Sunday, January 24, 2010

Eat Simpler, Save Money 3

My menu plan...

What I eat for breakfast:

1/2c uncooked old fashioned oatmeal **
1/2 to 3/4 of an apple, chopped
3 raw walnuts, broken into bits
4 raw almonds
1/8c raisins
tsp raw honey
tsp raw sunflower seeds
2tbs ground flax seeds
8oz yogurt or soy/nut/rice/oat milk

** I eat the oatmeal raw; I like the taste and texture just fine this way. Feel free to cook yours if you'd like. Sometimes I change the recipe by exchanging the raw oatmeal with 1/2c steel cut Irish oatmeal. Soak the steel cut oats overnight in water (pour off any excess liquid before eating) and you won't need to buy the yogurt or 'milk'. Other times I exchange the chopped apple for sliced banana.

I reuse small ziplock baggies that I fill once a week with my dry breakfast mixture. On a weekday morning I simply put some chopped apple in a bowl, sprinkle my dry mixture over the top, add the yogurt or fake milk, mix, then drizzle some honey on top.

Using raw, old fashioned oatmeal reminds me of cold cereal with milk. If I use the soaked raw steel cut oats then it has a coarser texture reminding me of slow cooked oatmeal. I eat these at room temperature but you could gently warm the soaked steel cut oats in the microwave then add the dry mixture, apple and honey. You could also choose to cook the old fashioned oats then stir in your favorite ingredients. Jeff doesn't like honey so instead he adds some real maple syrup to his.

For snacks:

* apple slices with nut butter
* orange with a palm full of mixed raw nuts
* banana sliced and mixed in a bowl with sunflower seeds and raisins

For lunch:

A huge salad with lots of different fresh vegetables, sliced avocado, nuts, seeds, raisins, some chopped apple, sprouts of any kind, a tbs of cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil, and a sprinkle of some nutritional yeast flakes on top for some added flavor. Sometimes I add some soaked, raw lentils too. Get creative and you'll never be bored with salad.

For those of you who cook, you could eat salad for lunch and cook the vegetables in a stir fry or make a soup from them for dinner.

For dinner:

A green smoothie. I vary what I put in it depending on what I've bought that week. One week will include some broccoli, kale, apple, celery and carrot blended with water and the next week will be completely different. Google 'green smoothie recipe' and you'll find lots of variations.

Occasionally I actually take the time to make a recipe instead of simply eating a salad. My favorite raw recipes (surprisingly good and fun like a little science experiment) can be found in:

- The Complete Book of Raw Food by Julie Rodwell (if you buy only one 'raw' book, get this one)

- The Raw Food Gourmet by Gabrielle Chavez

Get creative and have a little fun with your food! There's no end to the way you could use the items on my food list while keeping meals quick, simple, tasty and inexpensive.

Eat Simpler, Save Money 2

On my blog entry titled "Eat Simpler, Save Money" I listed a sample of my monthly food shopping list. I explained how I eat healthy, home prepared meals and feel very satisfied while spending only about $4.50 a day per person.

To spend that amount, I changed the way that I interacted about food. I now eat only when I'm hungry and I stop eating before I'm full. I never feel hunger pangs or a drop in energy level because I eat 4 to 6 small meals instead of the traditional 3 large ones. I also carry a snack with me everywhere so that I don't spend unnecessarily on unhealthy, expensive impulse buys when I feel the need for a snack.

Most people don't want to eat like I do and I'm definitely not trying to convince anyone to change. Grant left a question under the comment section of my previous "Eat Simpler" blog entry this past week. He asked what sorts of dishes I prepare using the very simple ingredients listed, so I'm posting the answer as a new entry.

Like many other people here in the U.S., I was raised eating mostly processed foods, when I moved out of my parent's home I almost always ate out because I didn't know how to cook well (I took shop classes in school instead of home economics), then I learned how to cook but found that I didn't enjoy spending time in the kitchen. Now I'm mostly a raw vegan. About once a month I'll eat out and have some sashimi (raw fish). Sometimes I'll eat something with dairy or a bit of chocolate but will pay the price later because these are two foods that give me nasty allergic reactions.

I've been trying my best to eat raw vegan for about 2 years because of my food allergies. Since this change in eating, I enjoy spending less time in the kitchen, I feel more energetic, my skin is clearer, my allergies have disappeared, and surprisingly I also lost weight and am now at 120 lbs (just 5 lbs above my high school weight - finally losing 20 pounds of pregnancy weight that I gained 17 years ago).

The taste of a ripe piece of fruit, or a salad with everything in it (instead of just iceberg lettuce and some tomato smothered with pre-made dressing), became absolutely amazing once I stopped eating processed foods!

For the answer to Grant's question about what I do with the food I buy see my next post, "Eat Simpler, Save Money 3".

Sunday, January 10, 2010

"So... how is living in the tiny house going?"

Our friends occasionally ask us, as if they expect the worst, "So... how is living in the tiny house going?"

The two of us have a total of about 120 sq feet of living space, not including the sleeping loft. The space is mostly open so when we are both here, the only way to get away from the other is to go for a walk, or use the restroom for a while. And yet, living in this small space doesn't seem to be causing us the friction that everyone expects.

So, just for fun, we thought we would address this issue in a post written by both of us.

Arlene: Last year I said that I wanted to drastically downsize so that we could get our living expenses as low as absolutely possible while Jeff is in school so I'd suggested that we get a studio apartment while in Seattle (I'd not yet heard of tiny houses).

Jeff: I said I couldn't live in a space that small.

Arlene: Yet we live in a space less than a third of that size now. I think that part of the draw to living in our tiny cottage is that we built it. It truly is a custom home that serves our needs so it doesn't feel small.

Jeff: We've joked for years that we do a 'kitchen dance'.

Arlene: This term describes what we've always done in the galley-style kitchens (long and thin with counters on both sides) in the places we've lived together. I'm at the sink.

Jeff: I'm at the stove.

Arlene: Then we change sides as he comes to get a plate from the cabinet while I put something into the frig.

Jeff: Then back again.

Arlene: But we never bump into each other. Now we laugh because it can feel like the 'kitchen dance' extends the length of the cottage sometimes. I imagine that couples who live on boats about our size have the same experience at times too.

Though we laugh at this 'dance', I don't feel stuffed into too small a space and this in no way feels like simply a 'crash pad' either. I have room for stretching out on the settee to read or watch the birds at the feeder outside the window and also have a space to sit and create artwork. We have had a couple of friends over at a time for social engagements and we both get out quite a bit to see performances, travel, attend club meetings and such.

Jeff: Spending less money on rent and utilities means more money available to do things that we enjoy. The tiny house fits our lifestyle and our values. "So... how is living in the tiny house going?"

So far, so good!