There is a common misnomer surrounding healthy eating: it is expensive and time-consuming. Grocery shopping and cooking are made out to be daunting tasks, and consequently, many people opt for processed, frozen, or take-away for a quick and easy meal. The truth of the matter is… eating healthy is SIMPLE, and leaves you feeling (and looking!) great. There are plenty of options at the grocery store that are economical and reasonable; not to mention, by choosing the right foods, you can finish your meal with a full, satisfied stomach, no sugar cravings, and lots of leftovers. As a young adult on a budget, I have learned to become creative and thrifty in my food choices and recipe creations. Some of the most helpful things I have learned are:
- Find a few healthy fruit and vegetables that you love and make them your staples. Then, begin to mismatch and combine these foods to create new flavors. See what works for you and what doesn’t.
- Once you know what you like – try something similar, but new, so that you won’t get bored of what you are buying and tasting. (For example, I love pineapple as a sweet treat, but recently began buying mango, and now it is one of my favorite fruits! I also love blueberries in oatmeal, but recently converted to blackberries, and they are such a yummy alternative). Keep expanding your palette as you go, and pretty soon, you will be eating the rainbow.
- Look into incorporating eggs, sweet potatoes/potatoes (and other starchy vegetables), kale/spinach, broccoli/cauliflower, bananas, apples, beans, brown rice, quinoa, and oats into your diet. They are low-cost and pack a huge nutritional punch.
- Avoid the pre-chopped fruits and vegetables. Chop them yourself.
- Trader Joe’s is your friend!
- There are frequent sales at Whole Foods. Follow your local store on Instagram to peruse the options. You can also download the Whole Foods app on your phone and receive free coupons and other bonuses.
These rules have greatly helped me to maintain a nutritional diet. Following them, I have created one of my favorite staple meals: a spicy loaded sweet potato. This recipe is so simple, economical, filling, and FUN to continue to change around. You can incorporate it into your next Meatless Monday or serve it to your friends and family. I promise you won’t be disappointed!
For the sweet potato:
- Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with cooking oil. Using a fork or knife, poke holes in the sweet potato.
- Roast for approximately one hour.
For the avocado:
- Chop ½, ¾, or ¼ of the avocado, or however much you prefer. Sprinkle with salt and red chilli pepper flakes.
For the garbanzo beans:
- Buy pre-cooked beans (99 cents at Whole Foods!). Rinse, drain, and dry with paper towel.
- Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with cooking oil.
- Combine beans, one tbsp of olive oil, salt, pepper, chilli powder, cumin, paprika, and chipotle chili powder until each bean is generously coated.
- Roast in oven at 400 degrees for approximately 40 minutes, until slightly browned and crispy.
Combine the sweet potato, avocado, and beans, and season with hot sauce of choice. I used Sriracha and Trader Joe’s Green Pepper sauce. To make this recipe even easier, omit the roasted garbanzo beans and simply use cooked beans of your choice. Enjoy!