Monday, June 14, 2010

Finding Food at the Market

Grocery shopping was, at least initially, a huge struggle for me. Every single thing I bought or wanted to buy required that I read all the ingredients. I am continually frustrated by the fact that, although packaged foods are required to highlight their allergen information, they oftentimes do not explicitly state that they contain wheat or gluten or dairy. Therefore, I have to read every ingredient and try to decipher the "questionable food items" for myself.

After many grocery store visits looking like I had some sort of eating disorder for reading every ingredient on every food, and then reluctantly returning it to the shelf, I have finally come to realize that eating the whole foods is what's really best for not only me, but anyone trying to eat healthier. Surprisingly, it is not any more expensive, but it is infinitely more healthy.

In a typical trip to the grocery store, I usually seek out the least expensive, whole food vegetables first, and then build my meals from there. First, I oftentimes buy bananas, which arguably give you the most "bang for your buck." I like to think of bananas as nature's candy bar because they have their own wrapper, are easy to transport, and will fill you up pretty well after eating just one. I also really love to buy frozen fruits and vegetables. Living on my own and buying fresh produce is tough because it can go bad so quickly, frozen vegetables and fruit, however, are actually arguably better for you (because they pick the produce at it's peak and then freeze it, so it has more nutrients) and it will last for months. Some of my favorites are frozen corn, spinach, berries, and mangoes. Just be sure that you buy the frozen items that don't have any added sugar or sodium. They usually will advertise that fact right on the package, but you can also look at the ingredients where it will list anything in addition to the vegetable or fruit.

Beyond that, canned food is actually pretty good too. While you should watch out for sodium, most of the naturally canned products that are gluten and diary free are not too bad for you, and will similarly keep longer. Moreover, they are way less expensive than fresh produce. My favorite dinner recipe I find in canned food items.

"Canned" Mild Chile
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 c. Onions, chopped
- 1 c. Celery, chopped
- 1 bell pepper, chopped (optional)
- 2 12 oz cans of ground chicken, packaged in water (always double check the ingredients to avoid gluten-containing preservatives!)
- 1 15 oz. can of tomato sauce
- 1 15 oz. can of kidney beans
- 2 tbsp. chile powder
- 1 tsp. garlic powder

Saute the onions, celery, and peppers in the oil for about 3 minutes. Add the chicken and continue to saute the mix for about 2 more minutes. Then add in the tomato sauce, chile powder, and garlic powder. Mix everything pretty well, and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes or so. Add in the kidney beans, and continue to simmer for about 20 more minutes.
The total cost of this recipe (which usually makes about 10 servings) is roughly $12. Thats $1.20 per serving!
My favorite way to eat this chile is to bake a sweet potato in the microwave for about 7 minutes, cut it in half and serve the chile over it. It is ABSOLUTELY delicious!

Even though grocery shopping can be a challenge, and may initially take longer to find all the "good" items, at a certain point you;ll be able to sweep through your local grocery store, swiftly picking up all the necessary items that will keep you going with delicious variety and freshness!

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