Fox and Broom

A mom's adventures in keeping healthy, keeping her sanity, and making stuff.

Archive for the category “Healthy Eating For Poor People”

Veggie Shish Kabobs

Healthy + cheap are two words that most people don’t seem to think can go together. I started my Healthy Eating For Poor People series in an effort to quash that thought process. Not all of us can afford the current trendy organic, free-range bison meat. BUT, most of us can afford simple vegetables, beans, learning how to shop smart, and learning how to make your food in healthier ways.

Fox & Broom|Veggie Shish Kabobs

Fox & Broom|Veggie Shish Kabobs

The veggies I bought for this meal cost me under $10.00. The receipt is a little misleading since I did not use ALL of the vegetables I bought. I will break down the actual cost at the end of this post.

A meal for 3 - 4 people for under $10!

A meal for 3 – 4 people for under $10!

This was one of the simplest recipes I could think of (aside from a salad).  The ingredients can vary, depending on what you like. I’m not a huge fan of tomatoes, so I didn’t use as many as my husband would have. Gotta say – these tomatoes really were spectacular.  Now, there are some additional costs involved with this recipe: marinade and skewers. I already had marinade in my fridge, so that is what I used. I also already had skewers from kabobs a few months before this recipe. I paid about $2.00 for the skewers and $4 for the marinade. A pack of skewers will last my family at least a year. Less if we eat more kabobs. The marinade I used in this recipe is also my favorite chicken and steak marinade. From the size bottle I used (I can sometimes get a bigger bottle at Costco), I get about two – three uses out of it.

Fox & Broom|Veggie Shish Kabobs

Ingredients:

2 Yellow Squash
1 Medium Onion
2 Small Tomatoes
2 Bell Peppers
2 Zucchini Squash
Marinade: enough to coat the kabobs and leave about 1/2 inch in the bottom of a cake pan. I think I used about 1 1/2 cups.

Items needed:

skewers
cake pan/dish to let kabobs sit
grill

Instructions:

Cut all the veggies into decent sized chunks. Not so big that they take up the whole stick, and not so little that they will just fall off. Approximately 2 inch cubes. The onion I cut into largish strips.

Slide the chunks on the skewers in any order you like. Since I had some veggies with really nice colors, I tried to display those colors as nicely as possible. I also made sure to add a bit of onion to add a little more flavor to the other vegetables.

Fox & Broom|Veggie Shish Kabobs

Place the skewered vegetables into a cake pan or deep dish. Pour marinade over the top of the veggies. Make sure they are all well-coated. Cover and let soak for at least an hour. I mixed mine around so all the skewers would have a chance to soak in the marinade on the bottom of the pan.

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Light up your grill and let it heat for about 10 minutes. If you do not have a grill, preheat your oven to about 425º F.

Fox & Broom|Veggie Shish Kabobs

Once the grill has warmed up, place the shish kabobs on it and let cook 10 – 20 minutes. Be sure to turn them over.
If you are using an oven, place the shish kabobs on a cookie sheet. I would spread the marinade left on the bottom of the pan on and around the shish kabobs. Check them about every 5 – 10 minutes. Be sure to turn them over.

Fox & Broom|Veggie Shish Kabobs

I like my veggies a bit crisp. If you want yours not so crisp, you may need to cook them longer.

This recipe made about 7 skewers and fed three adults and one child. It was surprisingly filling all on its own, though if you want to have more protein with your meal, you may want to finish it off with yogurt, have a side of cheese/quinoa/beans.

Fox & Broom|Veggie Shish Kabobs

Total cost:

2 Yellow Squash: $1.31
1 Onion: $0.28
2 Tomatoes: $0.82
2 Green Bell Peppers: $1.98
2 Zucchini Squash: $1.21
Marinade: Approx $2.00

Total: 7.60 ($1.90 per person for four people)

Nutritional Information (per serving for four people):

This is an approximate estimate. I have no idea exactly how much marinade stays on the kabobs. And, it turns it, my marinade is pretty high in sodium… I expected the fat, as it is an oil base. The salt did surprise me.

Calories: 203
Carbs: 37
Fat: 5
Protein: 3
Sodium: 1981
Sugar: 27

Overall, very simple, fairly healthy (depending on your marinade…) and CHEAP.

Cheesy Corn Muffins

I was looking for a yummy addition to our chili the other night and I came across this recipe from Vegetarian Cooking: A Common Sense GuideI’m not totally sure why this book claims to be the commonsense guide. The recipes are not at all common… It does have good recipes, just not ones we are used to seeing. I also took a few liberties with the recipe, which I will note in my directions.

CheesCornMuffin|Fox & Broom Blog

 

 

Cost: VERY inexpensive
Skill Level: Novice. This is a super easy recipe, with minimal clean-up.

 

Corn Muffins
Makes 12

Ingredients

  • 310 g (11 oz/2 1/2 cups) self-rising flour [I measured out 2 1/2 tsp baking powder + 1/2 tsp salt into a cup, topped it off with all-purpose flour, measured out the rest of the flour – so total would be 2 1/2 cups, whisked it all together]
  • 75 g (2 1/2 oz/1/2 cup) fine polenta [I just used my regular corn meal]
  • 250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) milk [I had to add an extra tbsp of milk to my recipe]
  • 125 g (4 1/2 oz) butter, melted
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 130 g (4 1/2 oz) tin corn kernels, drained [I used about 1/2 cup of frozen corn]
  • 2 spring onions (scallions) finely chopped
  • 60 g (2 1/4 oz/ 1/2 cup) grated cheddar cheese
  • cream cheese or butter to top

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 210º C (415º F/Gas 6 – 7). Grease two six-hole muffin tins.
  • Sift flour and polenta into a large bowl and make a well in the center.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients and season with sea salt and pepper. Pour into the well in the flour mixture and gently fold using a metal spoon [I used a wooden spoon] until just combined. Do not over-mix – the batter should still be very lumpy.
  • Spoon the batter into the muffin holes and bake for 20 – 25 minutes, or until lightly golden. Remove from the oven and leave in the tins for 5 minutes before turning them out. Serve the muffin hot or at room temp, split in half and spread with cream cheese or butter.

You could easily add more things to these muffins (chives, dried tomatoes). They are NOT SWEET at all. Notice there is not sugar added. I really really liked them alot. My husband still put honey on them – he likes a little sweet with his chili – and said they were really yummy with the sweet added to them.

They also seem to last nicely. They are on day 4 and still quite tasty. They will probably be completely gone by the end of today.

I think I might play around with this recipe a bit and see if I can make a vegan version… If I am successful, I will post the recipe.

CheeseCornMuffin|Fox & Broom Blog

Best Ever Homemade Wheat Sandwich Bread

I have been on a search for years for the perfect homemade sandwich bread. WHEAT sandwich bread. I came across a lot of issues in this search. Most wheat breads come out kind of dense. Or they taste funny. Or, if they taste fine, they have a weird aftertaste. Then, I happened across this recipe. I have to admit that I waited a few months before trying it. I now make it nearly every week, except for the summertime. It just makes my house too hot. I make it about once every other week to once per month in the summer months. I am trying to talk the hubby into letting me have an outdoor oven.

This recipe is a little complex, which is why I waited to make it. It is totally worth it. The bread comes out soft and not too crumbly. It is easy to cut and does not have that odd taste that has put me off in the past. I will post the original recipe with notes on my notes in italics.

Best Ever Homemade Wheat Sandwich Bread|Fox & Broom

Best Ever Homemade Wheat Sandwich Bread|Fox & Broom

This recipe does have a few steps. It is time intensive in that respect, though each step should not take longer than 15 – 20 minutes to complete. I usually make up the biga and soaker somewhere around 4pm the day before I plan on baking the bread. The biga and the soaker need to rest for 8 – 24 hours. Especially the biga. I have used the soaker within 4 hours and my bread turned out just fine. The biga does need to sit and yeast up for a decent loaf. I am sure that “yeast up” is a completely technical term somewhere. Or at least it is in my head.

With a lot of recipes, I am willing to use cheaper ingredients. Bread is NOT one of those. My preferred flour is Bob’s Red Mill or King Arthur. I generally use Bob’s Red Mill Whole Wheat and King Arthur Bread Flour. I also splurge on my milk. For this recipe I use Pure Eire Non-Homogenized Whole Milk. It might be my imagination, but I am pretty sure this milk has the perfect fatty content that makes this bread perfectly springy.

So, yes, I am willing to buy what I consider quality ingredients for this bread. By my calculations, each loaf is approximately $2 to $2.50. Which still beats out the $4 – $6 cost at the store.

Best Ever Homemade Wheat Bread

Original recipe from Cook’s Illustrated

Ingredients

Biga:
2 cups (11 ounces) bread flour
1 cup (8 ounces) warm water, about 100-110 degrees F
1/2 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast (I round it and even throw in a dash more)

Soaker:
3 cups whole wheat flour, plus more for kneading
1/2 cup wheat germ (I like to use ground flax-seed. This is also an optional ingredient. I have added nothing and had perfectly fine results.)
2 cups whole milk

Dough:
1/4 cup honey
4 teaspoons table salt (3 tsp works fine)
2 tablespoons instant or rapid-rise yeast (I round mine out)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (I use 4 tbsp)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (This can be cut down or cut out. I do like the texture of the bread better with at least 1 tbsp of oil added.)
bread flour for work surface

Directions

To make the biga: In a large bowl, combine bread flour, warm water and yeast. Stir with wooden spoon until no dry flour remains, about 1 minute. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and set out overnight (8 to 24 hours) at room temperature. (I combine the water and yeast before mixing it into the flour.)

Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread Biga

Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread Biga

To make the soaker: In a large bowl, combine whole wheat flour, wheat germ and milk. Stir with wooden spoon until shaggy mass forms, about 1 minute. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes. Return to bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight (8 to 24 hours).

Whole-Wheat Sandwich Bread Soaker

Whole-Wheat Sandwich Bread Soaker

To make the dough: Remove soaker from fridge and break up into 1-inch pieces. Place pieces in the bowl of a stand mixer fixed with dough hook. Add biga, honey, salt, yeast, butter and oil. Stir with dough hook until just combined, about 2 minutes, then increase speed to medium and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove dough from bowl and knead on a lightly floured surface for 1 minute. Shape dough into a ball and place in a large clean, lightly greased bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise 45 minutes.

Uncover bowl and punch down dough. Fold half of partially risen dough over itself toward the middle, then rotate bowl 90 degrees and repeat. Do this for a total of 8 times. Re-cover bowl and let dough rise until doubled, about 45 minutes. (My dough usually rises much faster during the 2nd rising. Learn from my mistakes. Do not let your bread turn out like this. Check it every 15 – 20 minutes during the second rising. The bread will still turn out fine, your work area will just be a mess.):

Whole-Wheat Sandwich Bread. Uber rising.

Whole-Wheat Sandwich Bread. über rising.

Arrange two racks in the oven to middle and lowest positions and place a baking stone on middle rack. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease two 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-inch loaf pans and set aside. Punch down dough and divide in half. On a well-floured surface using fingers, press one dough half into a 8-by-17-inch rectangle. With the short side facing you, carefully roll up dough into a log, keeping log taut by tucking it under itself as you roll up. Carefully place log seam-side down in prepared loaf pan. Repeat with remaining dough half. Lightly grease the tops of the loaves and cover with lightly greased plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

When dough is fully risen, place a heatproof bowl or pan on the bottom oven rack. Bring 2 cups water to a boil on the stovetop; pour boiling water into heatproof bowl. Uncover risen loaves and place on baking stone. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F and bake loaves until dark brown and a thermometer inserted in the bottom of the loaf reads 200 degrees F, about 40-45 minutes. Remove loaves from oven and place on cooling rack. Cool 5 minutes; remove loaves from loaf pans and return to cooling rack to cool completely, about 2 hours.

Best Ever Homemade Wheat Sandwich Bread|Fox & Broom

Best Ever Homemade Wheat Sandwich Bread|Fox & Broom

Salads

So, I decided to start off my healthy eating series with a simple salad. What got me started on this was a meme I happened to see on Facebook. It actually pissed me off.

funny-burger-salad-price-obese

This was not the exact meme I saw. The one I saw said “Why are poor people fat?” So, I started thinking about this. There is so much wrong with this, yet it holds true at most fast food restaurants. So, I conducted a home experiment to find out how much a salad should cost.

I created the most basic of salads:

Ingredients:

Head of romaine lettuce ($1.49)
Cucumber ($0.50)
Radish bunch ($0.50)
Dressing (this was already in my fridge, so I will say about $3.00 just to be on the safe side. That is most likely over.)

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Now, this price will go up or down depending on what you put in. I like artichokes and feta in my salads, also, so this will go up due to that. Your choice of lettuce will also change the price. I could have gone with Iceberg for .99, but Romaine has a higher nutritional yield than most leafy greens (here is one chart and here is another). It’s worth the extra $0.50.

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So, I chopped up my lettuce. I used a knife in this instance. It will stay fresher for longer if you rip it up by hand or take off however many leaves you want. I wanted to get an accurate measurement so I could post an accurate price. I do have a trick to preserving my cut up lettuce. I rinse it in a bit of vinegar. It stays crisper and prettier for a few days longer.

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Once I chopped it up, rinsed it, and spun it in my salad spinner (I love this gadget), I measured it out. I came up with 5 1/2 cups of lettuce.

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I sliced up 1/4 of the cucumber and one radish (the bunch had 10 radishes).

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I put 2 cups of lettuce into a bowl (splurge! 1 cup = 1 serving), piled on the cucumber and radish slices, then poured on 2 tablespoons of dressing.

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So, to total up our cost on this salad:

2 Cups of Romaine: $.54
1/4 Cucumber: $0.13
1 Radish: $0.05
Dressing: $0.19

Grand Total: $0.91

Yes. Less than that burger in the meme. And because I used TWO CUPS of lettuce, this was actually two servings of salad.

Nutritional Value (approximation)

Calories: 44
Carb: 7
Fat: 1
Protein: 2
Sodium: 185
Sugar: 5

I would recommend adding in some sort of protein (cheese, chicken, chickpeas, pumpkin seeds) to get the full nutritional benefit from your salad.

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