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Healthy Food Done Right

Updated on September 1, 2018

Start simple. Start fresh.

We all know how much a sore throat can hurt. We also know there are certain foods that help fight off that stubborn mucus and bacteria. Next time you feel absolutely miserable, try this simple and inexpensive concoction. In a pot, add water, turmeric, honey, lemon, cinnamon bark and fresh ginger. If you like spicy, you can also add some cayenne pepper to the mix. Let it boil for about 30 minutes or until the pot becomes fragrant. This beverage can be served hot or cold.

On a hot summer day what could be better than a chilled cucumber and tomato salad? Originally from Morocco, this chlada recipe (salad recipe) is very easy to throw together under 15 minutes. Simply peel the cucumbers and take out the seeds. Chop up the cucumbers. Then chop the tomatoes but take out the juices before you chop them. Take an onion and dice half of it. In terms of ratio, you can alter it to your taste. If you like more onions, then add more onions. If you prefer more cucumbers then add more cucumbers. Throw the veggies in a bowl and toss them with salt, apple cider vinegar and cumin (a pillar of Moroccan cooking). Let it sit in the fridge for at least an hour. The longer it chills the more marinated it becomes.

A soothing blend of spices and citrus can help fight off unwanted sore throats and infections.
A soothing blend of spices and citrus can help fight off unwanted sore throats and infections.
Moroccan cucumber, tomato and onion chlada (salad).
Moroccan cucumber, tomato and onion chlada (salad).

Beware of jars. Make your own.

I refuse to buy hummus, peanut butter and any other nut butters from the store. The reason? Most brands add unnecessary sugar, oils, salt and dyes to the product. Instead, I make my own hummus and peanut butter. Some combinations for hummus include:

THE BASIC: boiled chickpeas, tahini, roasted garlic, salt, lemon juice.

THE FIRECRACKER: boiled chickpeas, tahini, roasted red peppers, cayanne pepper and salt

THE BEET: boiled chickpeas, tahini, salt, roasted beets, roasted garlic

THE HERB: boiled chickpeas, lemon juice, roasted garlic, tahini, fresh cilantro and parsley

When making peanut butter, I simply grab unsalted, roasted peanuts from Stop and Shop and stick them in the food processor. When blending I never add oil- peanuts produce their own natural oil. Throwing in a pinch of cinnamon gives the peanut butter another layer of flavor. This can also be done with other nuts such as cashews or almonds, however, peanuts are the most budget friendly option.

Looking at cost, a 16 oz bag of chickpeas is $1.99. A 5 lb bag of unshelled, unsalted roasted peanuts is roughly $30.

Tomato and lentil curry.  Vegan and vegetarian friendly.
Tomato and lentil curry. Vegan and vegetarian friendly.

Bring out the beans.

Cooking with beans is a foolproof way to get the daily dosage of protein, fiber and antioxidants. Dried beans are cheap. Big brands like Goya often sell 16 oz bags for $1.99. They have a huge variety of legumes such as navy beans, lentils, kidney beans and black beans. But what can you do with a bag of dried beans? A lot. For starters, remember that most beans (except for lentils) need to soak overnight. You can throw beans in hummus, stews, chilies, salads or curries. Here are some of my favorite combinations below:

LENTIL AND TOMATO CURRY: caramelized onions, sauteed garlic, tomato paste, fresh tomatoes, salt, turmeric, ground ginger, lentils and coconut milk.

1. Boil lentils until they are tender.

2. Caramelize onions and garlic in a big frying pan with spices. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, more spices and coconut milk. Add lentils and simmer for 10 minutes.

CHICKPEA AND RAISIN CURRY: chickpeas, coconut milk, ground ginger, cinnamon, onions, garlic, tomato paste, salt, raisins

1. Soak chickpeas overnight and then boil them.

2. Caramelize onions and garlic with the spices in a big frying pan. Add coconut milk, tomato paste and more spices. Add the chickpeas and a handful of raisins. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

* For these recipes you can also add the water you boiled the chickpeas in. This will act as a thickener.

Support local. Support a community. Get produce cheap.

A local souq (market) in Mhaya, Morocco.
A local souq (market) in Mhaya, Morocco.

Don't fall for the misconception that eating healthy is expensive and not tasty. There are many affordable and delicious dishes you can prepare the next time you want a meal.


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