Wednesday, April 16, 2014
My latest project (project being something I've assigned myself to do out of curiosity) is to see how cheap healthy eating can be. My initial investigation began with this photo
Once again someone was putting out lies (clearly these prices were antiquated) and effectually making healthy eating on a budget seem more unattainable than it really is. Can somebody PLEASE just tell the truth?! I mean how hard is it, really? So the false prices are scratched through in red and the actual prices I found are listed to the right. Since the numbers in the picture are small I'll highlight a few "gems" a gallon of fat free milk was listed as $2, the cheapest I found (cheaper even than walmart's own brand) was over $3.78. They listed 2 lbs of chicken breast for $1.96. The cheapest I found boneless skinless was that price for a single pound, and that was for the family pack of at least 5 lbs. The only accurately priced item was the bag of frozen peas! I will say that I did find a 5lb bag of potatoes on sale for 1.25 the week after I did the price comparisons. I also recall corn and peaches being on sale at various times, but I think for a meme like this the prices listed should be normal prices that can be found anywhere, at any time (or at least expicitly say that the price is seasonal or "special"). Their total price was $19.54. My guess is that they confused the price with the year those prices were current. My analysis revealed a total cost of over $35 for the items listed and that's before taxes, if food is taxable in your state.
So for my budget meal, I went exploring in some lesser frequented places and guess what I found.
Frozen salmon in the DOLLAR TREE! O_O it was "all natural" (which really has no real meaning as far as label claims go) and wild caught!!! It was a 4 oz filet for ONE DOLLAR! If you do the math, that's $4 a pound!!! That's far cheaper than any salmon I've EVER seen. Of course I was wary about the quality of the salmon and could find very little on the company's web site besides all the "good stuff" they want you to know about their company. Responsible, sustainable fishing, blah blah. It really didn't specify exactly where the fish were caught or the processing/packaging methods used. I did find two consumer reviews that said the fish was poor quality and the taste and texture were horrible. But, nontheless, I decided to give it a chance.
My budget meal included the salmon, oven roasted potatoes, and green beans.
Cost analysis per serving: Salmon $1, Potatoes 9 cents (5 lb bag for $1.25, one serving is 5.3 oz or .33 lbs), green beans 16 cents ($1.18 per lb, one serving is about 2 oz)
Raw cost of meal: $1.25*
*assuming you already have oil, seasonings, cooking utensils/equipment and also not including the cost of energy costs and prep time).
Preparation: Green beans were blanched, drained, tossed in oil and oven roasted. Potatoes were treated similarly, but tossed in butter, onion powder and salt to taste before roasting. Both of these came out DELICIOUS!
Now for the Salmon...
I sprinkled seasoning on both sides, heated a pam-sprayed skillet to medium-high heat and put the fish, skin side down first to try and give the skin a crisp. Usually I cook my salmon for a short period of time, but since I was unfamiliar with the origin of this, I thought I'd err on the side of caution and cook it fully.
First observation: in the raw state the color of the fish was not very vibrant, but I'm not accustomed to eating frozen fish in the first place and so thought maybe that the off color was an effect of freezing/thawing.
Second observation: The skin did not crisp. On exposure to the heat, the skin just drew back and became elastic and rubbery.
I intended to broil the fish in the oven, but decided to continue cooking it completely in the skillet and just covered it with a see-through pot top. I cooked it just until it didn't look raw anymore, then removed it from the heat (with the lid still on) and let it finish cooking while the potatoes and green beans were finishing up. Here's what it all looked like when it was done.
I love how the salmon looks like an owl with the lemon wedges, lol! (This is how I play with my food!)
Third observation: The flavor of the fish is totally off. It tastes like plastic. For better comparison, it tastes like Captain D's fish (no offense if you're a Captain D's fan, but that's not how salmon is supposed to taste). It's not a terribly offensive flavor, so I bear through it to give it a fair chance. The texture is also off, the fish is terribly rubbery and a bit dry. I'm wondering if I'm getting any omegas at all. My experience with fresh salmon is that it is a bit oily and even the pan becomes oily even if you've added no oil in the cooking process. This is not so with this fish, it seems as if it is devoid of any oil at all. The flesh does flake apart, which is a plus. Overall I would recommend (and intend to experiment with) a different preparation of the salmon. Maybe in a salmon salad, marinated in oil before cooking, or breaded and oven fried with other seasonings to mask the off-flavor.
Summation of meal evaluation: Overall, I give the meal a B-. You can't beat the cost ($5 for a family of 4), the prep time was very minimal (potatoes and green beans were boiled for about 5 minutes each and then roasted for about 20) Fish didn't take long to cook in the skillet (I didn't time it though). The only negative was the flavor and texture of the fish which may be a deal breaker for many. I have to say that personally, I would keep this option open for a cheap source of protein, but question its content of "good fats." It would definitely be a protein option for which I would be sacrificing satisfaction for pure nutrition (eating to live vs. living to eat). I do plan on purchasing the fish again to try different preparation methods and see how they work. Perhaps mixing it with mustard, spices, egg, & veggies to make a salmon patty will yield better results... I'll definitely keep you posted.
Sunday, April 06, 2014
In 2012, after completing my first half marathon (the OKC Memorial), I said that I would never want to complete a full. The looks of pain and anguish on the faces of the runners still struggling to complete twice the distance that I had just painstakingly completed, as I rode past on my way to rest my aching legs, was uninspiring, to say the least.
Enter 2013 and my introduction to some amazingly badass mommas (& non-mommas) through a virtual running streak which led to my discovery of Black Girls Run and then the National Black Marathoners Association and a reignition of my *SPARK* and all of the amazing individuals here. The stories of trial, triumph, overcoming odds, striving for more and not accepting excuses shared by the individuals in these groups inspired me to have a change of heart. Today, I became a marathoner. I suffered (& sometimes delighted...mostly before mile 16) through 26.2 miles of rocky, hilly, sandy, steep, and sometimes slippery trails.
I was actually thinking about downgrading to the half marathon because I didn't think I had prepared enough for the full even though I had signed up months ago. On the drive down, the saying, "if it doesn't challenge you, it won't change you," came across my mind and I resolved to tackle the challenge I had originally set out to accomplish.
It wasn't easy, and there were times I asked myself what the heck I was doing & why, but the sense of accomplishment I felt when I crossed that finish line...knowing that I had done something that I said I was going to do, something that I had never done before and wasn't quite sure I COULD do until that very moment...that feeling was WELL worth it!
NEVER count yourself out or talk yourself down from pursuing ANY goal! You'll never know what you're capable of until you try!
Flash back to 2012: What I failed to note after my first half marathon (because I left soon after I was done) was the transformation of expression in the faces of those anguished runners as they crossed the finish line. Looks of despair and defeat became faces full of pride and accomplishment, emotional at the realization of a dream turned reality. The "holy crap, I actually did it!" moment. That moment is priceless, & I thank everyone who has shared their stories & experiences for inspiring me to have my moment. Every triumph, every trial, every bad day & every great day that you post about keeps me inspired to continue moving forward in my journey. You all ROCK!
Now for the funny you know I have to throw some humor in
I called home after finishing the marathon & here's the conversation I had with my little sister:
Me: Guess what I did today!!!
Me: I ran a MARATHON!!!!
Her: You always running marathons.
Me: Nuh-unh, this was my first FULL marathon!
Her: Well you always running! Sit down somewhere...
Me: *pause* Put Mama on the phone, I ain't talking to you no mo'.
Gotta love fam, lol. She doesn't know it yet, but she's gonna be a marathoner one day too ;-).
Monday, March 31, 2014
Today I posted a challenge in my BGR group that I thought was SO awesome (yes, I'm totally feeling myself on this one, lol) that I've decided to share it all over! The purpose is meant to make the participants enjoy their surroundings more and foster positive (albeit random) interactions with the people around them. I'm encouraging everyone to take pics/video of them completing each "task" (for points and accountability). Maybe at the end I can make up a flipagram of all of the awesomely random moments that people submit OR make that a part of the challenge to & award more points for the best compilation! I'm so excited!!! So here are the 30 random acts of Happiness!
1. Jump rope
4. High five a stranger (or 2...or a few) while on a run/walk/jog
5. Dance in public (sole train line)
6. Sing out loud (mirror music video)
7. Tell a corny joke
8. Play with your food
9. Take a silly selfie (props accepted)
10. Tell someone you love them
11. Play a hand game with someone (ms mary mack, down down baby, etc.)
12. Play hopscotch
13. Try a sport you've never tried or haven't played in a long time. (Group volleyball/tennis/basketball at Mitch park)
14. Treat yourself to flowers, then wear one in your hair
15. Blow the biggest bubble you can (bubble gum or glycerine bubbles)
16. Give someone a hug
17. Make a paper plane and challenge kids/friends to a contest to see whose plane can go the farthest
18. Fly a kite
19. Bake a healthy version of your favorite cookies and share then with friends and neighbors
20. Play with play dough, floam, slime or something similar
21. Play cat's cradle
22. See how many yo-yo tricks you can do
23. Take skip intervals on your next walk/run (a’ la dorothy & crew going to see the wizard)
24. Hide a surprise like a nice note, a small toy, or a favorite (nonperishable) snack for your child /friend/relative/significant other to find around the house & give them a list of clues to lead them to it. Make it an outdoor treasure hunt by hiding several things around the yard or at a local park. (*if you do this outdoors, do not hide anything edible as animals/insects will likely find it as well)
25. Take a moment to look at the stars. What constellations can you find? If the view of the stars isn't so great try to identify shapes in the clouds during the daytime.
26. Compliment a stranger
27. Volunteer your time
28. Plant & water a seed in a clear cup & watch it grow
29. Say "she sells seashells by the seashore" five times really quickly
30. Feed a homeless person: (donate canned goods to a food pantry, buy a meal/snack/fruit/bottled water & give it to someone on the corner, volunteer to serve meals at a soup kitchen).
I will attempt to post my daily acts (with pics) to keep everyone inspired and on track. There's no particular order you have to follow and you are more than welcome to complete multiple tasks within a single day. You are also more than welcome to complete a single task more than once! Let's get out there and get happy folks!
I want to see a LOT MORE yellow!!!
Saturday, March 15, 2014
My last blog talked about healthy food being easy, fast & cheap. Ironically, I was perusing the pages of a recipe book I borrowed from the library and came across these oh so easy instructions for a brussels sprout and baby spinach salad...
Yes, you read that correctly. You are to take one pound of brussels sprouts &, "working with one sprout at a time peel each individual leaf...until you get to the tough core where it is too tight to pull any more leaves."
The picture was pretty, but um, ain't nobody got time for that!
I felt like Leo & Leona from "Between the Lions" when they get to the part of the recipe that says cook for 12 hours..."Naaaah"
Instead, I halved them, tossed them in some herb infused oil and roasted them!
BOOM! That's all she wrote, and those little babies were delicious. #easy #fast #cheap #yummy
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