Chocolate-Banana Pudding with Berries, and a Smoothie

I admit it. I love chocolate. I don’t know too many women who don’t. However, I’m trying to eat healthier foods. Traditional chocolate desserts are a no-no, and I comply with that most of the time. When I really want chocolate and am at home, chocolate pudding is a dessert I enjoy. Because there is only one of me, I don’t eat the whole thing, but I do take half and make a smoothie for the next day. Both recipes are below.

Just let me say that I had never had an avocado, so I had no idea what this might taste like starting out. I was pleasantly surprised when I made the pudding and the smoothie. I still have never had just an avocado, but I do know I like it mixed in with other foods.

Avocado is not necessarily cheap, mind you, which means I don’t make this often. One costs me about .98. I can get more kiwi or bananas for the price, which is what I often do with a portion of my fruit money. But for only a once in a while treat, this is perfect.

Chocolate-Banana Pudding with Berries

Ingredients

1 chocolate-banana pudding recipe (I use this Paleo one from Paleotable.com)

2 large strawberries, the green cut off

a few blueberries

  1. Make the banana pudding recipe according to the directions on Paleotable.com.
  2. Mix with a blender and taste. If it’s not chocolatey enough for you, and another tablespoon of the cocoa powder.
  3. Chill for an hour or so, then split half the pudding between two small cups or bowls.
  4. Top with diced strawberries, and a few blueberries.
  5. Refrigerate the other half, covered.

Chocolate-Banana-berry Smoothie

Ingredients

1/2 of the chocolate-banana pudding recipe above

1/3 cup full-fat coconut milk that has been refrigerated over night

a few strawberries, greens cut off

a handful of blueberries

  1. Place everything into a blender.
  2. Cover and blend until combined.

Tips

  • Buy coconut milk on sale, preferably with a coupon, to save a little money.
  • Try adding strawberries or other berries to the smoothie.
  • Top the pudding with apple slices for dipping.

Serving Suggestions

  • Serve the pudding over a Paleo brownie, or with fruit slices for dipping.
  • Serve the smoothie for breakfast, with eggs on a bed of spinach.

Have a great day!

Shannon

Do You Drink Milk? What Kind?

Rarely do I ever drink cows milk. I’d be more apt to if I could get raw, organic milk, but I cannot. So I bet I drink about a gallon a year… mostly because I like the occasional milkshake. I do drink other organic milks, and am planning to learn to make Paleo ‘milk’ shakes at some point.

Expensive? Yes. Well, sort of. Years ago, when I used to buy cows milk at the store, I’d drink some at each meal and sometimes with snacks. I’d bake with it, and cook with it.

I don’t use any kind of milk that much any more. I don’t even drink a whole cup every day. If I did, it would be far too expensive at almost $3.00 per half-gallon.

How do I Use Milk Alternatives?

  • A few times a week I might have a cup with a meal.
  • I use it in smoothies, but not every day.
  • I use it when baking, which I do not do often.

What kinds of milk do I use?

  1. Almond
  2. Soy (when no others are available) (not often)
  3. Coconut
  4. Rice

I want to try other types as well.

What kinds of milk do you use? And how do you use them?

Let us know in the comments below, or email me at shannonlbuck@gmail.com. I respond to all emails.

Shannon

 

Simple Ways to Eat Healthier While Saving Money

Consuming nutritious food is important to our health, but can also be darn expensive. I could easily spend around $60.00 a week to eat healthy, but can’t really afford to do so very often. There is only one of me! It would be far less expensive to eat Ramen noodles and boxed mac and cheese, with cans of corn and peas, but I want better than that. I want fresh produce at each meal, along with some protein, because I feel better when I’m eating healthy.

So, how do I eat healthy while not spending $60.00 a week on food?

  • I drink water.
  • I drink tea.
  • I make my own iced teas, lemonades, and fruit waters. No sugar, just some raw honey in the lemonade – and not even as much of that as most people seem to use.
  • I have meat most meals, but don’t go overboard on the serving size. I fill in with more vegetables, usually carrots or celery, along with the vegetable servings I’m already consuming.
  • I don’t use a lot of flour and other baking needs. I try to eat more fresh foods, less processed.
  • I drink smoothies, using leftovers of fresh produce. Even vegetables! This way, I don’t waste anything.
  • I try not to stuff myself too full.
  • I use some leftovers in casseroles and meatloaf.
  • I freeze every bit of food left over from meals and snacks, if it’s freezable and I know I wont use it right off. I even have little freezable containers that only hold a couple of tablespoons of food. And then I use them.
  • I bring leftovers home after eating out, and use them to make new meals.
  • I make slow cooker meals almost every week, enjoying the meal for dinner, then packing up the rest to bring to work so I don’t have to order out so much.
  • I buy nut milks, but don’t drink them at every meal or even every day.
  • I accept food items from those who offer. Fresh produce from my parents garden. Fresh eggs from Tam. Samples dropped off at work by local restaurants. Even if it isn’t healthy, it can be paired with very healthy sides. A treat once in a while is okay in my book.

How do you save money on food? Share with us in the comments, or email me directly at shannonlbuck@gmail.com. I respond to all email.

Shannon

 

The Experiment: Saving Money by Not Using a Shopping List

If you read Try This to Save Money on Groceries and A New Way to Plan Meals, you know I was planning an experiment. I meant to do this before now, but the temperatures have been too low for me to walk from Walmart to work. Ordinarily I do the shopping then walk to work, placing my food in the refrigerator until my shift is over. However, I’ve not been able to shop regularly because my asthma kicks in at drastically low temperatures.

This weekend has been marvelous! And I decided today was the day to shop.

Ordinarily I plan my menu before I go to the store, shop sales, and use coupons (trying to use sales with coupons when I can!) and keep it all very organized. Today I decided to do things a little differently. I did not plan a menu, except to know that I wanted lemons and limes so I could make some lemon-limeade this week. I also needed some almond milk.

I did take stock of what I have available at home. I was all set with:

  • Organic diced tomatoes
  • Organic coconut milk
  • Coconut water
  • Coconut cream
  • Organic coconut oil
  • Organic ghee
  • Organic almond flour
  • Organic coconut flour
  • Organic tapioca flour
  • Organic raw honey
  • Organic maple syrup
  • Eggs (A few store-bought + 1 dozen farm fresh from my friend Tam!)
  • Carrots
  • Sausage, enough for 1 meal
  • Frozen fruits, for smoothies (Some melon chunks, and some citrus fruits.)
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 side salad
  • 1 Granny Smith apple
  • 1 Buttercup squash

Keep in mind, I usually have most of the above items on hand before a grocery shopping trip.

During a good shopping trip, where I buy quite a bit, it would not be uncommon for me to spend between $60.00 and $65.00. Just for me. And that is (mostly) good-for-you stuff, with just a few items that are processed and not real good for you to lessen costs a little.

I did not want to spend that much, and I wanted to test out my theory that one can save money without planning for a shopping trip, while buying many of the less expensive things and still getting enough healthy food to feed oneself for the week.

Stew meat, on sale at $3.80 per pound = $16.07 (saved $7.53)

Organic spinach and arugula, good size package, 5 ounces = $3.28

Almond milk, 1/2 gallon = $2.98

Vegetable tray (cherry tomatoes, green beans, celery, carrots), 2 1/2 cups = $5.98

Organic Red Delicious apples, 7 count = $3.67

Kiwi, 3 = $1.35

Bananas, 4 = .77

Limes, 4 = $1.32

Green cabbage, 1.94 pounds = $1.32

Strawberries, 1 pound = $1.98 (Saved $.50)

Meyer lemons, 7 count = $1.98

Sweet potatoes, 2.15 pounds = $2.11

Red potatoes, 1.19 pounds =$1.17

Total Spent = $43.98

Savings over a typical week = $16.02 – $21.02

  • I can get quite a few meals out of the stew meat, red potatoes, and sweet potatoes, when using them with the carrots and squash I have on hand.
  • The spinach and arugula will mainly be used in smoothies, but I might also make a couple of meals where I serve them with eggs and sausage. This will allow me to stretch the sausage to two meals, and be plenty filling.
  • I may also make some homemade applesauce.
  • I was so happy they had lemons and limes. They didn’t the last time I was in there.
  • I was surprised at how good the strawberries looked, and could not resist the price.
  • Organic is expensive, and I cannot afford to get everything this way. So I do what I can, with what is available. I hear apples are one of the worst fruits to buy non-organic, so I’m trying to be good with that. The same with the spinach.
  • I do know the Clean 15 and the Dirty Dozen, but Walmart in my area does not always have organic options for everything, and I couldn’t afford to get all organic anyway.
  • I truly wish I could afford grass-fed, etc., meats, but they are just not in my budget.
  • The trays of organic vegetables did not look all that fresh this week, so I went with the non organic tray.
  • Notice how I did not use coupons, and only a couple of items were on sale, yet I still came in at less.

I’ll have to deal with what I have on hand now that the shopping trip is over, but I don’t think that will be a problem. Between my groceries and what I already had on hand, I am pretty well set.

Tomorrow is my day off, and I’ll spend it making meals for the week. I will better know afterward how many meals I have for the coming week.

Happy shopping!

Shannon

Quick Tip: Storing Coconut Milk

I use quite a bit of coconut milk. The milk is good in smoothies, and I use it in other recipes. Usually, I buy this milk in cans and, being the only one I prepare meals for, I tend to use only a half a can of milk at a time. So I pour the remainder of the milk into a small canning jar and store it in the refrigerator. I do not like to store items in their cans once they are opened, so I keep plenty of different sized canning jars on hand.

Shannon

Apple-Almond Pancakes

I’m living a Paleo lifestyle now, for the most part, which means no grains for me 😦 I needed to mix things up a bit, so I bought some almond flour.

An expensive treat, let me tell you! Thank goodness not much is needed at a time. Once in a while I can make pancakes or another such treat, and it wont break the bank. Mind you, I don’t have pancakes for breakfast every day. But once in a while it will be nice to have a couple.

I don’t drink cows milk, but enjoy having almond milk on hand. Only the unsweetened variety, which is actually pretty sweet in my opinion. Any type of apple will work well in this recipe. A good size jar of coconut oil may seem expensive, but really isn’t. I bought my jar 30 ounce jar toward the end of March, and am not even half done with it more than two months later. I paid $6.99 plus tax.

Because I’m trying to eat healthy, I am not consuming syrup. I needed a substitute for this condiment, and decided on unsweetened applesauce and cinnamon. The combination was very tasty.

Apple-Almond Pancakes

Serves 2, 2 pancakes each

Can be refrigerated for a second breakfast tomorrow.

Ingredients

2 eggs

1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup almond flour

1 apple, peeled, cored, and diced

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

cinnamon

coconut oil for cooking

  1. Crack the eggs into a medium size mixing bowl. Whisk the eggs together.
  2. Add the unsweetened almond milk and whisk again.
  3. Whisk the almond flour and baking soda into the egg mixture, then add the diced apples and mix well.
  4. Allow to sit a few minutes while warming a skillet over medium-high heat. Melt a little coconut in the pan.
  5. Pour some of the batter into the hot skillet, and cook until the edges are cooked. Flip and cook a minute longer.
  6. Top each serving with 1/8 cup of unsweetened applesauce, and sprinkle with cinnamon.

Tips

Serving suggestions

  1. Serve with a side of greens and a hard-boiled egg.
  2. Serve with sausage and vegetables.

Enjoy!

Shannon

Tomato Soup Idea #3

You may realize by now that we love tomato soup. It’s great on the chillier days that we’re still having, especially after a walk or yard work.

I regularly come up with ideas for making soup more wholesome. I do this very cheaply, either by using leftovers or by purchasing items on sale. Sometime, the entire meal is free. This happens when everything has come from the food cupboard and/or friends or my garden.

Tomato soups are easy to make

1 can tomato soup

1 can milk or water

cucumber, diced

tomatoes, diced

fresh basil, chopped

  1. Make the soup according to the directions on the can.
  2. Pour into a soup bowl or a mug.
  3. Top with the diced vegetables and the fresh basil.
  4. Serve.

The vegetables added to not always need to be hot, and this was a pleasant variation.

Tips

  • Try other vegetable combinations, remembering that you don’t always have to cook the add-ins.

Serving suggestions

  • Serve soups with a side salad for more of a nutritional kick.

What interesting things do you add to your tomato soup?

Shannon

Tomato Soup Idea #2

I wanted share another soup idea with you today, again using tomato soup as the base. Tomato soup is high in sodium, so you may want to try to find a brand with less sodium for optimal health effects.

I regularly come up with ideas for making soup more wholesome. I do this very cheaply, either by using leftovers or by purchasing items on sale. Sometime, the entire meal is free. This happens when everything has come from the food cupboard and/or friends or my garden.

Tomato soups are easy to make

Try this variation:

1 can tomato soup

1 can milk or water

peas

celery, diced

  1. If you don’t want the celery to be crunchy, then sauté it in a skillet with EVOO until almost the desired tenderness.
  2. Pour the can of tomato soup into a sauce pan.
  3. Add 1 can of water or milk alternative, the peas, and the celery to the pan.
  4. Cook until the soup is the desired temperature.
  5. Pour into soup bowls or mugs, and serve.

Tips

  • Try various vegetable combinations to find your favorites.

Serving suggestions

What interesting things do you add to your tomato soup?

Shannon

Tomato Soup Idea #1

I regularly come up with ideas for making soup more wholesome. I do this very cheaply, either by using leftovers or by purchasing items on sale. Sometimes, the entire meal is free. This happens when everything has come from the food cupboard and/or friends, or my garden.

Tomato soups are easy to make.

Try this variation:

1 can tomato soup

1 can milk or water

carrots

broccoli

  1. Cook the broccoli and carrots in a sauté pan with a little EVOO until almost tender to the fork.
  2. Pour a can of tomato soup, 1 can of water or milk, and the vegetables into a saucepan.
  3. Warm on medium heat until the soup is at the desired temperature for eating.
  4. Pour into soup bowls and serve.

Tips

  • Try other vegetable combinations.

Serving Suggestions

What interesting things do you do with  tomato soup?

Shannon

Homemade Mac and Cheese

Our mac and cheese recipe has gone through many changes over the years. I’ve kept the original recipe in this post, at the end, but I wanted to share the updated recipe with you as well (as of 9/3/2016). Mind you, I don’t eat mac and cheese, but it is a favorite comfort food for my daughters.

Here are a few notes on the changes I made and why:

  • The original recipe called for a lot of cheese. We’ve experimented and decided it was too much, but this is going to be a taste and consistency preference for each person. Use less and less cheese each time you make the recipe, to decide how much you need.
  • I no longer use wheat pasta. Barilla pasta is good, and it is okay to use gluten-free. I don’t actually eat grains all that often any more, as they are not healthy for me. You’re experience may be different from mine, though, as what is healthy for one person may not be for another.
  • We also cut down drastically on the amount of milk used, realizing that less is better. Then, switched to using water, as I have issues with milk. The recipe still tastes fine. Also, we don’t strain the pasta all the way, just quickly, so there is still some liquid from that.
  • A very important note: Don’t use corn as a vegetable. It is a grain and, if used in this recipe, you’d have two grain servings. For those of us who shouldn’t have grains, this is not good.
  • Adding a little meat to is fine, but there is no need to go overboard.
  • Using one or more vegetables is a good idea. These add-ins boost the nutritional value of a meal, so you should be getting at least two per meal.

Ingredients

2 cups pasta

a little water – maybe less than 1/4 cup

4 ounces of cheese, give or take. Experiment to see what works for you.

1/2 cup precooked, diced chicken

3/4 cup diced tomato

1/8 cup chopped fresh, raw spinach or kale

  1. Cook the pasta according to package directions until almost done.
  2. Strain the pasta quickly, and pour back into the pot.
  3. Over low heat, add water and cheese to the pot.
  4. Mix until cheese starts to melt, then add the diced tomato.
  5. Keep mixing until cheese is melted, and the spinach or kale and mix it in, then remove from heat.

Tips

  • Mix it up, see what you come up with. Try different cheeses, meats, and vegetables. You might find a new comfort food that is a little healthier.
  • Use coupons, combined with sales where possible, to save money on ingredients.
  • Try growing your own vegetables to save even more money.
  • Save money by utilizing leftover cheeses, meats, and vegetables.
  • Pack into an insulated thermos to bring to work or school.

Serving Suggestions

 

The Original Recipe

2 cups whole wheat pasta (You can use any pasta you have on hand, even spaghetti or lasagna noodles.)

about 1 cup of skim/reconstituted powdered milk. May need more or less. I mostly judge this by sight.

1/5 of a 32 oz. package of store brand of Velveeta block cheese (Other cheeses can be used as well. Experiment.)

  • Just cook the pasta until almost done.
  • Strain, put back into pan with milk and cubed cheese until cheese is melted.

Shannon