3 Ways to Save on Groceries & Eat Healthier

Don’t break the bank by choosing to eat better and more wholesome foods. More importantly, don’t let large grocery bills keep you from feeding your family with good, nourishing food. Grocery stores as well as food producers have become more health conscious and put out more products that are made with better ingredients. Though these better options can be very convenient, the bills can add up quickly.

You can offset these costs by choosing to make some of your weekly staples at home. A dollar saved here and there can really add up over the course of a week, month, or even year!

In our household, our lunches consist of a lot of sandwiches, peanut butter, almond butter, and granola bars to keep us energized.

Let’s do a little accounting….(Depending on where you shop prices may differ slightly, however the prices listed below are the average prices in your most common grocery store or value supermarket)

Comparison #1 – Bread:

1 loaf of whole grain seeded sandwich bread                               $4.99

Vs.

1 loaf of homemade whole grain seeded sandwich bread                      $1.23

Breakdown

13.4oz Flour                                                                                      $0.66

10g Yeast                                                                                           $0.09

7g Salt                                                                                                 $0.05

2oz Flax seeds                                                                                   $0.15

1oz Pumpkin seeds                                                                           $0.35

 

Comparison #2 – Fruit & Nut Bars:

5-pack 1.7oz natural fruit and nut bars                                         $5.00 or $1.00/ea

Vs.

5 1.7oz homemade fruit and nut bars                                            $2.50

Breakdown

(This makes 24 1.7oz bars)

200g rolled oats                                                                                $0.68

625g pitted dates                                                                              $9.77

50g peanuts                                                                                       $0.21

100g agave                                                                                        $0.89

100g quinoa                                                                                      $0.40

Total                                                                                                   $12.02

Price per bar                                                                                     $0.50

 

Comparison $3 – Nut Butters:

16oz jar of natural unsalted peanut butter                                 $3.29

Vs.

16oz bulk unsalted dry roasted peanuts                                       $1.88

or

16oz unsalted natural almond butter                                             $6.37

Vs.

16oz bulk unsalted raw almonds                                                    $4.60

Total cost of grocery store products                                          $26.60            

Vs.

Total cost of equivalent homemade products                         $10.38

Total savings                                                                                       $16.22

 

Let’s say you consume these items in 2 weeks (our average for a 2-person household), this adds up $422 in savings per year!

If this doesn’t convince you to try making some of your weekly staples at home, maybe these recipes will…

Homemade Whole Grain Seeded Sandwich Bread

janbread

When making bread, I highly recommend using a kitchen scale.

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/8 cups whole grain flour (375g)
  • 1 1/8 cups room temperature water (272g)
  • 1 tbsp instant yeast (10g)
  • 2 tsp salt (7g)
  • 2 tbsp flax seeds (56g)
  • 1/4 pumpkin seeds (1 oz)

Directions:

Mix flour and water until well combined. Cover and rest for 30 minutes – 2 hours, the longer the better! Add remaining ingredients and knead by hand for 12-15 minutes or by mixer on speed 2 for 5 minutes. Cover and let double in size for 45 minutes.

Note: The temperature at everyone’s house is a little different, therefore the time it takes for your bread to double in size may also vary.

Preheat oven to 425.

Transfer dough onto floured surface and punch down to flatten into a square. Roll dough into a smooth 3”x 8” log and place seam-side-down into a greased 5” x 9” bread pan. Allow to rise for 30-45 minutes until ½ above pan edge.

Bake for 5 minutes at 425 then drop temperature to 375 for another 25 minutes.

Note: Oven temps also vary, bread is done when golden brown all around.

Remove from pan and place on cooling rack. Allow to cool completely before slicing.

 

Homemade Fruit and Nut Bars

janbars

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups pitted dates (625g)
  • 2 cups rolled oats (200g)
  • ¼ cup peanuts or preferred nuts/seeds (50g)
  • ½ cup dry quinoa (100g)
  • ½ cup agave (100g)

Directions:

In a food processor, process dates until sticky paste forms into a ball. In a separate bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, mix oats, nuts/seeds, and quinoa. Wet hands and break up date paste into smaller chunks over dry ingredients. Pour agave over all ingredients and mix using paddle attachment or hands until fully mixed. If using hand, make sure keep slightly wet to repel the sticky dates. Remove dough and press into a 9”x 13” baking sheet line with parchment paper or plastic wrap until evenly dispersed to all corners of pan. Place in freezer for 10-15 minutes. Remove from freezer and cut into 24 bars. These bars don’t need refrigeration, however they keep their shape better when cold.

 

One-Ingredient Homemade Peanut Butter or Almond Butter

janblend

Peanut Butter:

Ingredient:

  • 4 cups (1lb) unsalted, dry roasted peanuts

Directions:

In a food processor or high-speed blender, puree peanuts until smooth and creamy. This can take up to 5 minutes, depending on how smooth you prefer it.

Almond Butter:

Ingredient:

  • 4 cups (1lb) raw almonds

Directions:

Preheat over to 350. Place almonds on a large baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, mixing/flipping almonds half way through baking time. Allow almonds to cool completely.

**Tip: You can use roasted almonds to save time, however roasted almonds are typically a little more expensive that raw almonds**

In a food processor or high-speed blender, puree cooled almonds until smooth and creamy. This can take up to 7-10 minutes, depending on how smooth you prefer it. Stop food processor after 5 minutes and allow to rest before resuming.

Samira Bouldt, is a Certified Personal Trainer and Nutritionist at Saint Mary’s Fitness Center.

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kNOw Fad Nutrition

MichaelPollanQuote

As quoted by Michael Pollan, bestselling author and huge source of influence in the world of health and food, we are living in the “the age of nutritionism”.  There is a recent preoccupation with only eating food for it’s specific nutritional properties, function, or health claim – rather than simply just eating real food.

With the uprising epidemic of chronic diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, etc., it is perfectly understandable why this diet mentality shift is taking place. People are beginning to realize that the food they are consuming is making them sick instead of giving them life.

The food and diet industries have taken advantage of this and have flooded the markets with books and products promoting weight loss and health claims, many of which are not founded by scientific evidence. It is easy to get lost in all the craze with so many different fad diets being introduced… paleo, low-carb, vegan, atkins, plant-based, ketogenic, gluten-free, carnivore, raw, the list goes on.

I am not here to tell you that these diets are good or bad. I’m here to de-clutter your brain, to give you the unbiased evidence-based facts, and to make things a little more simple when it comes to eating FOOD.

Create energy balance. Eat whole foods. Eat your veggies.

Simple, right? Not so much, let’s dig a little deeper into what this means.

Energy balance is achieved when the number of calories eaten is equal to the number of calories burned. Calories IN = Calories OUT. The time of day, type of food, or even nutritional properties do not affect your weight. Whatever “diet” you embark on, it will always come down to energy balance. Want to lose weight? Create a calorie deficit. This means burning more calories than you consume. Want to gain weight? Consume more calories than you use.

Eat whole foods. The more refined and processed a food is, the further it is from it’s natural state. Nature has a magical way of creating the perfect food. When you take away parts of it or change its composition, you are taking away from its perfect balance.

Eat your veggies. We all know this one. The USDA has been providing research founded, evidence based dietary guidance for over 100 years now, and even though much has changed over the years and new conflicting research surfaces constantly, one thing has not changed; vegetables are good for you. The USDA recommends eating AT LEAST 5 servings of vegetables per day.

These three facts are timeless. Take this bit of information and use it as your new platform to educate yourself on the facts, not the fads.

And one last tip from me, enjoy the foods you eat.

“Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”- Michael Pollan

Samira Dilles, is a Certified Personal Trainer and Nutritionist at Saint Mary’s Fitness Center.

Our kNOw Fad Nutrition course which goes more in depth about the above principles runs from February 11-April 1, 2019. Contact our nutrition team at 775.770.3632  or jwickens@primehealthcare.com to learn more or to sign up!

Good-For-Your-Gut Hot Cocoa

Cocoa1

The snow has hit the valley floor! Let’s welcome the season with a cup of hot cocoa that has a gut-healthy twist! Hot cocoa tends to have quite a bit of sugar and a whole lot of calories. This hot cocoa is low in calories and high in protein, so get your blender and whip up this frothy cup of comfort in less than 10 minutes!

Makes 2 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp collagen or unflavored gelatin
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp almond butter
  • 1 tbsp agave nectar or ¼ tsp stevia (for no sugar)
  • 2 cups hot but not boiling almond milk or water

 

Directions:

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend on high speed for 30 seconds. The proteins in the collagen/gelatin mixed with the healthy fats of the almond butter will make a wonderful foam that will have you skipping the whipped cream on top!

Recipes developed by Samira Dilles, Certified Personal Trainer and Nutritionist. For more information on nutrition, recipes, and meal prep, please contact our Nutrition team at 775.770.3632.

Creamy One-Pot Squash Sweet Potato Soup

SamiraSoup

The cold weather has arrived and what better way to warm yourself up than with this fall-themed soup. A perfect blend of seasonal herbs and veggies to hit all the right spots! This is a perfectly light soup to make after a weekend of feasting!

Creamy One-Pot Squash Sweet Potato Soup

(serves 2)

Ingredients:

  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups cubed squash (butternut, acorn, or kabocha)
  • 1 cups cubed sweet potato
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth or water
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh sage
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • pumpkin seeds for topping (optional)

 

Directions:

In a medium sized pot, preheat oil with whole garlic cloves on medium heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

Add squash and sweet potato and sauté for another 3-5 minutes.

Add broth or water, bring to a boil, and reduce heat to simmer for 15 minutes.

Add sage, thyme, salt, and pepper. Simmer for 5 more minutes.

Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth (can also be done in a blender).

Serve warm, topped with pumpkin seeds and more parmesan if desired.

Recipes – Eggplant Pie

Eggplant Pie

Cooler weather has us reaching for comfort food, and this lightened up lower-carb version of Eggplant Parmesan (or Eggplant Pie as Samira calls it) has us ready to go home and cook!

Don’t worry, this isn’t some weird way of sneaking vegetables into your dessert. This eggplant pie is a perfect side dish. Warm, savory, and full of nutrients!

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 medium/large eggplants, cubed
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced into rounds
  • cheese for topping (mozzarella)

Preheat oil in a small pan. Saute onion and garlic on medium heat for 3-4 minutes. Set aside. In a large pot, cover egg plant with water, only covering half-way. Bring to a boil and simmer until all water is evaporated. Using a potato masher, mash egg plant until creamy. Add sauteed onions and garlic, basil, and Parmesan. Mix well and remove from heat. Mix in one raw egg.

In a 10-inch pie dish, spoon egg plant mixture and smooth the top. Top with tomato slices and cheese. Bake at 375 for 20-30 minutes. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before slicing.

Enjoy with your favorite protein and a side salad. Yum!

Recipes developed by Samira Dilles, Certified Personal Trainer and Nutritionist. For more information on meal prep, please contact our Nutrition team at 775.770.3632.

5 Tips for Mindful Eating During the Holidays

HolidayHabits

With the holidays approaching, now is a good time to begin thinking about how you’ll stay on track with your fitness and nutrition goals this season. Many of us treat the holidays as a free for all vowing to enjoy now and recommit January 1st.

But January 1st usually rolls around and you don’t feel great after the added holiday calories and less time spent being active. And, with the added sweets, chances are you are craving sugar more than ever. Here are our 5 top tips for avoiding these holiday eating pitfalls without completely avoiding all the fun too.

  1. Control portions of richer foods and fill up on extra veggies. A good motto to follow is “veggies most.” The more veggies you add to your plate, the less likely you’ll be to overeat the calorie dense stuff. Serve yourself a small portion of these yummy rich foods, and allow yourself to enjoy them. Just don’t overdo it.
  2. Only eat when you are hungry. One of the biggest problems people have during the holidays is all of the “treat” food that is around all of the time! Extra food and treats at work, parties with tons of sweets, and days spent cozy at home with friends and family. Mindless eating during these times can get you in trouble. If you allow yourself the occasional treat, that’s one thing, but daily overeating of these foods just because they are present all the time is what can get you in trouble.
  3. Plan ahead. Bring healthier snacks to work so you can avoid the stuff in the break room. Bring a healthy version of your favorite holiday dish to the potluck. Just serve one or two of your favorite high-calorie dishes at holiday dinner and opt for more veggie sides this year. There are lots of ways you can cut back if you plan ahead and commit to your plan.
  4. Make substitutions & track your eating. If you know you are going to a party for dinner, have a salad for lunch instead with a lighter dressing. If you know you want to have that cookie from the break room, give up dessert later that night. One of the best ways to stay on top of this is to use a food tracker app or keep a food diary. That way you have to record everything you eat and you have a visual reminder and can plan and adjust accordingly.
  5. Slow it down. Eating more slowly and taking frequent sips of water between bites can help give your brain enough time to send a message to your stomach that you are full. This will help avoid overeating and keep you from heading back for seconds.

And…even if you aren’t getting to the gym as much this time of year, find ways to stay active between holiday celebrations. Get the whole family out for a walk after a big meal, go outside and play a game of touch football, or a fun winter activity like snowshoeing, ice skating, or skiing. Any amount of exercise you can squeeze in during the holidays will help you get back on track in a routine come January.

If you have any other tips and tricks to share, please do so in the comments. In the meantime, we hope these will help you have a fun (and much lighter!) holiday season!

How to Make Your Veggies Last Longer

how to make your veggies last longer

It can be very frustrating to go shopping for a week full of planned meals only to realize that your food has gone bad mid-week! Here are a few tips to help your food last longer:

Herbs- trim the last half inch of with clean kitchen shears and place cut ends in water.  Herbs like cilantro, parsley, and basil will last on your counter or in your fridge for up to two weeks! Don’t forget to change the water every other day.

Berries- In a bowl, mix a solution of 2 tablespoons of white vinegar per gallon of water. Soak berries for 10 minutes. Allow to dry, and store in their original containers. This will keep the nasty mold away!

Greens – tender greens such as spring mix , spinach, arugula, and sprouts tend to get soggy and mushy. Place two layers of paper towels inside the container over the top of the greens. Place lid over paper towel.

Carrots- take carrots out of the bag it came in. Scrub off any dirt and wash really well. Place directly in crisper drawer, no container needed! They will stay crisp and crunchy!

VEGGIE BATHS- scrub kitchen sink really well and rinse with boiling water. Put on the sink stopper and fill sink 1/3 of the way full. Add ¼-1/2 cup white vinegar and mix really well. Place all veggies in sink and soak for 10-15 minutes. Scrub root veggies lightly. Rinse with cold water and store in fridge drawers.