So… I went to the grocery store on a mission. If you disregard the fact that I left with a large container of ice cream (on sale, half price!), I did pretty well and I learned a few lessons.
One of the tricks, I’m learning, is to limit shopping as much as possible to the exterior edges of the store. Unless your grocery store is seriously weird, you’ll find that’s where all the fresh or frozen foods can generally be found. It’s where the fruits and vegetables are, it’s where the meat and fish counters can be found (it’s also where the processed meat is in my store, but we’ll discount that little fact), generally you’ll also find cheese, milk, eggs and frozen foods on the outer ring circuit. I was pleased to note about 3/4 of my list came from that section of the store. That alone will cut down on the preservatives consumed by my family.
My first stop, however, was not the grocery store but the local fruit and vegetable stand. We are luckier than many places in that we do have some year round places that specialize in local produce (and, increasingly, in local meats). This time of the year, many of the items in the store are brought in from other place but the prices are good and the food is clearly labeled as to what is local and what is not. It requires a trip past the ever present chips and chocolate shelves, but there is a nice variety of fruits and veggies. I didn’t buy as many as usual because I figured I try for some of the organic fruits at the big grocery store, but I usually come out with two huge bags of produce for less than 20 bucks. Even this time of year the potatoes, onions, pears, apples and tomatoes are still usually local.
After finished at the produce stand, I made my way to the grocery store. I usually just put my head down and get it done as fast as possible but I went in with a more discerning eye this time. My first stop was the produce aisle. I decided to try some organic fruit.
I have always shied away from the organic section because the prices seem so high and it is more important to me to buy local than organic, but the cancer research is touting some benefits of organic foods. The evidence doesn’t suggest an all organic diet is a must, but some common pesticides do contain carcinogens so there are suggestions that choosing some organic and local foods is better. Local foods don’t travel as far so don’t need to be sprayed to the same extent. Making limited organic choices in foods like apples, plums and bell peppers, where the skin is generally consumed, is also recommended.
The advice sounded reasonable to me. I’m not going to break the budget by buying all organic, especially if I am trying to increase the intake of fruits but a few limited choices seems like a good idea. At least that was my plan. There used to be a big organic section at the local Superstore but, apparently, not anymore. The organic fad must be fading. It took two trips around the produce section to find the tiny organic section, now limited to a few types of apples, some unripe pears and lettuce. It was not exactly a cornucopia. I had already bought some local apples, so my organic experience came to a quick end. I was hoping for some plums or grapes. Too bad.
On a positive note… we did have a full vegetarian dinner that everyone enjoyed, except Little Dude but who never eats dinner anyway. We had a veggie stir fry with lentil cheese wedges. Thanks to the consistency of the lentils (similar to a dense bread) I was able to pass off the wedges as cheese bread. Big Dude even asked for seconds… and they made a good cold lunch today for me.
Having no experience with them, I was intimidated by lentils but this was easy and tasty. I hope my British cousin will not mind me posting the recipe…
Lentil and Cheese Wedges
8oz (225g) red lentils
3/4 pint (450 ml) water
1 large onion
1 oz (25g) butter
4 oz (100g) grated cheddar cheese
1 tsp (5ml) mixed herbs
1 oz (25g) wholemeal bread crumbs
salt and pepper to taste
- Cook the lentils in measured water until soft and all the liquid has been absorbed (about 15 minutes – I just followed the instructions on the package). I find leaving a little water is good, it will prevent the final product from being dry.
- Chop onion.
- Melt the butter in a frying pan. Add onions and cook until transparent.
- Mix all the ingredients together and press into a baking pan (9 inch is good, I use a small one which makes the wedges thicker). Bake in the oven (375 degrees) for 30 minutes.
Serve hot or cold. Serves six. (Sorry, the measurements are imperial but I found it worked fine with my kitchen scale and measuring cups that listed both cups and mls)
Overall, I would call the day a success. Dinner was healthy and appreciated by almost everyone (that is a big a feat in my house no matter the ingredients of the meal). I even did well after dinner. I was craving ice cream and wine but opted for a square of dark chocolate (full of good, cancer-fighting antioxidants) and some green tea (some scientists believe a chemical called EGCG could be one of the most powerful anti-cancer compounds ever discovered).
This post is way longer than it should have been so we’ll continue grocery shopping tomorrow…