Food Waste Friday | Saving Some Spinach

FoodWasteFriday After years of wasting hundreds, if not thousands of dollars of food, we are attempting to reduce our food waste. I will post a photo each week of our food waste and I will link up with Food Waste Friday over at The Frugal Girl.

This week wasn’t all that bad.  As usual, I found a few new ways to save some veggies AND trick my family into eating more of them.

I had a package (ugh, I hate overly packaged food) of organic spinach that had a few leaves that were starting to look sad.  I decided to throw some into dinner that night and put the rest in the freezer for fear that they wouldn’t make it before I got around to eating them.  We were having pasta with a simple tomato sauce (no meat), and I diced a few spinach leaves very fine and tossed them in.  Tony had no idea.  That’s one thing I really love about spinach.  Its flavor isn’t all that strong, so it’s easily added to other dishes with little or no detection.

The Scacchi House: Food Waste Friday

Freezing spinach is super simple.  I just pick off all the stems and toss them into a freezer bag.  Simple as that.  Oh, don’t forget to wash and dry it first.  As long as the spinach is really dry, the leaves shouldn’t stick to one another making it really easy to just pull a few out and add to meals.

I did actually throw something away this week.  We made pasta the first week we lived in the house and not thinking, I made an entire box.  Rylan was still here, so I think that threw me off.  I usually cook just over a half of a box.  This makes enough for the three of us, plus a small lunch-sized leftover portion.  This particular meal made lots of leftovers.

The Scacchi House: Food Waste Friday

After eating on them for a few days, I guess this little container got pushed to the back of the fridge.  Although it doesn’t look or smell bad, it has been in the fridge for about two weeks.  That’s way beyond my threshold for leftovers.  Oh well.

How did you do this week?

nopin

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Eating Clean When You Don’t Have Time

While visiting my mom in Florida, her biggest complaint about eating clean was that she doesn’t have time.  I will be the first to admit, eating clean can be a bit time-consuming if you want it to be.

Tips for Eating Clean

But it doesn’t have to be!

  • Plan ahead!  This truly is key if you are busy.  You MUST sit down and plan out your meals for the week.  How will you eat clean if you have no clean meals planned? Your refrigerator will probably be empty too.  This goes hand-in-hand with the next step.
  • Prep!  Take an hour or two on Sunday afternoon to prep your food for the week.  Bake bread, cook beans, wash and cut fruits and veggies.  Make your good food your fast food.
  • Bread.  I have yet to find a commercially baked bread that I deem “clean”.  You’re probably thinking to yourself, “bread from scratch takes forever.”  Wrong!  Baking bread really only takes 30+ minutes of active work.  The key word here is ACTIVE.  Most of the time the bread is rising or baking.  Start with a simple whole wheat recipe.  You may be surprised to find that you actually enjoy baking.
  • Beans.  I’m a huge fan of beans. And while you can buy canned beans, I’m not a fan of all the added salt or the BPA-lined can.  I prefer to soak and cook my own beans.  Soak your beans overnight, then cook the next day.  You may be pleasantly surprised to find that beans don’t take all day to cook.  I can cook a pot of black beans about an hour.  The best part is that you can turn them on and walk away.  I’ve also cooked them in a crock pot.
  • Make a double batch.  If you are making soup or a casserole one night for dinner, prep a double batch and freeze it.  You can also cook a little extra and have enough for lunch the next day.

Buy Produce

  • Buy clean!  This may seem like a no-brainer, but only buy clean food.  If you buy junk, you’re going to eat junk.  Buy loads of fresh, seasonal produce!  If it’s there, you will eat it.
  • Create you own convenience foods.  If your family is stuck eating frozen meals from the grocery store, try creating clean freezer meals.  Spend a day freezing healthy meals that will feed your family for the entire week (or month, if you’re brave).  You don’t have to freeze complete meals either.  Below I have (from left to right) a rice mixture (brown & wild rice, black beans, corn, cilantro, and spices), cooked black beans, and sliced sweet peppers (which I saved here).  The rice and beans are both fully cooked and can easily be warmed or incorporated into a meal.  The peppers are ready to be tossed into stir-fry, or chopped into your morning eggs!

Clean Convenience Foods

  • Watch out for store-bought convenience foods.  There is so much hidden junk in prepared foods.  That being said, there are a few clean packaged foods. Look for organic items, they are a good place to start. (Think condiments to start off.)  But don’t be fooled, everything labeled organic is NOT automatically good for you!

Practice the three P’s: Plan, Purchase, and Prep!  If you decide you want to eat clean and make it a priority, it will happen.

Do you have any shortcuts that help you eat clean?

nopin

Food Waste Friday Is Back

FoodWasteFriday After years of wasting hundreds, if not thousands of dollars of food, we are attempting to reduce our food waste. I will post a photo each week of our food waste and I will link up with Food Waste Friday over at The Frugal Girl.

Since I’m finally in control of the groceries once again, Food Waste Friday is back!  When we moved into our new place, I decided a few things right off the bat.  First, I would do everything in my power to have zero food waste.  Second was to start a compost bin.

We have been in our new place for two weeks now.  We love it, even though it’s more space than we need or want.  It’s even bigger now that Rylan (our nephew) went back home.

Since Ava and I are home all the time, we are on leftover patrol.  I’ve taken it upon myself to eat any leftovers so they do not go bad.  So far, so good!

I am pleased to report that they only thing that went into the compost pile were a few pieces of moldy sweet peppers.  My mother-in-law sent them (not moldy) with us from her house when we moved.  By the time I got around to using them, a few of them were starting to grow mold.  No big deal.

Frozen Sweet Peppers in a Jar

I cut the mold off and decided to cut and freeze the rest of them to be on the safe side.  I love freezing peppers.  I love having them on hand.  I just pull the jar out of the freezer and pick a few out.  Easy peasy.  We also saved some very brown organic bananas by making some of my Nana’s delicious banana bread.  It didn’t last very long.

Coffee Jug

I’ve got my recycled jug in the fridge for any leftover coffee. (I got all fancy and wrote it on with a sharpie.) Just add milk and sugar and you have iced coffee.  No waste!  Speaking of coffee, I just bought this coffee pot…. for $3.73!

Thrift Store Coffee Pot

I’ve been looking for one at Goodwill but they’re either not the right size/style/color, over priced, or just flat-out nasty.  I spotted this one a few days ago.  It’s the exact one we had in Alaska (only paid $5 on Craigslist for that one) and was clean and an additional 30% off.  My patience paid off!

Storage Container Compost Bin

I did manage to start my compost bin.  It’s actually looking pretty great, if I must say so myself.  Check out all the kitchen scraps I need to add!

Kitchen Scraps for Compost

I keep a bin in the door of the fridge.  My bin is an aluminum loaf pan with a plastic produce bag.  Eventually I’ll be able to grow new food from these scraps, and that makes me very happy!

Did you waste any food this week?

nopin

The Feeling of Health: Part 4

Last week I posted about sugar addiction.  If you haven’t read it yet, you should.  You may also want to check out Part 1 and Part 2.

This week is all about meat.  I’m not a big fan of meat, I haven’t been for a long time.  If you would have asked me two years ago if I could ever completely give up meat, the answer would have been “absolutely not!”  I loved bacon way too much.

The Scacchi House: Why I Limit Meat

After I began this clean eating journey, I started to notice how meat played into our daily meals.  My husband and I were both raised to think that we needed a big slab of steak on our plate, paired with a large helping of starch and maybe a small helping of a green vegetable.  THIS is where my meals were failing me.

I’m not saying that this is how everyone views meat or that you must follow this to perfection.  There are many people who eat clean on a daily basis who still eat meat.  And don’t get me wrong, I still eat meat on occasion.  I will explain.

If I center my meals around meat, I find myself falling back into old habits.  I do not want meat to be the center of my meal.  I want my meal to be centered around fresh veggies (and fruits) and whole grains.  I personally find this very difficult to do when meat is involved.

Eliminating (or drastically reducing) meat from my diet forces me to explore a broad range of vegetables.  I have also started experimenting with different whole grains.  (Have you tried bulgur?)

If you can’t completely give up meat, treat it more as a flavoring agent or a side dish.  Make a hearty vegetable soup with a very small amount of beef or chicken.  You will find that you are just as satisfied (if not more so) with the subtle flavor of beef, without having to eat a full on beef stew.

If you feel the need for a steak, have a 4oz steak, not a 16oz.  The key to eating clean is balance.  And while I don’t eat any meat the majority of the time, there are a few exceptions.  I will snag a slice of bacon (just a slice!) now and then.  I actually had a burger for dinner this week.  It was not just any burger. It was a mixture of wagyu beef and bison. Tony cooked it up for me here at the house.  I can’t tell you the last time I had a burger.  It was good, but I’ve had my fix for a while.

With my burger, I had a spinach and quinoa salad filled with veggies and topped with this dressing.  Again, it’s all about balance.

The second reason I’m not big into meat is because commercial meat is not raised in a way that I feel appropriate for my food (or any animal for that matter).  We should have more access to humanly raised, healthy (grass-fed and maybe organic) meats here soon.  (More about this in a bit.)

Another bonus reason to limit your meat consumption?  You will save money at the grocery store.  Who can complain about that?

Whether or not you choose to eat meat, explore your veggies.  Fruits and veggies are the key to health.  Have a diet full of both and you’ll surly succeed.

Next week we bridge into the fitness and exercise portion on this series!

If you missed any of the previous posts, here is Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

nopin

 

Super Simple Veggie and Wild Rice Soup

All three of us are sick.  We’re not sure where it came from, or where it’s going, but it’s not fun.  Luckily, I think it’s just a bad cold.

One thing that always makes me feel better is a good bowl of soup.  I love this soup and any variation of it for its simplicity and deliciousness.  It’s so simple that it really doesn’t require a recipe.  It’s also great for using up all those extra veggies you have in the fridge.  That being said, this is more of a “flavor guide” than a recipe.  You can make as much or little as you want.  I made just enough for Ava and myself because Tony was suffering at work.  I told him to go pick up some Pho as a consolation prize.

The Scacchi House: Veggie and Wild Rice Soup

So what’s in the soup?

  • Wild Rice
  • Potato
  • Carrot
  • Kale
  • Fresh Ginger
  • Veggie Broth
  • Water
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Half & Half (optional)

That’s it, really!

I had about 3/4 cup of left over veggie stock.  I added it to the pot along with a jar lid full (I told you, this is not an exact science, but it was about 1/3 cup) of wild rice.  I diced a carrot and a small potato; into the pot they went.  I added some water to cover everything.  You could use all stock, but I just used what I had.

Bring it all to a boil.  While its boiling, mince up a nice size chunk of fresh ginger and add it to the soup.  If it looks like your soups getting dry, just add more water.  No stress.

When the rice is about half-way done, finely chop your kale (rib removed) and add it to the soup.  Simmer the soup until your rice is cooked, about 30 minutes total, adding more water if needed.

Once your rice is tender, season with salt and pepper.  I also added a splash of organic half & half to make it creamy.

The Scacchi House: Veggie & Wild Rice Soup

This really is a perfect bowl of soup when you’re sick.  Pair it with a mug of green tea and honey and you’ll be on the road to recovery.  Oh, and it’s toddler approved!

Do you have a favorite go-to soup recipe?

nopin

Give It a Try!

Photo by Comprock

Photo by Comprock

Changing my eating habits has been positive for me in more than one way. Not only have I dropped two pant sizes without trying, but I have tried so many new foods that I’m finding to be amazing!

Growing up, my mom fed me fruits and vegetables.  Our veggies usually consisted of canned corn, canned green beans, canned carrots, and potatoes.  We did eat more fresh fruit, typically apples, bananas, and sometimes peaches.  We didn’t eat much variety, and what we did eat, usually came from a can.

In just the past two months, I have eaten more fruits and vegetables than I have eaten in probably the past 10 years.  I have also tried so many new things, or foods that I had never had fresh.  This is my list of things you should try if you have never had them or just try to eat more of!

  1. Beets – I did eat beets as a child.  My mother took us to Morrison’s (now Piccadilly) on a weekly basis after swimming lessons as a child.  The man there said I was the only child that ever asked for beets.  This was my only experience with beets… out of a can.  We recently had lunch from one of the food trucks here in Anchorage.  Their only vegetarian option was beet sliders.  I knew I liked beets as a child, but it had been so long.  I gave them a shot.  Fresh beets are So. Much. Better!  Since trying the sliders, I have made roasted beet tacos and roasted beets with quinoa.  Give beets a shot!
  2. Butternut Squash – I had never had butternut squash until about a month ago.  We were at Alaska Bagel and they had butternut squash soup.  I had a taste of Tony’s and it was delicious.  Since then I have been in love with butternut squash.  I made soup, which was good, then I used the leftover soup to make butternut squash mac n’ cheese.  Be creative! (I also tried spaghetti squash the other night at a restaurant.  Give that a try too!)
  3. Pears – The only pears I had ever eaten as a child were the canned pears they served in the cafeteria at lunch.  I had no concept of what a fresh pear would taste like.  I am in love with fresh organic pears.  They are now a regular on my grocery list.  They are the perfect snack.
  4. Quinoa – I had never even heard of quinoa until my cousin Ellen came back from wilderness camp.  It was one of the few things they ate and she said she would never eat it again.  Since then, I have gathered a ton of recipes for quinoa.  It is so good for you and is a great substitute for rice.  Give it a try if you haven’t already.
  5. Lentils – Lentils are completely new to me.  They are a legumes and they are super tasty.  I made lentil soup for dinner last night.  Ava likes to eat them raw, only soaked (I tried one like this, it is gross).  They have a slightly peppery flavor.  Yummy!

I am still learning on this new food adventure.  I am trying new things every day.  What are some new foods you have tried recently?