How do you stretch your food dollars?

A great article that advocates healthy eating on the cheap. It’s not that hard, really!

Eatocracy

Cuts to SNAP benefits in November 2013 have left 47 million people with $36 a month less to spend on food. That cut (based on a family of four) is a 5% reduction to an already stretched budget.

The February 2014 presidential approval of the Farm Bill entails an $8 billion cut from SNAP over the next 10 years. This means 850,000 families will see an average $90 monthly drop in their food budget.

Millions of others who don’t qualify for benefits, but who still struggle to feed their families, are finding the aisles of their local food banks more crowded with fellow shoppers than ever before.

We asked our readers, via our comments and Facebook, to share their strategies for making the most of their limited food funds. Here’s what they had to say.

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Passionfruit!

Passionfruit!

Have you ever had it? The first time I did was on the big island in Hawaii about 2 years ago.

It’s pretty sour, but has a wonderful floral flavor and smell. When I was in Vietnam last summer, I learned it’s good mixed with sweetened yogurt or very sweet papaya.

If you ever see it in your nearby specialty grocery stores, I recommend you try it! Everyone should have a taste of it; the artificial juices/candies are no match to the real fruit.

The one I have in the photo is homegrown (!) from one of my dad’s coworkers, and I’m eating it with yogurt.

A Dutch Bread Recipe – Ontbijtkoek

This weekend ended up being a lazy one – Saturday night and I had nothing to do (or nothing I wanted to) so I decided to take on some ambitious Sunday breakfast prep. I was looking for a recipe to use up the rest of my rye flour, and I stumbled upon this delicious looking Dutch recipe, Ontbijtkoek. Typically eaten at breakfast, it’s a fairly heavily spiced, lightly sweetened quick bread that means “breakfast cake”. It’s natural accompaniment is a nice slather of butter, as the bread is fat free.

If only smells could come through photos. 20131112-133300.jpg

The recipe is from The Dutch Table, which is a great blog all about Dutch cuisine! You should check it out if you love speculoos/cookie butter or are curious about cooking from other countries.

Ontbijtkoek (Breakfast cake/bread)

1 cup Rye flour

1 cup All purpose flour

3 tsp baking powder

2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp cardamom

1/2 tsp cloves

1/2 tsp ginger

1/2 cup dark brown sugar (I used medium)

1/2 cup dark molasses (I used blackstrap)

1/2 cup honey

1 cup milk

1/4 tsp salt

 

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Mix the dry ingredients, then add the wet into a smooth batter. Pour into a greased loaf pan. Bake for about 60 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and slice once cooled (I waited until the next morning). Serve warm or toasted with a pat of butter. I enjoyed it plain, too.

 

Keep in mind this bread will make your house smell AMAZING, so it’s great for fall!

20131112-133314.jpg

On Rye flour: Yes, this is a necessary for this bread, it gives a nice wholesome, nutty flavor. I had an old bag lying around with just enough. Actually, I hate working with rye flour, but this recipe made me reconsider. I’ve tried adding it to yeasted breads, but they always become hard as rock if I use any at all. With this recipe, leavened with baking powder rather than the more finicky yeast, I felt the bread was not rock-like at all, and is pleasingly dense. 20131112-133344.jpg

Sweet potaters

Sweet potatoes? Yams? So much confusion! I feel like no grocery store will ever have a straight answer to the “is it sweet potato vs is it yam” debate. It turns out sweet potatoes are indeed what you are buying as a yam. That is, unless you think sweet potatoes are starchy tuberous things. Yeah, didn’t think so.

So what do I mean? According to About.com, sweet potatoes are yellow, orange, red, or even purple skinned and fleshed. They are sort of potato shaped, and taste sweet. Yellow ones are creamier, orange ones are softer, purple ones are very sweet – you get the idea, they all very. The important thing, though, is that they look like this: 

(via farm fresh produce)

On the other hand, yams are starchy and tuberous. They’re not really popular in the USA, but rather in the carribean, africa, and central america. Here’s a yam, for drastic comparison:

Yeah, never seen that before.

So,  now that we’ve got that clear, onto a quick and easy method to cook SWEET POTATOES without worrying! This is an extremely simple method that leaves the sweet potatoes by themselves, so you can enjoy their creaminess in nature form! No sugar, no salt, no pepper, nope. Just delicious sweet potatoes. All you need is your oven or grill on above 300 degrees, some foil, and sweet potatoes, of course.

Here’s the process in pictures, first.

washed & clean wrapped up! looks a bit like a flying saucer, haha on the grill under some zucchini fully roasted! look at the wrinkly, caramelized skin and creamy, sweet interior. Yum! The perfect workout snack/breakfast/side dish/dessert/whatever!

Simple Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Ingredients:

Sweet Potatoes (any kind you want, keep in mind this will determine the cooking time)

 

Directions:

1. Wash the sweet potatoes really good, because you’re going to leave the skin on. YES, you can eat the skin, it’s very nutritious, full of fiber and vitamin A! I love the skin, actually, it’s fun to peel off and eat 🙂 You don’t need to cut them either, unless you want them to cook faster.

2. Wrap the sweet potatoes tightly in Aluminum foil. No tears or gaps!

3. Place the sweet potatoes in the oven/on your grill. You can throw these in any time you have the oven on, regardless of what else is in there!

4. Check the potatoes every 20 minutes for done-ness. If they are soft enough to be pierced easily with a fork, they’re typically done! I like to leave mine in a bit extra so they get caramelized on one side on the skin 🙂

5. Take the packet out of the grill/oven, careful to avoid steam burns.

6. Cut it open and fill it with chili, coconut flakes, peanuts, peanut butter, I don’t know, people have weird sweet potato pairings. Or, just enjoy it plain! Bon Appetit!