Thursday, August 30, 2012

Prop 37

Okay, I didn't want to get all political and what-not but I am a junky for the stuff, especially during election season. Plus with my whole stance on GE/processed food I figured this was as good a topic as any to get rid of my writer's block. Prop 37. Have you heard of it? Basically what it does is require foods that contain genetically modified ingredients (I refer to them as GE or GMO's) to be labeled as such. I'm sure you can guess how I feel about it. I am totally opposed to it. It is silly. It is wrong. It is evil. Just kidding! You guys know me better than that! :-)

So, now that you know that I am totally behind the yes on 37 crew I will explain why. My dad always told me that you can tell a lot about a proposition by who is supporting it. I come from a political family (to say the least) and I took the advice to heart. I always look at the supporters of propositions and politicians when I study my voter's guide. Who is against labeling GE foods? Oh, well all the usually suspects. Pepsi, Coca-Cola, General Mills, Dow Chemical, Monsanto, Dole, Sarah Lee, Campbell Soup Company and Hormel ( So basically any giant food producer who makes butt loads of money off of selling "food". On the yes side of things major funding comes from the Organic Consumers Association, and Health Resources LLC. Not to mention some of my own favorite brands like Lundberg (a rice producer in my area) and Annie's (the makers of my favorite mac & cheese), plus there is a very long list of endorsements that span the political spectrum. Check out the endorsements here, you have Barbara Boxer all the way to the Redding Tea Party Patriots!

Don't you want to be one of the cool kids? I do! A lot of other countries are already labeling GE foods. Australia, China, the UK, Spain, Germany, France, Italy, Mexico, Brazil, South Korea, Saudi Arabia ( Do I really need to go on?

The jury is out on the safety of this stuff ( WTF? So, no one really knows the long term effects of this stuff but they say go ahead and feed it to your kid. Yeah, no thanks.

It is just one little label! Come on people you already include a freakin' section for the nutrition facts and ingredients. Just say whether it has GE ingredients in it. I always read that stuff! I just want to know. I mean honestly, most GE foods are in processed stuff which I tend to avoid, but knowledge is power and we have a right to know what we are eating. Plus, if GMO food is so safe and awesome why not label it? Then people will know that your processed yumminess is extra awesome. Of course the food companies say that will cost money to add the extra label, money that will be passed on to the consumer. That is what my blog is for! Duh!

Basically, that is my stance. Lets get with it and just label the damn thing! Maybe then I could experience a little bit more convenience in my life. I mean I haven't opened a can of cream of mushroom soup in so long, I always make it from scratch and heck, maybe if I knew 100% of what was in it I could cut the time it takes to make my green bean casserole in half. No, it is too yummy when it is all homemade.

I will be adding my blog to the list of endorsements on the California Right to Know website! Please join me this November and vote YES on Prop 37. Come on, you know you want to!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Top 8 Ways to Save!

Did that title get ya? Everyone wants to know how to save money, especially on their grocery bill. Okay, so before I give up the goods (or at least all the crap I think is important) I should warn you. You CAN spend less money on food by completely disregarding my rules and buying processed or lower quality stuff. This guide helps me save money on ORGANIC and and/or other high quality foods. If you don't care about organic then don't read this blog because you are probably already saving more than me. That being said, here are some of my rules.

1. Stop buying beverages. Wine does not count! Let me repeat: WINE DOES NOT COUNT! In order to maintain sanity in my life I need some alcoholic beverages, look for future posts on how to save while maintaining the habit. However, what does count are sodas and even juice. Yes juice. Organic juice is very expensive; however a bag of organic apples is much cheaper - therefore I opt for the bag of fresh apples. It has all the same vitamin content as the juice (unless the juice is fortified or something) but it doesn't have all the fiber removed leaving only sugar. Take my advice; water is much better all around.

2. Start eating beans. Do you like beans? I do! And so should you. I don't mean that can of re-fried stuff that is loaded with salt, I mean dry beans. The kind you cook in a big pot of water on the stove. Don't be scared either. I have never soaked beans overnight; I always just cook on medium low for about an hour and half. Beans are so delicious and full of protein! My mother has been making beans my whole life just like her mother before her. My mom even re-fried them herself when I was a kid. I will post some recipes and ways you can use all different kinds of beans.

3. Lentils! Yes lentils. Another cheap way to eat well. Throw those suckers in a big pot with some carrots and potatoes, cook for two hours on medium low and you're happening! Oh, and my child loves lentil soup!

4. Don't buy frozen meals. Convenient? Yes. Cost effective? No. Maybe buying a Hungry Man dinner is cheap, I honestly don't know because I have never bought one, but when you are looking at the Annie's Organic Enchilada dinner, it is not so cheap. Yes, I love Annie too, but she is a classy broad. Plus, I don't know about you, but I can eat like five of those. Take my advice, fresh food is better and when I post up my home-made mole recipe you will never want the frozen stuff again. Plus, if you do want it to be frozen, make fresh enchiladas (with my mole recipe) and then freeze them. Viola! Convenience and economics.

5. Meat. Yeah, I like it too. But the organic and/or grass-fed free range stuff will set you back quite a bit. And who wants something that is factory farmed and shot up with hormones? Not I. I would rather go without. You don't have to give it up, just cut it down. When it comes to meat I say quality over quantity. Plus, when you cut down on your meat consumption you are doing good by the Earth too, so reduce that carbon foot print, help out farmers who raise their animals ethically and don't load your body up with hormones!

6. Have you heard of Grocery Outlet? Just make sure you check your dates. I have gotten maple syrup in there a billion and one times! And that stuff costs a pretty penny when you are buying real maple syrup that came out of a tree not a lab. Occasionally you can even get a half gallon of Organic Valley milk. *Side note, organic milk has a longer shelf life!

7. Convenience and prepared foods. Yes I have a child. At one point that child was a newborn who thought she wanted to nurse every ten minutes. Sometimes prepared food is a life savor, but most of the time it just drains your pocketbook. Try to avoid it.

and finally...

8. Cut out snacks and junk! That basically goes without saying. Again, I have a child which means at one point I was pregnant. And yes, I ate a lot of Kozy Shack chocolate pudding. Of course this was before my food budget doubled because of said child. No one needs ice cream in their house at all times (pregnancy not included!) or any other type of snacky junk food. Oh how I miss Sweet Maui Onion Kettle chips...

So there you have it! Eight ways to save. Now, I am not a insane person. Yes, I eat ice cream sometimes (Ben & Jerry's Ameri-cone Dream...mmmm) but what I am saying is that by cutting back on some of these items should help you save. I am sure there are plenty reading this who are okay with spending more than me, that is great, just do what works for you, your family and your budget!


Split Pea Soup (Sounds boring, but I find it creamy, delicious, satisfying and other positive adjectives one would associate with food)

1lb of dry split peas ($1.56 - and that was for a 2lb bag, I only used half of it)
Carrots (as many as you want, I love them so I put six big ones. $4.99 for 5lbs of organic carrots at S&S in Chico)
Yukon Gold Potatoes (as many as you want, I used three large ones $3.39 about 2lbs - S&S)
Salt, Pepper, Parsley to taste

Simple. Cut up all that stuff and put it all in a big pot, cover with water and cook on medium low for about two hours. Stir occasionally, you may also need to add more water depending on how fast it is cooking.

Want something to go with this creation? How about some nice steamy rolls? Yeah, you know you do!

Whole Wheat Rolls (If you are totally in love with these, and lets face, you will be after you try them, thank Whole Foods. I got the recipe from their website)

1 1/4 cup of whole wheat flour (I use Bob's Red Mill - available inexpensively at Winco in Chico)
2 Tbsp. of sugar
1/2 Tsp of salt
1 pkg of yeast (I like Hodsgon Mill - also cheap at Winco)
1 cup of warm milk (I never warm it, I guess I'm lazy like that)
3 Tbsp of melted butter
1 large egg (Farmers market! I have found no better egg.
1 cup of all purpose flour (I like King Arthur - another cheapy buy at Winco. It is more than twice as much at Holiday Market)

Mix the whole wheat flour, sugar, salt and yeast. Stir well. Add milk, butter and eggs. Beat until smooth. Add flour and mix until fully incorporated. I like to use my hands to fully mix it. Cover. Rise in a warm spot (maybe next to that pot of soup) for 1 hour.

Stir batter. Spoon into greased (I use olive oil) muffin tins. Rise for 1 hour. (I usually do about a half hour; patience is not a virtue of mine)

Bake in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes.

And if those aren't as tasty as all get-out then I'll be a monkey's uncle, or aunt or whatever. Just try them.

Well kids, that is it. Stayed tuned for next time. I will tell you all the stuff you should be splurging on and why. Of course there will be more money saving tips and possibly another recipe! Eat well and be well!


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

My First Post!

You may be wondering something...something like "who the heck is Joan and why is she trying to give me a 'guide to life'?" Well that is a good question and you have no real reason to listen to me but you did manage to find my blog so you might as well read it. I have certain skills and talents that I believe will be useful by my readers. 

I am pretty good at buying food, not just any food. Organic and other high quality foods. I avoid GMOs, pesticides, chemicals and anything else that wouldn't actually qualify as "food". I can buy these thing on a very small budget and, out of the goodness of my heart, I have decided to share some of my talents with all of you!

As you follow by blog and get to know my family and me through it I will divulge tips, tricks and recipes to help you live well on the cheap. Still interested? Well, keep reading, in this first blog post I will tell you exactly why you should listen to me when I am sure there are many others who think they are better qualified to instruct you, aw hell, they probably are. Most of you are probably reading this because I asked you to on Facebook or something. Be gentle, and remember how nice I am in person.

I am a Chico State graduate (BA Legal Studies 2010), a first time mother to a sixteen month old (female, Freya Danielle), and a part time employee at a small business. My fiance is currently a student working toward becoming a respiratory therapist. He is a shift leader at a local restaurant. Now that you have no doubt that we are on a budget (I work part-time and he is a student/food service employee - enough said!). I can explain to you why it is I do what I do. 

Well, you see I love keeping track of every penny I spend on food and driving around to a bunch of different places and getting my toddler in and out of the car seat. No. That isn't the reason. Over the course of my life I have learned about food, or what some people may call food, and I have found that much of the food Americans consume isn't really food at all. It is some cocktail of chemicals, artificial ingredients and high fructose corn syrup. At one point in my life I didn't really care. Then I got pregnant. It really made me start to think about what I was eating and what my daughter would eat when she was old enough. I started reading labels and doing research. For the first time in my life quality was more important than cost. 

So there you have it. My next post will be much more informative, I promise. I will throw out some tips and a recipe! Stay tuned! Until next time, eat well and be well!

P.S. You know that I had to throw up a picture of the child. I am a mom, I can't resist an opportunity for people to think she is cute!