Friday, July 27, 2012

Easy + Thrifty: 5 Ways to Add Healthy Vegetables To Your Diet

I'm passionate about adhering to and educating people about the benefits of a whole food (non-processed), plant-based diet. When my buddy Matt asked for easy ways to add vegetables to his diet, I took him with me to buy all of the vegetables in this post and compiled the following tips. I  figured they could help you, too!

1) Shop Farmer's Markets, Ethnic Stores, & Join Co-ops:

From my local flea markets. Grand Total: $17.00 (!)

Farmer's markets and ethnic grocery stores are amazing resources for low-priced vegetables. Investigate farmer's co-ops in your area. You pay a monthly or annual fee to get locally grown vegetables delivered to your door!

2) Pre-wash and chop your vegetables:

This ensures you'll always have healthy, ready-made bites. Above I have slice cucumber topped with paprika and salt, one of my favorite snacks!

3) Prepare Dips for Your Vegetables in Advance

Drop the ranch dressing! Make healthy, nutritious, low-calorie dips for your raw vegetables. My favorite is my nutritional yeast dressing. I also make homemade hummus and cashew dips, I'll share recipes soon!

4) Invest in Frozen Berries and Vegetables

 Peppers on plate: $1.00 (!) Cucumbers: $3.00 Bell peppers: $2.00

Frozen vegetables and berries are frozen at their prime and retain the same nutritive value as their fresh counterparts. Better yet, they're cheaper, too! The con is that they are mushy when thawed, and best added to cooked dishes. I add frozen berries to my hot oatmeal and make easy soups out of frozen vegetables.

5) Stuff more Vegetables into Every Recipe

Broccoli: $4.00 Cauliflower: $2.00 Celery: $2.00

Chop ample celery and bell peppers into your tuna salad, cook yellow squash, roma tomatoes, and zucchini and add it to your pasta dishes, be creative and stuff your typical recipes full of whole grains and vegetables. The extra fiber will keep you fuller and healthier.

Putting The Tips to the Test

I prepared a batch of hummus and nutritional yeast dressing (try it, your taste buds will rejoice!) for Matt and let him chomp away. He's feeling fuller and healthier, and he's saving big bucks, too.  He can spend up to $21.00 per day eating out, these tips got him eats for a week for the same price! Thrifty Mission Accomplished!

Let's Discuss Thrifty Ways to Eat Healthy: How do you keep your grocery bills low and pantries packed with nutrition?
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  1. It's a little convenient for someone living in Florida to write a post like this. "Healthy living" is much, much harder for people who live in areas of the world without year-round growing seasons. It's also easy for someone who lives in a very large city to write this post. It's much, much, much harder (and sometimes impossible) for people living in more rural areas to adopt this lifestyle. I appreciate your tips, but they don't necessarily apply to everyone, and it's not always easy to add plants to a diet.

    1. These plants were not grown locally, they are from the flea market and our local flea markets carry vegetables from various sources for less than local grocery stores like Publix. Jacksonville has poor soil so our farmer's market vegetables are usually more than grocery store prices from my experience.

      Yep, definitely harder for people in very rural areas to apply these tips, but even if you get to your conventional grocery store, it's worth it to get veggies in your diet. Most of the smallest places even have Walmarts and I've driven through the tiniest cities have fruit and veggie stands.

      I wonder if fresh veggies can be ordered to very rural areas, hmm... I'd love to know more about the difficulties of getting fresh fruits and veggies in your diet in rural areas you may have experienced since I know you've lived around the world.

  2. Even what you've said doesn't apply.

    So, in Ohio, farmer's markets run, at best, from June - October. They run through October to sell pumpkins for Halloween, not because they have produce then. Fresh produce from farmer's markets is available June-September. The rest of the time, the only option is grocery stores. Fruits and veggies are very expensive out of season. In Florida, you don't have any out of season, because even if the soil in Jax is bad, they can send everything up from Homestead. For those of us that live in areas with winters, we're stuck with squash throughout the winter. Everything else is shipped, often from out of the country...which can pose a problem if you're trying to eat ethically.

    1. You're right, in some areas and during certain seasons the conventional grocery store with produce shipped in internationally may be the only option-- if one doesn't have moral objections to the footprint this leaves on the environment.

      Difficulty acquiring produce will depend on your geographical area and personal ethics.

      What's more important, optimal personal health or taking every measure possible to refuse to support systems that destroy the planet? There are no easy answers there.

      I'm enjoying hearing your perspective on this, I've always lived in warm areas with long growing seasons.

    2. I know what Fenn faces - I live in Missouri, and though there are tons of veggies/fruits in summer, winters are brutal and grocery stores jack up produce prices. Freezing works well, though. When fruit and veggies are plentiful and less expensive in the summer, that's when I load up. I can stock my freezer full of fresh veggies like broccoli and green beans, because they freeze well. Also, almost anybody can find a way to plant a small garden. I live in an apartment and have a very tiny patch of land in front of it where I'm allowed to plant if I wish. I've seen other tenants with small raised beds on their balconies. In rural areas, where I have lots of family, they have large deep freezers where they can store a season's worth of veggies.

    3. That's what I figured too, freezing is a good option. I wonder how much energy a large deep freezer would take? Hmm!

  3. I pack the most nutrients I can in homemade smoothies. I start with light soymilk, add ground flax seeds for additional protein, frozen mango or assorted frozen berries (The plus side is, you don't need to add ice with frozen veggies. But ya gotta watch out for the seeds though). Then I'll add a quarter can of no-salt added carrots and a splash of calcium fortified orange juice.

    I might give your cucumber with paprika snack a try. Also, I've been meaning to make my own hummus. I just made a fun dish today...homegrown green squash topped with a bit of goat cheese in a light balsamic sauce sprinkled with fresh mint. So, go good.

    <3 Jackie @ Let's Go Thrifting!

    1. That's one thing I love about frozen berries- perfect for smoothies. You do need a decent blender to et it super smooth, though. I love to add ground flax seed to my oatmeal..and anything else possible :) your suggestions sound yummy!

  4. Van I appreciate ALL of your posts whether they pertain to thrifting adventures, decorating, business management or food & diet!! My theory is we can ALL learn something from each other and sharing is the best way to make that happen. My family has made HUGE dietary lifestyle changes since January and I appreciate all of your healthful tips. I have an awesome hummus recipe using white beans, garlic, olive oil and parsley...I make it all the time. We are also big smoothie fans and invested in a powerful blender (similar to a Vitamix) a few years ago. It's great! Chocolate almond milk and frozen strawberries blended are super delicious! Thanks for everything!

    1. I'm glad it helps! Chocolate almond milk is delicious, I love it!

  5. "What's more important, optimal personal health or taking every measure possible to refuse to support systems that destroy the planet? There are no easy answers there."

    This comment kind of pisses me off. I mean, you left the "no easy answers" on the end, so I can't be fully pissed off...but it's REALLY CONVENIENT FOR SOMEONE IN FLORIDA TO SAY THIS.

    There is no fresh produce in the winter. From September-May, there is NO FRESH PRODUCE. There is only what has been shipped from very far away, and if you're lucky, squash or berries. SQUASH OR BERRIES! Do you know how hard it is to eat fresh vegetables in the winters when the only thing native is SQUASH OR BERRIES?

    Sure, there are also potatoes that you can store all winter long and mushrooms. Everything else has to be canned, because no one has a freezer big enough to freeze fresh produce from the summer. You know what we freeze up here? WE FREEZE MEAT. My neighbors froze all of their spring and summer rabbits and their fall deer. They gave me homemade deer jerky, which was awesome. They killed their own wild turkey (we have those here) or Canada goose for Thanksgiving. When I was a kid, in order to earn more money, we kept pigs and slaughtered them in the late fall.

    In Ohio, what we can eat that is from the Earth in the winter is potatoes, squash, and game.

    Humans are tropical creatures, so early humans lived more the way you did : veggies, fruits, fish, maybe some game. It is EASY to be a vegetarian kind of person in the tropics or sub tropics, because you have a YEAR ROUND GROWING SEASON.

    We have the summer, and if the summer is not perfect, then we might not have that. It is not uncommon for the hay to grow badly and for farmers to have to stop riding their horses in the fall because there was not enough food. It is not uncommon to have a bad corn season and lose the vast majority of our food. And beyond that? I mean, we have apples. Apples require a winter. We've got apples, squash, berries, potatoes, and mushrooms...everything else? It's pretty much been cultivated to grow up here.

    Furthermore, it is biologically impossible for humans to exist without meat. We are carnivores, so in Ohio, we eat meet and potatoes. That is our staple, because that is what we can keep throughout the winter. Veggies are rare and EXPENSIVE and also not at all fresh, when they have to be shipped from some other country. Unless you can them in the summer. So, you know, tomatoes...those are the most commonly canned. It's possible to can other things, but it also takes a lot of work and special equipment. Canning is really a skill, not a common practice.

    That is what I'm saying. This post is a nice idea, and it works for people in Florida, all along I-10, in California, in Hawai'i. But it does not work when you get up into the North...into the Snow Belt...into cloud cover for 90% of the year and actual seasons.

    OK, end rant.

    1. I like your rants, I don't know the frustration and perspective of someone trying to incorporate fresh vegetables in a snowy climate.

    2. One thing I never double-checked was whether snow tolerant veggies like snow peas, certain greens, and broccoli are available where you live?

  6. I love the mirror shelves. Finding one is at the top of my wish list.

  7. I just asked mom about broccoli, etc. Ok, so the ground freezes around Halloween, probably. I'm not entirely sure, but I guess some tubers could be grown in the ground until then. Truthfully, I don't like those veggies...I've never been into turnips, so I wasn't sure about them. Mom pointed out that even "winter tolerant" veggies aren't available in the winter, because the ground freezes. This is a really good point.

    The ground usually completely freezes sometime between Halloween and Thanksgiving for NEOhioans. It would freeze earlier for people who get colder temperatures a little earlier. It stays frozen 'til April or May. I mean to say that if you were to lie down on the ground in the summer, it would feel soft and nice. If you were to lie down on the ground in the winter, it would feel hard and lumpy (and cold!). So, "winter tolerant" might mean that a plant can hibernate through the winter. But what it usually means is it's something that can be planted in April or harvested in October. It doesn't actually mean we can get anything in January.

    However, there are tubers that would store like potatoes and would be an option for a winter diet. I think they're gross, but it does add, like, three more "veggies" to the list of things we can have in the winter.


I love reading your comments. Thank you for adding to the discussion! I always reply to any and all questions.

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