Sunday, August 28, 2011

Healthy Low-Cost Lunch

(c) 8/28/11, Kathy Fannon (Click to enlarge.)

Are you looking for low-cost lunch ideas? Here's one!

Caprese Salad, sauteed broccoli with onion and basil, and a Whole Wheat-Honey Quinoa muffin with dried cranberries.

I figure this Sunday-afternoon lunch cost me under $3.00, and almost all of it is from the Holland Farmers Market. (Oh, you know that makes me happy!)

I bought one pound of broccoli from Boeve Farm for $1.50 and used about one third of it. (Fifty cents)

I bought one quart of 4th of July tomatoes for $3.50 from Richard Arnsman, who has a farm in Allegan county. They are the perfect size, and so sweet! (Forty-four cents)

The fresh basil and onion came from John, who runs J and M Farm with his wife, Mary. (And I get to see his lovely granddaughter at the market each week, working with her grandpa!) A box of onions and a huge bunch of fresh basil cost $3.50. (Twenty cents for 1/2 onion and a few cents for a few basil leaves for both plates.)

Fresh mozzarella came from the olive bar at my grocery store and cost about fifty-five cents for one ounce.

Total: $1.74! (Plus a few more cents for the basil leaves)

The Whole Wheat-Honey Quinoa Muffin is way too hard to break down to figure out a cost. But even at $1.00, that would make my entire lunch $2.74!

Eating healthy does not have to be expensive!

Looking at my plates I wondered if it would be enough food; it certainly doesn't look like much. (And most men probably would want more.) But having saved the muffin for last, I almost had to force myself to eat it. I was stuffed!

I feel really good about this meal. I supported my local economy and farmers, my produce is more nutrient dense because it didn't travel across the country and it just tasted fabulous!

Here's a bit of the breakdown in nutrition (percent of RDA):

One cup of steamed broccoli has about: 15% protein, magnesium, iron, manganese and calcium; 20% fiber; 45% vitamin A; Vitamin K at 194% and Vitamin C at 206%, about twice of what is in an orange!

The health benefits of broccoli are cancer prevention, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, digestive, cardiovascular and detox support.

Tomatoes have about: 5% protein, magnesium and iron; 10% fiber and manganese; 20% Vitamin A and Vitamin C at 57%.

The health benefits of tomatoes are lycopene (an anti-oxidant), colon and pancreatic health, cancer fighting, especially when teamed with broccoli, reduces risk of heart disease and can help with migraines and diabetes.

One-half cup of onions have about: 5% fiber and manganese, and 10% Vitamin C!

The health benefits of onions are cardiovascular and anti-inflammatory benefits, bone and connective tissue health, and cancer prevention.

Of course, there are so many more vitamins and minerals than what I've listed here, but I didn't want to bore you too much with the list. If you'd like to read more about what is in these vegetables, The World's Healthiest Foods site is an excellent resource.

My one ounce of mozzarella had about 6 grams (12%) of protein and about 15% calcium.

Basil is an amazing herb! It is a good source of magnesium, which helps with cramping and muscle twitches in the legs, eyes and even the heart! It's also a good source of iron, potassium, calcium and Vitamin C.

The health benefits of basil are DNA protection, anti-inflammatory benefits and cardiovascular health.

Quinoa is known as a 'super food' because it is so nutrient-dense. Quinoa is a gluten-free 'grain', but is actually a seed. 

One-quarter cup of quinoa has about 10% of protein, 8% fiber, 20% of iron and magnesium for the day and nearly 50% of manganese! (I think my muffin has just slightly under one-quarter cup of quinoa in it.)

Some health benefits of quinoa are anti-oxidant protection, cardiovascular benefits, gallstone prevention, migraine help, lowers risk for Type 2 diabetes and general health promotion.

(Read here for more about quinoa.)

I'll refrain from breaking down more of the muffin but it has egg, almond milk, cranberries and whole wheat flour which will add to the protein, fiber, calcium and vitamin and mineral content.

I think this sums up the nutrient value of my healthy lunch! It's just an average, but fairly close to what I actually ate. And there are MANY more vitamins and minerals not mentioned here. (Percent of RDA. )

  • Protein: 42%
  • Fiber: 43%
  • Magnesium: 40%
  • Calcium: 30%
  • Vitamin A: 65%
  • Vitamin C: 273%
  • Vitamin K: 194%
  • Iron: 40%
  • Manganese: 80%

Wow! I knew this lunch was loaded with nutrition, but I had no idea until I wrote this post! I gotta say, those Vitamin C and Vitamin K numbers blow me away. Actually, all of them do! Suddenly I feel stronger and healthier!

Your turn to share. Does this inspire you to add more vegetables to your plate? (I know I'm inspired!) Look at what's in that one little cup of broccoli! Do you think you'll buy some next time you're at the grocery store?

If you're awed and inspired by this post, please be sure to share it with your friends and tell them about me! I would sure appreciate it!

Read my previous post: Oh, That's So Corn-y!