Sheet Pan Steak and Veggies

Sheet Pan Steak and Veggies

“Good food, fast” is my motto in the kitchen.

Real food isn’t convenient or fast, or wrapped up in boxes and wax paper.  Real food is raw and whole. It needs washed, prepped and cooked. Eating real food can be a pain in the ass, no matter how amazingly good it is for you.

Washing, prepping and cooking is not even close to something I enjoy doing.  So I have made it my mission to make eating real food as easy on myself as possible and I would love to share some tips with you to help with your kitchen life balance. A real food kitchen if you will.

The following recipe is super easy to prep, cook and clean up.  Plus, most importantly, the Sheet Pan Steak and Veggies is nutritious with a healthy portion of protein, healthy fats and healthy carbs. It tastes pretty darn good too.

 

Sheet Pan Steak and Veggies

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pound baby red potatoes, quartered
  • 1 pound brussel sprouts, halved
  • 2 pounds flank steak
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • 2 tbsp Dijon Mustard
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh or dried Rosemary

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to broil.
  2. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook potatoes and brussel sprouts until parboiled for 10 minutes; drain well.
  3. Place potatoes and brussel sprouts in a large baggie.  Add olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper and rosemary. Shake the bag to evenly coat veggies with ALL the flavor.
  4. Pour the potatoes and sprouts onto a sheet pan.  Drizzle balsamic vinegar over veggies. Place a baking rack on top of the veggies.
  5. Rub 2 tbsp of dijon mustard over the steak.  Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste to taste, and add it to the baking rack on top of the sheet pan.
  6. Place into oven and broil until the steak is browned and charred at the edges, about 7-8 minutes per side for medium. Shave a couple of minutes off for mid-rare or add 2 minutes for mid-well.

 

Pro-Tip: Cut up and parboil a few extra potatoes. You can make breakfast potatoes or add them to scrambled eggs the next morning.

 

All of this deliciousness was made using a sheet pan, baking rack, cutting board, knife and a gallon baggie.

 

I have adapted the no fuss, no muss philosophy with all my meals and it has made my clean eating life so much easier! Stay tuned for more meal time saving recipes.

 

Until then, here is a pictorial version of the recipe.

 

Quartered red potatoes, herbs and olive oil in large baggies. Shake to coat.

Veggies and lubed up with olive oil and placed on sheet pan. 

The Steak is rubbed with marinade. The longer the steak marinades the better but even 10 minute will do.

 

Yum.  All done. In only 30 minutes.  Now you have more time to do fun stuff.

 

If you enjoyed this time saving, real food recipe, check out the following deliciousness.

 

 

 

 

 

10 Ways to Eat Organic Food on a Budget

10 Ways to Eat Organic Food on a Budget

THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. You can read my disclosure policy here.

Our monthly food budget for our family of four is easily the second highest bill we pay but our food is real, mainly organic, and good for our bodies. Consuming fresh, non-processed food is important to keep our bodies healthy, especially for those little growing people.

Some days I go crazy and feel like I live in the kitchen prepping and cooking real food. But most days, I am happy that I can provide and prepare healthy, non-toxic food for the fam.

Food IS medicine.

What is the difference between organic and conventional foods?

Organic foods

The term “organic” refers to the way agricultural products are grown and processed.  In the U.S., organic crops must be grown without the use of synthetic pesticides, sewage sludge-based fertilizers, petroleum-based fertilizers, and bioengineered genes (GMOs).

Animals grown on organic farms are fed organic feed, able to go outdoors, and are not given synthetic hormones or antibiotics. Disease is prevented and controlled with natural methods such as healthy diet, rotational grazing, and clean housing.

Conventionally grown foods

On the flip side, conventionally grown foods are sprayed with herbicides (weed control), pesticides (pest control) and given synthetic fertilizers to promote growth. Pesticides have been linked to breast, prostrate and other cancers, non-Hodgkins lymphoma, leukemia, infertility, convulsions, and endocrine disorders.

Livestock are given growth hormones continuously so they will grow larger, faster and can get to market more quickly. In order to prevent disease, the animals are given antibiotics and medications. Most of these animals do not have access to the outdoors and that is super sad. You can check out the Humane Society’s website here to learn how conventional egg laying chickens are treated. Warning: It will bum you out.

According to Prevention Magazine,

The National Academy of Sciences reports that 90% of the chemicals applied to foods have not been tested for long-term health effects before being deemed “safe.” Further, the FDA tests only 1% of foods for pesticide residue. The most dangerous and toxic pesticides require special testing methods, which are rarely if ever employed by the FDA.

Organic, non-GMO food often costs 30-50% more than the conventional equivalent making it nearly impossible for most families to afford. When starting my clean living journey, I didn’t know the tips and tricks to buy organic food on the cheap. The following tips will surely help you move to a more organic, clean menu for you and your family.

 

10 Ways to Save Money on Natural and Organic Food

 

1. Buy Local

When you buy local, you save money when you buy direct from the seller. That equals big savings for your wallet.

  • Farmer’s Markets – You save money on natural and organic food at Farmer’s Markets because you completely skip the middle man. Farmer’s Markets also have a larger assortment of produce and also offer meats, eggs and breads.  Supporting local farmers is super important because they often get pushed out by big corporate production farms. Find a farmer’s market near you through LocalHarvest.org.
  • CSA – CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Members sign up for a CSA by paying a predetermined amount before planting begins, and in return receive a weekly ‘share’ of fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses or farm-fresh products.  You can pick your share based on family and portion size.  Just like shopping at Farmer’s markets, the food is super fresh and full of vitamins and minerals.  To find a CSA near you, check out the Local Harvest Website.

2. Online Retailers

Several online retailers offer organic food for excellent prices.

  • Thrive Market – Thrive Market is an online shopping club that helps you save on everything from Paleo-friendly and gluten-free foods to eco-friendly home goods. You can shop the best-selling 4000 health and wellness products from the top 400 natural brands on the market in everyday sizes, always at 25-50% below traditional retail prices.  Right now, you can save 25% off your first order, plus a 30-day trial and free shipping when you sign up using this link
  • Amazon – Yes, even Amazon sells organic food at a discounted price and with a Prime membership, they are shipped to you in 2 days! That’s pretty awesome.  How are you going to spend all that time you save by not going to the grocery store?
  • Zaycon – I am so glad my good friend introduced me to Zaycon. Zaycon provides quality food at unbeatable value, direct from the farm to your family table. The food is sold by the case and completely skips the frozen truck ride across the country to your local grocery before you buy it.  You schedule the pick up in advance in an area that is convenient for you.  We are expecting a chicken pick up in June and I am beyond excited to get fresh, natural chicken breast for $1.89 a pound! What? Crazy.

3. Smartphone apps

You can really save money on natural and organic food by using your smart phone apps!

  • Ibotta. After you download the Ibotta app, you can “unlock” rebates by answering a 1 question survey or watching a 5 second video. Rebates range from $0.25 to $3.00 per item. The rebates are on foods you already buy like meat, vegetables and pantry staples. After accruing $25 in rebates (this takes me around 2 months), you cash out by having the money transferred to Paypal or a gift card. Super easy and a great way to save money.  For being so awesome, you can start off with $10.00 in your account by signing up for Ibotta through my affiliate link.
  • Ebates is another great app that can really save you money. Ebates pays members cash back every time they shop online as well as provide them with the best coupons and deals available online.  You can seriously earn up to 40% cash back at over 1,800 online retailers and places you already shop. Vitacost, Sams and Jet are three food retailers where you can shop and save money on organic and natural foods. Ebates will automatically put $10 in your ebates account when you sign up here. Who doesn’t like free money?

4. Grocery Stores Deals and Coupons

If you keep up with your local grocery store’s deals and weekly flyers, you can find organic and natural food at great prices.

  • Publix. If you have a Publix in your area, you can really score on their Buy One, Get One (BOGO) free sales. For example, the kids drink organic juice boxes with their school lunches.  When Publix has their BOGO on Apple and Eve juice boxes, I can buy an 8 pack of organic, natural juice boxes for $1.50. That’s a great deal! I stock up and buy 10 packs that will last until Publix runs the deal again. Publix ads run from Wednesday to Wednesday, so you can peruse the sale flyer to see what’s up for BOGO that week and stock up.
  • Loyalty Cards. Most grocery chains offer loyalty cards that will offer you deals on the items that are part of the weekly sale.  Even if the organics are not offered on that particular sale, then the money you save on conventional items can be used to purchase higher priced organics.
  • Shop store brands. Grocery chains now have in-house organic product lines using private label brands. These private labels offer prices up to 30% less than name brand. As long as the USDA organic seal is on the product, you are getting the same quality product….just much cheaper.  Couple the purchases with the store’s loyalty cards and ecoupons, you will get away with a steal. Here are a few of the most common retailer organic lines.
  1. Safeway/Albertsons – O Organics
  2. Target – Simply Balanced
  3. Kroger/Giant Eagle – Simple Truth
  4. Whole Foods – 365 Everyday Value
  5. Walmart – Wild Oats Marketplace
  6. H-E-B – HEB Organics
  7. Harris Teeter – Harris Teeter Organics
  • Stock up on sales When a product you use goes on sale, stock up! You can freeze breads, meats and fruit. Just like Publix BOGOs, most stores have sales on 10 week cycles, if you find an item that you love and use often, buy enough for 10 weeks.  Rinse and repeat.

5. Aldi

I heart Aldi. Like a lot. So it gets its own bullet point. Overall, shopping at Aldi will save you up to 50% on your grocery bill.  I go into detail about it here but long story short, Aldi’s organic line, Simply Nature is top-notch for seriously half the price of regular grocery stores.  I really hope you have an Aldi in your area!  If not, no worries, Aldi continues to expand and should be coming to a town near you soon.

6.Grow your own

Growing your own food will definitely save you money.  You don’t need a ton of room and if you don’t have a yard, grow some tomatoes in a pot on a balcony. Fresh herbs can be grown in your kitchen window. Your largest investment will be the organic, non-gmo seeds and that will only cost you a few dollars a pack. SeedsNow.com is my go to source for high quality seeds.  My goal is to grow ginger this growing season.  I like to juice it for ginger shots to help boost my immune system. Oh baby, it burns so good.

7. Organic Coupons

There are several online coupon sites for organic products.

  • Grocery Store ecoupons. Download your fave grocery store’s app and download their ecoupons.  Use your loyalty card at check out and the coupons will apply automatically!

8. Buy in Bulk

Bulk foods require less packaging and are easier to ship making it great for the environment and cheaper for you. According to Bulk is Green Council, bulk pantry staples like flour, rice, beans and lentils cost 80% less than the packaged versions.  Some stores will even give you a discount if you bring your own bags for the bulk bins.

Big box stores like Costco and Sams have slowly started selling organics. If you don’t go right home and freeze or prepare your bulk purchase, split it with a friend so none goes to waste.

9. Prioritize Purchases

If you grocery budget doesn’t allow for all organic, prioritize your purchases to at least include the Dirty Dozen and animal products.

  • The Dirty Dozen is a list of produce that contains the most residual pesticides. Pesticides cause some nasty diseases, so buying those particular foods organic is a good idea. For those non-organic purchases, you can wash most pesticides off with this DIY veggie and produce wash.
  • Animal products like meat, milk and eggs are important to buy organic because of the treatment of the animals before they are slaughtered and while they are producing. Just like what a mother eats directly changes her breast milk, the antibiotics and hormones given to livestock directly changes the food we eat.

10. Get Organized in the Kitchen

  • Make a food budget If you don’t have a budget mapped out, then you don’t know how much you spend or how much you could potentially save.
  • Meal Plan Take some time on the weekend to plan out your week’s meals.  Check your grocery store’s sale flyer and see what meals you can create with the weekly sales.
  • Cook Double and Freeze Half Nothing makes me feel more like a pioneer then when I have go-to meals in the freezer. When you find good deals at the store, buy extra, cook a double batch and freeze half. Just pull out the frozen meal the night before and just reheat at dinner time.

When moving to Organic, take it slow, make a few small changes. Skipping the chemicals, GMOs, antibiotics and hormones will help you and your family live a healthy and happy life.

Every time you buy organic, you encourage more farmers to grow organic. And that is a step to a more sustainable future for our kids and our planet.

Do you have tips for saving money on Organics?  I would love to hear them!

These are some of my fave posts about Organics.

 

 

 

 

Southwest Quinoa Salad

Southwest Quinoa Salad

THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. You can read my disclosure policy here.

It’s March 10th, which means that spring is just around the corner…..although it did snow in Nashville today.  So random. Winter had 4 months to show up and it decided to do it mid-March, for two hours.  Literally. It snowed two inches and then disappeared. The first picture was taken at 8:00am and the second, at 10:00am.

You can see where my garden grows in the bottom picture.  Not long and I will fill it with veggies and berries and herbs!  I can hardly wait. Working in my garden make me so happy. It’s so therapeutic. Alex built the awesome fence around the garden out of drift wood from the lake.

In fact, most of the ingredients in the Southwest Quinoa salad will come from the garden. That’s what I love about this dish. It’s fresh, light and delicious.

You can double or triple this recipe to bring to all the cookouts in your near future.

Only 10 more days until spring!

 Southwest Quinoa Salad

Ingredients

Salad:

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup corn (I used frozen)
  • 1 cup red, orange or yellow pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup green onions, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock

Dressing:

  • The juice of 2 large freshly squeezed limes
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic clove, finely minced
  • 1/2 tsp of cumin
  • 1/2 tsp of chili powder
  • Pinch of salt and pepper (more to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp honey

Directions:

1. Rinse the quinoa well. Place the quinoa in a pot with a tight-fitting lid along with the chicken or vegetable stock. Cover, bring to a boil, reduce to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Turn the heat off and let stand for an additional 5 minutes.

2. While the quinoa cooks make the dressing by whisking the lime juice, salt, cumin, chili powder, cayenne, minced garlic and honey until well combined. Drizzle in the olive oil and whisk again until well combined.

3. After the quinoa cools, mix all salad ingredients together. Pour the dressing over the salad and mix well.

Southwest Quinoa Salad

 

This dish can be served as a side or throw on some grilled chicken or baked salmon for a protein packed meal.

Here are a few other of my favorite recipes.

Zucchini Lasagna

Vanilla Chia Seed Breakfast Pudding

Turkey Sausage

Scrambled Egg Muffins

 

25 Easy Ways to Live Green on a Budget

25 Easy Ways to Live Green on a Budget

This post may contain affiliate links. You can read the disclosure policy here.

Living green doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, you could actually save green by living green, all while staying healthy and protecting our planet.

This list will get you well on your way to living greener and cleaner.

  1. Recycle. Check you local county website to see if your area offers curbside recycling.  If not, there may be a recycling location where you can drop off your recyclable.  Recycling greatly cuts down on waste that ends up in the landfills. 
  2. Save water. Take shorter showers or install a low-flow shower head. Faucet aerators conserve heat and water and you will earn your money back quickly with the money you save.
  3. Use non-toxic cleaning products. Making your own cleaning supplies is easy and very affordable. Not to mention all of the toxic chemicals that you will keep out of your home. Here are a few homemade cleaners to get your house spic and span.
  4. Switch to non-toxic body products. If your body products contain harmful ingredients such as toxic chemicals, colors, and fragrances, those ingredients make their way into your body, your blood and lymphatic system. When you make your own products, you know exactly what is in them. You can easily make products like dry shampoo, body wash and toothpaste.
  5. Essential oils.  Essential oils are organic compounds extracted from plants.  The oils contain healing properties for relaxation, beauty products, home cleaning and natural medicine. I use essential oils in every body and cleaning product on top of using them topically for colds. These are the oils I use.  They are pure and of the highest quality.
  6. Read ingredient labels. Know what you are eating.  What are those long, unpronounceable ingredients doing to your body? Food labels provide key information like serving size, calories, total fat and vitamin content.
  7. Shop local. Support the little guy instead of companies that make millions of dollars. Shopping local creates a healthier environment because the goods are located closer to residents and create less traffic nd air pollution.
  8. Reuse. The most effective way to reduce waste is not to create it in the first place. Reusing items reduces the need to harvest new raw materials (think trees), saves energy, money, and keeps wastes from the landfill.
  9. Buy Organic. There are fewer pesticides on food, it’s better for the environment, and organically raised animals are not given antibiotics, growth hormones or fed animal byproducts. Organic food can be more expensive but you can save money on food with these 10 super easy tips on eating organic.
  10. Grow your own food. No room for a garden? No worries, grow veggies in pots on your patio or herbs in your kitchen window.
  11. Compost. Free, easy to make and good for the environment.  You can compost vegetable scraps, coffee grounds and tea bags. You can learn more about composting in this article from NRDC.org.
  12. Install energy-efficient lighting. LED bulbs last 10 years and use 40% less electricity than traditional incandescents. Produce less waste and save more money. Sweet. 
  13. Buy a jar of Coconut Oil. Coconut oil can be used so many ways! Here is a list of 14 awesome ways to use it other than cooking.
  14. CSA. Community supported agriculture is a partnership between farmers and consumers. You pay a fee at the beginning of a growing season and receive a portion of the farm’s produce each week. Support local farmers instead of huge commercial companies.
  15. Switch to cloth diapers. Disposable diapers take 250-500 years to decompose. Switching to cloth will save you over $1000 dollars and keep the chemicals off your little ones bottom.  When my kids were babies, we used BumGenius.  The start up cost was $250 but that’s all we spent until they were potty trained.  If traveling, then we would use Seventh Generation disposable diapers. They are chemical free.
  16. Car pool. Find a buddy and take turns driving into work.  You will save money, time, the environment, wear and tear on your car and reduce traffic! You can also use a ride share service like Lyft or Uber.  Of course, I am partial to Lyft. 😉
  17. Buy rechargeable batteries. Save money, conserve resources, protect the environment and improve performance by buying recyclable batteries like these. You can use rechargeable batteries hundreds of times! They cost more initially, but save money over time.
  18. Have plants to clean the air in your home. Did you know that houseplants can actually clean indoor air of airborne toxins? These 10 houseplants will work extra hard to clean up your indoor air.
  19. Use your dishwasher. It uses less water than hand-washing. For an extra bonus use a DIY dishwashing detergent.
  20. Invest in experiences instead of things for special gifts. Take a family trip instead of expensive Christmas presents.  Or maybe go see a musical instead of an anniversary present. The memories will last longer than a physical present.
  21. Wash clothes in cold water. Washing your clothes in cold water uses less energy and clothes last longer.  If you want to take it a step farther, purchase and energy-efficient washer.  These washers measure the amount of water needed to wash per load.
  22. Buy Used. You can find really good deals on barely used products. Start shopping at thrift stores, consignment stores and garage sales. You can window shop online at sites like Thredup, Craigslist or Varage Sale.
  23. Switch to an aluminum or stainless-steel sports bottle.  Most plastic containers have a chemical called BPA, which is under investigation for its effects on the health of humans. You can opt for a BPA free plastic bottle but they are known to leach phthalates, a chemical thought to disrupt the endocrine system.
  24. Keep food in glass containers. Most plastic containers have a chemical called BPA, which is under investigation for its effects on the health of humans.  When heating in the microwave or washing in the dishwasher can break down the plastic allowing BPA to leach into food.
  25. Replace vinyl shower curtains. There are more than 100 different chemicals vinyl shower curtains emit into the air. Trade out the vinyl curtain for a PVC-free plastic shower curtain.


What are some ways that you live green? Let me know below. 🙂

Vanilla Chia Seed Breakfast Pudding

Vanilla Chia Seed Breakfast Pudding

This post may contain affiliate links. You can read the disclosure policy here.

The name, Vanilla Chia Seed Breakfast Pudding, is deceiving because this sweet little concoction could really be eaten anytime, even for desert.  With only six super healthy ingredients, you can make a breakfast full of omega-3 fats, fiber, protein, vitamins and antioxidants that is totally delicious and guilt free.

Chia Seed Benefits

Chia seeds are an excellent source of Antioxidants.  Antioxidants speed up the skin’s repair systems and prevent further damage. They can prevent premature skin aging due to inflammation from free radical damage.

Eating Chia seeds promotes healthy skin, reduces signs of aging, supports the heart and digestive system, builds stronger bones and muscles. They are full of fiber, iron, and calcium. Don’t over do Chia seeds the first go-round though. These little guys really pack a fiber punch.  They will blast right through your intestines like tiny rockets. Trust me, I learned the hard way.

Berry Benefits

Besides being beautiful and super tasty, berries are really, really good for you.

Blueberries are packed with antioxidants, called anthocyanins, that may help keep memory sharp as you age. They also can slow the aging process and reduce cell damage that can lead to cancer.

Raspberries contain ellagic acid, a compound found to have anticancer and anti-inflammatory properties.

Strawberries are an excellent source of potassium, many B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese, iodine, folate, omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium and copper.

Strawberries are on the EWG’s Dirty Dozen because they contain the most pesticide residue. So buy Organic if you can.  If you buy conventionally grown strawberries, you can wash away external pesticides with this super easy, DIY fruit and veggie wash.

 

All berries are great sources of fiber that helps keep the digestive system to keep moving smoothly.  We add berries as a side for breakfast and lunch or just a snack.

Almond Milk Benefits

Almond milk is low in fat, but high in energy, lipids and fiber. It contains minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and zinc. It is also high in protein, which is good for bone strength.  Almond milk is a staple at my house, we use it for cooking, smoothies, cereal and protein shakes.

Cinnamon Benefits

Cinnamon is full of antioxidants and helps to lower blood sugar. Eating cinnamon regularly enables the body to fight infections and repair tissue damage.  Bonus if you sprinkle some in your morning cup of Joe.

 

Vanilla Chia Seed Breakfast Pudding

 

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cup non-dairy milk (almond, coconut or cashew)
  • 6 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Fresh berries
  • Slivered almonds (optional)
  • Dash Cinnamon (optional)

Directions:

Step 1: In a small bowl, combine the milk and vanilla extract. Stir until combined. Sprinkle in the chia seeds and stir them in thoroughly.

Step 2: Pour mixture into a bowl or jar, cover and refrigerate overnight.  I like my pudding on the thicker side so I wait until it has the consistency of actual pudding.  Some people like it more liquidy.  It’s totally up to you.

Step 3: Serve pudding with berries, almonds and a dash of cinnamon sprinkled on top.

So long story short, here are just some of the benefits to Vanilla Chia Seed Breakfast Pudding.

  • Antioxidants – prevents cell damage due to free radicals
  • Fiber – maintains healthy digestive tract
  • Protein – builds and repairs tissues, builds muscle which encourages weight loss
  • Omega-3 fats – benefits heart health, affects children’s learning and behavior
  • Calcium – builds and maintains strong bones

Let me know if you give this recipe a go.  I am excited to see what you think.

xo

 

Shop at Aldi and Save 50% On Your Grocery Bill.

Shop at Aldi and Save 50% On Your Grocery Bill.

This post may contain affiliate links. You can read the disclosure policy here.

Do you shop at Aldi?  Do you drive by Aldi wondering what it is all about, perhaps thinking that it is a second-rate grocery store?

Don’t worry, you’re not alone.  I remember going into Aldi with my mom when I was in highschool.  I was so embarrassed. It wasn’t a shiny, large grocery store like Kroger or Publix and it looked a little plain on the outside.  You bagged your own groceries and had to pay to rent a cart. Oh the horror.  I just put my head down while I was there and hoped not to run into anyone I knew.

Teenagers are so awesome.

But what I didn’t know back then is that Aldi is amazing and now my favorite grocery store.

Food is expensive, especially if you shoot for eating clean, organic and/or gluten-free. Next to our mortgage, our food budget is our highest bill and we rarely eat out. Good news is that shopping at Aldi can just about cut your grocery bill in half. Seriously, half.

These are the best reasons why you should shop at Aldi too.

No frills = less expensive grocery bill – There are several ways Aldi keeps cost low. One reason is that they do not have a large number of staff to pay. Aldi does not have grocery baggers or cart retrievers. You “rent” grocery carts for a quarter that you will return at the end of your shopping trip and then get your quarter back.  You will also bag your own groceries.  Aldi has a nice, big counter space all ready for you to bag your groceries after you check out. Speaking of bagging groceries, you will have to bring bags too. Aldi has them available to purchase – plastic, paper and cloth – for cents on the dollar.  If you forget your reusable bags as much as I do, you will amass a good number of them.  Try to keep them in your car.

Gluten Free food options – liveGfree is Aldi’s brand of gluten-free food and it is delicious and waaay cheaper than regular grocery stores.  You can check out this link for Aldi’s line of gluten-free foods.  I have been gluten-free for 5 years and Aldi’s gluten-free foods are top of the line.  New gluten-free options are added every few months.

Organic options – For the past year, Aldi has really been ramping up their Organic selection. Again, Aldi’s organics are good for the budget because they are 30% cheaper than other grocery stores.  Aldi carries organic, grass-fed beef, organic milk, some fruits and veggies, frozen and pantry items. Aldi’s organic selection is expanding all the time.

Trader Joe’s little brother – This one was surprising to me.  Aldi is short for Albrecht Discount and was created by two German brothers in 1946. Theo and Karl Albrecht founded their grocery store empire together but a dispute divided them and they each formed their own line of grocery store chains in 1960. Theo named is business Aldi Nord and placed his grocery stores North of the Rhine, and Karl formed Aldi Süd, and his stores were in Southern Germany. Today, both stores operate in the United States, Aldi Nord operates as Trader Joes, and Aldi Süd operates as Aldi. Who knew?

Private labels – 90% of the food that is sold at Aldi is their private label brand. Aldi contracts out their products to the same food manufacturers that supply the popular national brands. The product ingredients are identical or very similar because they work with major manufacturers to create their own store brand products.  Aldi recently removed  synthetic colors, partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) and MSG from all of its exclusive brand food products based on scientific evidence that they are harmful when consumed. You can read more about that in their official press release. So basically, you are paying higher prices for national brands (that are full of synthetic ingredients) that came from the same manufacturer’s assembly line as Aldi’s private label foods.  Which leads me to the next reason to shop at Aldi.

Double back guarantee – Aldi is so confident in their high quality products that if you are not 100% satisfied with any product, they will gladly replace the product AND refund your money.  For the record, in 10 years I have not returned a food product.

Faster shopping trip – After a few shopping trips at Aldi’s, you will be able to zoom around the store like Andretti.  Aldi stores are smaller than larger chains and only carry 1,300 items versus the typical 30,000 items. You will choose between 1-2 versions of the best quality items so no price or quality comparison. I buy all of my basics (95% of my groceries) at Aldi and then head over to the larger grocery stores to buy certain items that Aldi doesn’t carry like organic eggs, organic chicken and Honeycrisp apples.  I LOVE Honeycrisp apples.

Rotating rando specialty items –  This is my favorite aisle of the store.   Need a three-tiered bookshelf? Omelet maker? Floor mats for your car? The non-food specialty aisle changes weekly, so if you see something you need, grab it.  No guarantees that it will be there later. Of course, these prices are ridiculously low too so no guilt over buying fun stuff for yourself.

New line of baby products – Same quality as name brands but cost 50% less.  I have not purchased any baby items but I see moms flocking to the baby section like crazy. If the Little Journey line of baby products is anything like the rest of Aldi’s private label goods, then you will be very pleased with the quality. Here is a link to the product selection.

Here is a list 10 items that I consider staples and always buy at Aldi.

1. Organic, fair-trade coffee. $4.49
2. Organic 2% milk. $2.49
3. Gluten free loaf of bread. $2.99 – I swear this is Udi’s bread with the Aldi Gfree label.
4. Gluten free crackers. $1.49
5. Organic, grass-fed hamburger 1 lb – $5.99
6. Organic apples 2 lb – $2.99
7. Whole almonds 1 lb – $3.99
8. Drawstring trash bags 45 count – $4.99
9. Select a size paper towels 8 count – $4.99
10. Wine.  Tennessee just started selling wine in grocery stores this past summer (so pumped!)

If you have never been to an Aldi, I know you will be pleasantly surprised after your first shopping trip.  I love overhearing first timers in Aldi.  You know who they are by their exclamations of excitement at the low prices as they fill their cart with organic avocados and neck massagers.  Who knows, maybe I will overhear you one day soon too.

To recap, make sure you bring the following items on your shopping trip to Aldi.

      • Quarter
      • Grocery bags
      • List
      • Excitement at the money you will save.
      • And a coffee.  Coffee makes everything better.

Bye now. Love ya!

**Edited to add that Aldi now sells ORGANIC EGGS!!  I am so excited!  A dozen will run you $3.50, which is close to commercial grocery stores but it saves me a trip to another store so it’s a win. Yay.

save-50-on-groceries

 

Zucchini Lasagna

Zucchini Lasagna

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I don’t mind cooking the meals, it’s the brainstorming of the meal ideas that I’m not into.

Too bad because I really like to eat. I would just rather have someone else make it for me.

This recipe for zucchini lasagna is exciting for me because I haven’t eaten a proper lasagna in six years since I have given up gluten.

The zucchini “noodles” are so similar in texture to lasagna noodles that even my eight year old didn’t notice them.  It could be because of the extreme amount of cheese in the dish.

But cheese never hurt anybody.

Plus, substituting a vegetable for an unhealthy carb totally cancels out the copious amounts of cheese you will consume with this meal.

The noodle slicing is a bit time consuming but I recommend trying this recipe once.  I guarantee that you will end up making it again.

The recipe calls for a marinara sauce that you can either make from scratch (recipe included) or use a favorite from the store.  When using store sauce, take a peek at the sugar amount on the label.  You will be surprised how much sugar some store bought sauce contain.

Without further adieu, here is the zucchini lasagna recipe.

Yum, people.

Yum.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

Black pepper, to taste

4 medium  zucchini, sliced 1/8″

1 1/2 cups part-skim ricotta

1/2 cup shredded Parmesan Cheese

1  egg

4 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Marinara – this recipe is super easy.  If you’re not in the mood to make it, then grab your favorite jarred sauce.

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Slice zucchini into 1/8″ thick slices.

 

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3. Sprinkle salt on the Zucchini and set in a colander for 10 minutes. The salt will cause the Zucchini to sweat and release some of it’s moisture

 

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4. Place Zucchini slices on a baking sheet. Bake in oven for 10 minutes. Depending on how high you stack the zucchini, keep your eye on the oven so that you don’t completely dry them out.  As you can see, I got impatient and stacked those bad boys real high.  I took off the first layer after 10 minutes and started building the first layer of lasagna while the rest dried out in the oven.  Use your best judgement on this one.

 

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5. In a medium bowl mix Ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, egg, salt and pepper. Stir well.

 

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6. Spread 1/2 cup of sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 12 casserole dish and alternate two layers of zucchini to cover.

 

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7. Spread 1/2 cup of the ricotta and parm mixture on top of the zucchini, then top with 1 cup of mozzarella cheese and repeat the process until all your ingredients are used up.

 

8. Cover with foil and bake 40 minutes. Uncover the foil add one more cup of Mozzarella and bake and additional 10 minutes.

 

Want to share this recipe?  Click on the pic below to save to Pinterest.

Can’t wait to hear about your zucchini lasagna making venture. *wink*

Leave a comment below and let me know how you like it!

Peace out friends. xo

 

Delicious Homemade Marinara Sauce

Delicious Homemade Marinara Sauce

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Homemade marinara sauce is easier to make than you think. Skip the jarred pasta sauce and give this recipe a go.

Homemade Marinara

Ingredients

2 (14.5oz) cans petite diced tomatoes (make sure your cans are BPA free)
1 (6oz) can tomato paste
1 tbsp dried parsley
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp oregano
1 tbsp basil
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
4 tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup finely diced onion

Directions

1. In a pot over medium heat, saute the finely chopped onion and minced garlic in olive oil until onions are translucent or for about 3 minutes.

2. Add the tomatoes, paste, parsley, oregano, basil, and salt n peppa.

3. Simmer for one hour, stirring occasionally.

Bon appetite.

Wait, that’s French.

Andiamo a mangiare!

If you want to make a hearty meat sauce, brown hamburger or ground turkey and add to the sauce before you simmer. Here is some meaty marinara in my Zucchini Lasagna.

Delizioso.

Homemade Turkey Sausage

Homemade Turkey Sausage

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Hi friends.  This homemade turkey sausage recipe is super easy to make and as an added bonus, you skip the weird ingredients and preservatives in conventional turkey sausage.  If possible, buy organic ground turkey. Ground chicken or pork would work too.

Homemade Turkey Sausage

Ingredients:
2lbs of ground turkey
1 ½ tsp of salt
1 tbsp of brown sugar
1 tsp of black pepper
2 tsp of sage
1 ½ tsp of thyme
1 ½ tsp of marjoram
½ tsp of red pepper flakes (more if you like the spice)

Directions:
1. Mix all of your ingredients together in a bowl. I use my hands so that I can get in there and mix up the spices real good.
2.  Shape into patties.
3. Cook patties in a skillet over medium heat until cooked through. Depending on the size of your patties, it will typically take 5 minutes per side.

I usually split the uncooked patties in half and eat 1lb during the week and freeze the second 1lb. The frozen patties are good to pull out individually the night before for a quick, hot breakfast before school and work. Plus, the protein will help you to stay full longer.

Give it a whirl and tell me what you think!

The Dirty Dozen

The Dirty Dozen

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Have you heard of the dirty dozen?

And I am not talking about you and 11 of your friends.

The dirty dozen is a list of fruits and veggies that contain the highest amount of pesticide residue.  This list is released annually by the Environmental working group (EWG) and is based on results of more than 35,200 samples tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration.

The Dirty Dozen

Apples
Celery
Cherry Tomatoes
Cucumbers
Grapes
Nectarines
Peaches
Potatoes
Snap peas
Spinach
Strawberries
Sweet Bell Peppers

The EWG released this summary for the 2016 shopper’s guide to pesticides in produce.

Some key findings include:

  • 99 percent of apple samples, 98 percent of peaches, and 97 percent of nectarines tested positive for at least one pesticide residue.
  • A single grape sample and a sweet bell pepper sample contained 15 pesticides.
  • Single samples of cherry tomatoes, nectarines, peaches, imported snap peas and strawberries showed 13 different pesticides a piece.

Studies on pesticides have linked numerous health conditions to long-term pesticide exposure.  I don’t want to doom and gloom you but it is important to be aware.  So, here’s a list of conditions that scientists believe to be associated with pesticide exposure.

ADHD in kids
Alzheimer’s disease
Birth defects
Breast cancer
Depression
Fertility Issues
Immune system damage
Low IQ in kids
Ovarian cancer
Parkinson’s disease
Prostate cancer
Respiratory problems

Depressing, right?

Here are a few ways to be proactive and cut back on pesticide exposure.

1. Grow your own produce. Get out there and start a garden (one of my happiest places).  If a garden is not possible, grow some veggies in pots on your deck or in a sunny window.

2. Visit your local farmer’s market.  You can buy organic and support your local farmers. This is a win-win.

3. Buy organic. Organic foods are not sprayed with harmful pesticides and are not exposed to chemical fertilizers.

4. Wash your produce very well.  This produce wash will remove up to 98% of pesticide residue off of your fruits and veggies.  You can also lightly scrub your hard skinned fruits with chemical free dish soap.

Buying organic food is more expensive than conventionally grown food.  So, if you need to prioritize your organic purchases, try to at least buy the organic versions of the dirty dozen. Knowing what chemicals are on your food will help you make the best choices for your family and will reduce the exposure to toxic pesticides.

xo