Enchant, stay beautiful and graceful, but do this, eat well. Bring the same consideration to the preparation of your food as you devote to your appearance. Let your dinner be a poem, like your dress ~ Charles Pierre Monselet
Mother Earth Meals recognizes the financial burden healthy eating can place on our budget. There is simply no ignoring the fact that locally-grown/organic produce and free range meats costs more than processed food. We sincerely believe that a diet rich in plant-based foods, whole grains and pasture-fed beef and poultry is essential to managing overall health and reducing the risk of certain diseases. Here are a few tips to help manage your costs:
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions at your local grocer. A good grocer will be able to guarantee the quality and freshness of their products and should also be able to discuss the origins of their fruits, vegetables, dairy and protein. You may not necessarily save money, but you should be confident you are getting the highest quality products available.
- Store the rinds of Parmesan cheese in the freezer. Add the rinds when simmering soups, stews or tomato sauces.
- Freeze leftover pesto sauce and tomato paste for another use. Place tablespoon size scoops on a baking sheet covered with wax paper. Place in freezer and allow to set, about 30 minutes. Place in a freezer bag and store until ready to use.
- Freeze leftover fresh herbs for later use. Place the herbs in ice cube trays. Fill with water and freeze. Once the cubes are frozen, remove and place in freezer bag. Toss cubes into soups, stews and sauces.
- Herbs and spices can be quite expensive. Shop the international aisle at your local grocer or seek out international markets in your area. You may find ingredients you need at a large discount. In addition, these are great resources and might inspire your creativity in your kitchen. Store your spices in a dry dark place to prolong their shelf-life.
- Our pantry list is quite extensive. Don’t feel pressured to run out and buy everything on the list. Buy as you need, or substitute what you don’t have for what you do.
- Incorporate a little flax seed into your daily diet. Add to smoothies, cereal, oatmeal, baked items or savory sauces.
- Replace refined white sugar for another all natural sweetener that has a lower glycemic index (GI) value. Low GI values mean lower fluctuation in blood glucose and insulin levels. This is key to long-term health, reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and maintaining a healthy weight. Try experimenting with xylitol, stevia, truvia and agave. However, be aware that there are some negative reports on these products as well. In addition some may experience difficulty digesting some of these sweeteners, or find the taste slightly off. Do your research and experiment.
- Replace refined white flour for more healthy, high fiber options. Try different combinations to see what suites you best in terms of taste and texture. Options include soy, wheat, oat, rice, and buckwheat. You may need to add a little more liquid and leavening to your recipes. If you just cannot make the complete switch, at least try substituting ½ of the flour called for in a recipe with one or a combination of these more healthy alternatives.
- Omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids are essential to our diet and are obtained through the food we eat. Nutritionists believe we should strive for a 1:1 balance. However, as we move away from grass-fed beef and poultry, the imbalance of these fatty acids increase by a ration of 10:1 or more. A diet heavy in omega-6 may lead to obesity, depression, increased inflammation, and diseases associated with inflammation including asthma, coronary heart disease, and some forms of cancer. Look for free-range and pasture fed meats, and foods fortified with EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid). Opt for whole foods over processed foods. Replace vegetable oils, margarines and mayonnaise and with olive or canola oil.
Now that you know what to eat, it’s time to hit the grocery store. Here is what you need to know before you grab your shopping cart.
- GMOs (genetically modified organisms) – these are plants or animals created through gene splicing. Fifty countries around the world have banned or restricted the use of GMOs. Currently the FDA does not require manufacturers to label products containing GMOs. Studies have shown a link between GMOs and cancer, digestive trouble, and an increase in herbicide use.
- Enriched - foods that have vitamins and minerals added to replace those that were lost during the refining process. By law, manufacturers are required to add back the B vitamins. However, the quality and form are not the same as the original source.
- Fortified - foods that have added vitamins and minerals above what they contained in their original state. The problem is that natural nutrients and phytochemicals work harmoniously allowing them to be easily absorbed and digested. Isolated vitamins do not work in the same way.
- Made with Real Fruit - Currently there are no laws that define how much of the product must be “real” before a manufacturer can make this claim.
- Whole Grains - Products that make this claim can still be made with refined white flour. Look for products that state %100 whole grain or whole wheat and read the ingredient list.
For the Novice Cook
- Read the ingredients and instructions completely before beginning.
- Assemble all ingredients before beginning. Complete all chopping, combine seasonings and arrange ingredients in the order they are to be added to the dish.
- Don’t be intimated by the amount of ingredients in some of the dishes. The cooking techniques we employ are not complex and can be easily mastered by beginners.
- Don’t fret if you forgot an ingredient. Leave it out, or look in your pantry or fridge for a substitute. Some of the most interesting dishes are created on the fly.
- Worried about the seasonings? Start with half the recommended amount and add more to suit your palette.
- Our recipes usually call for fresh herbs. You may substitute dry herbs for fresh – start with ½ of the amount called for and add more to suit your taste.
- If you try something and it doesn’t work for you, don’t lose heart. Mistakes are part of the learning process.
- Many of the recipes require you to brown the poultry or beef. Proper browning seals in moisture and flavor. This is an easy technique, but you do need to be mindful of a few things:
- Start with a heavy pan or skillet
- Keep your poultry or beef dry – pat with paper towel before applying your seasoning
- Preheat the pan and oil over medium-high heat
- Do not overcrowd the pan – too much food will create steam and you will not achieve the visually appealing color, flavor or moisture you are looking for.
- Recipes suggest you allow meat to rest before cutting. When you cook meat at a high temperature, meat proteins begin to shrink and force moisture out. If the meat is allowed to rest, the proteins are able to relax and reabsorb moisture.