Week 30 Budget and Menu

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Some weeks are full of culinary inspiration and others are just pure survival. We are in the throes of back-to-school, so this week’s menu is nothing extraordinary, but it is mostly healthy and local food. Ellie starts school on Monday, so we are busy this week celebrating her birthday and getting ready for 8th grade! We are also on a major household purging mission–getting rid of old toys, appliances we don’t use and anything that is not of use to us, but may be of use to someone else. It’s a good feeling to pare down to essentials, but it is also exhausting going through everything. And it is hot. Very hot. So our menu is more survival than exciting, but it still focuses on the local and organic foods that are fresh here. We may not be making anything adventurous, but we are still eating healthy! Our budget is helped along a bit by some carryover items purchased for previous week dinners that we never made. The pimento cheese ravioli from Melina’s Pasta and the chorizo from Mae Farm have been in the freezer, so we’re going to use them up this week.

Speaking of using things up, I have, like 7 pints of pickles left from last summer. This is after eating pickles during the winter. Why on earth did I make so many pickles??? I guess it seemed like a good idea at the time, but I’m making a note this year to chill out on the pickle business. I mean, they’re good and all, but we do not consume that level of pickle. Guess I’ll have an office giveaway this week!

Budget [$110.93]

The Produce Box (cantaloupe, watermelon, blackberries, blueberries, peaches, herbs, organic garlic, sweet onions, eggplant, new potatoes, heirloom cherry tomatoes, sweet corn, and bell peppers): $54.00

Trader Joes (organic roasting chicken, tortillas, avocado, frozen fruit, yogurt, almond milk, Ezekiel bread, organic frozen pizza, crescent rolls):$47.63

Mitchell Family Pantry (pickles, jam, salsa): $9.00

Menu

Wednesday–Pimento cheese ravioli w/corn and cherry tomatoes

Thursday–Chorizo, corn and black bean ring, fruit salad

Friday–Sandwiches, pickles, fruit

Saturday–Sandwiches for lunch, Out for Ellie’s birthday dinner

Sunday–Roast chicken, potatoes, eggplant and cherry tomatoes

Monday–Chicken quesadillas

Tuesday–pizza

The Not-So-Sweet Side of Honey

kişisel resim Ελληνικά: κηρήθρα

Think you are avoiding high fructose corn syrup and toxins by sweetening your whole food recipes with natural honey? You may be surprised to find that what you are eating is actually NOT pure honey, but ultra filtered, diluted honey mixed with high fructose corn syrup and other additives. Not only that, your “honey” may include carcinogens and heavy metals. Yes, even if it says “honey” on the label.

Why?

The FDA requires that any substance labeled as “honey” include bee pollen. That is the only way to ensure that the honey is pure and that it came from an identifiable source. The problem is, the FDA doesn’t test any substance labeled “honey” to make sure it actually includes pollen. Well that just makes sense, right?

So companies outside the U.S. have been taking honey, ultra-filtering it (removing most of its healthy benefits), adding all kinds of filler junk and selling it to U.S. grocery chains in those cute little bear bottles as honey. This is especially concerning for pregnant women and small children, as it takes less toxic materials to impact small, growing bodies.

In 2011, Food Safety News tested more than 70 brands of honey for pollen. This is what they found:

•76 percent of samples bought at groceries had all the pollen removed, These were stores like TOP Food, Safeway, Giant Eagle, QFC, Kroger, Metro Market, Harris Teeter, A&P, Stop & Shop and King Soopers.

•100 percent of the honey sampled from drugstores like Walgreens, Rite-Aid and CVS Pharmacy had no pollen.

•77 percent of the honey sampled from big box stores like Costco, Sam’s Club, Walmart, Target and H-E-B had the pollen filtered out.

•100 percent of the honey packaged in the small individual service portions from Smucker, McDonald’s and KFC had the pollen removed.

•Bryant found that every one of the samples Food Safety News bought at farmers markets, co-ops and “natural” stores like PCC and Trader Joe’s had the full, anticipated, amount of pollen.

And if you have to buy at major grocery chains, the analysis found that your odds are somewhat better of getting honey that wasn’t ultra-filtered if you buy brands labeled as organic. Out of seven samples tested, five (71 percent) were heavy with pollen. All of the organic honey was produced in Brazil, according to the labels.

So what is a honey-loving family to do? Here are some steps you can take to make sure that the honey you buy is actual honey and not Chinese high fructose corn syrup:

  1. Purchase your honey from a local farmer or at a local farmer’s market.
  2. Ask farmers about how they process their honey. You should buy raw or minimally processed honey if possible.
  3. Purchase your honey from a health food store (Whole Foods or Trader Joes, for example)
  4. If you purchase at the grocery store, buy honey labeled as organic.
  5. Avoid purchasing honey from a drug store or major discount store.

For more information and a list of products that were tested and did not contain pollen, click HERE.

Week 9 Budget and Menu

So my week went like this: I experimented with cooking stinky buckwheat one night and the next day, my daughter wrote an essay extolling many wonderful aspects of our relationship. Except cooking. Her words were “I would like to send my mom to cooking school.” Well, ouch!

I hadn’t realized that in my zeal to try new, healthier recipes and foods, she had gotten lost in the transition. She missed having some of her old favorites–tacos, meatloaf and pasta without a thousand vegetables squished in. For me, our new recipes have been “fun” and “adventurous.” For her, some of them were “weird” and “gross”. Time for reflection.

This week’s menu represents some of our favorites–beef stew with lots of potatoes and carrots and breakfast-for-dinner night. I’m taking a half-step back and working on how we can make our old traditional meals more healthy without taking away the comfort. I can’t promise I won’t squeeze some veggie puree into meatloaf, but I’m trying to do better with slowly working our new foods into our weekly menus! We’re also going to make a more concerted effort to let her do some cooking (this is harder than it sounds with a teen’s busy schedule).

Our budget this week is just a bit under our maximum of $100.00, so yay! And we’re still having lots of locally produced, organic and sustainable foods. Hopefully, they are not “weird.” We’ll see.

Budget [$94.03]

  • Rare Earth Farms (stew beef, Maple View Farm buttermilk): 18.00
  • Mae Farm (pork tenderloin, maple sausage): $16.00
  • Misc. Farmer’s Market (sweet potatoes, white potatoes, broccoli, apples, carrots): $12.50
  • Trader Joes (red curry paste, barley, frozen fruit, organic soy milk, organic bananas): $27.53
  • Mitchell family pantry (fig preserves, strawberry jam, field peas): $9.00

Menu

  • Sunday–Red curry chicken and vegetables with organic rice
  • Monday–Pancake supper (whole wheat buttermilk pancakes, Mae Farm maple sausage, sauteed cinnamon apples)
  • Tuesday–Figgy pork tenderloin with sauteed garden greens and summer field peas
  • Wednesday–Leftover buffet
  • Thursday–Beef stew with root vegetables
  • Friday–out for girls night
  • Saturday–Leftover beef stew
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