Category Archives: Cheap and Healthy Eats

Cheap and Healthy Eats: Repurposing Those Thanksgiving Leftovers

A picture of thanksgiving leftovers
Common Thanksgiving Leftovers. Image Credit: Wikipedia

Thanksgiving may be all said and done itself, but what still lives on is the food that was not eaten on the tummy-stuffing holiday.

As a college student who is more in charge of their own money, in order to save some dollars, you are already not a stranger to bringing food back from home to bring to your dorm or apartment. Some of the best parts of being at home are the home-cooked meals. That same happening of “fridge raiding” and “pantry shopping” while at home is more evident during the Thanksgiving  holiday. College students home for the holiday are sent back to school with leftovers, as there is ALWAYS plenty of extra food to go around.

If you’re like me, you’ll want to utilize all of the leftover food you’ve acquired from that delicious Thanksgiving dinner, partly because it is wholesome, tasty, and home-cooked, and mainly because it is FREE.  When I was growing up, after Thanksgiving was over, my mom was not up for wasting all of the food that was not eaten. I basically had a turkey sandwich packed for lunch everyday until Christmas. The turkey itself stayed good for so long because my mom froze it until she was ready to use it in meals. I never got tired of those turkey sandwiches too, as they were ten times better than the usual packaged lunchmeat I ate everyday, and they were packed with the flavor and love of a home-cooked meal. Also, my mom would add some turkey to soups or make casserole with leftover green beens.

Growing up eating repurposed Thanksgiving leftovers has extended into my independent life. It has always been a part of my meals growing up, and I yet to get sick of it. Now that I am more on my own, I continue to repurpose my leftovers, and have found more and different ways to do so (and it’s cheap because you already have most of the ingredients).

Also, during the fall and winter seasons, the heavy holiday eating of rich foods is the most prominent. You are more likely to eat the same unhealthy holiday foods on days other than the actual holiday. Since ’tis the season of weight gain, I have also  learned to make some of those repurposed leftovers a bit more healthy, too. Rich foods must also be  consumed with moderation, like with anything, but I again I have found ways to remove some of the guilt on some of my favorite holiday foods. College athletes like me on a budget can especially benefit from eating healthier repurposed thanksgiving foods, because we get a chance  eat well and indulge a little at the same time, as well as spending little to money.

Here are some of my favorite repurposed Thanksgiving meals:

Stuffin’ Muffins 

Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray a muffin cup pan with a an olive oil cooking spray. Gather leftover stuffing and divide it evenly among muffin cups. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the stuffing is firm and the tops are golden brown.

Thanksgiving Stuffing Waffle (This only works if you have a waffle maker)

Coat the surface of the waffle maker with your favorite cooking spray. Gather leftover stuffing, spread evenly on the waffle maker surface, and let it cook for 3-5 minutes. Pair with a scrambled egg, and enjoy!

Mashed Potato Pizza*

Pre-bake whole wheat pizza dough until the edges are set and browned to your liking, then spread that dough with leftover mashed potatoes, and sprinkle with mozzarella or shredded cheddar. Top with chopped up turkey bacon.

Thanksgiving Fried Rice*

Chop up leftover veggies, and then stir-fry them in olive oil. Fry an egg or two, chop it up, and add to the leftover veggie stir fry. If you have any plain leftover rice, add that to the stir fry as well. If you don’t, add cold cooked brown rice (you would have to acquire or buy the brown rice separately), and toss all the ingredients until they are coated golden brown and warm. Additional toppings can include chopped up leftover turkey or ham, and a splash of soy sauce.

Turkey Sandwich* 

What you’ll need is whole wheat sandwich bread or a whole wheat hoagie roll, the leftover turkey, and whatever toppings/condiments that you enjoy.

Turkey Noodle Soup*

This soup is similar to chicken noodle soup. To make it, you can literally throw the whole leftover turkey carcass into the pot to make the broth. And no worries if the carcass is already far gone, you can buy turkey broth from the store for fairly cheap too. Boil whole wheat egg noodles in water for 8-10 minutes until al-dente, or until your desired firmness. Once you have all the broth together in the pot, add chopped turkey leftovers, any leftover vegetables (string beans and carrots usually work the best), and stir in the pot on medium-high heat until all of the contents are heated thoroughly. Add the cooked noodles last (as they are already hot), stir all contents again for the last time, and enjoy.

Turkey Caesar Salad*

Buy your favorite salad greens from the store, and then top with chopped leftover turkey, Caesar salad dressing, croutons, and cranberries.

Leftover Thanksgiving Panini

Put turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, and between two slices of sourdough (adding gravy is optional). Put the sandwich on a skillet and grill it as if you were making a grilled cheese.

Thanksgiving in a Cone*

Using 90-Calorie Reduced Fat Pillsbury Crescent Roll dough, mold the dough into a cone shape and rest on an upside-down muffin pan, with the muffin basins facing downward. You will need to flip the muffin pan upside down to achieve this. protruding side up. Continue to to make cones until there are no more muffin pan plateaus to cover. Place in the oven at 375 degrees for 11-13 minutes or until golden brown. Place the heated thanksgiving leftovers of your choice inside the finished cones and enjoy!

 

*Healthier options to food repurposing

**The key to these repurposed recipes is moderation! Most of them have been turned into  healthier eating options, but remember, it will always be rich Thanksgiving food!

 

Cheap and Healthy Eats: Snack Edition Part 3

This post is the third and final post of my favorite cheap and healthy snacks I usually enjoy (for now!!)


Goldfish Snack Crackers

Goldfish Snack Crackers 25 count mini snack bag
Goldfish Snack Crackers, Image Credit: Adashia Franklyn

Goldfish were always a part of my life of snacking, starting from when I was very young. They were a staple in the lunchroom and were always the hot item to have in yor lunchbox. These snacks became notorious because they taste great and although they are not he healthiest snack ever (they provide little nutritional benefit), they are generally healthier than their other snack options, like potato chips, corn chips, etc. They are packed with carbs, have 150 calories per serving, and are a good snack to hold you over until the next meal. They are also good for filling you up if you are hungry before athletic activity, but you don’t want to have a meal or eat too much. Again, I prize these snacks more for their taste, but they are indeed nutritionally better than your average junk food selections. They can be found for $2.50 at your local store. 

Whole Grain Cheez-It Snack Crackers

A box of Cheez-It Snack Crackers
Whole Grain Cheez-It Snack Crackers. Image Credit: Adashia Franklyn

Similar to the Goldfish Snack Crackers, Cheez-It Snack Crackers have always been a part of my snacking experience. I always used to eat the orginal type of Cheez-Its (opposed to the Whole Grain kind shown above), and they also had very little nutrional value. When I came to college and went food shopping for my self for the first time, once I entered the store, I bee-lined into the snack aisle (must be the inner kid in me). I went to get Cheez-Its, and amidst all of the varieties of the snack, I noticed that there was a new whole grain option to my favorite snack. The whole grain junkie inside of me couldn’t resist. I put the Cheez-Its inside my shopping cart, prayed that they did not taste different (or even nasty) compared to the original flavor, and continued food shopping. I’m glad I took the risk! The Whole Grain Cheez-Its taste exactly the same as the original, with a better nutritional benefit. They pack 5 grams of whole grain per serving, which contributes about 5% towards your daily recommended needs for whole grains. It may not be a lot, but every little bit of whole grains helps toward the daily goal. These can be found for around $2.50-$3.00 at your local store.

Sunbutter and Jelly Sandwiches

A picture of Sunflower Seed butter and jelly.
Trader Joe’s Sunflower seed butter and Welch’s Concord Grape Jelly. Image Credit: Adashia Franklyn

I personally have many food allergies. Two of which include peanuts and tree nuts. Before realizing my food allergy, eating a pb&j was routine for school lunches and midnight snacks. Peanuts and tree nuts are a fantastic source of protien, and after I discovered that I was allergic, it became harder and harder to get that protein without having my daily nut butter sandwich. When I entered high school, my mom and I found sunflower seed butter in the grocery store. It looked and smelled very similar to peanut butter, so I gave it a try. Not surprisingly, by itself it tasted like sunflower seeds, but once I put it in a sandwich with some jelly and ate it, it felt just like eating a pb&j. The texture and taste with bread and jelly is all similar to original.

Once I got to college, I found that I liked Trader Joe’s Sunflower Seed Butter the best. It is a bit pricey at around $5, but in my allergy-specific situation, it is worth it.  It has the most consistent and smooth texture compared to peanut butter and it also has the best taste out of all the sunflower seed butters I have tried. Also, I always eat my sun-butter sandwiches with Concord Grape Jelly on toasted Whole grain/Whole Wheat Bread (toasted bread has less calories and tastes better to me). As a lighter snack, I put the sun-butter and jelly in between Ritz Snack crackers and I usually eat about 4-5 mini sandwiches (they can be very filling). Welch’s jelly can be found at your local store for around $1.50-$2.00. Continue reading Cheap and Healthy Eats: Snack Edition Part 3

Cheap and Healthy Eats: Snack Edition Part 2

To continue from the previous post, here are a few more of my favorite cheap and guilt-free snacks I consume on the regular:

Navel Oranges 

A couple of oranges
A couple of oranges. Image Credit: Wikipedia

Navel Oranges are an easy and healthy way to fix a sweet tooth. I like Navel Oranges in particular because they are easy to peel and are not too messy and juicy, but they are juicy enough to give you great flavor. The Vitamin C in oranges are essential for the protection of the immune system from viruses and deficiencies, and it is also eye and skin health. Since Navel Oranges are also great for energy and replenishing muscles, I usually eat one before games and during halftime. I have been doing this since I started playing sports at 7 years old. It’s just a habit! They give me that little extra bounce and energy on the court , and paired with some water, they give me hydration also. Prices may vary. 

Apple Sauce with Cinnamon Sugar

unsweetened apple sauce
Unsweetened apple sauce in a small bowl. Image credit: Flickr

I do cinnamon apple sauce differently — I buy unsweetened applesauce and then add some cinnamon sugar to it when I go home, instead of getting traditional cinnamon applesauce already made for you. This way, I get to moderate how much sugar I am taking in, and I can keep my applesauce as tart or as sweet as I want to. According to SFGATE.com, “A 1-cup serving of unsweetened applesauce provides about 100 calories and 2.7 grams of fiber, or 11 percent of the daily value. It’s an especially good source of soluble fiber, the type that dissolves into a gel-like substance and helps maintain healthy blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Applesauce also contains pectin, a special type of soluble fiber that’s particularly effective in reducing high cholesterol levels. More so than other types of soluble fiber, pectin efficiently binds to cholesterol and other fatty acids and promotes their elimination through waste.” Unsweetened applesauce is the way to go, and if you don’t like your applesauce tart, you can always add your favorite sweetener and/or spices. A six pack of personal-sized apple sauce goes for about $2 in your local store.

Craisins

A bag of Craisins
A bag of cherry-flavored Craisins. Image credit: Flickr

Craisins Dried Cranberries are such a versatile snack. I eat them by themselves, i put them in yogurt parfaits, I put them on ice cream, on salads, the whole nine. They are another way to easily curb a sweet tooth. They are also an easy snack to pack for when you are on the go. The greatest benefit of Craisins are that eating just one serving gives you twenty-five percent of your daily recommended fruit needs. I’m not gonna lie and say that I’ll only eat one serving at a time either (it’s usually 2 because they are just so good), so I myself get around half of my daily recommended fruit needs just by this sweet and delicious snack. My other favorite kind of (other than the Cherry flavor shown above) Craisins are the kind with no added sugar. Even though Craisins have great benefits, they can be packed with sugar, especially the fruit infused kinds. The less sugar, less problems, as consuming too much sugar in your diet can cause acne. The no added sugar kind of Craisins do not compromise taste and are twice as guilt-free than its sugared counterparts. A bag like this will cost you about $2-3 in your local store. 

Cheap and Healthy Eats: Snack Edition Part 1

Just as eating healthy, filling, and complete meals are essential to the athlete, healthy snacking is too. Healthy snacking is a good way to fit extra nutrients into your diet and prevent overeating during meals. Listed below are some of my favorite healthy (and cheap) snacks I eat not only in between meals, but sometimes before games to give me that extra energy.

Bear Naked Granola

A picture of Bear Naked Granola
Bear Naked Granola via author

Bear Naked’s Original Cinnamon Bearly Processed Granola is my new favorite snack. During September, when I started lifting weights again during my basketball preseason, I was looking to build my lost muscle from not lifting all summer. I needed to incorporate more protein into my diet to help me build amino acids to help retain muscle. I looked for protein-filled alternatives to protein shakes, because the shakes can tend to be heavy on my stomach and can be jam packed with sugar (which causes me breakouts). I was then introduced the Bear Naked Granola by my strength and conditioning coach. It is fantastic!!! It a delicious collection of whole grain oats, honey, cranberries, and sunflower seeds, which collectively packs in 10 grams of protein per serving. This cost usually costs me $2.50-3.00.

Yoplait Yogurt Lite

A picture of Yoplait Yogurt
Yoplait Yogurt via author

Yoplait Yogurt Lite are my favorite types of yogurt, period. I have always ate them, even throughout my childhood. I just started eating the light versions of these delicious yogurt for obvious reasons— it has less sugar, no fat, and less worries. They are easy to take on the go and great for the mornings. Pictured above are some of my favorite flavors; from left to right includes Very Vanilla, Key Lime Pie, and Very Cherry. My other favorite flavors are Harvest Peach, Red Velvet Cupcake, and Blueberry Patch. For a delicious protein-packed yogurt parfait, top with this yogurt with Bear Naked Granola, and all together you will get a whopping 15 grams of protein! These yogurts usually go for $.20 a piece, or 10 for $2.

Chocolate Graham Crackers 

A picture of Chocolate Graham Crackers
Honey Maid Chocolate Graham Crackers via author

Honey Maid’s Chocolate Graham Crackers are a new take on your traditional graham crackers. I love these graham crackers, because besides tasting great, they are my substitute for more sugary and fattening chocolate cookies, like Oreos or chocolate chip cookies. They have only 8g of sugar per serving, contain 8g of whole grain, and even have a little bit of fiber for  a healthy digestive tract. They also taste great crumbled over vanilla yogurt, ice cream, and are great for smores when you want that extra dab of chocolate! This box usually sells for $2.

Fuji Apples 

A picture of Fuji Apples
Fuji Apples via Flickr

Fuji Apples are my favorite type of apple. It’s not too tart, and it is not too sweet; it is the happy medium. Eating these are great for getting a little extra energy before practice, and they are great for the the mornings! Having an apple in the morning is just as effective as drinking a small cup of coffee. Eating more great tasting apples like these also can add more water to your diet, as part of daily water intake includes the water content in the fruits and vegetables that you eat. Prices may vary.

 

Cheap and Healthy Eats: Chicken and Broccoli Pasta with Roasted Parmesan Sauce

Chicken and Broccoli Pasta with Roasted Garlic Parmesan Sauce. Picture from Adashia Franklyn
Chicken and Broccoli Pasta with Roasted Garlic Parmesan Sauce. Picture from Adashia Franklyn

Ingredients Needed:

  • One 1lb box of plain spaghetti
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil Spray
  • Ragú® Cheesy Roasted Garlic Parmesan Sauce
  • Badia Sazón Tropical Seasoning
  • Boneless-Skinless Chicken Breast Tenderloins
  • Frozen Broccoli
  • Parmesan Cheese

Substitutions:

The plain spaghetti can be substituted with wheat spaghetti, or any pasta of your choice, the Badia Sazón Tropical Seasoning can be substituted with your favorite seasoning, and the frozen broccoli can be substituted with any vegetable of your choice to make a delicious and filling meal.

Materials needed:

  • Nonstick Skillet
  • An 8 quart Pasta Pot
  • Colander
  • Spatula

Directions:

  • To cook the spaghetti, boil four quarts of water on HIGH.
  • Add a dab or a spritz of  olive oil to the water to taste.
  • Wait for the water to actually boil (you will see and hear a lot of bubbles), and then add the pasta.
  • Cook until “al dente” (firm to the bite), for approximately ten to twelve minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and drain in the colander.
  • To cook the chicken and broccoli, spray the skillet with the Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
  • Spray and heat both frozen ingredients together in that skillet on MEDIUM HIGH heat until they are thoroughly cooked and browned to your preference.
  • Let the chicken and broccoli simmer for about ten minutes, and stir occasionally so that chicken and broccoli are browned evenly. Add the Badia Sazón Tropical Seasoning sparingly. If a generous amount of seasoning is added, it will make the chicken and broccoli too salty in addition with the Ragú® Cheesy Roasted Garlic Parmesan Sauce. 
  • Add the Ragú® Cheesy Roasted Garlic Parmesan Sauce to the cooked pasta, and stir to get an even distribution of sauce.
  • Top with the cooked chicken and Broccoli. Stir well.
  • Sprinkle dry Parmesan Cheese on top of the pasta for added texture.
  • Select your portion of food and Enjoy!

*16 ounces of pasta feeds four to eight people.

This meal is relatively cheap to make, as one serving of this delicious entrée cost me about $1.79 to make. All of these items used in this recipe can be found in your local supermarket, and if not, you should be able to find very close substitutes. The chicken used in this recipe provides at least 12 grams of protein, which is great for storing amino acids in the muscles, which helps build muscle. The pasta has 42 grams of carbs, and carbs help give energy. The broccoli gives you atleast 50% all of your daily recommended vitamins and minerals.

This meal to me is the meal of a champion. It gives me everything I need, especially if I eat it the night before a big game or practice. The morning after, I wake up with tons of energy!! When I began cooking for myself in college, this was and still is my go-to dinner to eat  because it is cheap, simple, healthy. It tastes and smells delicious, and it is one of the things that inspired me to cook more for myself and cut down on eating out often.