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Posts tagged ‘affordable’

Fast and Easy Tuna Burgers

When I’m at home in Connecticut, I really love making salmon burgers. If you haven’t tried salmon burgers yet, they’re a great alternative to beef burgers with less calories while still retaining high protein. As an additional benefit, salmon also provides omega 3 fatty acids.

My only issue is that right now I’m living in an apartment at college and am keeping a tight food budget. I can’t currently afford to buy salmon. But why give up fish burgers entirely when this is the perfect time to experiment?

So after a few weeks of tuna sandwiches an tuna wraps, I decided to create my own tuna burger recipe.

FAST AND EASY TUNA BURGERS (makes 5 patties)

Ingredients:

1. 2 cans of tuna fish, drained

2. 2 tbs mayonaise

3. 2 egg

4. 1/2 cup breadcrumbs *I just put 2 pieces of fiber dense bread into a blender because I don’t trust a lot of breadcrumb brands-check the ingredients for high fructose corn syrup

5. 1/3 cup finely chopped celery

6. 2 tsp lemon juice

7. salt and pepper to taste

To make these burgers is the easiest part! You literally mix the ingredients together, form into patties and drop onto a lightly oiled skillet. These tuna burgers are light, packed with protein, wonderfully flavorful and don’t involve expensive ingredients or tons of time. I would definitely recommend busy parents to try this recipe, or college students like me who are on the go and need a quick and healthy meal.

I eat my burger broken into pieces and tossed onto a wrap, but this is a great recipe to get creative with!

Educational Food Websites!

So, even though I’m off on summer vacation as of last week I won’t have access to an oven until May 24th at the earliest. This means that I’m still living in my dorm room, currently surviving on peanut butter sandwiches, oatmeal and frozen vegetables. This is what happens when the most technological piece of kitchen equipment in your dorm is a microwave.

like this only a lot less high tech

So, in short I’m rapidly running out of bread because the most I can do to spice up a meal is put it in the microwave.

Right now I’m on a hunt for the healthiest whole wheat bread I can find (and hopefully something reasonably cheap as well). Although my main grocery options are Kroger or CVS, the internet helped me find a fantastic website that will help me significantly in my search for a peanut butter sandwich.

If you haven’t heard of it before, check out fooducate.com.

This website rates products based on their overall nutritional value going beyond the standard nutrition label of calories, fat content and sugars. For people who really want to know what’s up with their food, fooducate will you tell you that

Great Grains Bakery 100% Whole Wheat & Honey Bread:

  1. has 120 calories per serving (per slice)
  2. has caramel coloring

The caramel coloring fooducate goes into detail on as a point in this product to watch out for. As fooducate explains:

Homemade caramel is made by melting sugar in a saucepan.

Brown coloring in sodas and some other products is not the same thing.

Industrial caramel coloring is made by reacting sugars with ammonia and sulfites under high pressure and temperatures. The chemical reactions create 4-methylimidazole, which in government-conducted studies caused lung, liver, or thyroid cancer or leukemia in laboratory mice or rats. This is why California recently required foods containing caramel color to be labeled as potential cancer-causing agents.

But you won’t see this warning label any time soon – manufacturers simply reduced the use of caramel color enough that the labeling requirements no longer applied.

Caramel color varies slightly between products – when in beer, sauces or baked goods it has just ammonia and when used in soft drinks, it has both sulfites and ammonia. Neither one is a “good” option.

Although the bread has an A- rating and is by most reviews a high quality product, fooducate wants its readers to be as healthy as possible and know what they’re eating beyond the basic nutritional information.

I’m still on the look out for the perfect bread, but now I have a few ideas of what to look for in my bread choices beyond the obvious avoidance of high fructose corn syrup. While I would much rather make my own bread, that won’t be an option for another 9 days.

If you have a bread you’re interested in highlighting or recommending me to try, please suggest it! I’m looking forward to starting up my Product Placement line again.

 

 

Off Hiatus

My apologies for the long break from food blogging, but this year I got a different job as a tutor for my college’s Center for Writing and Speaking and administration wasted no time in telling me that I could no longer work in the kitchen.

After this initial disappointment (to put it mildly) it was difficult to talk about food and my food experiences when I was not only allowed to cook (no ovens) but also not allowed to be around food preparation.

Yet:

Baking and cooking is such a major part of my life and one of the primary ways I feel I can experience the world in a tactile way. This is how I get my hands dirty. And if I can’t literally dirty my hands I’ll do so figuratively.

A little over a month ago I took a 10 day trip to Israel through the Birthright program and GA Hillels. Now I’m a pretty picky eater, for all that I love talking about and making food, and I was concerned that I would not find food abroad I actually enjoyed. I don’t like many sauces. If things come with toppings I prefer them plain. That’s the attitude I went to Israel with.

And then the first full day we were in Israel, we stopped for lunch at this mall-complex and I stood waiting in a line behind at least 50 people to get a falafel. Although this might make me a bad Jew, I had never had a true falafel before. Sure I had had the chickpea balls, but I had only eaten them outside of the pita and in all honesty they were poorly prepared and incredibly dry. Yet here I was waiting in line for something that I had only a vague concept of and did not know what strange toppings would be applied to my lunch.

As I got closer to the front of the line I realized that at the falafel man was crazy! He was moving rapid speed, tossing every single ingredient into the pita and I couldn’t even tell what the separate toppings were because they were all mixed together through the quickness of his movements. He kept yelling things like Yala (let’s go) and Yeehaw!  just for the fun of it. When it was finally my turn to order he had already packed my falafel with everything and though I wanted to ask him to at least hold the sauce, he was already drizzling some white sauce on top of it all.

This is approximately what it looked like:

I would love to say that I learned something that day, but that would be a lie. I learned more than one something. I learned I like hummus and tahini sauce (the white drizzle I was so scared of) and that tomatoes are not just gross things to pick out of chunky pasta sauce. There was something so full in the flavor of the falafel that I wouldn’t have expected because at least three of the main ingredients (the falafel itself, the hummus, and the tahini) all come from chick peas. Yet each chickpea item added something to the overall taste where nothing felt like you were tasting the same food three times.  And the best part was that although the falafel balls are fried, the dish didn’t taste, or even feel, oily! It was great.

As we traveled through Israel, falafels became my go-to food because they were cheap, easy to find, and easy to eat on the go. Even if you never get a chance to go to Israel, I highly recommend giving a falafel a try.

Product Placement: Salada Green Tea

My family drinks tea by the gallon. In the winter time, or really from October until around May because it’s Connecticut weather, we make pots and pots of hot tea and in the summer time we keep a pitcher of iced tea in the refrigerator. My mother is into holistic remedies and no matter what was wrong with my brother or I the solution was always drink green tea.

Now, Salada Green Tea is not our family’s favorite. We prefer Good Earth, but  if I’m to be perfectly honest, Good Earth  might be good for the earth, but it is also expensive. So to save costs, we decided to buy Salada  where a 40 count box of tea bags costs $3.99 at Stop and Shop according to peapod. The Good Earth tea is only sold as a 2o count (as are most teas) and so is even less cost effective.

The good news is that buying cheaper does not mean sacrificing on flavor. Salada tea is a good brand. There’s a rich flavor to their teas and one bag is potent enough for 2 or 3 cups depending on how dark you prefer your beverage.

The company cares about health and their website is devoted to explaining the benefits of fresh brewed tea and how their varying flavors can support bone health or immunity based on the type of tea you buy.

You can buy it by the 40 count to save money and for all  its worth it’s a sturdy brand of tea guaranteed to satisfy. To learn more about different types of teas and the health benefits of each read the following article and apply your new knowledge when purchasing your chosen type of Salada: 

http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/tea-types-and-their-health-benefits

Product Placement: Smucker’s Orchard’s Finest

Why does it seem that if you want to buy natural you have to buy brands that are expensive or brands no one has heard of before? It’s unfortunate that most brand name products are stuffed with ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, and chemicals and dyes.

But there’s a secret to most of these big name products: they produce natural versions of their commercial products. Both Jif and Skippy have natural peanut butters and Smucker’s has Orchard’s Finest berry preserves.

  

Now, I’ve only tried the blueberry (far right of the photo) but there are whole blueberries in the jam. It’s smooth and sweet and whole blueberries are abundant. When my family ran out of blueberries from Jones Family Farm and I wanted to make blueberry loaf cake, I used a half cup of Smucker’s jam and my blueberry cake is studded with blueberries.

Here comes the hard part though, it’s not perfect. Though it pains me to admit it, Smucker’s Orchard’s Finest preserves are not in fact perfect. The ingredients (though all readable and common) are: BLUEBERRIES, SUGAR, FRUIT PECTIN, CITRIC ACID. It would be preferred if there was no sugar added, but this seems rather minor. There are 12 grams of sugar and 50 calories. For more information on the nutrition label visit: http://www.smucker.com/products/ProductDetail.aspx?groupId=1&categoryId=338&flavorId=755

As usual, unfortunately, the natural jams are more expensive than the standard ones. A twelve oz jar is $3.29 for the natural jam and a 12 oz jar is $2.99 for their commercial products. This is, thankfully, not a huge cost difference. Look for the natural Smucker’s jams next time you shop and let me know what you think!

Apparently, Smucker’s also has an organic line. I’ll be looking into this soon and I’ll keep you posted. Enjoy!

Product Placement: Maple Agave Syrup

I really need to thank my mom for introducing me to so many great products I never would have found on my own. She introduced me to Siggi’s Yogurt and while shopping with her at a local organic market we came across Maple Agave Syrup.

Most commercial maple syrups, Aunt Jemima, Log Cabin, Mrs. Butterworths, etc, are artificially flavored. If you read the ingredients most brand name syrups contain high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, and caramel color and not much else. If I just ruined your pancake or waffle experience I apologize, but before you run off to go buy the pure maple syrup let’s take a look at cost.

A 24 oz bottle of Aunt Jemima maple syrup is $3.79.

8.5 oz of pure maple syrup costs $4.99.

Maple Grove Farms Pure Maple Syrup - 1 Bottle (12.50 oz)

Now I took the above prices from the Peapod Stop and Shop website, so prices may vary depending on where you live and how much syrup you’re buying. Either way, the pure syrup is far more expensive. It makes sense that consumers buy the cheap brand name.

If you’re looking for affordable and healthy, try a maple agave blend instead of pure maple syrup. Stop and Shop does not carry this product so in order to get a comparative price, a blogger called thekitchn  places Trader Joe’s prices for maple agave syrup at $3 for 8 oz.

Great Northern Organic Maple Agave Syrup 8 oz. (Pack of 12)

The best thing about this syrup though is more than the cost. It’s entirely natural. Agave is a plant found in Mexico that has been sweetening and flavoring food for thousands of years. The syrup comes from the sap of the plant found in the core of the plant called the pina. The sap is heated at a low temperature to break down the natural sugars (visit allaboutagave.com for more information).

When agave syrup is combined with pure maple syrup a healthy, affordable option is created. It’s sweet with no artificial sweeteners or aftertaste. Although not as thick as pure maple syrup on its own the flavor combination makes up for the thinner consistency, though by no means is it watery like commercial syrup brands.

Enjoy your new discoveries with this syrup blend. See you next Wednesday!