Archives for February 2011

Meatless Monday: Pasta E Fagioli

Pasta e Fagioli Ingredients

Quick and easy. Add ingredients, leave some out. This soup can be made any of a 100 ways and it will always be satisfying. With the exception of the carrots and the celery, all ingredients can be found on my staples list. Make sure to have these ingredients on hand and to stockpile them when you find a great price. Then you can whip up a quick meal any night of the week!

Remember, even if you aren’t vegetarian, your family can benefit from one night a week of a meatless meal. It is good for your health as well as for your pocket book! And of course its GREEN!

Pasta e Fagioli

Pasta E Fagoli Serves 6

1 T Olive Oil

1/2 medium onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 celery stalks, sliced

1 carrot, diced

3 C beef stock

3 C water

28 oz can whole tomatoes, chopped

15 oz can cannellini beans (or 2 cups cooked beans)

2 t dried basil

1/4 t red pepper

1 C whole wheat pasta (elbows or shells both work great)

sea salt and pepper to taste

Parmesan cheese (optional)

1. Heat oil in large saucepan. Add onions, garlic, and celery and saute for 6 minutes.

2. Add stock, water, carrots, tomatoes with juice, beans, basil, and red pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and let simmer for 15 minutes.

3. Return soup to a boil. (important or pasta won’t cook!) Add pasta and cook for 10 minutes or until pasta is al dente. Season with salt and pepper and serve topped with Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Now it’s your turn! Have a great recipe that could be served on Meatless Monday? Please link it up below. All I ask is that you link directly to your post so we can find it later. Also, please be sure to add a link back here to Meatless Monday so more people can join in the fun!

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

Better Living Network: Links

The Better Living Network has some great posts this week I think you’ll enjoy!

Eat at Home Menu Planner

Tiffany at Eat at Home has a new FREE downloadable Weekly Menu Planner. Check it out cuz it is super cute and practical to boot!

Crystal at Crystal & Co. has a great resource for How to Plan for a Section 504 Meeting at Your School. Please pass this resource on to those in your life who may need it.

Kay at Bucksome Boomer shares her Department Store Shopping Strategies. I’m heading to the mall later today, so I enjoyed her tips.

Nikki at Coupon Cookin is my go to girl for Whole Foods Deals. Although these deals vary by region, it is worth taking the same coupons in hopes of scoring the same unadvertised deals!

Brandy at Savin Some is the BEST at repurposing and creating clever items. Check out the pillow she made out of a sweater.

Finally, we don’t have a CVS here in C Springs. If you are looking for CVS deals, the Coupon Mommie has all your match-ups!

Happy Reading!

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

How to Go Organic with Few Organic Choices

I got a comment the other day that I’ve been mulling around in my brain and trying to think about what I would do if this was me:

I am very interested in feeding my family whole foods, but I live in a small city in South Carolina. We do not have whole food stores and although there are local farmers galore, the last organic chicken I priced from the local farm was over $26.00. The organic/health food section in local grocery stores (if it has one) is something to laugh at. What do I do? Where do I go? ~ Teresa

First off Teresa, you are not alone! I’ve seen this question posed by many people all over the blog-o-sphere.

If I had to pay $26.00 for an organic chicken – forget about it! We simply couldn’t afford to do it. So what do you do?

Prioritize – First, be proud of whatever steps you can make! Every step made gets everyone closer to making positive changes for our food supply and our health. Forgo the processed foods, stick to buying real food, and you can be assured you are doing a great thing for your family!

Next, really think about what is important to you. Is it avoiding added hormones? added antibiotics? or pesticides? Take a look at what your family goes through a lot of, and see if there are reasonable choices available to you. Maybe your family goes through several dozen eggs a week – so getting good quality eggs becomes your step one.

Look at my organics list and you’ll see I also list the cleanest produce you can buy. There are a lot of clean choices out there that are really reasonably priced. Frozen peas and corn come to mind. Then, I think you’ll want to find out why Nicole over at Simple Organic chooses local over organic!

Since we’re talking buying local, be sure to check out the Eat Wild list for your state. Does it have any local resources you haven’t investigated yet?

Explore Online Options – The Internet has made it much easier to purchase these items and have them delivered right to your doorstep. The best option I know of is to join Swagbucks and cash in your Swagbucks for Amazon gift cards. It only takes 450 Swagbucks to get a $5 Amazon gift card. Couple that with the fact that Amazon has several ways to save on Organics – and you can still purchase organics and save money. For example, Amazon does put organics on sale. On top of that, you can use the Subscribe and Save option – and you save an additional 15% off your order AND get FREE shipping. This is a great way to get things like organic milk for the kiddos lunches.

There are also companies like Natural Grocers and The Natural Store that have regular specials and free shipping offers. The best way to find out about them? Get on their email list. If you don’t like having all those emails sent to your inbox, consider getting a separate, free email account and having them sent there. That way, if you only feel like answering personal email, you don’t have to scroll through several ads to find them.

Get Creative – Are there any substitutions you can make? For example, could you buy powdered organic milk and use it to cook with instead of buying fresh organic milk? Or, can you find inexpensive almond, coconut or rice milk online and use it to cook with instead of using fresh organic milk?

Can you find recipes where you can skimp on the meat to make it stretch further? I do this a lot with chicken casseroles. Or, can you opt for a meatless main dish once a week to cut down on the amount of meat you need to buy?

Negotiate! – Two years in the Middle East and I’m in the habit of saying “Is that your best price?” any time someone quotes me a price. I’ve learned – you will never get the discount if you don’t ask for it. Think about it.

Plan Your Trips – I know when I lived in Del Rio, we would pop up to San Antonio about once every 10 weeks or so to get those goods we simply couldn’t in our small town. Find a deal site that has the grocery match-ups for whatever big town you have nearby and plan on stocking up when you can.

Teresa, I hope that gives you a place to start! What would you suggest Teresa do?

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Meatless Monday: Spicy Black Bean Cakes

These Spicy Black Bean Cakes are a savory, healthy version of a pancake. When I was growing up, my mom instituted the “Sunday Night Supper.” Sunday night suppers were when we got to have breakfast for dinner! Man, did my brother and I think that was the greatest thing ever. Now, as a mom, I truly see the brilliance. It’s called – I have no plan for dinner, what can I make that is quick and easy? Breakfast foods are both.

Before you think “a black bean pancake?” I want you to know my husband pronounced them “company worthy.” And these were gobbled up as fast as I could cook them!

What’s more? All the main ingredients can be found on my Staples List. AND by serving just one meatless main a week, you can serve your family a meal that is cost conscious and good for the environment!

Spicy Black Bean Cakes Ingredients

Spicy Black Bean Cakes

1 small onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 15oz can black beans, rinsed

1 C all purpose flour

1 t baking powder

1/2 t cumin

1/2 t salt

3/4 C milk

3 eggs

1 T canola oil

1. Saute onions and garlic until soft.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine onions, garlic, and beans.

3. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cumin, and salt.

4. Beat together the eggs, milk and oil. Stir into the flour mixture.

5. Add the flour mixture into the bean mixture and stir to combine.

6. Heat additional canola oil in a large fry pan over medium heat. When a drop of water sizzles in the pan, drop bean mixture in by 1/3 cupfuls.

7. Cook like you would pancakes.

8. Serve hot with any topping you may have on hand – salsa, grated cheese or sour cream.

Spicy Black Bean CakesEnjoy!

Have a meatless main meal you’d like to share? Please link up here, or leave the recipe in the comments. Make sure you are linking to your post – not your main page – so everyone can find the recipe later!

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

Take Advantage of Warranties

New PotsI’ve been married almost 19 years now. (I know – amazing since I’m still in my 20’s, right? *wink*) As a wedding present we received very nice pots, pans and a teapot from Chantal.

10 military moves and 18 years of use and one of my original pots, a pan, and a teapot were all chipped, and the pot and pan had handles that had fallen off.

Now, Chantal has a lifetime warranty. But, I am lazy. I really just wanted to donate our old pots to Goodwill and just see what I could find at TJ Maxx or Ross to replace them.

My husband could not believe it. He wanted to know just what kind of eco-friendly deal blogger I thought I was? Well, truthfully? I was the kind of eco-friendly deal blogger that simply thought it sounded a whole heck of a lot easier to just buy something new then to go through the trouble. Plus, it was Christmas time when we unpacked our stuff, and I just could not face the post office to mail our old stuff back in hopes of our new stuff.

So, my husband said he’d do it for me. See why I’ve been happily married for over 18 years? 🙂

And it was so worth taking advantage of that warranty. It has been 2 months since we started corresponding with Chantal. But my new pots arrived today, and I am so happy that my husband persevered and followed through. I think I will enjoy cooking dinner tonight more than I have in a long time!

The moral of this story? Take advantage of warranties. The result should be that you will be rewarded for your time and effort.

Have you ever taken advantage of the warranty on an item? Any tips you’d be willing to share? Good experiences? Bad? Leave them in the comments so we can all learn!

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

Meatless Monday: Basil Tomato and Rice Soup

Why a Meatless Monday?

  1. It’s been reported that if every American ate just 4 oz less of red meat every week, it would be the equivalent to taking 4 to 6 million cars off the road!
  2. If you are looking to save money on your grocery bills, creating a delicious meal from staples you’ve stockpiled at rock-bottom prices can really help you with your budget.

It’s about saving green and going green both!

Tomato and Rice Soup Ingredients

This Basil Tomato and Rice Soup is perfect for a Meatless Monday! It’s inexpensive, comes together quickly, and the rice makes it quite filling.

Basil Tomato and Rice Soup

Basil Tomato and Rice Soup

1 T olive oil

1 onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

2 C chicken broth (or vegetable)

1 C water

15 oz can diced tomatoes

2 T chopped fresh basil, or 2 tsp dried basil

1 t salt

1/4 t cayenne pepper

1 C cooked rice

Optional garnish: spicy microgreens, chopped chives or green onions

1. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Saute for 4 minutes.

2. Add stock, water, tomatoes with juice, and basil and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add rice and simmer an additional 5 minutes.

Quick, easy and satisfying!

Have a great Meatless Monday recipe? Please link up to inspire everyone to start Meatless Monday in their own homes!

The nitty gritty: Please link only to your recipe, not to your home page. This way months from now everyone can find your recipe again! Also, please be sure to link back here with Meatless Monday, so more people can join in the fun!

Not a blogger? Leave your recipe in the comments!

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

5 Natural Cold Fighters

sneezephoto by mcfarlandmo

You people are sick! No, really. I mean it! Facebook, twitter, blog posts….they are all loaded with “I’m sick.” “My kids are sick.” “Another day sick.”

“Under the weather.”

Even as I write this, I am knocking on wood and tossing salt over my shoulder while washing my hands and wondering if its ever ok to snort hand sanitizer – all in hopes that we stay healthy.

What are some natural ways to fight back during cold season?

1. Wash Your Hands – I’m not telling you anything you don’t know here, am I? I have a simple cold and flu season rule – touch a door handle, wash your hands. Hot water, plenty of soap. If ever you were to channel OCD like behavior, this is the time and the way.

2. Drink More – Sick or not, now is the season you want to remain uber hydrated. Black tea is a great drink for this time of season. The recommendation is to drink 5 cups of black tea for 2 weeks to supercharge your body’s cold and flu fighting cells.

3. Salt Water – Dissolve 1/2 t salt in an 8 ounce glass of water and gargle three times a day. It is reported this lowers your chance of getting a cold or flu by 40%!

4. Saline Nasal Sprays – Completely safe for use by adults and children alike. Plus, you don’t get the rebound effect of over-the-counter medications where you have a few days of worsening symptoms when you quit the medication. No one likes spraying stuff up their nose – until they realize the relief it offers them. Then, its a welcome treatment.

5. Vitamin C – I said it in my Eat Food in Season: February article. There is a reason citrus fruit is in season during cold and flu season. Make sure you are getting your vitamin C from whole food sources while it is plentiful and delicious. Taking a vitamin C supplement when you are in the throws of a cold won’t cure you – but it will shorten the duration of your cold.

What natural cold and flu remedies do you use? Better question, how’s everyone feeling at your house?

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

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