Now that we’re already three weeks into 2017, how are you doing on those New year’s resolutions? According to recent research, the most common resolution for Americans in 2017 is to “spend less and save more money.” That’s a bit of a change from the usually most popular “lose weight” and “exercise more” resolutions. Coincidentally (or not), this month’s Recipe Redux theme falls right in line with this nation-wide goal: Budget Eats. Reduxers are challenged to create an entree recipe for less than $3.00 per serving to help keep food spending in check.
One of my professional resolutions of 2017 is to help my clients eat a more whole food, plant-based diet. There are so many good reasons to adopt this eating style. Eating more plants and less pretty much everything else can help with weight loss, lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and most cancers. It’s also good for the environment as it requires fewer resources to produce plants than it does animals. It’s a practice that’s also “healthier” for your wallet and your resolution to “spend less and save more money.” With all these great reasons, eating a whole food, plant-based diet is kind of a no-brainer.
Take this chickpea curry recipe for example. A 16-ounce bag of chick peas (a.k.a. garbanzo beans, ceci beans) costs about $1.50. Why choose a bag and not a can? A typical can of chick peas is approximately $2.50. You get 16 ounces of beans and -even if you bought the low sodium version- a salty liquid which acts as a preservative. A bag of dried beans is just over half the cost of the can and once rehydrated, you end up with three times the amount of beans! I used to think that “dealing with” (a.k.a. rehydrating) dried beans was a total pain until I found this really easy slow cooker method (click Here). Using a slow cooker omits having to watch, test and pay attention to your hydrating beans. You can set it and forget it. Gotta love that.
The next big money saver in this post are the spices. How many times have you not made a recipe that looked or sounded delicious because you didn’t feel like buying a whole bottle of a spice that you weren’t sure you’d ever use again? Depending on the type and the size of the bottle, spices might run anywhere from $2.99 – 5.99 each. While I use lots of curry, turmeric and cayenne pepper, and always have the full bottle of spice on hand, I went to my local grocery store’s bulk spice section to show how easy it is to just buy small amounts. You can simply spoon in however much you want, add the PLU number and voila! At a fraction of the cost of a bottle of the same spice, you’re purchasing just enough for a single recipe or just a few teaspoons to allow you to decide if this spice is a worthwhile investment for you.
Macerate the onions, garlic and ginger and add to the fragrant spices.
I have to admit, at $1.73 per (pretty size-able) serving, even I was surprised at how inexpensively one could make this meal which is packed with high fiber, low glycemic carbs, plant protein, magnesium, potassium and iron. Incidentally, rehydrating your own beans results in a slightly lower glycemic bean versus the canned variety and if you, like me, prefer a more “al dente” texture of beans than the canned variety, rehydrating your own beans is the way to go.
The $1.73 per serving price even includes the broccoli side dish. For those who need to ease-in to a more whole food, plant-based diet or want to increase the grams of protein per serving, you could even add one large or two small baked and sliced chicken breasts to this curry, increase the number of servings per recipe to 6 and still stay within the $3.00 per serving budget.
Transitioning your diet is easier if you focus on all of the delicious things you can eat as opposed to focusing on what you should reduce or eliminate. Keep in mind Michael Pollen’s famous and brilliant quote: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly Plants.” Save all that extra money for a healthy vacation! 😉
- 2 generous cups rehydrated chick peas (a.k.a. garbanzo beans, ceci beans)
- 1 small or 1/2 medium yellow or white onion, roughly chopped
- 2 garlic cloves
- 3/4 cup red bell pepper, sliced
- 3/4 cup grated carrot (approximately 2-3 medium carrots)
- 2 inches fresh ginger or 2 T. ginger juice (click for technique)
- 1 cup lite coconut milk (I used Thai Kitchen)
- 1/2 + 1 tablespoon water, divided
- 1 tablespoon oil - (canola, coconut, etc.)
- 2 teaspoons curry powder
- 2 teaspoons turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 3 tablespoons natural peanut butter
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 head broccoli, divided into 4 servings, steamed
- 2 cups cooked starch of choice (optional) such as rice, brown rice or quinoa OR -my favorite- cauliflower rice
- In a small food processor or coffee bean grinder, pulse the onion, garlic, ginger (or ginger juice or paste) and 1 tablespoon water until macerated.
- In a large saucepan, heat the oil on medium. Add the spices (curry, turmeric and cayenne) stirring until combine and fragrant - about 1 minute.
- Stir the onion mixture into the spice mixture, stirring until heated through, 1-2 minutes.
- Add the coconut milk and 1/2 cup water, stirring to combine. Once combined, add the peanut butter and stir until melted into the liquid.
- Add the chickpeas and heat through, stirring occasionally, approximately 4 minutes.
- Add the carrots and red bell pepper slices, stirring occasionally, until peppers are softened, approximately 3 - 4 minutes. Be careful not to overcook causing the peppers to shrivel and the skin to shred.
- Ladle into bowl over starch of choice (rice, brown rice, quinoa) OR cauliflower rice.
- Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve with steamed broccoli.