Weekly Links: Homemade Nut Butters, How to Cook Oats and Eating on Food Stamp Budget


By: , SparkPeople Blogger

We spent plenty of time this week surfing the web for the most interesting, entertaining and educational stories. From oatmeal to stevia, avocados to packaged foods, this week's links are heavy on the food. Find out which links caught our attention this week!

Avocados: ‘Poor Man’s Butter’ No More
Though they're mostly relegated to guacamole and taco toppings, avocados are actually quite versatile. Rich in monounsaturated (heart-healthy) fat, they're tasty to boot! How do you like to eat avocados?
From the New York Times

Homemade Nut Butters
Beyond peanut butter, there's a whole world of nut butters out there. Learn how to make healthy and delicious nut butters at home.
From the Washington Post's Checkup column

Hungry Girl 200 Calorie Cookbook: Hot or Not?
The second "Hungry Girl" cookbook debuted at the top of the NYT best sellers list, but not everyone's a fan. Are you?
From FitSugar

VIDEO: How to Cook and Top Oats
Instant oats are bland and gooey. Leave them on the shelf and learn how to make the real thing. (Though ignore this guy's topping suggestions and go to KathEats.com if you really want to know how to top your oatmeal. That woman turns oatmeal into a tasty and lovely creation almost every morning. She helped me turn my morning oats from boring--a handful of raisins and a splash of soymilk--to brilliant--bananas, almond butter, cinnamon, a sprinkle of flax and a handful of Grape-Nuts for a crunchy finish.)
From Chow

Stevia Not So Sweet for Your Diet
Stevia is a popular new sweetener, but some experts say it's not as natural and healthful as we might think. Have you tried it?

125 Best Packaged Foods
Not all packaged foods are created equal. The folks who brought you "Eat This, Not That" did extensive supermarket research to find the tastiest and healthiest. Are these on your grocery list?
from Men's Health

Eating Sustainably on a Food-Stamp Budget
Food is expensive, and healthful food is especially pricey, or so says the general opinion. One writer set out to eat not only organically, but also ethically, sustainably and local for one month--on the "on the government-defined, food-stamp minimum: $248 for two people." Could you stick to that budget?
From Salon.com

What links caught your eye this week?

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  • 61
    Believe it or not - but one of the neatest ways to eat Avocados is a PBA sandwich - a slab or two of your favorite healthiest bread, as much Peanut Butter (or really, any nut butter but I've only tried it with Peanut Butter and with Tahini - which is basically a Sesame Butter, made with Sesame Seeds!), and Avocado!! I just slice and schmussh on the avacado on one side of the bread and my PB goes on the side of another slice of bread, and put 'em together, and it is really pretty good, when you need some quicky energy. I suppose I could fiddle around with other condiments and hop it up some more, but for a basic meal, try a PBA!! hey! - 11/9/2010   4:12:15 PM
    Avacados are yummy in any fashion. As for nut butters, I've had cashew butter but have never made it at home. I plan to do that. I'd love to try pecan butter. Yum! - 4/30/2010   7:56:41 PM
    I don't have food stamps, but the Food Stamp Budget article was very interesting. I think it helps people realize how easy it is to be frugal, even if you don't have to be, while being eco-friendly.

    Also, the prepackaged foods article was interesting. - 4/29/2010   5:32:41 PM
  • 58
    I recently read an article promoting the HG 200 Under 200 and ran out to purchase it... as many of the other comments alluded to it is full of recipes that use processed ingredients and now I'm not so excited that I made the purchase without previewing! Amazon resale here we come. LOL
    The article regarding groceries on a food stamp budget was very well written yet very overwhelming to me. My head is spinning when it comes to the SOLE food shopping and I am not a huge proponent of store peddled "organics" as much as I am a supporter of the local farmers markets (which by the way typically cannot accommodate the use of food stamps). I would like to see more on this topic as I feel I am in need of learning so much more in order to implement SOLE into my family's shopping habits. - 5/18/2009   12:58:35 PM
  • 57
    Mostly good articles. I wonder if the Eat This Not That guys ever take into account the GMO fish genes in Thomas bread products. I just cannot justify feeding my family known GMO products. - 5/13/2009   1:21:56 PM
  • 56
    The food stamp article caught my eye. When I was a sing mother in school my son and I recieved food stamps. We ate better then than we ever did before or since. Having a dedicated food budget allowed me to spend the money on just that... food! Now that we no longer qualify for these programs I find myself cutting from the food budget frequently to make ends meet other places. The artice was interesting but didn't offer any new ideas to my shopping cart. - 5/12/2009   8:20:11 PM
    I liked Eating Sustainably on a Food Stamp-Budget. I do try to buy organic whenever I can and we definitely don't eat as much meat as we used to. But, with three children (with varying palates), it can be difficult to keep to the SOLE mantra. - 5/12/2009   9:31:20 AM
  • 54
    Loved the article about eating sustainably on a food-stamp budget! I sent my husband the link, as we are trying to figure out ways to eat better (tastier, better fiber, more organic, etc.) for less. It does take a lot of thought & planning. - 5/11/2009   6:34:08 PM
  • 53
    I read the the Hungry Girl, Stevia, 125 Best Packaged Foods (Eat This, Not That is a great book series!), and the Eating Sustainably on a Food-Stamp Budget articles. Hungry Girl is great, but I don't think I want to step backwards and use MORE processed foods than I already do. I was amused to see that I buy a few of the Best Packaged Foods.

    And I really enjoyed the Food-Stamp article, which I think was extremely well-researched and well-written. It reminded me of "Super-Size Me," in that she challenged herself to verify or debunk a common misperception. I think she and her husband did very well. I usually spend $200-300 A WEEK on food for a family of six, but I am not on Food Stamps. We have given up almost all of our dining out now that the economy has been so bad, so that is where we choose to save money. I do buy fresh produce, but I don't usually buy organic. And if I leave my husband at home when I grocery shop, I spend closer to the $200 mark, rather than the $300 mark. Why is that??? - 5/11/2009   3:14:10 PM
  • KAS1990
    I LOVE avocados and do eat them like a condiment on toasted whole grain bread - spread ~ 1/4 of the avocado onto the bread, then add tomato slices, some onion, and cilantro and its like a guacamole sandwich - YUMMY, healthy, and very filling!!!!! I typically get 3 - 4 meals out of an avocado so I find it to be a cost-friendly and healthy part of my meal plan. - 5/11/2009   2:08:22 PM
    How do I like to eat avocados? I don't - I'm allergic to them! And the reaction is *not* pretty. But when I was in Costa Rica, I did see them being used like butter (e.g. spread on toast at breakfast - really!). And stevia? I can't stand the taste of it. - 5/11/2009   12:30:02 PM
  • 50
    We don't get food stamps, but being a frugal (mostly) cook, our family of 3 eats reasonably well for an average of $80 per week. Yes, we could add more fruits and veggies, but----hard to get the others to do that - 5/11/2009   11:14:30 AM
  • 49
    I love avocados but they certainly are not the poor man's anything! Darn pricey fruits! When I can get them for $1 each I buy a few. - 5/11/2009   10:45:05 AM
  • 48
    I went straight to the article about eating on a food stamp budget. It would be helpful to see more on this topic as it relates to those of us who have not made the change to "organic, ethical, sustainable and local" meal components.

    There are folks who find themselves coping with reduced circumstances that just need to put meals on the table that are reasonably healthy, but do not follow any particular philosophical persuasion. Those are the type of menus and recipes that I would like to see more of; something that captures creativity! - 5/11/2009   9:50:24 AM
    The stevia article is bunk. They ignore that it has been used for thousands of years by people in south america. Now, I'll admit I don't know what the refining process does to it, but unless they're refining it with chlorine (sucralose) or using genetically modified enzymes (HFCS), I'm thinking it's much safer than any of the other alternatives.

    Also - for the comment about organic produce - lots and lots of research has been done on organic gardening, check out the rodale institute. Ag agents don't like it because it doesn't follow what they learned in college, but it's much, much, much better for the soil. No matter what, organic produce is a social justice issue. Farm workers are much safer when they aren't exposed to the chemicals used in conventional farming. Since farm workers tend to be very poor, it's only just that those of us who can afford to buy organic do it as much as possible. - 5/10/2009   7:54:16 PM
  • 46
    Hungry Girl is useful for adapting foods to more diet friendly, low calorie alternatives. I subscribe to her daily email newsletter, & have tried several new foods which I now love like baked butternut squash fries. Note: not for people who eat "clean". - 5/10/2009   2:06:43 PM
  • 45
    guess I can't link it here....here it is without the garbage around it.

    - 5/10/2009   1:57:49 PM
  • 44
    The link to the "checkup" column, that is supposed to go to the "nut butters" doesn't work anymore, since it's a generic link to the main column (and will always go to the newest column). Here's the link directly to the article:

    _butter.html /link> - 5/10/2009   1:57:01 PM
  • 43
    It's so easy to make homemade peanut butter that you don't even need a recipe. I just put some fresh roasted peanuts in a food processor and puree it away. When it gets too dry all you need is a bit of peanut oil. It's fresh and much better than the stuff that one can find in a store. - 5/10/2009   12:49:16 PM
    You teased me with the "homemade nut butters." The link took me to a Mother's Day mini-survey about gifts that had NOTHING to do with homemade nut butters! I'm thinkin' you need a Cuisinart, then drop in the nut of your choice and then a wee bit of safflower, peanut, or canola oil to make it work, then whirl till it looks like nut butter. Where I live, you can get various nut butters in the health food stores, but they are VERY pricey! - 5/10/2009   11:32:36 AM
  • 41
    CKUNCIO: The link is there in the blog - click on this link and scroll down to the Nut Butters article, there is a recipe there.

    / - 5/10/2009   11:31:22 AM
    Learn how to make healthy and delicious nut butters at home.
    Your links or your article does not address the subjecct

    Please tell me how to do this where are the your recipes???????????????? - 5/10/2009   9:54:42 AM
  • 39
    Loving Avocados and use them a lot... but my sister introduced me to a product that I cannot find referenced on SP... http://www.nunaturals.com / . They have a product called More Fiber Baking Blend... substitute their product for sugar in any recipe... - 5/10/2009   2:40:41 AM
  • 38
    Meat and dairy products should be bought organic, if one cannot afford any other type of food to be organic. Who can put a price on health--especially here? - 5/10/2009   12:41:15 AM
  • 37
    One of my favorite ways to eat oatmeal is with a tablespoon of almond butter with a sliced banana. Yummy!! A tablespoon of orange marmalade and 1/4 cup of craisins is pretty awesome too. - 5/9/2009   9:26:21 PM
  • 36
    I love the Quaker weight control oatmeal. I usuallyeat the oatmeal anyway for breakfast, but this is even better,since the calories are down, and the fiber is up. - 5/9/2009   9:00:53 PM
  • 35
    hungry girl ROCKS!! love her! - 5/9/2009   8:11:55 PM
  • 34
    I use the grinder at my grocery store for fresh peanut butter - no additives. However, the article on nut butters made me realize I can make my own at home - and with a variety of different nuts. Awesome! - 5/9/2009   7:38:02 PM
  • 33
    We are all so gullible! Everytime a new sweetener comes along, they tell us it is "the greatest". People take it so seriously they chide those of us who stuck with an older sweetener. And sure enough, down the road that new sweetener is investigated and may not be so great after all.
    And I have also heard from state farm agents that "organic" may not be all that it is "cracked up" to be. When will that be investigated?
    We really need to be concerned with produce (including fruits) that are shipped in from foreign countries because 99.9% of it is never inspected by USDA.
    Guess we need to grow as much of our own as possible. - 5/9/2009   4:35:30 PM
  • 32
    I don't know anyone who gets more than $99.00 a month in food stamp allotments where I live...also, we don't have access to many of the types of "healthy" foods mentioned in the article...certainly not at "food stamp budget" prices, but the principles are sound anyway. - 5/9/2009   3:29:56 PM
    The nut butters caught my attention. - 5/9/2009   2:27:36 PM
  • 30
    I was intrigued by the article on eating on a Food Stamp budget as I have been hoping to start teaching financial management and basic cooking to single mom's locally. I really had no idea at what level food stamps start and was pleased to see that is was $248. I don't care about SOLE eating. Our budget for 2 of us is approximately $275/month and that is without scrimping so eating on $248 should be easy!
    - 5/9/2009   2:12:16 PM
  • 29
    I Loved the food stamp one.. Great blog !! - 5/9/2009   12:48:30 PM
  • _MAOMAO_
    This is a very neat article. I love the recipes & lists. As my brother says it's easy to eat cheaper than most folks think, the key is Lentils! We grew up on lots of lentils, yummy. - 5/9/2009   12:40:12 PM
  • 27
    Interesting articles... Especially the one about grocery shopping w/ Food Stamps. I have a friend living w/ her mom to save money. Both are on Food Stamps. I often go to the grocery store w/ my friend and find it interestig to see what she buys every month for her & her mom. With the amount they get for Food Stamps combined, they could easily afford to eat healthy, but choose not to because there's too much food prep & cooking involved. So, my friend and her mom basically live off of dry cereal (4 boxes per week), fruit, 2% milk (4 gallons per week), tv dinners, 2 packages of Oreos (every week). Things like meat, fresh veggies, etc. are only ususally purchased for special occasions or when her mom plans to actually cook a meal (which is almost never). - 5/9/2009   11:40:14 AM
  • 26
    Interesting articles... one comment on the budget article, though... we don't do food stamps, but if I ever spent $248 on groceries in a month, I think I'd have a heart attack. Normally we can only swing about $150 for two people (we don't eat meat, just fish once a week or so).
    I love the idea of eating everything local and organic, and am trying to gradually purchase more of these foods... but I don't think that it will ever happen 100% for me unless I'm living somewhere with a lot more resources. Looking forward to doing lots of farmers' market shopping this summer, though!

    One suggestion for others on a tight budget: see if you have a salvage store in your area. We have several - they sell things like dented cans, boxes with crushed corners, recently discontinued products that groceries pulled from their shelves, items with old versions of packaging or logo - all perfectly edible things that groceries won't sell. It's a great way to get things MUCH cheaper. For example, I can walk out with 3 boxes of healthy cereal, 4 cans of beans or soup and a box of whole-wheat pasta for like $9. Can't beat it! - 5/9/2009   10:57:11 AM
  • 25
    A very interesting article about artificial sweeteners. I shared it with my Sister - also a Spark member. I didn't know splenda was processed with chlorine! It's my sweetener of choice. I even have it in my purse just in case the restaurant I'm in doesn't have it. - 5/9/2009   10:22:01 AM
  • 24
    I love eating a avocado cut in half with some balsamic vinegar drizzled on top. SO GOOD! - 5/9/2009   10:07:10 AM
  • 23
    I found the article on Stevia interesting. I was planning on adding Stevia to my herb garden. Has anyone tried making sun tea using stevia leaves for sweetener? - 5/9/2009   9:22:21 AM
  • 22
    I really liked the article on organic eating. It'd still be a struggle for my family, though.

    We're a family of 5, plus I run a home daycare. We go through 3-5 gallons a week of milk, so organic milk would be very costly. I know I should switch some of our produce to organic, but it's hard to justify the price when we go through so quickly around here. In fact, with all the kids around here, all food gets consumed rather quickly.

    On top of that, we live in central Wisconsin. Farmer's markets are only around 1/2 the year, and all organic foods are more because of the transport of it. I'd love to have some health-guru come into my home, analyze my budget and show me how I can afford more ethical, organic foods! - 5/9/2009   9:22:00 AM
  • 21
    Thanks for the links. The one that caught my eye this week was more on red meat pendulum swinging back to "eat less of it." - 5/9/2009   9:08:33 AM
  • 20
    Kudo's to the lady who was able to feed her and her husband organic on a foodstamp budget but that's not feasible for a family of 4 who's food budget is even less! You can find good quality produce that's not organic for half the cost of organic if you're not too lazy to take it home, clean it thouroughly and package it for the week. Another option is frozen vegetables, sometimes more nourishing than fresh!
    Who in their right mind would pay $9.00 for a whole chicken? C'mon, you can go to local farmers and buy a whole chicken (free range) for 3 bucks, eggs 75 cents a dozen and if you dare, fresh unpasturized milk for 2 bucks a gallon! I never rely solely on my neighborhood grocer!
    Spices, how can you justify organic spices???? Go to an ethnic market and buy them straight from big bins...you put as much as you want into little baggies and the average cost for 3 ounces is 99 cents! Grow basil, oregano, thyme. chives, mint whatever you like in your window sill!
    Well I'm hopping off the soapbox now......just my 2 cents worth! - 5/9/2009   8:45:30 AM
    Thanks for providing these links. I'm going to check out the oats and budget ones asap!! - 5/9/2009   8:40:01 AM
  • 18
    Thanks for the research! - 5/9/2009   8:38:39 AM
  • 17
    Thanks for the info. - 5/9/2009   8:30:59 AM
  • 16
    I use food stamps but only get $16.00 a month. I use it to let my grocery bill go farther. Also my milk runs out about the same time my food stamps come in. I try Sun Crystals. Its a form of stevia and is 5 calories a packet. It is about $2.00 less for a package of 50 packets. They also have a package of 100 packets that cost about the same as 50 packets of stevia. I think they're great. I don't have that after taste. like equal or splenda. - 5/9/2009   8:24:38 AM
  • 15
    Thank you so much! Great info! - 5/9/2009   8:13:21 AM
    My husband and I live on foodstamps but I found "on the government-defined, food-stamp minimum: $248 for two people." is wrong. Hubby and I only get $180 a month and he is diabetic. We can make due but it is a struggle. - 5/9/2009   7:06:21 AM
  • 13
    I clicked on each one- thanks for the links.
    Hungry Girl- no thanks- I cook from scratch usually.
    Love my mixed up steel cut oatmeal- fun to see what others are doing.
    I agree about looking to 'peasant' food from other countries. So many people have already had to figure out how to get protein and balance on the cheap- African & Thai dishes with just a smear of meat- rice and peanuts. Yum, and perfectly balanced assessable to our bodies. Love to make dahl, and beans and rice dishes, just using the right spices and a dash of this and that. My average serving size of meat is about 1 oz per day- in my dinner.
    Love the Spark!
    - 5/9/2009   3:11:56 AM
  • 12
    I'm frugal and have been eating "on a food stamp budget" for years. It is called "buy staples." - 5/9/2009   2:47:22 AM

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