It’s no secret that I have lofty goals for being healthier in 2012, and with one month under our belts, I already felt behind. Oh, New Year’s resolutions, how you torment me. So when one of my favorite stores, Whole Foods Ponce de Leon asked if I wanted to take their Pantry Challenge, I was intrigued. With $50 worth of pantry staples, I set off on a healthy eating adventure, and here’s what happened…
To start the New Year off right, Whole Foods wanted to show that eating healthy can be affordable. By making your choices count, they figured out that all you need to do is pick up their list of pantry staples — that rings up at about 50 bucks — and you’ll be set for healthier meals and a healthier budget. Running the gamut from beans, grains and oats to broth, diced tomatoes and pasta sauce, you’ll be prepared to drive past that drive thru in favor of healthy meals at home. Just add fresh ingredients and spices to have everything you need.
Armed with my pantry staples, I also saw that Whole Living Magazine was charging into 2012 with their fourth-annual Action Plan. An invigorating mind-body detox that will leave you feeling your absolute best as you take on the year ahead. Needless to say, I was inspired.
With a love of food, I have many opportunities to enjoy decadent meals and savory treats, but as much as I wished it were all calorie free and inexpensive… it’s not. Eating healthy food that also tastes delicious seems impossible to many. If it’s good for you to eat, it can’t be good for you to enjoy, right? Guess again. Taking the Whole Foods challenge showed me that I could actually have it all. When you’re eating healthy, you’re feeling healthy. Making these changes helps you do so much – lose weight, feel better, feel energized, clearer skin, stronger bones, live longer, save money…the list goes on and on. So check out some of the food discoveries I’ve made on this journey that are now in the permanent recipe bank. They’re easy to make, affordable and hopefully will inspire you to take the challenge:
I didn’t actually have the cauliflower on hand that the original recipe calls for, so I substituted it for mushrooms and grated a little cheese on top. But the end result was flavorful and almost sinful.
Kale Pesto and Quinoa
This recipe was not only easy to make but had me wiping the blender bowl clean. Just cook the Quinoa as per the directions on the bag. While it’s cooking, add the following to a blender: Kale that’s been boiled in water for about 5 minutes, 2 garlic cloves, a handful of chopped walnuts, a little bit of grated parmesan, salt & pepper, and a few tablespoons of olive oil to bind it. You can also add a little lemon zest for extra kick. Top your Quinoa with the kale pesto and a little more grated parmesan. With the leftover pesto, I made an omelette for breakfast with sautéed mushrooms. Can you say yummy?
This dish was filled with so many different flavors, and was extremely filling. I couldn’t even finish it!
I first saw this posted on Pinterest and thought it looked incredible, so I had to try it. Instead of hummus as the base, I actually created an Italian version with cannelloni beans. Just add the beans, olive oil, lemon zest, garlic clove, fresh parsley (chopped), and salt & pepper in a blender, and voila! The dip was also great paired with Garden of Eatin’ Red Hot Blues and a Gluten & Dairy Free approved snack by Celiac Eats.
Clearly I could keep going, but I think you’ve got a good idea of how much you can do with just the necessary staples and fresh ingredients to match, all on an affordable budget. Now, the fun part – Whole Foods Ponce de Leon and Eat. Drink. Repeat. wants to give one lucky winner a $50 Whole Foods Market® gift card to try their own healthy challenge! Just leave a comment below with what healthy foods are a “must have” in your pantry, and we’ll randomly pick a winner. Make sure to leave your comments by 11:59pm on Friday, February 10th and your contact email in order to be entered to win. A big thank you to Whole Foods Ponce de Leon for sponsoring this challenge. Happy, healthy eating in 2012!