No Knead Whole Wheat Bread

no knead breadAt last, a recipe for whole wheat bread that does not have to be kneaded. This bread is delicious, easy, and less expensive than whole wheat bread you buy at the store. Just don’t expect it to rise as high as other yeast breads with white enriched flour.

Here are a few tips for making bread:

  • Heat cold milk in microwave for 45-60 seconds for lukewarm temperature. Test a drop on the inside of your wrist. It should feel very warm but not hot.
  • Keep whole wheat flour in the refrigerator or freezer for storage. Bring flour to room temperature to make bread.
  • Instant yeast is also called fast rising, rapid rise, quick rise, and bread machine yeast.
  • 1 packet of yeast = 2 1/4 teaspoons

No Knead Whole Wheat Bread

Serving Size: 1 slice | Serves: 16 | Cost Per Serving: $.12

Ingredients: no knead bread label

  • 1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) nonfat milk, lukewarm (100-110°F)
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) orange or apple juice
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 packet instant yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose white flour

Instructions:

  1. Grease the sides and bottom of an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan with nonstick spray.
  2. Combine the lukewarm nonfat milk, juice, and honey in a large bowl.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients. Beat vigorously for 3 minutes. Dough will be very thick. Scoop the dough into prepared pan. Cover the pan with a clean towel. Let the dough rise in a warm place for 45-75 minutes, until almost double. Time varies according to room temperature.
  4. When dough is almost doubled, preheat oven to 350°F.
  5. Remove towel and bake bread for about 30 minutes. Dough will pull away from sides of pan when bread is done. Let bread cool 30 minutes before slicing.

Options:

  • Make 2 smaller loaves using half sized loaf pans. Bake for 23-27 minutes.
  • Make herb dinner rolls. Mix 4 teaspoons of dried herbs such as oregano, parsley, basil, rosemary, or thyme into the batter. Use muffin tins and bake 15 minutes.
  • Make 100% whole wheat bread. Use 3 cups whole wheat flour instead of white and wheat flour and 3 tablespoons molasses instead of honey.

Easy Quick Pad Thai

PadThai_closeup smallIn August I eat salads, grill, or do quick stove-top meals. Quick Pad Thai is one of those stove-top all-in-one meals I usually serve in a bowl. We modeled it after the street food in Thailand but with ingredients you can easily find in the Midwest. Ours uses whole wheat spaghetti but you could use the more traditional rice noodles. When I make this in the summer I use whatever vegetables are ready in the garden and in the winter I use frozen vegetables. Bright colored veggies such as red pepper, broccoli, and snap peas look great.

I use either chunky or smooth peanut butter, whatever I have open and I make light soy sauce by mixing equal parts water and regular soy sauce.

One caution, after you cut up the chicken make sure you wash the cutting board knife and your hands with hot water and soap so you don’t transfer bacteria to the other ingredients.

Quick Pad Thai

Serving Size: 1 1/4 cups | Serves: 6 | Cost Per Serving: $1.06

Ingredients: Quick Pad Thai label

  • 6 ounces whole wheat thin spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 24 ounces frozen vegetable mix or chopped fresh veggies
  • 3 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 pound boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup chopped peanuts

Instructions: 

  1. Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Drain in colander and toss with 1 tablespoon oil.
  2. Defrost vegetables in microwave for 5 minutes and drain well (as spaghetti cooks).
  3. Combine soy sauce, water, peanut butter, and sugar in a small bowl. Stir until smooth and set aside.
  4. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in large skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken pieces and cook and stir until no longer pink (heat chicken to at least 165°F).
  5. Crack eggs into a small bowl and beat. Add to pan with chicken and scramble until firm. Add the vegetables and spaghetti to the pan with the chicken mixture. Stir to heat through.
  6. Add the soy sauce mixture to the pan and stir to coat veggies and spaghetti.
  7. Place in serving bowl and sprinkle peanuts on top.

Grilled Chicken Dinner: Take out or Homemade

chicken sandwichFor our series comparing homemade to quick serve restaurant food I decided to compare a grilled chicken meal from Wendy’s with my own version at home. When I’m deciding on food I take time, money and nutrition into consideration. Check out the sections below to see my comparison.

NUTRITION

My grilled chicken meal has 200 fewer calories, less fat and less sodium than the Wendy’s meals. I added milk to my meal which we would drink at home, but probably wouldn’t get at the drive through.

Both of the Wendy’s sandwiches and meals have similar calories but the source of the calories is different.  The Crispy (code word for fried) sandwich has about half the protein (less meat) but 100 more calories from fat than the grilled sandwich.  The larger portion of chicken and bigger bun in the Grilled Chicken meal is reflected in the price. The Crispy Chicken Sandwich costs $1.49 while the Ultimate Chicken Grilled Costs $4.59.

COST

My homemade meal included:

  • Grilled Chicken on a whole grain bun with lettuce and onion
  • A romaine lettuce salad with added green pepper,  radishes and Italian dressing
  • non-fat milk
  • a chocolate ice cream bar

It costs $2.56 per person or $10.24 for 4 people. I used frozen chicken breasts because they cost $6.99 for a 3 pound bag and the butcher case breasts were $3.69 per pound. I could have saved a dollar by buying ‘wheat’ buns instead of whole wheat but I wasn’t willing to sacrifice the nutrition. By cleaning and cutting the romaine I got two meals of lettuce for the same price as the 12 ounce bag of pre-washed and chopped lettuce.

The grilled chicken meal with a side salad and junior frosty would cost $6.59 each or $25.96 for 4.

The crispy chicken sandwich with a side salad and junior frosty would be $3.50 for 1 for $14 for 4.

TIME

The time to drive to Wendy’s from my house during 5:30 traffic, wait in the drive up and drive home is 31 minutes.

I figure it took about 35 minutes at home. The day before our meal, I put the frozen chicken breasts a in a plastic bag to thaw in the refrigerator. (2 minutes)

grilled chicken chart

When I got home I started the grill to heat, then pounded the chicken breasts so they were about the same thickness and added bottled Italian dressing for a marinade. While the grill finished heating I set the table and prepared the salad. (10 minutes)

Cooking the chicken took about 8 minutes, cooking on both sides to get it to 160 degrees (my digital thermometer is one of my best purchases). Cooking time will vary by the grill temperature and breast thickness. I took the chicken breast off the grill and covered it while I got people to the table and poured the milk. The temperature rose to 165 and the meat was still juicy. Ice Cream bars for dessert took no time at all. (10 minutes)

Clean-up was simple, five minutes and I was done!

Chicken Fajitas

chicken fajitasWhen it is hot outside heating the oven to cook seems counterproductive and sometimes I’m just too lazy to start the grill. A dish that will cook quickly on the stove top seems to work the best. This recipe does require some chopping, but it goes together very fast. Plus, when you make it yourself you control the amount of fat used, which can be an issue with restaurant meals.

As the first step indicates, partially freezing any meat or poultry will make these slices possible.  Likewise, a sharp knife for cutting the onion, peppers and tomatoes will make your life much easier. Just make sure to wash your knife and cutting board after you work with the chicken.

As with all of our recipes, you need to adjust this one to your family’s tastes and what is available. Use the color of peppers and onions you like or have on hand. Use corn or wheat tortillas and substitute beef or pork for the chicken. You could also go meatless and use 1 can (15 ounces) of drained and rinsed black beans.

Chicken Fajitas

Serving Size: 1 tortilla with 2/3 cup filling

Serves: 6 (makes 4 cups of filling)

Ingredients: chicken fajitas label

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 6 whole wheat tortillas, 8-inch
  • Optional Toppings:6 ounces shredded low fat cheddar cheese; 1 cup chopped tomato;, chopped cilantro; sliced jalapeno

Instructions: 

  1. Freeze chicken 30 minutes until firm and easier to cut. Cut chicken into 1/4-inch strips. Place in a single layer on a plate. Wash hands, knife, and cutting board. Sprinkle both sides of strips with chili and garlic powder.
  2. Add oil to a 12-inch skillet. Heat to medium high. Add chicken strips. Cook about 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  3. Add bell peppers and onion. Stir and cook until vegetables are tender and chicken is no longer pink. (Heat chicken to at least 165°F).
  4. Scoop chicken mixture ( 2/3 cup each) onto tortillas. Top with your favorite toppings.
  5. Serve flat or rolled

Tips:

  • Heat cold tortillas to make them easier to fold. Cover tortillas with a moist paper towel and heat 30 seconds in microwave.
  • Wear plastic gloves to handle hot peppers. No gloves? Wash hands with soap and water before touching your face, your cooking utensils, or another person.
  • 3 cups of pepper = 2 medium peppers

Will Eating More Vegetables Cause you to Gain Weight?

vegetables variety

There is a new report out by the Economic Research Service called ‘Healthy Vegetables Undermined by the Company They Keep’ that really surprised me. It makes me question my mantra to always “eat more fruits and vegetables”.

In a nutshell, the report said that eating more fruit is associated with healthier weight but that Americans who eat more vegetables may actually increase their calorie and sodium intake. How can that be? Vegetables are naturally low in calories and sodium.

The report found that when many Americans eat vegetables they prepare them in ways that add calories and sodium while reducing fiber. So, if you eat more vegetables you will also get more fat, sodium, and calories.

I think the disconnect is that when I recommend eating more vegetables I am thinking roasted sweet potatoes or Brussels sprouts, raw baby carrots, spinach salads, steamed green beans, raw broccoli and cauliflower florets, etc. But some people hear this recommendation and automatically think about the vegetables they are used to eating such as French fries, cheesy potatoes, green bean casserole, 7 layer salad, zucchini bread, hash browns, pizza with mushrooms, spinach dip, etc.

In the future I’m going to modify my message about vegetables.  Here are a few of my modifications:

1. Most of us need to eat twice as many vegetables as we do.  But all vegetables are not created equal. Different colored vegetables provide different nutrients. Try to eat more of the dark green and orange vegetables.  Most of us don’t need to eat more white potatoes which we often fry or eat with butter or cheese.  Tomatoes are another tricky one. Fresh tomatoes or canned tomatoes with no salt added are healthier choices than tomatoes cooked into pizza and spaghetti sauce which are typically high in sodium.

Dark Green Vegetables
raw baby spinach
broccoli
romaine lettuce
Orange Vegetables
baby carrots
baked sweet potato
Dry Beans*
and Peas

cooked black beans
cooked kidney beans
cooked pinto beans
Starchy Vegetables
cooked corn
baked potato
Other Vegetables
raw cauliflower
cooked green beans
iceberg lettuce
raw mushrooms
red onion
raw tomato
tomato juice
raw zucchini

2. Try to eat your vegetables without added calories and sodium.

Eat more of these…
Eat less of these…
Relish Trays or individual snack bags with raw vegetables like carrots, broccoli, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms Creamed or au gratin vegetables
Spinach salad with reduced fat dressing Spinach dip
Roasted or grilled sweet potatoes or  Easy Roasted Vegetables White potatoes topped with generous amounts of butter and sour cream
Raw vegetable salads with a small amounts of reduced-fat dressing such as Creamy Cauliflower Salad or Summer Bounty Salad Raw broccoli/cauliflower salads with almost as much sour cream and mayo as vegetables
Roasted Tomato and Spinach Pasta or Cheesy Pasta with Summer Vegetables Pastas with lots of cream, cheese, or  canned sauces with lots of sodium

3.  Pay attention to labels. The sodium varies greatly on canned vegetables and tomato-based sauces and soups. Compare the labels so you can choose one with less sodium. Calorie labeling will soon be available in restaurant chains with 20 or more establishments and you can ask managers to provide the information in local restaurants.

How many fruits and vegetables do you need?

Here are the facts.fruit salad in bowl

  • Most of us know that we need to eat fruits and vegetables.
  • Few of us eat what we need.
  • Many of us don’t know how much we (or our children) need when it comes to fruits and veggies.
  • Most of us need to eat a bigger variety of fruits and especially vegetables and prepare them without lots of added salt, fat and sugar (more on that next week).

I am fortunate that I grew up eating lots of fruits and vegetables and now that my kids are adults they enjoy a wide variety as well. My grandson, age 14 months will eat most fruits but he is not as fond of vegetables. Right now adding vegetables to his favorites seems to work best. I added shredded carrots to sloppy joes, small chunks of vegetables to macaroni and cheese, etc. With time and lots of exposure I bet he will learn to enjoy the different colors and flavors.

Jody Gatewood, from our SpendSmart team, discusses  the amounts of fruits and vegetables you need every day and some easy ways to get them into your meals and snacks. We also have a handout you can print on this topic.

Featured Recipe: Tzatziki with Pita Chips

tzatzikiLast month I went to a nice restaurant with my sisters and friends before a play. I ordered a Greek Salad plate. It was delicious, but as I looked at it I thought, “I could make this so easily at home”. The salad was a combination of romaine and other lettuces, cherry tomatoes, Kalamata olives, red onion, and feta cheese with some pita bread on the side. The dressing looked and tasted just like our Tzatziki recipe which is so simple and inexpensive to make. Just remember, the flavors in the Tzatziki only get better if you make it the day before you plan to use it. It keeps for 4 days in the refrigerator.

Besides using the Tzatziki as a dressing, it is a great dip for vegetables and pita chips. It is so fresh tasting. Homemade pita chips are also super easy to make and allow you to control the amount and type of fat you add to them.

Tzatziki with Pita Chips

Serving Size: 1/4 cup Tzatziki with 6 chips | Serves: 8 (makes 2 1/2 cups) | Cost Per Serving: $.57

Ingredients:

  • 1 unpeeled cucumber, washed and sliced lengthwisetzatziki label
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, peeled and minced (about 1-2 cloves)
  • 2 containers (6 ounces each) plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill and/or fresh mint
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Ingredients for Pita Chips:

  • 6 whole wheat pita pockets (6”)
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2 teaspoon spice (choose one or combine dried rosemary, basil, garlic powder, cumin, cayenne pepper)

Instructions: 

  1. Use a spoon to scrape out cucumber seeds. Dice the cucumber into small pieces or shred using a grater.
  2. Spread cucumber on two or three layers of paper towels or a clean kitchen towel. Roll up the towels and squeeze to remove excess liquid. Transfer dried cucumber to a large bowl.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and mix. Cover and refrigerate until served.

Pita Chips:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Cut pita in 8 wedges, spray with cooking spray, and sprinkle with seasoning.
  3. Toast chips 4-5 minutes, then turn and toast 1-2 minutes more. (Watch carefully at the end because they can quickly turn brown.)

 

Breakfast at the Campsite (Making Homemade Granola)

justine camping
Daniel and I resting by the lake after a long hike during a camping trip.

My husband (Daniel) and I grew up in families that loved to go camping. Some of our best childhood memories are from camping trips. When we began dating we discovered our mutual love for camping and began planning some of our own camping trips. Meals are a big part of camping, so we work together to plan meals for our camping trips.

We found out right away that our families had enjoyed many of the same foods for lunch and supper – fresh fruit (especially grapes and berries), foil packets (meat and vegetables wrapped in foil and cooked over the camp fire), grilled burgers and hot dogs. However, we clashed when it came to breakfast. Daniel was happy to pack a box of cereal and grab a handful to munch on whenever he got around to eating in the morning. I wanted a full breakfast with eggs, sausage, toast, and orange juice.

Even after more than 10 years of camping trips, we have not really been able to solve our breakfast dilemma. This summer, we are going to try homemade granola to see if it satisfies us both. Daniel will be able to satisfy his hunger for cereal and I will be able to satisfy my hunger for a full meal when I add nuts and dried fruit and stir in some yogurt.

Even if you are not a camper, you can try out our Crispy Granola recipe for any meal or snack. You can also check out this video on How to Make Homemade Granola.

Updated Links – Meat: How can we afford it for dinner?

Update: Link to 10 tips was broken, but is fixed now. Sorry for the inconvenience, Thanks!

Part 2: Spendsmart’s Top Ten Money Saving Meat Tips

kebabs grilling mealsI have spent 2/3 of my life on farms that raised beef, pork, and some lamb. So, at times I have had the luxury of bountiful, inexpensive meat. Now I live in the city and buy all my meat at the grocery store. I still enjoy meat but I eat meat differently than I used to. I eat smaller portions of meat and combine meat with other flavors and textures in meals. I eat more fish and seafood, chicken, beans and eggs and pay attention to the amount of fat I consume.

Why? Partly because I know that along with great protein in meat you can get saturated fats, which I avoid, and partly because I have a “thrifty gene” and the cost of meat has my attention.

This week I’m  sharing 10 tips which I use to save money on meat and a list of beef and pork planned overs from the American Meat Institute.

I’d love to know your best tips for saving money on meat.  Please leave a comment and share.

 

 

Meat: How can we afford it for dinner?

Part 2: Spendsmart’s Top Ten Money Saving Meat Tipskebabs grilling meals

I have spent 2/3 of my life on farms that raised beef, pork, and some lamb. So, at times I have had the luxury of bountiful, inexpensive meat. Now I live in the city and buy all my meat at the grocery store. I still enjoy meat but I eat meat differently than I used to. I eat smaller portions of meat and combine meat with other flavors and textures in meals. I eat more fish and seafood, chicken, beans and eggs and pay attention to the amount of fat I consume.

Why? Partly because I know that along with great protein in meat you can get saturated fats, which I avoid, and partly because I have a “thrifty gene” and the cost of meat has my attention.

This week I’m  sharing 10 tips which I use to save money on meat and a list of beef and pork planned overs from the American Meat Institute.

I’d love to know your best tips for saving money on meat.  Please leave a comment and share.

Update: Link to 10 tips was broken, but is fixed now! Sorry for the inconvenience, Thanks!

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