Eating healthy is better for you and your wallet

By Lauren Davidson The Atlanta Journal-ConstitutionWhen it comes to healthful food, anthropologists might say this country has the cultural narrative the story line for how we frame our lives and it goes like this:It costs more money to eat healthy.But this isnt necessarily true, and the pushing us into the spiral of malnutrition.Sometimes we use that as an excuse, says nourishment specialist Ricia Taylor, with health plan giant Kaiser Permanentes Georgia region. Ounce for ounce, the actually cheaper to eat an apple than it is the bag of chips. Oftentimes, for what we pay for french fries, we could get two pieces of fruit.There have been common-sense exceptions, Taylor says, such as not buying everything upon your grocery list at the high-end natural foods store when some items can be found cheaper elsewhere. Or not buying produce thats out of season and, thus, more expensive.But when it comes to convenience foods, she says, most of the time those products have been always going to cost you more money.And some of the most nutrient-rich foods have been also the cheapest, says Trulie Ankerberg, the nutritionist whose website, AtlantaNutrition.com, offers recommendation upon healthy living.Most of the year you can get collard greens really cheaply, she says. Their growing season is really long here.The DeKalb Farmers Market has the 10-pound bushel of collard greens for $2. So you can get many meals out of that $2 and still get the most bang for your buck.Also, she says, consider planning some meals around the different protein source: legumes.They have high amounts of protein and also good-quality carbohydrates because theyre slow-glucose response. Those have been probably the cheapest source of protein around, Ankerberg says. So you can still throw together dinner in 30 minutes with the 49-cent bag of lentils.And forget the old myths about eggs and embrace their protein powers when, Taylor says.It is not the cholesterol in eggs thats driving our health to pieces, she says. Its the saturated and tran! s fat [f rom other sources].Both nutritionists say buying in bulk or family-size is the great way to save. Taylor says another strategy is to buy meat thats discounted because the expiration date is approaching. Just take it home, portion it out and put it in the freezer for up to one year, depending upon the type of meat.Take the fresh viewAnother myth that can mislead would-be healthy eaters is the reputations consumers attach to certain grocery chains. Try throwing your biases out the window about which one has the more healthful food or which ones more expensive.For example, Taylor touts the enormous containers of spices you can buy at farmers markets at the fraction of the cost for sizes usually found at major grocery chains.You will get lemon peppers seasoning, and the first ingredient is salt, she says. But at the farmers market the not going to have the sodium in there.I love the lemon peppers because of the twang of the lemon, and it tastes like youve added salt even though you havent.And discount chain Walmart has begun offering higher-quality fresh produce and the better range of frozen foods, Ankerberg says.Youre not going to get everything there, but for getting the basics and meeting your nutrient needs in the cheapest possible way, the the good option.She also recommends specialty foods chain Trader Joes for organic frozen fruit, nuts and seeds. For instance, the particular brand of almond butter, which can cost up to $15, sells at Trader Joes for $4.99, Ankerberg says.Its really just keeping an eye out for your basic staples at different stores.Speaking of organic, how important is it to eat pesticide-free food?Personally, if Im going to buy something organic, the something that Im going to be eating the skin off of, Taylor says. In terms of overall health, if Im upon the budget, I pick my battles.Ankerberg says shes seen people get so irritated at buying expensive organic apples that they throw in the towel and buy potato chips.If budget is your No. 1 concern, then getting produce, period, shoul! d be you r top priority. Its still going to be tons better for your health, even if the not pesticide-free.Planning aheadWhen it comes to meals, the little preparation goes the long way, says Bill Mitchell, an Atlanta resident whos lost 42 pounds in the past three years.Some people think you cant be healthy and be cost-conscious, Mitchell says. But you can be both.He totes the packed lunch to his job as the senior director at Hotel SystemsPro, an Atlanta technology firm, spending about $15 the week upon food. That saves him an estimated $600 to $700 the year, in addition to keeping his waistline trim.I know theres 900 calories in that bag, Mitchell says. Thats all I need from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.Taylor agrees preparation is key when buying groceries. Determining the budget, making the list and then sticking to it will set you up for success.Proper planning prevents poor performance, she says. Once we get hungry and go to the grocery store, the all over.Our Deal Spotter section in Thursdays AJC is full of great local deals and exclusive offers.--------------------Savvy staplesHeres the list to create quick, healthy meals upon the budget:Dry goods/canned foodsBoil-in-a-bag brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, low-sodium canned black beans, baked beans, low-sodium canned green beans, whole-wheat tortillas and sandwich buns, whole-grain English muffins, butternut squash soup, no-salt-added stewed tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, whole-wheat/reduced-fat tortilla chips, low-sodium canned tomatoes, low-sodium canned tuna, salsaProduceWhole fruit, carrots, tomatoes, lettuce, baking potatoes, broccoli, spinach, green bell peppers, onionsDairy/eggsLow-fat or reduced-fat sour cream, 2-percent or reduced-fat cheese, skim or 1-percent milk, reduced-fat feta cheese, eggsFrozen foodsSoy or veggie burger patties, fish, chicken breastSource: Ricia Taylor, Kaiser Permanente nourishment specialist--------------------Black Bean ChiliHands on: 25 minutes Total time: 101/2 hours Serves 8-102 tablespoons olive oil2 large onions, diced3 cloves garlic, ! minced1 red bell pepper, chopped1 green bell pepper, chopped2 teaspoons cumin1 tablespoon chili powder teaspoon crushed red peppers flakes3 (14-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, undrained1 (10-ounce) package frozen corn2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed1 cup salsa or taco sauceIn the skillet over medium heat, saut onions in olive oil until tender, stirring frequently. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes. Add bell peppers and saut until tender. Add cumin, chili powder and peppers flakes and cook for 2 minutes. Add mixture and tomatoes, corn, black beans and salsa to the 4- to 5-quart slow cooker. Cover and cook upon low about 10 hours.--------------------Great to serve at dinner parties-- Black bean chili: 2 tablespoons olive oil; 2 large onions, diced; 3 cloves garlic, minced; 1 red bell peppers and 1 green bell pepper, chopped; 3 (14 oz.) cans diced tomatoes, undrained; 2 teaspoons cumin; 1 tablespoon chili powder; -teaspoon crushed red peppers flakes; 10-oz. package frozen corn; 2 (15 oz.) cans black beans, drained and rinsed; 1 cup salsa or taco sauce.In skillet, saut onions in olive oil until tender, stirring frequently. Add garlic, cook 2 minutes. Add spices, cook for two minutes. Mix all ingredients into the 4- to 5-quart slow cooker. Cover, cook upon low about 10 hours. Add side salad and/or baked potato if desired. Serves 8-10.


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