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Don't break the budget

Tips for eating healthy

I previously wrote about how to save money on your grocery budget even though food costs are on the rise. I offered suggestions from Cami Wells, a Nebraska Extension Educator in Hall County, for foods in the protein, dairy and grains groups.

This week, we'll learn ways to save money on fruits and vegetables.


"Check for sales and purchase those that are in-season," Wells said. "Most of us prefer fresh but canned and frozen vegetables are also healthy choices. Canned and frozen vegetables provide more variety and take little preparation time."

Here are a couple of her low-cost options for including more vegetables in your day:

Frozen broccoli: Save money by purchasing larger bags of frozen broccoli. Thaw only what you need at a time. To make a quick side dish of broccoli pasta, add frozen broccoli to the pot of boiling pasta about three minutes before the end of the cooking time. Season as desired.

Carrots: Carrots are in season all year. Add diced or shredded carrots to your favorite soup, salad or slaw. Carrots are perfect for dipping. Try hummus, peanut butter or a do-it-yourself dip made of yogurt mixed with herbs and spices.

Canned corn: Canned vegetables are great to keep on hand. Look for "low sodium" or "no salt added" on the label, or rinse canned vegetables to reduce their sodium content. Sauté canned corn in a small amount of oil with green chilies, tomato and onions for a colorful side dish. Create a quick pasta salad with canned corn, chopped vegetables, beans and vinaigrette. Add corn to soup, chili, salsa, chowder, tacos, burrito bowls.

Wells also suggests potatoes and cabbage. Save money by buying a bag of potatoes, rather than buying them individually. Microwaving is a quick and easy way to prepare baked potatoes. Save money by purchasing and chopping heads of cabbage instead of buying pre-cut bags. Sauté shredded cabbage with onions and your favorite seasoning until soft and tender for a delicious side dish.


Check out these low-cost ideas from Wells for adding more fruit in your day:

Applesauce can be added to cooked hot cereals or baked goods. Serve applesauce with pork and other meats instead of sauces that can be high in added sugars and sodium.

Bananas are great additions to cereal, oatmeal or yogurt. Make a fruit skewer with banana and other fruit cut into chunks. Whip up banana "ice cream" for a tasty treat by freezing ripe banana chunks and blend until smooth.

Canned pears are a tasty topping for whole wheat waffles, oatmeal or yogurt. Try cottage cheese with canned diced pears for an easy snack.

Oranges make a sweet snack after school or work. Top a salad with orange chunks for added flavor. Add orange slices to a water pitcher for a refreshing drink. Save money by buying a bag of oranges, rather than purchasing them individually.

Canned pineapple is delicious on top of yogurt or cottage cheese. Make a pineapple sorbet by freezing canned chunks, then blend until smooth. Top chicken sandwiches or burgers with a canned pineapple ring for a great sweet-savory combination.

Unopened canned fruits can be stored in the pantry for 12 to 18 months for best quality. After opening, store in the refrigerator for five to seven days.

This is a recipe you can file to use next fall.

Acorn squash, cranberry and kale salad

1 cup brown rice, uncooked

2 cups no-salt added vegetable broth

1 acorn squash, cubed

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1 teaspoon mustard (Dijon or other)

4 cups chopped kale leaves,

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (optional)

Wash and prepare vegetables. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Cook rice in broth according to package directions.

Mix cubed squash with vegetable oil, salt and pepper. Place squash in a baking dish. Roast squash for 20 minutes or until fork tender.

Combine vinegar, vegetable oil, maple syrup and mustard in a small bowl until well combined.

Place kale in a large bowl and pour half the dressing over the top. Massage leaves for about two to three minutes until softened. Add cooked rice, squash, dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds and feta cheese, if using. Mix until combined. Pour desired amount of remaining dressing and mix.

Store leftovers in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

Makes 8 (1 cup) servings.

Nutrition information per serving: Calories 280, total fat 15g, saturated fat 3.5G, cholesterol 10mg, sodium 210mg, total carbohydrates 34g, fiber 2g, total sugars 8g, includes 5g added sugars, protein 5g.

Recipe from: Cami Wells, UNL Extension

Super Fruit Salad

1 (15.25 ounce) can peaches or pears, drained and diced

3 oranges, washed, peeled, sectioned, and cut into thirds

3 apples, washed, cored, and cubed

2 bananas, washed, peeled, and sliced

1 cup low-fat yogurt, any fruit flavor

1 tablespoon honey

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

In a medium bowl, combine prepared fruit. In a small bowl, combine yogurt, honey, cinnamon and ginger. Pour the yogurt mixture over the fruit and mix well. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Makes 14 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: Calories 90, total fat 0g, saturated fat 0g, cholesterol 0mg, sodium 10mg, total carbohydrates 24g, fiber 2g, total sugars 19g, protein 1g.

Recipe from: Cami Wells, UNL Extension

Additional quick add-ins to this coleslaw include: orange slices, shredded carrots, chopped bell peppers, raisins, dried cranberries and/or chopped celery.

Mighty Quick Coleslaw

4 cups shredded cabbage

1 apple, chopped

1/4 cup light or low-fat mayonnaise

1 tablespoon lemon juice or apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon milk (optional)

Rinse produce under cool running water.

Mix together mayonnaise, lemon juice or vinegar and sugar. If desired, mix in a little milk, a teaspoon at a time, to thin dressing.

Combine mayonnaise mixture with cabbage and apple. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes to allow flavors to blend.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information per serving (without optional ingredients): 100 calories, 5g fat, 110mg sodium, 15g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 11g sugar, 1g protein.

Recipe from: Cami Wells, UNL Extension

Terri Hahn of Osceola has worked in food media for more than 30 years and has won numerous state and national awards for her writing. Email her at [email protected].


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