•         How to Make your Meals Healthy and Affordable

    By Kate Gardner, MS, RD

    These days, in a time when unhealthy American chain restaurants provide cheap meals across the globe, it’s a common misconception that healthy eating is unaffordable. In actuality, eating healthy is more affordable because you get a greater nutritional bang for your buck – but the ease and convenience of take out and pre-packaged foods can be tempting. Here are a few money saving strategies that will help keep costs down on healthy foods.

    Cook your meals. It cannot go unsaid because it’s a great strategy. For me, this doesn’t mean slaving over a hot stove nightly but instead, making a lot more food than I can eat in one sitting. By doing so, I have lunch to bring to work and I freeze portioned leftovers for when I need a meal in a pinch.

    Use seasonal or frozen ingredients. Buying seasonally is advantageous because the produce is usually fresher (and lasts longer), the cost is lower (there is abundance), and the taste is better (it’s in peak season). When you can’t buy seasonally, choose frozen. Frozen fruits and vegetables taste great because they are frozen at the peak of their freshness.

    Keep staple foods on hand. This will make it easier to prepare quick meals. I like to keep frozen vegetables, quick cooking grains, and lean canned protein (beans or tuna fish) in my pantry. Some quick cooking whole grains include oats, amaranth, quinoa, or bulgur.

    Be a savvy shopper. There are a few tips you can use to save money at the store:

    - Generic brands.

    - Bulk or larger portions. Grains, beans, or other items that have a long shelf life are often significantly cheaper per portion if you buy the larger containers.

    - Unprepared foods. Even grated cheese costs more than a whole block – you pay for the convenience of not grating.

    - Make your own snack packs. Trendy items, such as 100 calorie snack packs are not very affordable. You can often make your own for a fraction of the cost.

    Grow your own. Even if you only have a window sill garden, growing your own herbs will help you save money and ensure that you always have fresh flavors on hand.

    If you follow these guidelines, you can have flavorful, satisfying meals at a fraction of the cost of eating out!

Recipe: Savory Wild Winter Rice

This recipe demonstrates the affordability of healthy eating and the ease with which you can prepare a healthy and hearty meal. This recipe combines a whole grain, protein, 3 different colored vegetables and healthy fats (oil). Further, the seasonal ingredients used help keep the cost down but the flavor bold. To make this a vegan dish, lentils or chickpeas would be a great substitution for the egg and provide plenty of lean protein.

The cost analysis below provides a breakdown of each ingredient. When compared to the high vitamin and mineral content, you get a much bigger nutritional bang for your buck than with any convenience food or item on the go.

*Note: maybe it’s summer where you live, in which case you should feel free to prepare this with any two (or more!) seasonal vegetables. If it were summer in the northeastern United States, I’d prepare this with roasted summer squash, red peppers and oregano.

Savory Wild Winter Rice

Serves 2

1 tablespoons olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

3/4 cup wild rice

1 ½ cups chicken or vegetable broth

½ butternut squash, seeded and chopped

1 tablespoon chopped rosemary

2 tablespoons white vinegar

2 eggs

½ bunch greens (i.e. collard greens or kale), roughly chopped

Crushed red pepper

1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

Splash of lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 425°F. In a medium stockpot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add ½ the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2-3 more minutes. Add the rice, rosemary, and broth. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook about 45 minutes or according to package directions.

In the meantime, lightly spray the butternut squash with oil and bake for about 25 minutes, or until lightly browned and caramelized. The smaller the pieces, the faster it will cook.

When the rice is finished, transfer to a bowl and fill the stockpot with 2-3 inches of water and add the vinegar. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low so the water isn’t quite bubbling. Also, fill a bowl with an ice water bath (water plus ice). Poach the eggs for about 3-4 minutes each for a runny yolk, up to 6 minutes for a hard yolk. Remove with a slotted spoon and place into the ice water bath to stop the cooking.

Lastly, lightly spray a pan with olive oil and sauté the garlic over medium heat for 1-2 minutes or until fragrant. Add the greens and sauté until bright green. To the rice, add the squash, greens, parmesan, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Toss and divide servings. Place one egg on each serving.

Cost Analysis

Ingredient Cost Per Item Cost Per Recipe Cost Per Portion

1 lb. bag wild rice $3.79 $1.25 $0.63

1 can chicken broth $0.79 $0.79 $0.79

1 butternut squash $2.00 $1.00 $0.50

Onion $0.60 $0.60 $0.30

Garlic $0.25 $0.15 $0.07

Rosemary *free if you grow your own $2.00 $0.50 $0.25

Eggs $2.50 $0.42 $0.21

Parmesan $4.00 $1.50 $0.75

Oil, vinegar salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, lemon juice --------- About $0.20 $0.10

TOTAL COST $7.20 $3.60

*All of the ingredient costs were derived from online store prices.


505 calories ∣ 154 calories from fat ∣ 17 g fat ∣ 5 g saturated fat ∣ 65 g carbs ∣ 7 g fiber ∣ 26 g protein ∣ Good source of B vitamins and vitamins A, C, K, E ∣ Calcium ∣ Iron ∣ Magnesium ∣ Potassium ∣ Zinc

*This recipe provides at least 30% of the daily value of almost all vitamins and minerals

  • Why to eat fruit ?

  • Tips for wellbeing according to nutrition

Just A Few Tips and Tricks

This is some common sense, some things I’ve read and some things that work for me.

#Drink plenty of water - Thirst can often disguise itself as hunger, you may infact just be dehydrated not hungry.

#Green Tea - There are soooo many good things about this drink. Helps boost your metabolism, inhibits fat absorption and can suppress hunger, along with many other advantages. Try drink at least 2-3 cups a day.

#Dark Chocolate - When craving chocolate, go for a little bit of dark chocolate (at least 60% cocoa). Cocoa is said to have many benefits, including helping with weight loss, suppressing appetite and increasing mood. MAKE SURE to stay away from milk chocolate though.

#Only weight yourself once maybe twice a week. This one is personal preference but if you are weighing yourself everyday be mindful that there are many contributing factors that could change the outcome every time, ie; water weight, if you are on your period etc.

#When you weigh yourself, do it first thing in the morning, before you have eaten or drunk anything and after you have gone to the toilet, with no clothes on.

#Little things add up – Take the stairs, park your car a little further away, walk instead of drive etc (you get the picture)

#Carbs and Sugars – Carbs and sugars are addictive, often said more addictive than cigarettes, so it may be hard to cut them out cold turkey, slowly ween yourself off them and keep them as occasional and treats (this being said though, carbs are still important element in our diet with energy and whatnot, just don’t overdo it)

#Opt for wheat and wholemeal, rather than white. (bread, pasta, rice, etc)

#Ignore the fast food – Fast food = Big no no! If you are on the run a lot and depend on fast food, try to plan ahead and pack yourself a homemade healthy meal.

#Eat Slowly – Can take between 20-40 minutes for your body to tell you it’s full

#OVERALL - Be wary of things you always thought ‘healthy’, you may be surprised to find out otherwise

  • What’s in a nutrient?
written by  Kate Gardner, MS, RD

The globalization of trade sparked a new food environment worldwide. Food environments traditionally based on locally procured items have expanded to offer a wide array of options from every corner of the earth. An increasing number people no longer eat to live but rather live to eat. Whereas girth was once considered a sign of wealth, it may now be a risk to one’s health. But amidst all of these delectable options, do you always need to choose the healthy item? When and how often is it ok to indulge?

Obviously, eating is necessary to sustain life – we have to eat in order to get energy, vitamins, minerals and other micronutrients that enable our cells to function normally. But there’s more to it than that. There are many reasons to eat healthy, but the biggest and most obvious is that you’ll feel better. You’ll feel happier, more energetic, and more able to focus your attention.

Eating healthy has value in and of itself and as a means to an end. Great, you’re convinced. Now, how do you do it? Here are, in my opinion, the top 5 principles to guide your food choices:

1. Eat a variety of nutrient rich foods (aka get your fiber and vitamins). We were all taught the 5 food groups (fruits, vegetables, dairy, proteins, grains) so you probably have a basic understanding of your needs. Have a variety of different colored fruits and vegetables, eat lean proteins, choose low fat dairy, and select whole grains. There is no single food that is nutritionally leaps and bounds above its counterparts.

2. Eat as ‘close to the earth’ as possible (aka reduce processing). When a new ‘magic’ extract from the pituitary gland of jumbo shrimp hits the market this fall, don’t jump on it. You don’t need it. Eating is much more intuitive than laboratory synthesized (or even than highly processed) foodstuff. Foods with less processing, grown organically, or raised naturally are generally good selections.

3. Eat moderate portions (aka don’t overeat). You can indulge in any of the highly refined treats that you want, but, they should be treats – consumed occasionally in small portions. We’re all allowed a certain number of discretionary calories – calories needed to maintain our weight but that don’t have to be healthy if the other foods we’re eating are nutrient rich.

4. Maintain balance (aka be aware of what you eat). Every food, every meal, and every day doesn’t have to be a succession of “perfect” foods. Instead, balance your choices. If you didn’t eat any green vegetables today, have some tomorrow and don’t worry about it.

5. Enjoy your food (aka derive pleasure from eating)! People who savor their food and don’t rush though meals tend to be more satisfied. It takes 20 minutes for your brain to sense that your stomach is at a comfortable fullness, so slow down when you eat, have lots of water and enjoy it. Learn to love the food you eat and eat the foods you love.

Oh, and for the record, shrimp don’t have pituitary glands – don’t buy into the marketing schemes! You’re smarter than that and a more sensible eater.