. They are an ecosystem based business that considers sustainability of the utmost importance. This Earth Day, Saturday the 22nd, the Harmless Harvest staff will be volunteering to show their support. They are a fair-for-life company, and their coconut waters are environmentally conscious. Their goal is for a zero-waste ingredient model, and they are working toward that goal by not only using the water from the coconut in their coconut probiotic, but also the meat.

Why are probiotics important?

Probiotics are important because they stimulate the growth of beneficial microorganisms. These microorganisms are important for proper gut health, which is important to the overall health of the body.

I’ve been a bit worried about gut health since taking on a mainly Paleo diet. I’m not eating milk-based yogurt any more, so I’m wondering what I can replace that with that will be Paleo-friendly. I’m looking into coconut yogurt, and Harmless Harvest Coconut Probiotic was recently brought to my attention. Can’t wait to try it!

Celebrating Earth Day Year Round

I don’t celebrate Earth Day once a year. To me, it a year-round thing. There are so many things we can all do to lessen our negative impact on the Earth, that we can incorporate things throughout the year. Here are some things I do/use:

  • Reusable lunch sack for work meals.
  • Reusable containers for work meals.
  • Reusable water bottle while at work and when walking.
  • Leftover water from cooking to water plants.
  • Use canning jars to store food in the refrigerator. Since I don’t process foods in the jars, I can reuse the lids as well.
  • Use wool dryer balls.
  • Use fabric (not paper) towels.
  • Try to buy products in glass jars that I can reuse for other purposes. I don’t buy items in jars often.
  • Pick up trash from the ground when I’m out and about.
  • Eat less meat than I used to.
  • Buy organic/non-gmo/sustainable when possible.
  • Use less paper and plastic products.

Am I perfect? Nope. But, then, who is? But every single thing I’m doing makes an impact and makes a statement.

How are you celebrating Earth Day? How are you eating healthier these days? What products do you adore to help you meet these things?

Shannon

Patriotic Holiday Recipes: Red, White, and Blue Parfait

A simple treat that can be used as a side to any meal, or a snack, or even as a dessert. And, they are great when served at Patriotic holiday tables. Small children can help with this one as well, if you cut the grapes yourself.

Keep these in the refrigerator until they are ready to serve. The measurements will depend on how many you need to make.

Ingredients

red grapes

blueberries

coconut cream concentrate

pure vanilla extract

  1. Rinse the fruit. Dry carefully with a clean towel.
  2. Halve the grapes.
  3. Combine the coconut cream and 1+ tsp pure vanilla in a bowl, and whisk or beat a couple of minutes to blend well.
  4. Place some blueberries into the bottom of each sundae cup, and a dollop of cream, then add grapes.
  5. Add another dollop of cream to the top, and a few more blueberries.
  6. Refrigerate.

Tips

  • Rather than using grapes, try red apple slices, raspberries, or strawberries. Whatever will allow you to save a little money.
  • Drizzle the top with an easy syrup: Raspberries or strawberries, boiled in water to make a syrup. Do not add sweetener.

Serving Suggestions

  • Serve at breakfast with pancakes and sausage.

You may also enjoy these patriotic holiday recipes

Watermelon Stars

A Simple Food Platter

Berries and Cream

Fruit Salad

Berry Parfait

Happy 4th of July!

Shannon

Patriotic Holiday Recipes: Watermelon Stars

These snacks are so easy to make, and are great fun for children to help with. Be sure to do the cutting with the knife yourself, then set them to making the stars while you prepare the cream.

You will need a medium size star cookie cutter, or a set of different size ones. Set the stars out on a platter, or a large sheet of cardboard covered with aluminum foil.

Ingredients

1 medium watermelon (Because the children will want to eat some while helping!)

1 can coconut cream concentrate

1+ tsp pure vanilla

1/2 to 1 pint blueberries

  1. Rinse the fruit, and pat dry with a clean towel.
  2. Cut the watermelon into slices thin enough so the cutters will go all the way through.
  3. Use star-shaped cookie cutters to cut stars from the watermelon slices, and place on a lined platter (or cardboard!).
  4. Pour the cream into a bowl and add some vanilla. Whisk or beat for a couple of minutes to combine well.
  5. Spoon a little cream on each star, smoothing it out evenly.
  6. Top each star with a few blueberries.

Tips

  • Try doing the same with honey-dew or cantaloupe sometime.

Serving Suggestions

  • These make great appetizers, or even snacks.

You may also enjoy these patriotic holiday recipes

Red, White, and Blue Parfait

A Simple Food Platter

Berries and Cream

Fruit Salad

Berry Parfait

Don’t forget the take the kids outside with their own watermelon slices, and have a seed spitting contest!

Happy Fourth of July!

Shannon

Patriotic Holiday Recipes: Berries and Cream

In trying to come up with some easy patriotic recipes, I find myself concentrating a lot on berries because of their brightness of color.

Fresh, they are the tastiest fruits to use. Try picking them on your own for the most affordable way to get them. Growing them is easy, or you can find them out in the wild. Picking them at farms is another way to go, though this time of the year (end of June) you may find they are just as affordable in the store.

This is a simple way to use berries. Find clear bowls, or even clear sundae cups (coupled with real tea spoons!), to chill and serve these in.

Ingredients

1 pint blueberries

1/2 to 1 pint strawberries

a fresh mint for each bowl or cup for garnish, + extra for chopping

coconut cream concentrate

1 tsp or more pure vanilla

  1. Rinse the berries, and blot dry carefully with a clean towel.
  2. Hull and slice the strawberries, and add them to a bowl with the blueberries.
  3. Rinse the sprigs of mint as well, again blotting dry with a towel.
  4. Peel the leaves of mint from a sprig, and chop roughly. Add this to the berries.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine coconut cream and vanilla, whisking or beating for a couple of minutes to combine well.
  6. Fold the cream into the bowl of berries and mint, carefully mixing until coated. Start with half the cream, then add more if needed. A light coating is all that is necessary.
  7. Spoon the berry mixture into clear bowls or cups, and add a sprig of mint to each.
  8. Chill until ready to serve.

Tips

  • Try different berry combinations. Use whatever is in season.
  • See if you can stock up on cream and vanilla while on sale, and look for coupons to save money.

Serving Suggestions

  1. Serve this as a side with a burger and side salad.
  2. Or, serve as a dessert after lunch or dinner.

You may also enjoy these patriotic holiday recipes

Watermelon Stars

A Simple Food Platter

Berries and Cream

Fruit Salad

Berry Parfait

Red, White, and Blue Parfait

Have a happy Fourth of July!!!

Shannon

 

Patriotic Holiday Recipes: Fruit Salad

Salads are great for patriotic holidays, because of the sheer number of color combinations of the different foods that might be added. This salad concentrates on combining reds, whites, and blues, in a tasty way that will make your mouth water. Sweetness, with a bit of tang. Perfect for the Fourth of July or any other patriotic day.

I love fruit salads. Previously, I have made them with whipped topping. Feel free to do so if you prefer, but I am trying to eat healthier. This is a new recipe for me, in that it uses coconut cream instead of whipped, as well as berries.

I am sometimes able to get a couple pints of blueberries at the grocery store for $4.00, or can buy them for $2.00 per pint on the side of the road. Fresh berries are the best to use, and often the most affordable.

There are no measurements for my version, as I usually make a lot and eat what is left over the following few days. I really just guess at everything. I will try to give measurements here though. Use them or not. Change them if you please.

This is a great recipe for kids, but an adult will want to open the cans and cut the fruit.

Ingredients

1 can pineapple chunks in water

1 large banana

1/2 to 1 cup of unsweetened coconut flakes

1 pint blueberries

1 pint raspberries

1/2 pound strawberries

1 can coconut cream concentrate

1 tsp or more pure vanilla

  1. Drain the pineapple chunks, reserving the juice for later use in a smoothie or another recipe by storing it in a covered canning jar.
  2. Peel the banana, and slice into rounds. Cut the rounds into halves or quarters, whatever you prefer.
  3. Rinse the remaining fruits, and pat dry with a clean towel.
  4. Cut them into slices or chunks.
  5. Place all the fruit in a bowl. Cover with coconut flakes.
  6. Pour the coconut cream into another bowl, and add vanilla to taste. Whisk or beat for a couple of minutes to combine well.
  7. Pour as much of the cream as you think you will need into the bowl with the fruit and coconut flakes. You can always add more if necessary. Combine the cream with the berries, and coconut, using a rubber spatula, until well combined. Add more cream if necessary. If not, store in a covered container in the refrigerator.

Tips

  • Try using different types of berries. Whatever is affordable (or free!) at the time.
  • Look into whether it would be more affordable to buy a whole watermelon than canned.

Serving Suggestions

  • Serve at barbecues and picnics with burgers, corn on the cob, and other foods.

You may also enjoy these patriotic holiday recipes

Watermelon Stars

A Simple Food Platter

Berries and Cream

Red, White, and Blue Parfait

Berry Parfait

Happy 4th of July!

Shannon