You want to fix healthy meals for your family. Is that so much to ask? Happily, the ingredients for healthy meals—organic foods, whole grains and healthy fats—are readily available in even the regular supermarkets. There’s only one problem: those nutritious super foods can get pricey.
When you’re on a budget, the secret to fixing healthy recipes is going for simple meals with fewer ingredients, using seasonal produce, buying quality fats like extra virgin olive oil or virgin coconut oil in bulk, using cooking methods that make the most of the protein, vitamins and other nutrients and purchasing the cheaper grains, like brown rice, whole wheat and oats. Here’s a day of energizing, great-tasting healthy recipes for the budget-conscious.
Breakfast: Old-Fashioned Cinnamon Oatmeal
A hearty and healthy breakfast staple, cinnamon oatmeal has both soluble and insoluble fiber, is highly filling and is easily digestible. This recipe is especially creamy—the secret is starting the oats in the cold water. Serves 6.
3 cups organic rolled oats (old-fashioned, not quick-cooking)
6 cups cold water
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon or 1 cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. honey or pure maple syrup
Organic milk and butter for topping
In a large saucepan, soak the rolled oats in cold water for 15 minutes. Add the cinnamon, salt and honey. Bring the oats to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cover and allow to steam for 5 minutes. Serve with butter or milk.
Lunch: Vegetarian Lima Bean and Cauliflower Stir-Fry
This recipe from China is inspired by a recipe in Madhur Jaffrey’s “World-of-the-East Vegetarian Cooking” (Knopf, 1981). For those who hate canned lima beans, give this high-fiber, nutrition-packed stir-fry a try. It uses any variety of frozen lima beans, and it’s out of this world. Serve it over brown rice.
4 cups fresh organic cauliflower, chopped into 2-inch florets
1 cup frozen lima beans
1/2 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tbsp. dry sherry
2 tsp. sesame oil
2 tbsp. water (for sauce)
1/4 cup peanut oil
1/2 cup raw cashews or almonds
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp. gingerroot
1 tsp. salt, or to taste
2 tbsp. water (to steam cauliflower)
Soak cauliflower in a bowl of cold water to crisp. Boil the lima beans for 5 minutes in 4 cups of boiling water and drain. Stir together the cornstarch, sherry, sesame oil and water in a separate bowl. Heat the oil over medium heat in a wok and stir-fry the nuts until crisp but not dark brown. Drain the nuts on paper towels.
Drain the cauliflower. Add the gingerroot and garlic to the still-hot wok and stir-fry for a few seconds. Quickly add the lima beans, salt and cauliflower. Stir-fry for 2 minutes, then add the water, cover and let the cauliflower steam for another 2 minutes.
Stir the sauce to blend the cornstarch back into the mixture (it will have settled to the bottom of the bowl). Add the sauce and nuts to the wok and stir-fry for another minute. Serve over brown rice after removing the garlic cloves.
Dinner: Low-Carb Meatloaf With Steamed Cabbage
If you can get it, use 100 percent grass-fed beef for this tasty meatloaf to give your family a healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids. Although more expensive than regular ground beef, grass-fed beef is usually comparable in price to organic ground beef, and sometimes cheaper. The carrots substitute for breadcrumbs in this recipe, making it low-carb. If you like, you can eliminate the egg, as the carrots act both to give the loaf loft and to bind it together. The cabbage, by the way, is just a simple steamed cabbage, but complements the meatloaf perfectly. Serves 6.
2 lbs. lean ground beef
2 cups grated carrots
1/2 cup dried onion flakes
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 1/2 tsp. salt
Few dashes of pepper
1 tsp. dried thyme
3/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup fresh parsley
1 head green cabbage, chopped
Butter or extra virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. With your hands, mix together all the ingredients except the cabbage in a large mixing bowl. Shape the loaf in the center of a deep baking dish, not touching the sides, leaving room for the fat to drain out. Bake for about 1 ½ hours, or until a meat thermometer stuck in the center registers 180 degrees F. Cool for 15 minutes before slicing.
To steam the cabbage, place the cabbage in a Dutch oven filled with 2 cups boiling water. Lower the heat to a simmer, and steam, covered, until tender, about 10 minutes. Serve topped with butter or a drizzle of olive oil.