By: Leanne Ely
Now that I have everyone talking Paleo, I thought the timing would be just right to talk about all of the delicious foods you can find in the wild, or right in your own backyard!
We have our ancestors to thank for figuring out that the leaves of the rhubarb plant are poisonous, but the stalks are a wonderful source of fiber. That the flowers of a dandelion are too bitter to stomach, but their leaves are delicious. It took a lot of trial and error to discover that sweet, edible meat contained inside that ugly oyster shell and which mushrooms were safe for human consumption. They didn’t have a choice since food didn’t just appear in the grocery store like it does for us!
Food is easy for us to find nowadays, but with this huge Paleo movement sweeping the country, foraging for food has actually become rather trendy.
With spring finally here, this is the time to look for edible wild greens and mushrooms.
DISCLAIMER: Do your homework to find out what’s available and edible (i.e., non toxic) in your own neck of the woods. Please don’t rely on this blog post to identify what’s safe to eat and what is not. There are dozens of varieties of plants and mushrooms around Canada and the US and I don’t claim to be an expert on them all, so do your research!
Wild spring edibles
Here are some different types of edible foods you may find in the spring. This list will vary depending on where you live:
• Watercress. Find it in early spring right until late fall in marshy areas near streams and rivers. Can be eaten raw in salads.
• Morels. Find them in fields and forests. Black morels are found in early spring and white morels are found later in the season. Enjoy grilled or sauteed.
• Chanterelles. These beautiful golden mushrooms grow in the woods all summer long. Enjoy them sauteed in butter.
• Fiddleheads. Look for these alongside streams and forests. They are delicious sauteed in a frittata or just served as a side dish with some fresh fish.
• Wild leek. Found in woodlands early in spring and late in fall. Use them in soups and salads.
• Asparagus. Wild asparagus can be found in open fields, mid-spring until early summer.
• Dandelion greens. You can find dandelion greens just about anywhere! Read more about the nutritional value of dandelion greens and about how to enjoy them.
• Stinging nettle. You can find stinging nettle throughout the spring. Harvest them before their flowers appear. Nettle can be used as an herb or eaten as greens.
• Oxeye daisy. Did you know you can eat the unopened flower buds of the ordinary old daisy? Sauteed with some wild garlic and other wild edibles, they make an interesting side dish.
• Wild garlic. You can find wild garlic growing in damp woodlands. It looks like lily of the valley, but when you smell the edible leaves of the plant, you’ll know you have garlic on your hands. Literally! Eat the leaves raw or cooked.
Depending on where you live, you may be able to catch trout from a nearby stream, collect dulse or kelp from the sea shore or gather wild strawberries from the roadside.
There’s a free grocery store right outside your door!
Remember to only harvest these edibles from places you’re confident have not been treated with pesticides. Even then, when you feel the food is safe to eat, give everything a very good wash.
Okay, UNCLE!! We listened! And yes, we’ve extended our sale on our New Dinner Answers! Forage away! 😉 Click here for details!
By: Leanne Ely
Everyone’s concerned about watching the grocery budget these days, and rightly so! Food costs are climbing, and there’s no sign of this trend stopping anytime soon.
I’m often met with resistance when I talk about eating nutritious foods (especially as part of a Paleo lifestyle) because people claim they can’t afford to eat healthy.
To be honest, it can seem expensive at first, especially if you’re looking at the $15 package of chicken breasts when you know you can buy a frozen lasagna for $5 that will easily feed your family of four.
I could sit here all day and tell you that eating a healthy diet will pay for itself in spades in the long run, but the fact is, we only have so much money to spend on food.
So, the following tips will help you stretch your grocery budget, even if you’re a Paleoista.
Purchase ingredients and not packages. Stop looking for the healthiest granola bars or gluten-free brownies on the shelf. Instead, buy ingredients to make your own healthy snacks (Blending a banana and some Medjool dates tastes like a homemade Larabar!). Or, even better, eat nature’s own snack foods by eating whole foods like apples, berries and seeds. Same thing goes for foods like almond flour—if it comes in a bag, there’s a chance you can make your own. If you have a good food processor, buy some natural almonds in bulk and ground them into flour. If it’s a really good machine, you can make your own almond butter and almond milk, too! Make your own condiments. If you aren’t Paleo, but want to eat healthier buy organic corn kernels for your weekly movie night. Purchase dried beans instead of canned, and cook them yourself. See where I’m going with this? Stop looking for convenience because convenience is expensive, y’all!
Buy frozen fruits and veggies in bulk. Frozen produce is just as nutritious as fresh, and it’s much more affordable to purchase frozen than it is fresh. I always suggest people buy enough fresh produce like lettuce, asparagus, broccoli and zucchini to use at the beginning of the week, and then have frozen on hand for the last part of the week. This stretches the budget a bit and allows for less food spoilage.
Rethink your meat purchases. Protein is expensive, but there are ways to save money in the meat department. Buy whole chickens, and cut them into pieces yourself rather than buying the more expensive chicken pieces where the work has been done for you. When it comes to beef, choose less expensive cuts and learn how to cook them properly. Those cheap cuts can be the tastiest if you cook them low and slow by braising or stewing them.
An even better way to save on meat costs is to get together with some neighbors and see about sharing the cost of a whole cow or pig to put in your freezers. It seems like an expensive purchase up front, but it will pay for itself over the course of 6 months or so!
Know what needs to be bought organic. Shop according to the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen to ensure you’re eliminating the greatest amount of pesticides from your diet without going broke to do so. You can see an updated list at ewg.org, where you’ll learn that potatoes and apples should always be purchased organic (so if your budget doesn’t allow for those items, buy conventionally grown sweet potatoes and mangoes instead).
Stop splurging. Look for unnecessary items in your cart and remove them! You don’t really need to spend $4 on bottled water. You also don’t need those individual coffee pods. Take a good look at your home and see which nonessential items you are wasting your money on (this includes junk food and “treats”).
Stick to the list! Make a meal plan at the beginning of each week and make your shopping list according to that plan. At the store, stick to the list. Being prepared like this, having a list that corresponds to the meals you need to make for dinner each day, also prevents trips to the grocery store throughout the week to pick up a missing ingredient.
Thousands of people depend on our New Dinner Answers program to do this work for them, and I believe the low monthly subscription rate pays for itself in the first week when you don’t have to run to the store for anything! With Dinner Answers, you know what meals you’re making every evening, and you get a shopping list to take with you to the store. It saves time and money! Oh, and because the meals have been developed by a nutritionist (yours truly), you know they’re healthy AND delicious.
By: Leanne Ely
It’s time once again for Tricks, Tips and a Recipe. Today you’ll learn a trick, a tip and you’ll get a great recipe to try it out with. Neat, huh?
Today’s focus is on: QUINOA
Quinoa is a seed that’s been around forever, though with the popularity it’s gained in recent years, you’d think it was a new invention. Quinoa has an amazing nutritional profile. This seed is gluten free, high in protein and rich in health-supportive fats.
Quinoa is full of vitamins, fiber and antioxidants. It can lower your cholesterol, and it’s easy to digest.
Easy to eat, easy to cook and easy to digest, there’s much to love about quinoa.
There is a debate in the nutrition world about whether quinoa is Paleo, and I say that if it doesn’t cause you any discomfort, you go ahead and eat it. Do keep in mind, though, that though quinoa is a more nutritious option than a lot of foods, it is carb heavy, so practice good portion control.
Shop for organic, fair-trade quinoa so you know that farmers in South America are getting a fair price for their crop.
Now, it’s time for your Trick:
You can find quinoa in beige, orange, purple, green and almost every color in between. Beige is the tastiest; red is the healthiest!
Always rinse your quinoa before cooking it. Quinoa has a bitter coating that must be rinsed off before you prepare it. Otherwise, it won’t taste very good. (You should also remember to drain your quinoa after cooking and let it rest for a few minutes.)
And your Recipe:
Oven Chicken Meatballs
1 1/4 pounds ground chicken
1 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup grated zucchini
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 medium egg, beaten
2 cups tomato sauce
6 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese
COOKING INSTRUCTIONS: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, mix together the first 11 ingredients (ground chicken through the egg). With a small scoop, scoop out the mixture onto a parchment lined sheet pan.
Bake the meatballs in the oven for 15 minutes. Then pour over the tomato sauce and sprinkle over the Parmesan cheese. Return the meatballs to the oven and bake for 5-7 minutes more, or until the meatballs are cooked through and the sauce is bubbling.
Remove from the oven and let rest at least 5 minutes before serving.
Dinner doesn’t have to be a dilemma–especially when you have our Brand New Dinner Answers! Click here for details!
By Leanne Ely
I just love the sweet, tart flavor of a juicy ripe cherry. But really, who doesn’t? Cherries are not only delicious, these delicate little fruits are also very healthy. If you suffer from gout pain, you probably already know that cherries can help prevent flareups but there’s much more to cherries than that.
Cherries are known to reduce inflammation in the body and if you eat them on a regular basis, you’ll find they can also help reduce muscle pain. Some studies have actually shown that eating cherries on a daily basis is similar to regularly taking ibuprofen.
Cherries are also a good source of vitamin A, E and C, and they’re a yummy way to get your fiber into you.
Tart cherries are available year round, and I use them frequently in savory dishes. During the summer when sweet cherries (also known as dark cherries) are in season, I am constantly snacking on them and tossing them into salads.
So what else is there to know about cherries?
It’s time for your Trick:
Cherries bruise easily and they are very perishable. Cherries will only stay fresh in the fridge for a few days so eat them shortly after bringing them home.
And your Tip:
When shopping for cherries, look for fruit with the stem still attached. The stem should be nice and green and not wilted. A fresh looking stem is a sign that the fruit was picked recently.
And your Recipe:
Sweet and Tangy Cherry Baked Turkey Strips
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 pound boneless skinless turkey breast meat, cut into 1-inch strips
1/2 pound black cherries, pitted and chopped (fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped basil leaves
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon water
Heat the oil in a large, deep skillet with a tight-fitting lid over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper and garlic; cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until tender-crisp. Add turkey, cherries, broth, brown sugar and balsamic vinegar; blend well. Bring mixture to a slow boil then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Carefully remove skillet lid and stir in basil; cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Meanwhile, in a cup, combine cornstarch and water; stir into sauce and cook just until thickened. Serve immediately.
I adore cherries and one of my favorite ways to enjoy them is turning them into epic smoothies! Here’s my favorite Chocolate Cherry Smoothie recipe!
By: Leanne Ely
The art and craft of cooking has been glorified in glossy magazines for years with beautiful shots of styled food, propped, positioned and perfectly lit, sitting on a color coordinated plate. These gorgeous pictures set your mouth to drooling and your desire to cook right off the charts.
In recent years, food bloggers have attempted the same thing with their step by step pictures of a recipe in progress, making your mouth drool and your need to chop, sauté and simmer intense!
We at SavingDinner.com have test kitchened and worked our own private culinary magic without the photographic evidence (unfortunately) for years, although that’s starting to change.
Lately we’ve been testing paleo recipes and more to capture the drool worthiness of some of our most coveted recipes (as well as a bunch of fresh new recipes). Having the photographic evidence of our culinary triumphs has been great!
And while you may not be a food blogger (or ever want to be one), if you consider cooking to be a bore, a chore and on the same level of fun as root canals and toilet cleaning, step back for a minute and try on a new perspective.
Next time you make a meal, place it carefully on the chosen plate, sprinkle with a little fresh parsley (it takes two seconds to snip with you kitchen shears!) and serve it the way it would be served properly in a restaurant (with the protein on the plate at 6 o’clock if it was in front of you at the table).
You don’t have to whip out the camera and start snapping pictures to make a meal beautiful enough to warrant a picture. You don’t have to blog about it, either. You just need to appreciate it a little bit and give your meal its due. Any meal, served beautifully becomes even better than what it was intended to be and is appreciated more (even your little ones will notice) by the family.
Join the 5 Day Cooking Challenge with Leanne and Cynthia Pasquella! Every day, you’ll get a new cooking lesson featuring a video, downloadable resources, and practice tips. Each cooking class is online so you can join us from anywhere in the world!