By Megan O. Steintrager, Epicurious.com
Earlier this week, Tanya Steel wrote in the Epi-Log about MyPlate, the USDA's recent remake of the Food Pyramid. She commented that the revamp leaves off important dietary words such as "lean," as in "lean protein," and "low-fat" as in "low-fat dairy." In response to the post, Meg140 wrote in the comments section: "Lean meat is great. And expensive. Fresh vegetables are great. And expensive. And not always available. Extra virgin olive oil on your salad is great. And more expensive than your standard vegetable oil."
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The commenter brings up a legitimate issue. We've all seen articles about how much cheaper it can be to eat fast food than fresh food, for example. But there are also promising initiatives to make healthy, fresh food more affordable and accessible. Gourmet Live's Kelly Senyei -- who recently wrote about how "extreme couponing" can lead to unhealthy eating -- just sent me an article from Crain's about New York City farmers' markets offering food stamp bonuses. "Through the city's 'Health Bucks' program, shoppers using food stamps will receive $2 in coupons for every $5 they spend on fresh produce at participating farmers markets," the article explains.
As for me, while I have healthy splurges such as wild salmon or grass-fed meat from the farmers' market, I frequently put together cheap healthy meals built around inexpensive ingredients like beans and other legumes, vegetables (fresh or frozen), and whole-wheat pasta or a whole grain such as bulgur. I don't miss expensive meat when I have a robust, fiber- and protein-rich bean-based salad such as Bulgur, Garbanzo Bean, and Cucumber Salad or the Lentil Salad with Tomato and Dill pictured above.
What about you? Do you find you have to spend a lot of money to eat well? What are your favorite expensive healthy meals and your favorite inexpensive ones? Share them in the comments section below.
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Photo: Romulo Yanes