Archive for May, 2012

Eating Healthy Because of Food Stamps Cooking Club

May 21st, 2012

Main stream media headline reads: "Healthy Eating Can Cost Less..."

QUICK!  Get a red pen and write this date on your calendar so you will remember that you found this out TODAY!

Oh.  Wait…this is not news; at least it’s not news to those of us who hang out in the Club House!  We’ve known all along that eating well and wisely is the preferred path to follow.

There was a rather lengthy item in our Sunday paper about how the Ag Department has concluded that junk food is more costly, despite common perceptions.  It seems that this Omniscient Department discovered that eating fruits and vegetables costs less than foods with high sugar, salt and fat content.

Excuse me, but isn’t that what we maintain here at the Food Stamps Cooking Club?  I’m thinkin’ so…

SIDEBAR:  Roll your eyes here.  END SIDEBAR.

Those of us who are in the know understand that eating processed foods contribute to ill health.  Our eyes are wide open about the problem of tooth decay when sweets are ingested.  We GET it that cheezy doodle type snacks just make kids thirsty for soda and do NOT nourish their growing bodies.  People who insist on eating cake because they like it or MUST have their fix of ice cream will, over time, develop serious illnesses, not the least of which could be heart disease, diabetes, digestive disorders and bone and joint discomfort.    “Mama’s Burger Helper” box mixes and foods with hydrogenated oil may look like a bargain buy in the grocery flier but that savings ultimately shows up in medical bills.  We are keenly aware that ‘chickie strips’ make for high cholesterol and the additives can create real nightmares.  And we have not even broached the subject of pink slime…We also know that organic is best for us if we can afford it.

Today a radio personality interviewed someone who had this same idea.  The gentleman being interviewed was explaining how it would be cost effective and helpful for users of EBT cards from SNAP and WIC.  The radio guy asked him in a number of varying ways how that would be possible because “EVERYBODY KNOWS” that users of SNAP or WIC have no internet access. 

SIDEBAR:  Roll your eyes here.  END SIDEBAR.

Mother Connie ran into the same opposition when this blog went public. She played deaf, giggled and planned for the next cooking class.  Truly, it has been a non-issue.

As I understand it, there is a plan for a new program calling for these users to order food delivered fresh that is paid for with an EBT card.  This would solve the problem where there are so-called “food deserts” in urban areas or even in rural areas where transportation is a big hurdle to jump, especially for elderly folks or those who have need for day care.  The idea was set forth that even working people could jump online, order groceries, pay for them with their EBT card and those foodstuffs would be delivered.

It was not clear how this would impact those who frequent food pantries, those who depend on food commodities, or those who simply find themselves living on a dime.  Mother Connie’s theory is that if something is good for ONE, it should be good for ALL.  

It remains to be seen how this will play out. We already know that school lunches are going to be more nutritious and less junky.  How can it get any better than this?  What ARE the possibilities?

We LOVE your mail and your comments.  You are an amazing community, people.  Consider yourselves hugged!

Now let’s move into our kitchens and create something healthy and beautiful to eat!

Connie Baum

The FTC wants you to know there are links in this post.  Should they be clicked, resulting in sales, your humble blogger would be fairly compensated.  Please do your due diligence when conducting affairs online or offline.  Always do business with those you trust implicitly.

WAIT!  There is MORE!  Bless her heart, Carol has sent a comment.  I wanted to be sure you all saw her great message; it has real value so I am posting it as a P.S. here:

“Connie,
This belief that healthy eating has to cost more has to be debunked! One of the ramifications of Home ec classes being cancelled years ago is that we now have generations of families who do not know how to cook for themselves, who rely solely on processed foods and whose bank accounts suffer in the end.

I laud programs such as WIC, which specify which items are paid for thru the WIC vouchers. Some states require attendance at healthy cooking classes for EBT (aka food stamps) recipients. It’s about education!

You can buy frozen/dairy case, premade pancakes, a mix, or make them from scratch, using whole grains if desired. While personally I do prefer real maple syrup, I make my own maple flavored pancake syrup from water, sugar and Mapeline. No HFCS, no chemicals.

A small fryer, roasted with seasonal veggies makes for dinner # 1. Boil that carcass and make a soup out of it dinner # 2. For dinner # 3: Save the scraps of meat for croquettes, tacos (stretch with beans)made with lettuce/tomato etc, chicken salad, chicken stir fry, chicken noodle casserole, chicken divan-made for pennies compared to Stouffers frozen dinners not to mention take out!
Circumstances require that I run a very frugal kitchen. Supper tonight was crockpot boneless pork chops, originally cut off of a whole pork loin that I paid $1.99/lb for. Center cut chops run $3.89/LB and up. Certainly, $2 is much preferred! I used a marked down onion, a can of healthy request cr celery soup I wanted to use up, some instant milk, some spices to mix up a “gravy.” Sides were stove top dressing (a rare treat here, I only paid $1 for a 2 pouch box so 50 cents) and I served my last bag of haricots verts thru Angel food. A 99 cent jar of apple sauce on the side of the pork. Delicious.

Tomorrow’s supper is partially prepped ahead as I will get home later-a salmon loaf -Aldi’s wild caught AK salmon, egg. lemon juice, spices, instant milk, home made bread crumbs from bread heels we don’t like in sandwiches- awaits my return tomorrow, to pop into the oven. Side of brown rice, steamed fzn peas (53 cents after sale + cpn) and carrots (Aldi’s fresh).A tossed salad will most likely also be served. A simple, healthful meal. Bfst choices tomorrow are homemade chocolate zucchini bread or home made pumpkin-choc chip muffins. Both contain garden or CSA organic produce!,  There will be yogurt, OJ, coffee/tea. Lunch for kids will be Deli ends roast chicken breast on marked down WW rolls, sale priced romaine lettuce, marked down tomatoes, Aldi’s sliced Cheddar cheese, mustard and mayo bought on sale plus cpns or Aldi’s brand. Homemade baked good, home brewed no sugar iced tea, apple or fresh pineapple spears (that was another marked down!). DH and I each have leftover pork, green beans. I have l/o dressing, he has l/o brown rice because I prep lunch containers after supper. DH and I will probably both have pineapple spears as well. Yes,it can be done! : )

Thank you so much for taking the time to share with the other members; this gives everyone the courage to keep on keepin’ on, Carol, knowing that you do this on a regular basis.  Thank you again and again for your contribution.  We all learn from your wisdom and experience! 

Shopping For Sale Items: Food Stamps Cooking Club

May 18th, 2012

 

SAVE BIG MONEY BY WATCHING FOR SALE ITEMS!

We can ALWAYS count on the Club Members to come up with great solutions to the problem we all face:  Taming the family budget!  Whether we are shopping for food or household items, timing is everything.  MikeMax, bless her heart has come through for us with this message:  THANK YOU, MIKEMAX!

From the desk of MikeMax:

“For those of you who budget from month to month and usually run out of money by the time you run out of month: Try to hang onto a little extra ca$h this month. There will be really good sales over Memorial Day, which is the 28th this year.  You might save big on groceries and on lawn and garden items. Memorial Day is a good time to stock up on condiments, canned beans, etc., for the summer. You may also find “grilling” meats on sale, since Memorial Day is the first big weekend of the summer.

Ace Hardware-and likely Home Depot and Lowe’s-will have great prices on garden tools, fertilizer and such like. No, I don’t have any inside info–they just always do! Some of the best deals at Ace will likely include a rebate. They process their rebates very quickly, but you will still need to be a few dollars ahead to take advantage of them. Watch the newspaper for flyers the week before the holiday weekend.”

Great ideas with foresight, MikeMax.  Those young ‘uns who are just starting to keep house will surely find it helpful and those of us whose households are firmly established can always use reminders!

Now, if I may change the subject abruptly:

Several posts ago Mother Connie posted the recipe for Celery Salad.  It featured celery and onion and was a BIG hit in the Club House!  WEll, here is a bit of a PS:  We did not eat the last bit in the first sitting so FROZEN PEAS were added to what was left for the next go round.  O MY, talk about DELISH.  This salad would be a perfect take-along for a summer picnic, especially if you omitted the mayo and used only the dressing.  I’m thinking Memorial Day…

Each time the mail comes in, it is heartening to see how you are sharing this blog with others.  This must mean that we are accomplishing our goal of helping people who must cook frugally!  This whole project was designed for those who use WIC or SNAP’s EBT cards; we cater to people who depend on food pantries and/or  food commodities  as well as those who are living on a dime, just love to squeeze those nickels til the buffalo bellows or are just cheap by nature!  For those of you who have joined our bunch, we hope you like our series of cooking tips.

It seems as if everyone who is lucky enough to have work these day  probably has TWO jobs.  People are tired, stressed, and hungry at the end of a day.  We cannot plug in your crock pot or turn on your oven for you but we hope we make your life a wee bit easier by providing recipes and ideas that give your families good, sound nutrition for very little money.

The school years are grinding to a halt around here.  Let’s hope every family has a safe, happy summer, full of tremendous good memories and great, affordable meals!

Connie Baum

The FTC wants you to know there are links in this post.  Should they be clicked, resulting in sales, your humble blogger would be fairly compensated.  Please do your due diligence when conducting affairs online or offline.  Always do business with those you trust implicitly.

 

Roasted Garbanzo Beans and the Food Stamps Cooking Club

May 16th, 2012

Roasty, toasy flavor with oodles of protein and crunch! Mmm...

When I opened the food section of the Lincoln Journal Star today I was thrilled to see something different and  wonderful that I could share with the  Club Members!

We at the Food Stamps Cooking Club are all about helping you S T R E T C H your food dollars.  It does not matter whether you are simply a frugal shopper or you lean hard on that EBT  card from SNAP or WIC.  Whether you get food from a food pantry or accept food commodities; it makes no difference–we all  have to eat and it’s tough stuff,  this living on a dime!  It’s important to pack  as much nutrition into every meal as possible and it helps to be creative and clever at getting everyone at the table a meal they would actually enjoy!

One of my most favorite food editors is Lynne Ireland.  Today she wrote about roasting chickpeas.  I must have been living under a bushel for my whole life, because it had never occurred to me that chickpeas/garbanzos could be roasted. 

SIDEBAR:  Roll your eyes HERE.  END SIDEBAR.

That phase of Mother Connie’s life is history.  Just scope out this EZ do idea:

Roasted Chickpeas

*This appeared in May 16, 2012 Lincoln Journal Star and is taken from WeightWatchers.com

Olive oil cooking spray

2  cups canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1/4  teaspoon garlic powder

1/8  teaspoon red pepper flakes

OR

Any seasoning, such as chili powder, curry powder, garam masala, seasoning blend,  cumin, lemon pepper, Cajun spice mix or Tabasco sauce to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees – or 425 for more crunch in less time.  Lightly coat rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.

Spread chickpeas on baking sheet and sprinkle with garlic powder and red pepper; toss to coat. 

Roast on bottom rack of oven, shaking pan about every 15 minutes until browned and slightly crunchy, about 45 to 50 minutes.  25 to 30 minutes at higher temperature. 

The chickpeas still will be soft at lower temperature, more crispy if cooked at higher heat. 

Cook until desired texture is reached,  cool before serving. 

*Yields about 4   1/2 cup servings, equal to 3 Points Plus value for Weight Watchers.

Food Editor Lynne Ireland suggests using these as an alternative to cocktail nuts,  croutons for a salad or as a healthy snack when others might choose to open a bag of chips.  Mother Connie can imagine using them as topping for pasta, too.

There is plenty of room for variety with this because you can pick and choose the flavorings to suit your current fancy!  How can it get any better than this?   grin

Your comments on this blog mean the world to Mother Connie and judging by the mail we get, you are appreciative of them, too.  So click on the comments and let us know what you are doing with garbanzo beans or whatever else is making your kitchen smell like home and makes your heart sing!  Thanks, guys.  Please know that you are loved.

Connie Baum

The FTC wants you to know there are links in this post.  Should they be clicked, resulting in sales, your humble blogger would be fairly compensated.  Please do your due diligence when conducting affairs online or offline.  Always do business with those you trust implicitly.

Celery Salad at the Food Stamps Cooking Club

May 11th, 2012

Celery is fresh, crisp, and is easily made into wonderful dishes your family will love!

We humans tend to get into ruts, particularly when it comes to the things we choose to eat.  Mom is likely to be working full time, managing a household with or without a partner.  Mom  is dog tired;the kids need to have clean clothes and help with their homework…you know the pitfalls of life all too well!

It’s perfectly natural to fall into a routine and then we tend to eat the same menu with little variety week after week–keeping in mind what folks are willing to eat and of course if what we prepare is AFFORDABLE. 

Those who use SNAP’s EBT card-or WIC’s-know how it is to juggle the grocery money. So do those who use food pantry food or food commodities.  And sometimes the variety-or lack thereof-gets tiresome and boring.  I’m sure many of our Club Members are living on a dime; others are just careful with their food budgets.

The larder at the Club House was getting pretty bare.  A mandatory road trip coming soon called for Culinary Creativity.  The result was this salad recipe.  The Normanator LOVED it; even invited me to make it again soon!  Now THAT is a rave review!

MOTHER CONNIE’S CELERY SALAD

4  ribs of celery, chopped

1/2  an onion, chopped  *I used a red onion and the color was glorious; ANY onion will do

2  tablespoons mayo

Bottled dressing…We love French but Catalina or Russian would be fine…use just enough to moisten the veggies.

I like to mix the dressing in the bottom of a bowl and pour the chopped veggies into it to mix well.

There you have it.  Stupid simple, tasty, and oh, so CHEAP n easy!  If you wanted to stretch it, you could add some cooked macaroni or noodles; you could also shred some lettuce and sprinkle that into the mix. 

Warm weather invites salad meals.  I think YOU, dear Club Members, could create even better salads than Mother Connie.  Let us hear YOUR ideas.  Send them to foodstampscookingclub@gmail.com

Thanks to all the new members.  We are so happy you chose to join the fun!

And to all the mothers, we salute each and every one of you and bid you a fabulous Mothers Day!

Connie Baum

The FTC wants you to know there are links in this post.  Should they be clicked, resulting in sales, your humble blogger would be fairly compensated.  Please do your due diligence when conducting affairs online or offline.  Always do business with those you trust implicitly.

Taco Salad at the Food Stamps Cooking Club

May 5th, 2012

TACO SALAD!Dinner is served!

Happily, Tex-Mex has swept this country!  Study most any menu in the USA and you’ll find offerings from South of the Border in a wide variety.  The choices are endless, tasty, and varied.

One favorite in the Club House is Taco Salad.  Ours is likely to be very different from the one you make at your house because everyone’s flavor buds are unique!

The salad we have here is a QUICK FIX.  It is highly nutritious, has lots of flavor, and seems to be a crowd pleaser.  Here is what we served to a special house guest last evening.  We had eaten a heavy lunch and the weather dictated something light and fresh would delight our palettes, so this is what graced our dinner table.

MOTHER CONNIE’S LAYERED TACO SALAD

1  pound ground beef

1  onion, chopped

Season to your taste:  cumin, chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper

3  ribs celery, chopped

1   can, drained and rinsed or 2 cups cooked red kidney beans 

*The Kitchen Police will not arrest you if you use pinto beans, black beans or some other family favorite…

2   medium tomatoes, chopped

1  can corn, drained

1  cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

*Nobody will tattle to the Kitchen Police if you use cheddar, American, or whatever else you like or have on hand

1/2  head lettuce, shredded

Package of corn chips

Your favorite dressing

Method:

Brown the ground beef and add the spices and a bit of the chopped onion in a heavy skillet.  While the meat is cooking, chop the celery and tomatoes and layer them, along with the beans and corn in a large bowl. 

*If  it needs to look pretty you can use a clear glass bowl; if you are like Mother Connie, you will pile it into your most favorite bowl! 

When the salad comes to the table you can crush some corn chips in the bottom of a soup plate or dinner plate and pile the salad over the top.  Use your favorite dressing-we prefer a combo of French and Mayo.  Some like to use “Ranch” dressing, or some other combination.

*If you are “flush” enough to have black olives, those are a nice addition. 

If you do not have ground beef, just use cooked rice, combining rice and beans in the skillet and adding the spices.  I have made this meatless salad in this very way and people raved about how well cooked the MEAT was!

Most folks love salsa so you can add that if you like or you can make a dressing of salsa and mayo…are you drooling yet?  grin

There is a lot of info – or is it MISinfo or DISinfo?- about the SNAP program and the EBT cards.  There is the threat of making it less available.  NOT TO WORRY because it is the mission of the Food Stamps Cooking Club to ease your burden when it comes to feeding your family on a restricted budget.  Even if you use food commodities or food pantry food or you just want to manage your food budget in better ways, we want to help you in concrete ways.

We love your messages and thank you for them.  We also love that you are sharing what we have here with your friendsIt’s always fun to find out what YOU are creating in YOUR kitchens…sharing those ideas is great fun and most helpful!

Connie Baum

The FTC wants you to know there are links in this post.  Should they be clicked, resulting in sales, your humble blogger would be fairly compensated.  Please do your due diligence when conducting affairs online or offline.  Always do business with those you trust implicitly.