What If I Don't Want to Buy Organic?

When Whole Foods opened up in Roseville recently, I was overjoyed. For me, Whole Foods brought back fond memories of living in the Chicago area, and of finding new and exciting things to eat on my lunch break from Starbucks. Yeah, I know there is one in Sacramento, but I just never found myself taking the time to go. My husband and I decided to do our weekly grocery shopping trip at Whole Foods on week, and realized one thing: there is nothing there that is not organic.
Now, I don't have anything against organic food, or the people that try to eat a fully organic diet. If you want only non-GMO produce and crackers with only whole wheat flour and no high fructose corn syrup, more power to ya (not that I'm a fan of high fructose corn syrup. I feel like I'm having to explain myself a lot here. Hmmm.) I am just saying that I think organic milk tastes funky, and the organic yogurt sat uneaten in the back of my fridge for about three months, after I ate one and decided that a) I don't like stirring my yogurt and b) it tastes just as funky as organic milk. Also, what if I don't want my crackers to have flax seeds in them, and what if I want my tampons to have applicators? I'm aware that tampons are not food, but that was just one more grievance that I had after taking a look in the soup aisle and realizing that I wasn't going to be finding any soup for my lunch that was going to cost under $3.

For all my ranting, though, checking Whole Foods out is definitely worth it. The first time we walked into Whole Foods (not for groceries, but for the experience) was pretty neat. Their selection of cheese is amazing, even though some of it looked questionable. We were impressed by the fact that they roast their own coffee daily, and there is also an area where you can put together your own customized trail mix.

The best part happened in the bakery, though. We were standing by all of the desserts, and we must have been drooling because the guy behind the counter offerred us a sample of whatever we wanted, and a sizeable one, too.

I don't think that we will ever shop for our groceries at Whole Foods again, though. I think Safeway has found the right balance for organic shoppers, offereing a decent selection of organic foods with everyday items. Trips to Whole Foods will probably be reserved for getting free dessert samples and experimenting with different cheeses and wines.
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Rice and Beans

When I lived at home with my family before coming to Sacramento State, my dad would sometimes make my siblings and I his "specialty" of rice and beans. Believe me, I was skeptical on this "creation" but when I tried it, I was hooked!

Now that I'm living away from home, having tasty meals in my tummy is definitely not easy. Making dinner from scratch is not my area of expertise, so when I want to make something quick and yummy after a long day of school, I think of rice and beans.

All you need is white rice, a can of beans (I use Stagg Chili steak house reserve chili with beans, which includes beef with green chilies), and a can of corn (I use Green Giant Niblets). You can use any type of beans you like, but if you decide to use the Stagg Chili, you can purchase it at Costco. The Stagg Chili I use is great because it's a little spicy. You can probably find this brand of chili at your local grocery store as well.

Just cook the rice, heat up the beans and corn, mix it all together, and you've got one easy, delicious meal. Enjoy!
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When we think of floats, the one that most likely comes to mind is the root beer float. But if you get creative, a float can be made out of pretty much any combination of soda and ice cream. For instance, this Valentine's Day my husband made me a very Valentine themed float.
For each float, he filled the glass half-way with vanilla ice cream, added some sliced strawberries, and then topped it off with some fruit punch
flavored soda. The ones pictured are ones I made later, because it was the gift that kept on giving.

The possibilities for floats are endless, though, because of the variety of flavored soda available. Those watching their calories can also substitute the ice cream for yogurt or even sherbet, and the soda for diet soda. Her are some ideas to start with:

  • Lime sherbet and sprite
  • Orange soda and sprite or cream soda
  • Cherry cola and chocolate ice cream

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Chai Cider

As my final post of the semester, I thought I'd share a drink that my husband created that is good for chilly days.
It requires one mug of apple juice, heated up in the microwave for a minute, and a chai tea bag.

Heat the juice, and add the tea bag, steeping it for however long you like steeping your tea. What you are left with can be described as a spiced cider with a hint of black tea. Delicious!

I've enjoyed sharing my love of food with you guys this semester, and have a great winter break!
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Holiday Flavored Yogurt

I was grocery shopping on Tuesday night, and I was in the yogurt area when I noticed something new: Lucerne's Holiday Edition yogurt in Caramel Apple, Gingerbread, and Pumpkin Pie. For you, the reader, I have sacrificed my taste buds and tasted the Gingerbread and Pumpkin Pie flavors.
When I say sacrificed, I mean that hopefully you read this and don't waste your money on them.

The Pumpkin Pie was okay. It definitely tasted like pumpkin pie, but the texture was all wrong. Besides, where was the crust and whipped cream?

But nothing could have prepared me for the Gingerbread. Usually I don't mind things that are gingerbread flavored. I love gingerbread men, and I jump for joy when Starbucks starts selling Gingerbread Lattes during the holidays. Whereas Starbucks has created a delicious beverage with artificial flavoring (and I'm not being biased because I work there), the combination of gingerbread flavoring and yogurt is all wrong.

At first I thought that eating the yogurt at 4 a.m. had something to do with it (I'm usually pretty cranky when I have to work that early) but then I realized why I threw it out after only a few spoonfuls. Yogurt is only good when it is flavored with either fruit, chocolate or vanilla. The pumpkin pie flavored one was okay, but that is because it had pumpkin listed on the ingredients, which is a vegetable, which can be lumped into the fruit/vegetable category.

Regardless, you should thank me for taking one for the team for you, the darling reader.
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Gingerbread Houses

So, I know that this blog is all about healthy eating and quick and easy recipes, but there is one family tradition that I have to share that involves frosting, lots and lots of candy, and more frosting. Every year, we get together and assemble gingerbread houses that range from ginger shanties to ginger mansions, and have a total blast doing it.

To make them, the first thing you need is a group of people. This year, we had seven, but four or more is usually good. The foundation for the houses are pint-sized cartons, and the ones that we use are for single servings of orange juice. Target carries six packs, and we either drink the juice or dump it into a pitcher for later.

We use graham crackers for the walls and roof of the houses, and frosting to bind things together and stick the candy onto the houses. There is no specific way that these have to be assembled, just use your imagination.

Here is a list of different type of candy that can be used:

  • M&M's
  • licorice
  • gum drops
  • gummy bears
  • gummy worms
  • candy canes
  • animal crackers
  • peppermints
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Why Go Out for Frozen Yogurt

We raved about places like Big Spoon Yogurt in the past, but sometimes creating frozen yogurt concoctions in the confines of your own home can be great too. This can happen easily if you plan ahead during your next grocery trip, or make a quick trip to the store on the way home from school or work.
For the frozen yogurt pictured, all I did was pick up a pint container of frozen yogurt and some fresh raspberries. I topped the yogurt with the raspberries and some mixed berry jelly that I already had in my fridge.
The possibilities really are endless when it comes to what you can top your yogurt with, whether it is candy or fruit.
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