Eating Healthy on a Budget: 3 Kitchen Staples Revised

Eating healthy on a budget doesn't mean bringing home half-empty bags from the grocery store. By making smart decisions, eating healthy without going broke can become second nature.
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Here are three kitchen staples you can easily replace with healthier, inexpensive options on your next shopping trip.


1. Rice

If you love stir fries, casseroles and soups, you probably have rice in your pantry. Did you know there are many types of rice available?

The everyday white sticky rice you enjoy in your Chinese takeout isn't the only option out there. Try buying whole grain brown rice. Unlike refined white rice, whole grain brown rice is packed with energy-boosting B vitamins and antioxidants manganese and selenium.

Whole grains help stabilize blood sugars, encourage weight loss and prevent cancer, according to registered dietician Keri Glassman, a contributor to CBS. To save even more pennies, buy rice in bulk. The individual boil-in-bag pouches cost more and produce more waste for landfills.


2. Bread

From sandwiches to a morning plate of French toast, bread is a staple in many homes. Eating healthy on a budget doesn't mean you have to give up bread.

The carbohydrate-filled food is a great way to add even more cholesterol-lowering whole grains to your diet. Instead of grabbing the loaf of white bread made with processed bleached flour, opt for something darker. Look for breads made with oatmeal, quinoa, whole grain wheat or brown rice.

These breads not only add fiber to your diet, they also add more flavor to your meal so you won't grab for extra slices just to fill up. Eating less means your cost per serving goes down -- saving you money.

3. Beans

Consider going meatless for one meal a day. To get enough proteins and fiber in your diet, try making a meal based on beans, recommends the United States Department of Agriculture. When purchased dried, you can easily walk away paying a dollar or less for a pound of dried lentils, kidney beans, pinto beans or chickpeas. You know that's less than what you pay for a pound of ground beef. Now that's eating healthy on a budget!

In addition to chili, soups and vegetarian bean burritos, beans can be mashed and made into hamburger-like patties, bean loafs and seasoned for taco filling. As a bonus, beans are extremely low in saturated fat -- unlike most meat-based proteins.

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

Note: This article was originally published on Yahoo! Voices on February 10, 2012. 

Flourless Desserts: 5 Naturally Gluten-Free Treats

Messy, homemade and delicious!
Today is my birthday, so I figured we'd celebrate by talking about dessert.

No matter what type of diet you follow, it's fine to splurge on a sweet treat (in moderation!) on occasion.

Gluten-free deserts are plentiful and simple to make. You don't have to learn how to bake with rice flour or drop some big bucks on xanthan gum to create a wonderful sweet treat.

Here are five ways to end a meal without using wheat, rye, barley or triticale.

5 Naturally Gluten-Free Desserts 

1. Chocolate-Covered Strawberries
This simple two ingredient dessert is a snap to make. First pick out fresh, plump strawberries. Fruits are naturally gluten-free, so you're 100 percent in the safe zone. Next, splurge on a decadent organic chocolate. Choose a bar made with cocoa butter, cocoa or cocoa liqueur. Since not all chocolates are made without wheat-based emulsifiers, make sure the label says the product is gluten-free. Then, melt the chocolate in a double-boiler and dip the berries.

2. Sweetened Rice Pudding
Rice is a naturally gluten-free grain. Rice pudding is usually made by thickening the dessert with cream, milk and the rice itself -- no flour. Depending on your tastes, splurge on a cinnamon-raisin rice pudding, chocolate rice pudding or a recipe that uses honey and apples to sweeten the pudding. Once you find a favorite rice pudding recipe, you can really add any combination of nuts, chopped fruits or sweeteners.

3. Flourless Gluten-Free Desserts
After going gluten-free -- and realizing how expensive pre-made gluten-free treats are in the store -- I've done some test baking. Non-wheat flours don't respond the same way as wheat. Gluten gives bread a chewy texture, makes muffins rise and gives body to a cookie. But, what about baking without flour? It is possible! Check your favorite cookbook or website for flourless chocolate cake (it uses a lot of eggs), flourless peanut butter cookies (they are heavy in sugar) or crustless cheesecake (the creamy filling is the best part anyway).

4. Meringue Cookies
Every Easter my grandmother would whip up a batch of meringue cookies, or as she called them "Kisses." These egg-white based cookies puff up like little clouds, melt in your mouth and can be flavored to suit your palette. She usually made vanilla and chocolate cookies. But, if you're into experimenting with flavoring extracts or fresh citrus zest, you could easily create a new cookie flavor such as almond, lemon, lime or coconut.

5. Ice Cream and Sorbet
When made from scratch, ice cream and sorbet are naturally gluten-free desserts. Cream, milk, sugar and fruit are the key ingredients. So, fire up that ice cream maker collecting dust in the cabinet, or purchase an all-natural ice cream. Choose a dessert that's free of any thickeners, preservatives or emulsifiers. These tend to be hidden sources of gluten.

What's your favorite birthday dessert? Tell me in the comments below!

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

Note: This article was originally published on Yahoo! Voices on March 7, 2012.

Gluten-Free Eggplant Lasagna Bites

The first thing to ripen in my garden this summer was a big purple eggplant.

I snipped it from the vine and wondered what the heck to do with it. Then I spotted another tucked under the bushy leaves and decided I had to think of a recipe, and fast!

So, I came up with noodle-less eggplant lasagna bites. They're vegetarian, gluten-free, gooey (that's what matters right?) and delicious. And I promise; The eggplant doesn't have a spongy texture. Let's cook!

Gluten-Free Eggplant Lasagna Bites  

Servings: 3 at approximately 300 calories per serving.
  • 2 small fresh eggplants
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups red pasta sauce
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese or ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • Fresh basil for a garnish
  1. Wash and slice the eggplants into 1/4-inch thick disks. You'll need 9 disks total to fill the baking dish.
  2. Rub each slice (front and back) with extra virgin olive oil. Place them in a hot grill pan and brown them on each side. This removes excess moisture and that unsavory spongy texture.
  3. Place 1 cup of pasta sauce on the bottom of an 8x8 or 9x9 square baking dish. Place one layer of the eggplant slices in the bottom of the pan. You should be able to make three rows, three slices each.
  4. Place a dollop of cottage cheese or ricotta cheese on the top of each eggplant slice. I used Kraft Simply Low Fat 2% Cottage Cheese because it's gluten free and what I had on hand.
  5. Scoop a spoon of the pasta sauce over each eggplant slice. Now sprinkle the top of the pan with 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese.
  6. Bake the eggplant lasagna bites in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until the mozzarella cheese gets golden in a few spots. After it cools for a few minutes, sprinkle the top with fresh basil. (I used lemon basil and it was delicious!)
I enjoyed three eggplant slices as an entree with a large fresh salad. I think this recipe would also be good served over a small pile of pasta (cheese ravioli or penne!) or sweet jasmine rice.

So, how do you like to prepare eggplant? I have a few more purple beauties about to ripen and I need ideas -- quick!

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

Lemon Basil: My Favorite Herb of the Summer

For the past several years, I've thought about planting herbs in the flower boxes by the backdoor. Each year I fill the planters with flowers and scorn myself for not growing something more practical.

But, this year I finally did it!

After an impromptu stop at a local garden center, I was the proud owner of some parsley and lemon basil.

I grew up putting parsley on everything from green salads and roasted potatoes, to hot vegetable casseroles and pasta salads. But the lemon basil was a new herb for my palette.

It tastes just like fresh lemons AND basil. It really is an odd combo at first taste. If you've never had lemon basil, poke around at the local farmer's market or garden center. It is a true treat!

So far I've used it fresh from the plant:
  • as a topper on homemade pizza
  • mixed into pasta drizzled with Alfredo sauce
  • mixed with lemon slices in my ice water
  • chopped and sprinkled on grilled mushrooms
As I research this curious little herb, I'm learning its flavor is most robust when used fresh, so add it to dishes at the last minute or as a garnish. Lemon basil is common in Thai, Laotian and Indonesian cuisine. If you eat at Middle Eastern restaurants often, you might recognize this flavorful herb.

Have you ever tried lemon basil? How to do you like to incorporate it into your cooking? I have a huge plant to use up this summer. Make my mouth water!

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living