My apologies for the long pause between my last blog and this one. I have been grappling with my own health issues. In this blog I want to share with you how to shop for your family and make it easy on YOU, what to buy, where to buy it and how to do it all on a budget. This alone is a great deal of information. I will also work to categorize what is fast and easy to make and what will take a bit more time, so you can plan accordingly.
Let’s start with what is generally healthy to make. Everybody needs a good amount of fiber. You will hear terms like soluble and insoluble….what this comes down to is raw vegetables, whole grains, beans etc. As I shared in the last blog, white foods are not good for us. Brown rice is better than white, sweet potatoes are much better than white potatoes and rich in fiber, and whole grain bread with no bleached or unbleached flour is best. So when shopping think of buying and cooking the following:
Brown Rice – Short Grain, Jasmine or Basmati, Black, Red or Japonica Rice.
Steel Cut Oats, Rolled oats – cooks fast, Amaranth, Quinoa – cooks fast, Bulgur
Wheat – cooks fast, Buckwheat, Barley ( not pearled), Farro, Millet, Flax, Winter Berries.
Beans: Black, Pinto, Kidney, Chickpea/Garbonzo, Soybeans. Dry or cooked in cans.
Lentils: Crimson, Black, Green, Yellow or Dahl.-cooks fast generally.
Beans offer a good amount of protein. However we do live in Hawaii and therefore we do love to eat beef, chicken, pork and of course fish. When shopping for these proteins it is best to try to buy organic when possible and natural after that. Why? It is believed by many that the chemicals which many animals have been given in the form of growth hormones and antibiotics affect us as much as the animals themselves. And given that we are not the healthiest people to begin with I personally recommend everybody to follow a diet consisting of natural and organic foods. Not to mention it helps our economy to buy local.
Your best bet for vegetables and eating healthy are organic or natural, found at your local farmers’ market. To help you understand the difference between organic and natural I will try to explain a somewhat complicated issue. Many farmers are certified organic. Their produce was started with organic seeds, they have no unnatural fertilizers and practice organic farming and the government has certified them as organic. Another farm may practice the same thing but they do not want to go to the expense of the certification. They may call this Natural farming. When you go to a farmers’ market it is best to ask the farmer exactly what they do. You will also find at your farmers’ market produce which isn’t even from Hawaii. You must ask the people at the farmers market where there produce comes from. Please don’t assume. Fresh products will taste better every time and it will make a difference in the taste and enjoyment and your families as well.
So where can you shop for many of these things and save some money when you’re on a budget? One of the best places is actually Costco. Costco sells many organic items which are listed above. You will find organic quinoa, eggs, ground beef, chicken, ground turkey, milk, many varieties of beans, chicken broth, whole-grain bread, etc. If there is a Whole Foods near you it is also a great place to buy natural and/or organic products. Their 365 brand is actually very reasonably priced and lower then many name brands you will find at other supermarkets. Their organic beef broth, vegetable broth, fresh produce, and bulk items cost much less then you’d fine at other places. And I have found that if you want to buy things like bacon or deli meats without nitrates you will have a hard time finding them anyplace else.
Now that you have all this how do you use the information? When you plan a meal and you think about what you’re going to make for you and or your family, think about picking a protein, vegetable or two, and some other kind of fiber. If you have time to cook you can choose anything from the above list. If you don’t have much time, you can choose from the list above something like the lentils which cook pretty fast, or maybe the quinoa. Perhaps you can also just stop at a store and buy a piece or two of chicken to make with a fresh vegetable. If you have more time, say on a Sunday and you want to make some food for the week, you can think about maybe making something like a turkey chili. Buy the cans of organic beans and ground turkey from Costco plus other ingredients and take the time to make it. A little planning and thinking about how much time you have and a list from above will help you greatly.
Here are a few ideas for eating healthy and a few recipes. For eating raw veggies, there is nothing better than a Fresh salad. Be creative: think Kale, romaine, Bibb lettuce, or Napa Cabbage, etc. Add raw nuts (healthier than roasted), chicken, Kauai Shrimp, thinly sliced beef, beans, local goat cheese, fresh fruit, sunflower seeds and a light vinaigrette dressing. I make a Chinese Chicken salad with Napa cabbage, red cabbage, snow or sugar snap peas, oranges, sesame seeds, natural wasabi peas, chicken breast and a Chinese chicken salad dressing. Really great. The natural wasabi peas from Whole Foods or Down to Earth make the dish. And it’s packed with healthy , raw veggies.
Check out some of my healthy recipes on the Sjögren’s and Lupus Foundation of Hawaii homepage in the “Lets Get Educated and Healthy” section.