Saturday, September 29, 2012

FREE 4x6 photos at Target & other deals

Some new coupons have appeared on Target's website. Remember, you can print 2 per computer.

There is a $5 off with the purchase of 50 4x6 coupon. 4x6 prints are normally 10 cents each. If so, then you get 50 4x6 prints for free.

Some other good coupons include:

Buy one get one free Stride gum single packs.

$1 off the purchase of 4 Market Pantry frozen vegetables. I frequently see them go on sale 2 for $1 etc...

$5 off select photo gift item. Could make for a nice Christmas present.

Click HERE to go to their coupon section.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Garden Status 9/28: I joined a community garden yay!

My little apartment garden has not been doing very good. I did not plan it very well when deciding what to grow. Peppers, tomatoes, and watermelon need lots of space and deep ground to grow a large root system in order to produce lots of fruit. Thus why none of them have been doing very good in my small 11 gallon storage bin planters.

So when I got a call from Kay at the San Jacinto Community garden here in Galveston I jumped on it right away. I was VERY lucky that two plots were now available. I took both of them. It only cost me a $10 yearly membership to the San Jacinto neighborhood. This garden is only 12 minutes away form me and its on the way to drop my husband off at work, so it is very convenient. Now that I have a place to grow my veggies, I'm only going to grow herbs and flowers at my apartment.

San Jacinto Community Garden entrance. I like how it is gated and you need a key to get in. Therefore I feel safe if I'm all alone in there. Nice that it is private.

Established 1999.

Picnic tables shaded by different vines such as wisteria. I've never seen wisteria before so I was amazed.

I think this is 1 of 8 historic water fountains that are left out of the hundreds that were built way back when, here in Galveston.
Asparagus!!! I've never seen the asparagus plant before. There are several of these around the garden. They are huge. In the spring these plants send up asparagus shoots which are cut and ready to eat. It takes very mature plants to produce asparagus. Again, I was amazed.

Someone was growing corn in their plot. I didn't know corn could be grown in our hot, humid, zone.

Our personal garden shed. Its filled with every kind of garden tool you will need. Which was so awesome since I don't own any. Now I don't have to spend tons of money buying tools. There is also a compost bin (black box lower right corner), which everyone contributes and uses. I've never composted before so I'm definitely adding my part to it.
This is a sesame plant which produces sesame seeds! I've never seen this before. When those pods turn brown the seeds are ready to eat or cook with. This plant is about 3 foot tall and doesn't take up very much space. I took a pod so I could grow it in my apartment garden. Now I'm inspired to try and grow fennel and anise from the seeds I had to buy to make the sausage I posted about.
We also have several citrus trees like oranges and grapefruit, that we all share. This is grapefruit.
This one still needs to ripen a bit. I was taking a photo of it and it just fell off the I took it home. I'm embarrassed to say that I cant ever remember eating grapefruit before. I tend to stay away from sour tasting things. But now that I'm trying to eat healthier I'm going to give it a try.
My faithful garden companion, Mia the Yorkshire Terrier. We can bring dogs if they stay on a leash...We were alone and Mia is such a shy dog that she never goes too far from me. She is very quiet and tame, unlike my other dog Eli.

Last week I amended the soil and started planting my first plot. I transferred my peppers there but I threw out that straggly looking super sweet 100 tomato I had growing at my apartment, and the watermelon is not going there either because it has some kind of disease. I've gone so far as to spray the tomato and watermelon with commercial heavy duty antibacterial/fungicide/insect killer and none of it seems to work. I didn't want to bring diseased stuff into the community garden and spread it around.

My first plot. I love that whoever had it before me added the cement blocks. Helps keep things separated and added height so I could fill the plot with lots of compost and peat moss to help lighten the sandy soil we have here on the island. Also every plot has its own spigot and water hose.
There are 3 california giant sweet peppers, a patio tomato, lavender, ruby perfection red cabbage, and broccoli "packman" hybrid...urgh it was a hybrid, oh well. Along the right side I tried to make a straight row that has danviers half long and chantenay carrot varieties separated by a row of a mix of red and white onions. Then I sprinkled the entire plot with a loose leaf lettuce blend, which I hope will grow quickly and crowd out the weeds and act like a living mulch. The cinder block holes have been planted with different herb and flower seeds known to attract beneficial insects and keep the bad ones away.
Lavender and Patio Tomato. I've never had luck growing lavender. I definitely gave it good drainage this time. I also sprinkled the entire bed with an eggshell and used ground coffee mixture. The eggshells deter slugs and the strong smell of the coffee deters many types of bugs too.

I tried very hard not to disturb the roots of my sweet peppers when I took them out of the planter from my apartment and planted them here. As I lifted the whole thing out, it all fell they are in shock right now. Two of them look like they will recover, the other doesn't look so good. And they were all chock full of growing peppers...I hope I can still harvest them.
KALE!!!! So healthy and so much I can do with it. I bought two of these for $2 each from the 70% off sale at the Houston Garden Centers. They were in 9 inch pots and ready to start harvesting the lower leaves. You must harvest frequently to promote new leave growth. Also, the baby leaves taste better than the larger ones. This was like instant gratification because I can harvest something while I wait for everything else to grow.
This is my second plot. I need to weed it and amend the soil before I grow anything. I'm taking my time with it though. Everything I want to plant here is currently growing in seed trays and wont be ready for at least a month or so. I plan on planting zucchini, super sweet 100 tomatoes, spinach, swiss chard, baby bok choi, butternut squash, and various lettuces to name a few. They have some huge metal towers that I can use to grow the tomatoes and squash up on and save garden space.
 Also seen in the background of the photo above, is a chicken coop. Fresh eggs are laid every morning which we can harvest. I have not don't this yet because I'm not sure of the procedure.

As you can tell I was very happy to see lots of vegetables and fruit plants that I've never seen before. This stressed to me the big disconnect people have to where their food comes from. I'm so glad for the opportunity to grow fresh, natural, and organic produce.

Here on Galveston we don't have many options when it comes to organic foods. The nearest Whole Foods and Trader Joes is over 1 hour away. Also, the local grocery stores seem to be overpriced in my opinion. Anyways, its so much fun to grow your own produce and then get to eat it.

Differences in saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats in various oils

My friend shared this chart with me that I find rather nifty when deciding what kind of oils to use in your cooking and diet.

Saturated fats are BAD

Monounsaturated fats are OK

Polyunsaturated fats are GREAT

Also trans fats are horribly bad for your body. This chart doesn't show trans fat on it, but you can read that on any label on your food products. 

The difference between them is how they are structured chemically. Saturated are harder to break down by the body than the other two options.

By all means share your health findings with me. I love to learn new stuff. Comment or send me a message any time.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Quinoa Waffles & How to Make Breakfast Healthier

I fell into this by accident. I was trying to buy the grain version of quinoa on, because its way cheaper buying it online than in my local stores. But somehow, I didnt pay attention to what I was buying.

Finally my package arrived, and I excitedly opened it. I was planning on making quinoa stir fry later that day. Then to my horror I noticed I bought qunioa flour, not the grain....

I had no clue what to do with it. Searching online for recipes yielded nothing interesting. Plus, many people commentated that this type of flour has a bitter taste to it if you don't use it carefully. Great.

Anyways, I'm not one to let things go to waste so I decided to try this quinoa waffle recipe I found on It came from a book called "Recipes for Food Allergies" by Marilyn Gioannini.

 Quinoa is a great grain and flour substitute because it is gluten free. This is important for people with diabetes. For me its important because it means I wont have a sugar rush and then an energy crash an hour later. Why this happens is explained at the bottom of this post.

Follow this recipe EXACTLY. I thought it was weird adding shredded apples and fruit juice to my waffle batter, but this is important to mask that bitter taste quinoa can have.

3/4 cup quinoa flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 dash salt
1/2 cup apple juice or 1/2 cup prune juice or 1/2 cup non-dairy milk substitute
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon honey (optional)
1 small apple, grated (about 3/4 cup)
1 egg (optional)
This recipe makes about 2 large waffles on a standard waffle maker.
Mix the quinoa flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt to incorporate it all together.
Mix the fruit juice of your choice, vegetable oil, and honey together and microwave for 30 seconds so everything mixes well. I used coconut oil instead which is a healthier type of oil.

Now add the fruit juice mixture and the grated apple to the quinoa flour mixture. Mix very well. Then add the fruit juice, oil, and honey mixture.

Cook them in a waffle iron.

I served my waffles with some eggs and my homemade sausage I made yesterday. This combination yields a gluten free waffle with some good protein.

The only issue I had was what to top my waffles with. Syrup is full of sugar, and I wanted to keep my breakfast gluten free...I was not prepared. Unfortunately, I topped it off with a caramelized brown sugar, syrup, and banana mixture. Just add some brown sugar and syrup into a small sauce pan and heat it up on low. Add in sliced bananas and cook slowly until everything is smooth and caramelized. Sorry I didn't measure things, but its so easy to make.
Hey, this is still healthier than traditional waffles! Plus I had to make this taste so yummy that my husband would eat it. Now that I think of it, I probably could have used honey instead of the syrup. Duh! Or maybe I could have just used honey and bananas alone. Anyways, I was trying to make it sweet so my husband would like it. He is not a fan of healthy eating, but he says if it tastes good he will eat anything.

I loved the waffles. Tasted great to me. My husband however is quite another story. He has very particular tastes buds. He said it didn't taste like waffles...ok. Waffles to me don't really have a taste besides being starchy. The texture was fine. They weren't extremely light and fluffy, but they were not densely gross either. 
I thought they made a great substitute for traditional waffles. Or maybe my taste buds have been burned off due to how much coffee and hot tea I drink every day. So for those of you who are not so picky, I'm sure you will love this recipe too. I know I will be making them again, even if its just for myself.

The original website I got the recipe from can be found HERE
Why sugary and high glycemic type carbs during breakfast, gives you an afternoon energy slump
I hate eating sugary and carbohydrate full breakfasts. Most traditional breakfast items like cereals, instant oatmeals, breads, muffins, pancakes, waffles, etc...are overloaded with this stuff and overly processed. These types of carbs have what is called a high glycemic index. This means they promote a rapid increase of sugar into your blood stream. Your body reacts by releasing insulin like crazy to bring your blood sugar levels back to normal. This entire process takes a lot of energy and your left feeling tired shortly after. I used to get an afternoon slump everyday, now I don't and I have constant energy levels.
Oh, and why gluten free? Gluten eventually gets processed down in your body to a form of sugar which is a high glycemic type of carb. Thus why a healthy diabetic diet avoids gluten. I'm not diabetic, but I am trying to cut as much sugar from my diet as possible. Plus research came out that showed too much sugar is akin to a poison in your body. It causes tons of diseases so its best to avoid it. That is hard for me because I have a huge sweet tooth, so I'm learning ways to substitute it for healthier options.
For example, I got rid of sugar in my coffee too by using stevia extract. The cheapest place to buy it is from I bought the VitaCost brand stevia extract for $11. Stevia is super sweet. A few drops are just as sweet as an entire spoonful of sugar. Plus, since its not sugar, it doesn't affect your blood sugar levels.

Why cereal and instant oatmeals are bad for you:
Yes they are very convenient and quick breakfast items buts they are so processed and devoid of naturally occurring vitamins, fiber, minerals etc...Instant oatmeals are made instant by removing the harder outer layers of the oat berry/bran (whatever its called), so that it will cook faster. By doing this, everything that is nutritious about the oatmeal has been removed. And they add tons of sugar and artificial ingredients to make it tasty.
I'm not saying all are bad. I buy Mom's Best Naturals brand cereal because it is all natural, low in sugars, retained its fiber content, and has no more than 10 ingredients all of which I can pronounce and know that they are natural. Plus this brand is one of the cheapest healthy cereals you can get. I know a 24 oz box of the frosted wheats is like $2.58 at Walmart.There are tons of other cereals out there. Just read the labels and pick out something that is more natural and less processed.

I love oatmeal too. But I make it myself and I only use steel cut oats because the outer layers have not been stripped off. It takes a long time to cook steal cut oats. The best way to cook them is overnight in a crock pot. Add cinnamon, stevia granules or extract for sweetness, and diced fruit such as apples, and you have a very nutritious breakfast option ready for you when you wake up. I make tons of this stuff and freeze them in individual sized containers. Heat them up in your microwave for a healthier instant breakfast option.
This is the recipe I use for overnight steel cut oats, except now I use the stevia extract instead of brown sugar. Click HERE.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

$2 off Johnsonville Sausage Coupon = Great Deal

Ok, ok, my previous post explained how to make homemade sausage and that I will never buy store bought again...

Its true, but I cant pass up a good deal either....

Get the $2 off Johnsonville Sausage coupon by clicking HERE. Remember you can print 2 coupons per computer. Just hit the refresh button and print again.

This is a very high value coupon that does not come around often, so stock up!

I think these run for around $3.99 or more depending if there is a sale.

Saving Money on Pork: buying at its rock bottom price and what to do with it.

It is very hard to find coupons towards meat, so your best bet is to buy a TON of it when it goes on sale.

Just like my previous post about the $0.99 per pound chicken breast, and all the wonderful things you can do with it- I now present to you how to do the same with pork.

Pork loin chops is a cheap cut of meat that frequently goes on sale for $0.99 per pound. Today I bought 3 huge packs totaling around 10 pounds, for $11.

Many of the chops I kept as is to be cooked into pork chops as the usual. I wrapped 2 of them in plastic wrap and put them in freezer bags. I did this to half of my pork chop bounty and ended up with 5 bags.

The other half of my pork chops were the kinda ugly ones. In these bulk packs of cheap pork chops, some of them were too long and had the bone part right in the middle which doesn't make for pretty grilled pork chop.

Left: ugly pork chop with bone in the center. Right: Pretty round pork chop with bone on the outside.
 So the ugly ones were aside and de-boned them for other uses. It is easy to de-bone, just follow around the bone with a very sharp knife.

Here are the many things I could do with the de-boned version of the pork chops:

Slice them up tenderloin style for faster cooking.

Pound them thin for extra fast cooking, stuffing them, or stuffing them into roll formation style.

Slice them up tenderloin style to imitate boneless ribs and BBQ them.

Keep the meat as is and throw it into your crock pot for shredded beef, sloppy joes, or chunky soup.

Pre-season the meat before you pack it into freezer bags. Try a seasoning blends inspired by different countries to get a lot of variety so you wont get bored eating so much pork.

Seasoned with soy sauce for some Asian flavor.
Grind the meat in your blender or general food processor for burgers and pasta sauces. You do not need a special meat grinder if you have a decent blender or food processor. I use a Ninja blender. Don't trim the fat off the pork pieces if you decide to grind it. You need some kind of fat to hold it together. My pieces were not very fatty anyways.

Don't forget those pork bones! Make some pork stock which is delicious for soups. I think pork stock goes better with Asian type cuisine (wonton soup, etc...), than chicken stock. Just my preference.

OR- you can make something extra special and delicious you will never buy the store bought version again, and so incredible easy to make it will astound you. Sausage. Lots of perfectly flavored, fresh sausage. And since you ground the meat yourself you know exactly what is in it. No preservatives, artificial flavors, fillers, or slimes.

 My favorite is Italian style. So I used this recipe I found from Emeril called "Homemade Mild Italian Sausage". Click HERE to go to the recipe. You can find recipes for sweet or spicy Italian sausage too.

Note: if your recipe calls for the use of ground fennel or anise seeds DO NOT SKIP IT! I didn't have this stuff in my pantry because I never cooked with it before. I almost decided to just not add it. But you must use it when making sausage. It is what makes sausage, sausage...and gives it that sausage flavor. Now that I have these spices in my pantry they will definitely get used as I turn some portion of every future bulk meat purchase into sausage. Like Chicken sausage for example. And the aroma when cooking with these spices is just heavenly.

Oh yea, and Emeril's recipe calls for toasted fennel seeds. Just put 1.5 tsp of fennel seeds into a small pan and heat it up until it gets aromatic and a light brown toasty color. It took like 2 minutes. Let it cool before you add it to the pork. I ground my toasted fennel seeds and the anise seeds in a simple mortar and pestle because I prefer it ground instead of getting seed chunks in my sausage. Just saying.

Anyways, you don't need special equipment besides your blender/food processor and your hands. It took me less than 20 minutes to convert the last 3 pounds of pork into 3 more sandwich size freezer bags worth of sausage. Make sure you sanitize everything before and after making sausage.

Two of these sausage portions was wrapped in plastic wrap and put into freezer bags. The other portion I rolled into many tiny meatballs for easy addition into soups. You could also make patties for breakfast. When making balls or patties, shape them first, then lay them out on a plat so that they are not touching. Then freeze them individually before putting them in freezer bags.

And don't forget- before you package the sausage away or cook it, make a few small patties and cook them up so you can taste it. Then adjust it to your liking. It sucks making a whole batch of sausage and thinking its well flavored, and then you cook it to find out its not.

I didn't have to add anything else to my sausage after following Emeril's recipe. My trial patties were so juicy too! The flavor was so perfectly balanced and savory. I don't know how to describe it besides "clear and clean", uninterrupted sausage flavor.