I live in a big city. That means everything is expensive. There is no where to park, and any sort of unhealthy vice you might be prone to is readily available to you at any moment. That’s why when my mind is enlightened to some food choice that is both affordable and good for me, I feel as if manna has fallen from heaven! Sometimes I feel like the city I live in is trying to kill me, but here are some home-cooking joys that help me fight the good fight.

1. Kale is glorious.

A lot of people have already written this “super food” off as a fad. Some people think it’s just another icky leafy green for vegans. But I’m telling you, give kale a chance. I know that there’s always that knot in my stomach when I buy produce saying What am I going to do with this? It will go bad before I eat it…just money down the drain. But kale is a super long-lasting vegetable, and it’s super versatile. It’s a sturdy food that you don’t have to worry will turn to mush when you cook it. It’s only a couple bucks for a huge bundle of it, and it is REALLY good for you.

So what do I do with Kale? I’ve sauteed it with olive oil and garlic. I’ve baked it in oil to make yummy crispy kale chips. I’ve marinated it raw with oil, lemon juice, and honey (or agave nectar) in the fridge, to later combine it with avocado and artichoke hearts in a salad. And I’ve also tossed it in some broth with tomatoes, sage and rosemary to make a delicious “comfort soup.” I’ve left it in the fridge for 2 weeks without it going bad. All hale kale….

2. The Chicken or the Egg?

THE EGG. You should know that you can buy a dozen organic eggs at the grocery store for a few bucks, and get a versatile protein for any meal to last you a couple weeks. And they’re not just a breakfast food. I know some of you are on a strict “artist’s diet” of ramen noodles…but have you ever thrown it in a frying pan with an egg for some protein? When was the last time you made an egg salad sandwich? Everyone loves them, but no one ever makes them (trust me and try using vegan mayonnaise–it tastes better and is better for you, no joke.)

How can I spice up an egg? Drizzle some paprika and vinegar on a hard boiled egg as a snack. Scrabble it with some ‘real bacon bits’ or some sliced cold cuts. Or over easy on a slice of wheat toast–simple and satisfying.

3. Low-carb excellence with tortilla pizzas.

Buy a pack of tortillas (wheat tortillas are even better for you), and make pizza on them. You can really get creative here. The basic is the tortilla topped with pizza sauce (or just marinara), mozzarella, and pepperoni. Toss it in the toaster oven or regular oven until the cheese starts to brown a little, and you are good to go.

What else with tortillas? You can get creative with these too. If you’re out of sauce, paint the tortilla with olive oil, sprinkle a little cheese, add a little Italian seasoning, and whatever vegetable you have on hand. It’s still super tasty. It’s a simple way to utilize whatever ingredients you have around, and whatever vegetable is about to go bad in your fridge. Once, I was feeling brave, and made one with olive oil, dill, parmesan, and sardines. My doubting roommate had 3 slices!

4. What’s on your wishlist?
A spice rack and a large container of olive oil should be. Seriously. Your mom will love to buy you a spice rack or a gallon of olive oil for your birthday, and this is how you will make all of your food taste good for the next year! These are not super cheap items, but also won’t break the bank, so they are both an excellent addition to your wish list (go ahead and add Veganaise to it too, if you trust me).

5. What good thing ever came from a can?
A lot of things. Tuna! For one. There are a endless ways to jazz up a tuna sandwich. Or, just top some water crackers with dollops of tuna and a little cheese (or capers if it’s payday). Tuna is also a tasty salad ingredient. Chili and beans are great to have around too. I love low-fat turkey chili on a rainy day, or using canned beans in a soup or salad. Also, tomato based products are usually reliable from the can–a topping for your tortilla or flat bread pizza, a soup ingredient, or a stir fry ingredient.

 

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