Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Vegan Soul Kitchen

I checked Vegan Soul Kitchen by Bryant Terry out from the library. A cookbook with 6 recipes for watermelon is my kind of cookbook. For many people vegan food seems really inaccessible with it's rampant use of tofu and nutritional yeast. Those are weird foods to many people. Vegan Soul Kitchen takes the food our southern grandmothers made and makes it vegan. Some of the most interesting recipes are Creole Hoppin' John, roasted plantain pieces, seitan medallions with mushroom gravy. He does have a section on vegetable proteins but it's not the main focus of the book. I'm going to use the food I get from the Healthy Solutions Produce box this week and select recipes from the book to make some delicious vegan food.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Saving Cards Coupons

Well since I can't print I can load!

I suspect if I go across town to a Safeway in NW DC I would be able to use the printables but for now it's newspapers and loading coupons to my saving card. The deals won't be as great but let me show you how this will work. There are four places where you can load coupons onto your card.

1. Safeway.com

On the homepage for Safeway click the coupon link image. To the far right is a rectangle titled Print and Digital Coupon. Click 'Get Coupons Now'.

You are now at the Safeway Coupon Center powered by Coupons.com. You can print coupons or load them to your card. To load them to your card you will have to sign up for an account and provide your Safeway card number (not your phone number).

Once you are signed in to your account you browse through the listings and click add on the coupons and they will be loaded on to your card.

When you scan your card at checkout the coupons will be automatically deducted.

2. Cellfire.com , P&G Saver, Shortcuts.com

There are other places that will load more coupons. To take advantage of these you will have to sign up with each service. Once you do it's very easy. There is even a Cellfire and Shortcuts app for the IPhone/IPod Touch. To use them:

1. Register your Safeway card
2. Load the eCoupons onto your card
3. Use the card and the cooupons are automatically deducted

You will find that some of the coupons will be the same at each site but this is to your advantage!
According Frugal Living Chick
"Often times, Cellfire and Shortcuts will put out eCoupons that are valid on the same product. You can stack these two and add a Manufacture's paper coupon. "

For example, at Safeway, Betty Crocker Brownies were $1.00 :

Betty Crocker Brownies, $2.00 for two boxes
-.75 off 2 Betty Crocker Brownies Cellfire Coupon
-.75 off 2 Betty Crocker Brownies
-.25 off 2 Betty Crocker Brownies from newspaper (then it's doubled)
=Free for 2 boxes
That's pretty good ain't it? This method is called stacking and this only works at Safeway and it's partner stores.

There are however limitations!

  1. These coupons cannot be doubled.
  2. You can only use one at a time. In the scenario above you can't buy 4 boxes and and still get the deal.

More on Dishonesty

So I have been reading The Power to Prosper by Michelle Singletary. Now I haven't been to church in a long time and I'm not too keen on church. I rather take the lessons on being a caring helpful person from wherever I can do that. Be it Jesus, Allah, Buddha or Oprah. There is wisdom all around.

This book is based on the Bible and Christian prinicples and the goal of the book is to bring you financial freedom. This is not a pray to God for money book. This is God gave you some good sense and has blessed you so do his will with his money.

One thing Mrs. Singletary covers in Chapter3 is honesty. If you are breaking rules to save a buck that's stealing. Yes it is stealing! Yes you coupon photocopiers are stealing. If you believe God has got your back you don't need to steal. If you believe God will make a way you don't need to steal. I save 70% off my grocery bill every week without stealing and you can too.

I loathe corporations and have no sympathy for them just like the next person. You can make a good situation great by being resourceful but stop trying to "get over."

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Stop Photocopying Printable Coupons

One of my top savings tips is to use coupons. I use all kinds of coupons anywhere I can get them. Last week I went to Safeway to take advantage of their Buy 8 Save $4 program. I planned to save about $30 by using a lot of printable coupons. One of the ways I was going to do this was by using printable coupons. Printable coupons are found on websites such as coupons.com, redplum.com or at a manufacture's website. They use special coupon printers you must install and you usually can print two copies of a coupon from the site.

Well some people out there are dishonest and not playing by the rules and they ruin it for everyone by trying to "get over." They are photocopying the coupons. Each coupon has a unique code. The problem is that the bar codes on the coupons are the same and it's only known after a store redeems them at a manufacture that it's fraudulent. A well trained store clerk will look for the unique code and can spot them. I usually get frustrated with the cashiers who are suspicious of my coupons but I totally understand now. They don't want to get in trouble because of those of you who are ruining it for the rest of us. I know times are hard but be honest.

I got to Safeway and they did not accept about $30 I had in coupons. So what was to be a $50 trip turned into a $90 trip. I called Safeway customer service and they explained that it is at the regional managers discretion to accept printable coupons. When a store receives fraudulent coupons they don't get reimbursed by manufactures so they lose money. They are in it for the profit so they will stop taking them.

Don't boo hoo for me too much I had some newspaper coupons and I only bought things on sale so I save $80. Don't cheer for me either because what I bought should not have cost $169 retail. It's really a crime. My goal is to spend about $50 a week per person so I was within my guidelines because I spent like $20 on glad containers but I really could have saved much more. Also if I get things for free that I don't need I donate them to shelters.

So what do you think stores can do make it easier for us legitimate coupon users to get our saving?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Healthy Solutions Coop Site is Open for Orders

Every first and third Saturday of the month the Healthy Solutions Coop delivers boxes of fresh all organic fruits and vegetables to two sites East of the River. You can pre order what is known as a Freggie box. The box will contain a variety of fruits and vegetables but you do not get to choose the produce. A list of the planned contents of the Freggie boxes is on the site and the boxes come in different sizes to accomodate your family. If this is your first time I would suggest getting a little or small box to get an idea. You can also see what was in the small size box for $25 from my last order.

In addition they have all fruit and all veggie boxes. If you know you want specific vegetables or fruits you can order selected produce as well. This is especially good if you have a church or community event and you want to prepare healthy nutritious food.

Please visit http://www.producecoop.com/ to see what they have to offer.

Healthy solutions accepts paypal and credit cards. SNAP (food stamps) are accepted at the Riverside location Orders are due by thursday at 9pm. Any other questions contact Tanikka tcunningham@healthysolutionsgroup.org

Pick up sites:

Please indicate your pick up location in the comments section at check out. Jerusalem Church Of God In Christ 3128 Martin Luther King Jr Ave Washington, DC 2003212 noon - 1:30 pmPre Orders Only
MARKET Day - and Pre OrdersRiverside Center 5200 Foote Street, NE Washington, DC 20019EVERY Saturday 11am - 2pmCo-op Market Day with Washington Parks and People

I will won't be able to get a box this week. Instead I will venture to the Ward 8 farmer's market on Tuesday at United Medical Center.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Bounty from His Garden

We don't have a big backyard but it's big enough to grow a few herbs and vegetables. We have a lot of things growing but the basil, strawberries and green peppers are in full swing. Now don't ask questions about gardening because I have someone helping me so I enjoy the fruits of someone's labor. Enjoy!

Bell Peppers



Bell Peppers

Full Plot!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Lazy Sunday

This week I have been dog sitting so I woke up early this morning to let the dog out. I decided that I should pick some basil from the garden. We have a square foot garden in the backyard but I must admit that I have spent very little time tending to the garden. We have three basil plants growing wildly. Each plant was $2.49 so if you include the soil we spent about $9.00 to grow basil. Do you know how much basil costs in the store? It's between $2-$3 dollars a pack.

But Bicycle Girl I don't have a back yard? If you have a sunny window or a balcony that gets at least 6 hours of sun then you are in business. Starting a herb garden is a way to take some of this cheapo food and make it quite tasty. You don't have to grow every herb but if you are like me and love Italian and Mexican food then a a basil and cilantro plant in a small pot will save you plenty money.

Here is a good link to get you started.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Almost There

We still have quite few things left and that Chard and Spinach are going to go bad soon. I guess a spinach salad is in order. Let me find some Chard recipes.

Avocados (4)
Broccoli (2 crowns)
Carrots (5 tops on)
Chard (Red, 1 bunch)
Corn (4 w ears)
Green Leaf Lettuce (1 bunch)
Kale (1 bunch)
Mushroom (1)
Onion (1)
Peaches (3)
Purple Kale (1 bunch)
Red Bell Pepper ) (1)
Spinach (1 1/2 bunch)
Sweet Potatoes (2-3lbs)
Tomato (1)
Yellow Squash (2)
Zucchini (2)
Almond Milk

What happens when you have two lactose intolerant people in your home and one is allergic soy milk. You try out Almond milk. Almond is very sweet and rich so it's hard to eat it with your cereal. It works great in oatmeal as it sweetens it naturally and you get a good amount of protein. It also works great in baking. How about using up the last of the sweet potatoes in some sweet potato pie made with Almond Milk?
Earlier in the week we made this impromptu dinner.

Chicken Tacos with Tomato and Corn Salsa

One grilled chicken breast sliced into pieces (we did it on the foreman)
Corn kernels from tow ears of corn
one tomato diced
1/2 onion diced
1 glove of garlic
onion powder
garlic powder
corn tortillas
olive oil

Saute onion and garlic in a large skillet on med-high. Add the corn and tomatoes and heat through. Add the spices and your sliced chicken and stir until everything is coated. To heat your tortillas quickly place your tortillas between two damp paper towels and microwave 30 seconds at a time until heated.

Fill each taco shell with the mixture. Use any condiments you have on had such as onion, cheese, sour cream or cilantro.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Stir-Fry (Skip the Carryout)

Yet another easy technique you can use for a quick meal. Stir-frys are pretty popular but I won't assume that everyone has actually made one.

Step 1
Chop your meats and vegetables into small pieces that can cook very quickly. Only use vegetables that can be cooked in 5 minutes or less.

Step 2 Heat a pan over medium high heat.

Step 3 Place your ingredients into the plan and stir them constantly until cooked no more than 5 minutes or they may burn.

Note: With this technique fresh garlic should only be used in the final minute as it may burn and turn bitter.

Shrimp and Red Pepper Stir fry

1/2 pound shrimp, peeled (you can use chicken)
2 tablespoons soy sauce (use those packets from the carryout)
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 medium red bell peppers, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon garlic powder

What's left in the box?

Avocados (4)
Broccoli (2 crowns)
Carrots (5 tops on)
Chard (Red, 1 bunch)
Corn (4 2 ears)
Green Leaf Lettuce (1 bunch)
Kale (1 bunch)
Mushroom (1)
Onion (1)
Peaches (3)
Purple Kale (1 bunch)
Red Bell Pepper ) (1)
Spinach (1 bunch)
Sweet Potatoes (2-3lbs)
Tomato (1)
Yellow Squash (2)
Zucchini (2)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Roasting Vegetables

Roasting is a simple way to deal with vegetables when you don't have the time to really think of any thing elaborate to cook. The Healthy Solutions box always contains vegetables that are great for roasting. WebMD has a great article on roasting vegetables. I wanted to share this with you as I often roast the vegetables that I get from the box. Roasting doesn't add a lot of fat or calories. Use this technique on Sunday and knock out all of the veggies and use them in pastas, sandwiches, salads and pizzas all week.

From the Box: Easy Dinner

Baked Sweet Potato
Roasted Corn
Grilled Chicken? Fish? Pork?

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

What's left in the box?

Avocados (4)
Broccoli (2 crowns)
Carrots (5 tops on)
Chard (Red, 1 bunch)
Corn (4 ears)
Green Leaf Lettuce (1 bunch)
Kale (1 bunch)
Mushroom (1)
Onion (1)
Peaches (3)
Purple Kale (1 bunch)
Red Bell Pepper ) (1)
Spinach (1 bunch)
Sweet Potatoes (2-3lbs)
Tomato (1)
Yellow Squash (2)
Zucchini (2)

Snack Time From the Box

How am I going to eat all of these fruits and vegetables? I have to plan ahead. Waiting until after work to figure out what I am going to eat is a sure recipe for eating out. The same goes for children. They need something to eat when they get home.

This recipe is really good for kids. My mom used to get these for us from Carl's Jr. This oven fried version will have your kids eating zucchini in no time. It takes about 10 minutes to prepare and 10 minutes to bake. Use ranch dressing as a dip. Alternatively mixed some fat free sour cream with a packet of Hidden Valley Ranch Salad Dressing mix.

Zucchini Fries

4 spray(s) olive oil cooking spray
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 1/2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp table salt
3/4 cup(s) dried bread crumbs, panko-variety suggested
2 medium zucchini, about 7-inches each, cut into 4 chunks, then each chunk halved
2 large egg white(s), whipped until frothy (almost soft peaks)

Preheat oven to 425ºF. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray and set aside. In a small bowl, mix together Italian seasoning, flour and salt. Put bread crumbs in another small bowl. Whip, using a whisk or fork, egg whites until frothy

Dip a zucchini stick in flour mixture and then dip into egg whites; dip in bread crumbs. Place coated zucchini on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining ingredients until you have run out of zucchini. Once all of the prepared zucchini fries are on the pan spray them with cooking spray.

Put in the oven for about 5 minutes. Flip them over and then bake for another 5-7 minutes until they are crispy.

Carrot Sticks, Broccoli and Cherries

Well why buy baby carrots in the bag when you can just chop these up in about 5 minutes and put them in your child's lunch or have them in the fridge for after school? Have that same dipping sauce from the zucchini on hand. Or if your child can eat peanut butter use a little of that. For the cherries they are very easy, just eat them.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

What's the deal with all this From the Box stuff?

For full disclosure I am a trained health educator. The problem with health education is that it's only one part of the solution to better health. What's the point of telling people about eating 5 servings of vegetables if they aren't available in their neighborhood? What if a person lives on someone's couch and can't cook? What if a person has two jobs? You want me to buy organic vegetables that are three times as expensive as my regular vegetables? There are so many barriers to a healthy lifestyle.

These posts deal with issue #1 food access. I discovered the Healthy Solutions coop about a year ago and I have been blessed. In a sea of carryouts and wack grocery stores I have the ability to have inexpensive organic vegetables and fruit. I actually don't advocate that everyone needs only eat fresh or organic vegetables and fruits. I think that people should just eat more fruits and vegetables whether it's from a can (and rinsed) or frozen.

So now that I have access I need to know what to do with all this and not fall back on my old habits. I had not heard of Kale until a year ago nor had I ever used Red Chard. So this is to help people like myself who want to eat better but need to know what to do with our new found access to fresh vegetables. This series is for people who have time to cook at least 2-3 times a week.

I hope this will be helpful for others. I will explain how to order from the coop during the 3rd week of June the next time the coop is open for orders.

From the Box

What I used today from the Healthy Solutions box: Peaches, Spinach, Onion, Avocados, Kale, Tomato and Chard.


I added some peaches to my morning oatmeal. I also sauteed some spinach to have on hand for egg white omelets. This works well for a low weight watchers point breakfast. It also helps to have the spinach on hand to make a 5 minute breakfast that is more than cold cereal.


Fresh Guacamole w/ Tortilla Chips

Well growing up in California, where avocados are abundant, I am a real fan of the buttery good stuff. I eat avocados with a spoon straight from the shell. Guacamole is a really quick thing to whip up and has good fat!

4 Avocados mashed
1 Tomato diced
1 Red or White Onion small dice
Jalapeno (optional) minced
Salt and Pepper to taste

Now for the chips...

Purchase a package of corn tortillas from the store. Cut the tortillas into triangle and spread them into a thin layer onto a baking sheet. Brush them will oil or spray them with cooking spray. Bake for 5-10 minutes in the oven at 350 degrees.


Chicken, Kale and Mushroom Penne

I did a little Google searching to discover what I could do with the kale other than have it as a side dish. I found this pasta recipe linked above which I adapted a bit. Try the original and try mine as well.

Chicken, kale, and mushroom penne

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts chopped into cubes
2 bunches kale, without stemms and chopped coarsley
1 Portobello mushroom
1 16oz of whole wheat barilla brand past
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 large white onion, diced
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Dash of red pepper flakes
1 tsp nutmeg

1. Cook pasta in boiling water according to directions on package

2. While the pasta water is coming to a boil heat a large skillet over medium flame. Add approx. 1 tbsp olive oil and cook chicken until cooked almost through. Remove chicken and set aside.

3. Add other 1 tbsp of oil to the pan when heated, add onions and mushrooms cook until soft. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute, then add kale and nutmeg. Cook until kale begins to soften, stirring often. Place a top or plate over the skillet to allow the kale to cook down.

4. Once the kale has wilted add in the cooked chicken, red pepper and Parmesan.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

What's in the Box?

I bought vegetables from Healthy Solutions Produce Coop today. What's in the organic freggie small box this week($25)?

Avocados (4)
Broccoli (2 crowns)
Carrots (5 tops on)
Chard (Red, 1 bunch)
Corn (4 ears)
Green Leaf Lettuce (1 bunch)
Kale (1 bunch)
Mushroom (1)
Onion (1)
Peaches (3)
Purple Kale (1 bunch)
Red Bell Pepper ) (1)
Spinach (1 bunch)
Sweet Potatoes (2-3lbs)
Tomato (1)
Yellow Squash (2)
Zucchini (2)

Just for laughs I went to peapod.com to see what this would cost. They didn't have everything in the organic section but for $22 I was only able to get about 1/3 of the organic list.

Green Leaf Lettuce

This is why the produce coop is so important to me. I live in a food desert we only have one grocery store in our Ward. The fresh produce is pretty poor. Organic produce? Forget it! I can go to Maryland or Virginia for more choices but why should I have to?

Check back for the rest of the week to see what I make. Well the first thing will be guacamole!