Healthy on a Budget: Go Green!

 
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Last week was the start of increased funds to SNAP participants through the upgraded Thrifty Food Plan. As you recall, SNAP recipients will now receive an additional $36.24 per month, $1.19 per day or about $8.45 per week. Most people spend double that amount in a daily cup of coffee and don’t think twice about it.

In order to make that money s t r e t c h, consumers need to be cost-conscious and nutrition savvy. One way to do that is to use frozen or canned vegetables.

Frozen vegetables are a great option to help stay within a budget. Frozen broccoli cuts, chopped spinach, peas, mixed vegetables and chopped peppers and onions are versatile, affordable varieties to keep on hand. Aldi and other discount grocers offer frozen vegetables for under $1.00 a bag.

Canned tomatoes and beans can help increase vegetable intake when funds are limited, too. Tomatoes come in multiple varieties including crushed, diced, stewed, and whole tomatoes. They’re excellent in soup. Keep reading for an example!

Veg IN:

Fruits and vegetables are still sadly lacking in most Americans diets. According to the CDC, 9 out of 10 Americans don’t meet their daily needs for these two important food groups.

Eating vegetables more regularly has been linked with many health benefits including reduction in risk for diabetes, heart disease and cancer. A recent study published in Aging Mental Health found a link between fruit and vegetable intake and improved physical as well as cognitive health in older populations.

A study done in 11 European countries on 22,635 older adults included diet questions and self-rated surveys on health, grip strength, activities of daily living, mobility, depression, short-term memory, long-term memory and quality of life. Results showed that frequent consumption of fruits and vegetables was associated with higher scores on the self-rated questionnaires related to these health outcomes. 2

One of my favorite ways to use frozen and canned and frozen vegetables is in a recipe I call “pizza soup”. With the weather getting cooler, it’s a simple way to stay warm and get more veggies (and beans) in your diet. It also takes minimum ‘thyme’ to make.

Pizza Soup:

1 Tbsp. canola or olive oil
1/2 white or yellow onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced or ¼ tsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
1 Tbsp. dried basil
6 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes, do not drain
2 (15 oz) cans navy or Great northern beans (drained and rinsed)
1 (10 oz) box chopped frozen spinach
Shredded parmesan or mozzarella cheese (optional)

1. In a large soup pot, heat the canola oil to medium heat, then sautee the onions, garlic and spices in oil for 3 to 5 minutes or until the onions are translucent.
2. Reduce the heat to low and add broth, tomatoes, beans and spinach and continue to simmer on low heat for 20 to 25 minutes.
3. Serve with shredded Parmesan or mozzarella cheese and your favorite crusty bread.

Makes 8 servings.

By Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD

Printable PDF Handout: Fruits and Vegetables

References:

  1. Only 1 in 10 Adults Get Enough Fruits or Vegetables | CDC Online Newsroom | CDC
  2.  Gehlich KH, Beller J, Lange-Asschenfeldt B, Köcher W, Meinke MC, Lademann J. Consumption of fruits and vegetables: improved physical health, mental health, physical functioning and cognitive health in older adults from 11 European countries. Aging Ment Health. 2020 Apr;24(4):634-641

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