Tag Archives: healthy

Another Week of Healthful Budget Grocery Shopping!

This week’s grocery shopping included four stops, all costing a total of $56.86! I used the “Dirty Dozen” list to make sure I was buying organic on the most important items, and went as all-natural on the rest of the ingredients as possible.

From Trader Joe’s: $36.93

  • 2 dozen all-natural eggs
  • organic plain yogurt
  • organic baby spinach
  • all-natural mozzarella log
  • local cucumber
  • local yellow squash
  • cauliflower
  • organic broccoli
  • uncured bacon ends and pieces
  • all-natural pork roast
  • organic gold potatoes

From Aldi: $9.72

  • dried cranberries
  • lemons
  • limes
  • cabbage
  • artisan lettuce
  • 3 cans of tuna in water

From Bi-Lo: $4.95

  • egg roll wrappers
  • wonton wrappers

From The Best Asian Market: $5.26

  • daikon root
  • bok choy
  • rice wine vinegar
  • mushrooms

Ideas for this week’s menu:


  • Spinach Bacon Quiche
  • Scrambled Eggs and Homemade Hashbrowns
  • We still have oatmeal, cereal, milk and juice from last week’s grocery shopping
  • I plan on attempting to make some artisan bread for toast and sandwiches as well


  • Leafy Green Salads with all the fixin’s
  • Tuna Salad Sandwiches
  • Hard Boiled Eggs
  • Tomato, Mozzarella, and Basil Salads



  • Yogurt
  • Trail Mix (we have nuts and chocolate, and we’ll add the dried cranberries)
  • cucumber slices
  • Baked Apple Pie Egg Rolls
  • Some kind of dessert using lemons and limes – I haven’t decided yet
  • Fresh lemonade

Turning 30’s Not So Bad…

Dark Chocolate Squares and Pumpkin Walnut Muffins with Golden Flaxseed and Cream Cheese Icing

Today was the end of my 30th year of life! I thought it would be more dramatic, but it really wasn’t. My husband and I both got the day/night off work and he brought me a dozen beautiful yellow roses from the Fresh Market!

Yellow Roses from Bryan

We celebrated with a few couples who are close friends this evening. We had a book exchange (white elephant style…minus the gag gifts) and everyone brought healthful hors d’oeuvres. It was SO much fun! I made little tent cards for people to label their dishes. Here’s a recap of the food:

Hors d'oeuvres Plates and Fun Napkins

Plenty of Organic Coffee!

All Natural and Organic Sparkling Juices

Tent Cards for Labeling Dishes

What a Beautiful, Healthful Array!

Veggies and Hummus

Caprese Skewers on Rosemary Branches

Grapes and Cheese Tray

Mini Turkey and Ham Subs with Creamy Mustard Dill Sauce

And a recap of the guests: Dave & Rachel, Rick & Jan (& baby Andrew), Nate & Leigh, and Bryan & me. Bryan created a great easy listening and light jazz playlist, which really set the mood for a relaxing time with friends. And the book exchange was fun too (though, there wasn’t much stealing, swapping, etc., with such a small crowd).

Dave & Rachel

Rick & Jan (Note: the Coca Cola in this picture is the original recipe with cane sugar instead of corn syrup)

Andrew - the life of the party!

Nathan - sorry, Nate, I couldn't get a serious picture of you. 🙂

Leigh (she's with Nate)

Me & Bryan

Book Exchange - everyone put your books in the middle!

Bryan with his new book - courtesy of Dave

Finally, I’ll close the eve of my 30th birthday with a few favorite quotes I found and picture of me and my man:

“Time and Tide wait for no man, but time always stands still for a woman of thirty” -Robert Frost.

“The longer I live the more beautiful life becomes” -Frank Lloyd Wright.

So happy together...

Cool Resource for Healthful Meal Ideas

I came across this website in my weekly routine of creating a meal plan. It’s created by a Registered Dietitian and has some really great ideas. It’s a good resource for those who are having a hard time coming up with simple meal ideas (especially when you’re on a shoe-string budget). Enjoy!










Recipe: Ham, Bean and Barley Soup

I’ve had a bunch of dried beans in my pantry for ages and have been waiting for the fall to make a great soup. This recipe is healthy, hearty, and homey! And it makes plenty, so invite a crowd! Here’s what I did:

Sneak Peek at Some of the Ingredients


  • 1 cup dried black beans
  • 1 cup dried red beans
  • 1 cup dried northern beans
  • 1 cup dried mung beans
  • 1 cup dried lentils
  • WATER!
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8 cups water
  • 2 # turkey ham, chopped
  • 1 c. uncooked pearl barley


First, I took 1 cup each of the following dried beans: black beans, red beans, northern beans, mung beans (the little green ones), and lentils (the little tan ones). I soaked them overnight in a big pot of water.

Beautiful Beans! I felt like I should be doing some kind of Aztec Art, they were so pretty!

Soaking overnight...

Then this morning, I drained and rinsed the beans, and put the big pot on the stove. I melted one stick of butter and added the salt, pepper, spices, and the chopped onion.

Tip: to finely chop an onion, cut a criss cross pattern without going all the way through, then lay the onion on its side and slice. Makes perfect little squares of onions.

Mmm! Onion cooking in butter...one of the most pleasant aromas on earth!

Once the onion was transluscent, I added the rinsed beans, chopped ham, and 8 cups of water.

I used an 8 quart stockpot.

Bring to a boil on high, then turn down to low and simmer for 1 hour. After the hour, add the barley and cook for another 40-45 minutes.

Be sure to invite a crowd...or be ready to eat this for a very long time!

Serve hot! To reheat, I would suggest adding a little water, bringing it back to a boil, then turning down to low to keep it warm.

If you don't have enough bowls to go around, utilize those tea cups from your grandmother! Enjoy!

Recipe by Melissa McKinnon

Healthful Options to Enjoy at the Upstate Foodie Fest, August 20-29

Local restaurants have teamed up to provide a week of special menus at great rates! Most of the participating restaurants entrées alone cost $30 on their own. For this week only, you can get an appetizer, entrée, and dessert for $30 per person! So, pick an occasion to celebrate and choose a restaurant. Check out individual restaurant websites for directions.

I’ve called each of the participating locations to help you figure out healthful options that allow you to still participate in this cuisine experience! Though not necessary, reservations are encouraged.  For more information and complete menus, visit www.upstatefoodie.com/foodie_fest.


American Grocery Restaurant – www.americangr.com – 232.7665

STARTER: Romaine BLT Salad (request no bacon or bacon on the side)

ENTRÉE: Hot Smoked Sunburst Trout

DESSERT: Buttermilk Pana Cotta with Organic Blueberry Compote is their lightest dessert option; also willing to substitute house made sorbet upon request

FOODIE FEST HOURS: Monday thru Saturday, 5PM until

The Brown Street Club – www.brownstreetclub.com – 250.9193

STARTER: Green Salad or Seared Blackened Tuna

ENTRÉE: Oven Roasted Chicken

DESSERT: still waiting to hear back from

FOODIE FEST HOURS: Tuesday thru Saturday, 5PM until

City Range Steakhouse Grill – www.cityrange.com – 286.9018

STARTER: “Hub City” Caprese Salad or Lemongrass Steamed Mussels

ENTRÉE: Oven Herb Roasted Halibut

DESSERT: will substitute a cup of fruit upon request

FOODIE FEST HOURS: Monday thru Thursday, 4PM-10PM; Friday & Saturday, 4PM-11PM; Sunday, 4PM-9PM.

Devereaux’s – www.devereauxsdining.com – 241-3030

STARTER: Heirloom Tomato Risotto, Tangle of Mixed Greens, or Heirloom Summer Squash Soup

ENTRÉE: Roasted Pheasant or Seared Grouper

DESSERT: Though the chef was not available to confirm, the representative I spoke with believed substituting a cup of fruit or sorbet would be acceptable.

FOODIE FEST HOURS: Tuesday thru Sunday, 5:30PM until

Flat Rock Grille – www.myflatrock.com – 987.9383 or 235.6533

STARTER: Sauteed Calamari or you can substitute a small House Salad (ask for dressing on the side)

ENTRÉE: Dijon Snapper Florentine (baked), Coconut Macadamia Mahi Mahi, or Wasabi Tuna

DESSERT: No healthful options, but they are willing to substitute a cup of coffee

FOODIE FEST HOURS: Monday thru Thursday, 4PM-10PM; Friday & Saturday, 4PM-11PM; Sunday, 4PM-9PM

The Green Room Restaurant & Bar – www.thegreenroomupstate.com – 335.8222

STARTER: House Salad

ENTRÉE: Blackened Trout with Creole Risotto or possibly the Braised Pork Tenderloin

DESSERT: will substitute a cup of fruit upon request

FOODIE FEST HOURS: Monday thru Sunday, 5PM-2AM

High Cotton Maverick Bar & Grill – www.highcottongreenville.com – 335.4200

STARTER: Chilled Heirloom Tomato Soup

ENTRÉE: Roasted Springer Mountain Farms Chicken Breast or North Carolina Mountain Trout

DESSERT: will substitute house sorbet of the day upon request (tonight, they have lemon sorbet available)

FOODIE FEST HOURS: Sunday thru Thursday, 5:30PM-10PM; Friday & Saturday, 5:30PM-11PM

Justin’s Greenville Fine Food and Drink – www.justinssteakhouse.com – 242.0681

STARTER: Shrimp Cocktail

ENTRÉE: Chicken Crepe

DESSERT: will substitute a cup of fruit or sorbet upon request

FOODIE FEST HOURS: Monday thru Thursday, 5PM-10PM; Friday & Saturday, 5PM-11PM

The Lazy Goat – www.thelazygoat.com – 679.5299

STARTER: Toasted Garlic Shrimp, Braised Octopus, or Grilled Calamari

ENTRÉE: Chef’s Featured Fresh Fish or Entrée Salad

DESSERT: will happily substitute a cup of fresh berries upon request

FOODIE FEST HOURS: Monday thru Saturday, 5PM until

P. Simpson’s Hometown Grille – www.psimpsons.com – 757.9691

STARTER: Antipasti Salad in Bibb Lettuce Wrap or Fresh Atlantic Salmon Summer Roll

ENTRÉE: Seared Ahi Tuna Steak

DESSERT: will substitute a fresh fruit cup upon request

FOODIE FEST HOURS: Tuesday thru Saturday, 5PM-10PM

The Peppermill – www.staxs.net – 288.9320

STARTER: Chopped Salad, Mandarin Salad, or possibly Soup du Jour (avoid cream and bisque options)

ENTRÉE: Sauteed Shrimp and Grit Cake or Salmon Luis (entrees served with your choice of potato and fresh vegetables; for potato, avoid loaded and ask for toppings on the side; for vegetables, request steamed or sauteed)

DESSERT: will substitute a fresh fruit cup upon request

FOODIE FEST HOURS: Monday thru Saturday, 5:30PM-10PM

Ruth’s Chris Steak House – www.ruthschris.com – 248.1700

STARTER: Steak House Salad (ask for dressing on the side)

ENTRÉE: Salmon Fillet

DESSERT: will substitute a cup of sorbet upon request

FOODIE FEST HOURS: Sunday thru Thursday, 5PM-10PM; Friday & Saturday, 5PM-11PM

Soby’s New South Cuisine – www.sobys.com – 232.7007

STARTER: Heirloom Tomato Salad or Baby Spinach Salad (request dressing on the side)

ENTRÉE: Soby’s Crab Cakes Remoulade (seared) or Cornmeal Crusted Local Trout (this one is fried, but they will substitute pan-seared upon request)

DESSERT: will substitute a cup of fruit upon request

FOODIE FEST HOURS: Monday thru Thursday, 5:30PM-10PM; Friday & Saturday, 5:30PM-11PM; Sunday, 5PM-9PM.

Stella’s Southern Bistro – www.stellasbistro.com – 757.1212

STARTER: Road Stand Okra & Black Eyed Pea Soup or Local Heirloom Tomato & Bibb Lettuce Salad

ENTRÉE: Low Country Spiced Carolina Classics Catfish (seared)

DESSERT: Though the chef was not available to confirm, the representative I spoke with believed substituting a cup of fruit or sorbet would be acceptable.

FOODIE FEST HOURS: Monday thru Saturday, 5:30PM-10PM


Nantucket Seafood Grill – www.nantucketseafoodgrill.com – 546.3535

STARTER: House Salad (ask for dressing on the side)

ENTREE: Blackened Outer Banks Swordfish or Pecan Crusted Carolina Mountain Trout

DESSERT: They said they might substitute a cup of peaches for the peach tart but made no guarantees on availability. You might try asking if they’d substitute a cup of coffee instead.

FOODIE FEST HOURS: Monday thru Sunday, 5PM until

Rick Erwin’s West End Grille – www.rickerwins.com – 232.8999

STARTER: Gourmet Greens

ENTRÉE: Salmon Stack or Domestic Porterhouse Lamb Chop

DESSERT: Sorry, no healthful options here and no substitutes. If you have the will, pick one and only take one or two bites, then push the rest away.

FOODIE FEST HOURS: Monday thru Sunday, 5PM until

Eating Out and Eating Healthy Don’t Have to Be Oxymoronic

Americans are eating out more and more these days! And while the average household kitchen is getting smaller, the average restaurant serving size (and the average American waistline) continues to get larger! How do we stop this? There are lots of strategies out there. And it’s okay to eat occasionally, if you can afford it. But if you want to watch your waistline, there are some simple steps to plan ahead.

Personally, we try to pick the restaurant before we get in the car. Then I can look up calorie information online and decide what I want ahead of time. If I go in knowing what I want, I’m less likely to go for the “all you can eat” or fat-ridden daily special. Below are some great articles of key words to avoid on menus and othe great tips.

85 Tips & Strategies for Dining Out: Take the Challenge Out of Dining – by SparkPeople

Full Article here: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/nutrition_articles.asp?id=544.

Dining Strategies for Specific Cuisines: The Healthy Dining Menu

Includes healthful ideas for Caribbean, Chinese, French, Greek & Middle Eastern, Indian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mexican, Steakhouse, Thai, and Vietnamese. Article here: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/nutrition_articles.asp?id=548.

Know Your Menu Watch Words: Throw the Flag at Unhealthy Cooking — By Zach Van Hart, Staff Writer, SparkPeople. 

“Green Flag (Potentially Good for You)” Menu Descriptions include Baked, Boiled, Broiled, Fat Free, Fresh, Grilled, High Fiber, Light, Marinated, Multi-grain, Poached, Red Sauce, Reduced, Roasted, Seasoned, Steamed, Stir-Fried, Vegetarian, Vinaigrette, and Whole Wheat.

“Red Flag (Probably Bad for You)” Menu Descriptions include Au gratin, Basted, Battered, Bearnaise (or hollandaise), “Bet you can’t finish it”, Bottomless, Breaded, Buttery/Buttered, Casserole, Cheesy, Country-style, Covered, Creamed/Creamy, Crispy, Crunchy, Escalloped, Fried/Deep fried, Giant, Loaded, Platter, Smothered, Stewed, Stroganoff, Stuffed, Value, Volcano, or White Sauce.

Full Article here: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/nutrition_articles.asp?id=115.

A video you may be curious about is Super Size Me. You can watch this and other health related videos for free at www.hulu.com.

The basic story is a perfectly healthy guy decides to eat nothing but McDonald’s for one month. He has to eat everything on the menu at least once and if they ask if he wants to supersize it, he has to do it. By the third week, his doctors advise him to quit the experiment for medical reasons.

I did notice that he wasn’t eating normal size meals. He often got two meals or two large sandwiches. I understand that SOME people do this, but I worked at McDonalds and 9 times out of 10, people only ordered one sandwich per person, unless it was a regular hamburger, cheeseburger, or double cheeseburger (which is only 1/10 lb. for the first two or 1/5 lb. for the last option).

He also severely limited his physical activity (based on national norms). The one thing I do agree with is the survey they took from 100 registered dietitians or nutrition experts. Hands down, they agreed that you should only eat fast food a couple times a month, if at all, instead of the all-too-common couple times a day.

Warning: not a movie for children. He gets pretty descriptive about the physical problems he encounters as a result of his experiment.

Filling My Plate with the Good Stuff (Mar. 3, 2010)

We recently were invited to join two couples at the Grove Park Inn for their famous Sunday brunch after church. They were offering a buy one get one special for their Sunday brunch, so we decided to join. They had two rooms filled to the brim with breakfast options, meats, cheeses, desserts, seafood, soup, and all sorts of deliciousness. It was impossible to taste everything that was offered. Though everything I sampled was very tasty, I left having sampled too much. And once again I learned the lesson that my eyes are bigger than my stomach.

I was thinking about it later, and it reminded me of watching The Biggest Loser on TV. They have those cases full of tempting treats that are not healthful for you, but then they have kitchens full of healthful, natural foods that satisfy. It reminded me of my life. How often do I think “my plate is too full” and “I just can’t add anything else to my life right now,” or “I don’t have time to read my Bible.” Well, maybe I’m filling my life’s plate with the wrong stuff. Even good stuff in excess is bad for me. So I’m taking a step back, just like I would with my eating habits, and looking at my life habits, trying to choose what needs to be on my plate, and what needs to stay on the “pantry shelf” or go in the garbage.

Things like hours of TV because “I deserve a break” need to go in the garbage. And things that have been in the pantry, like reading my Bible every day, need to be on my plate. It’s like trashing the candy bar for the piece of fruit. We can train our tastebuds to enjoy healthful things, and we can train on hearts to crave meaningful things too. I am always more satisfied after finishing reading my Bible than finishing a television show, even if it’s my favorite television show. I think about God often and pray every day for something, but I tend to read my Bible in preparation for small group, Bible study, or Sunday School, instead of as building a relationship with my Savior.

I was reading a devotional from Proverbs 31 Ministries today that talked about scheduling regular retreats with God. I need one of those. So, I’m scheduling Saturday morning as my retreat with God (and Saturday afternoon, I’m scheduling to finish my taxes).

So, each day, I have a buffet of choices before me. It contains things like work, church, school, family, friends, God-and-I time, eating, exercising, TV, music, hobbies, Facebook, shopping, chores, Twitter, gardening, bills, volunteering, and the “menu” goes on. Each day, I will choose what I need to eat instead of what I might want to put on my plate. Sure, sometimes the candy bar is the quick answer, but it won’t last long. I want to put things on my plate that will supply satisfying effects for a lifetime and, ultimately, that will matter for eternity.

“Healthified” Greek Layered Dip (Mar. 1, 2010)

My friend Amanda sent this to me from her “Betty Crocker’s Mobile Cookbook” email. She said she added garlic to the yogurt part of the dip to give it a bit more flavor. I’m pretty much always in favor of adding garlic. I can’t wait to try this one.
eatbetteramerica.com shares a recipe! 70% less fat • 54% fewer calories • 48% less sodium than the original recipe. You’ll love this much better-for-you appetizer updated with fat-free ingredients, extra veggies and baked whole wheat pita chips.

2 whole wheat pita (pocket) breads (6 inch)
Cooking spray
1 container (7 or 8 oz) plain hummus
1 container (6 oz) fat-free Greek plain yogurt
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 medium plum (Roma) tomato, seeded, chopped
1/3 cup pitted kalamata olives, quartered
1/3 cup finely chopped seeded cucumber
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (2 oz)
1/4 cup chopped green onions (4 medium)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 medium cucumber, sliced
1 medium green or red bell pepper, cut into strips
Heat oven to 350°F. Split each pita bread horizontally to make 2 rounds. Cut each round into 6 wedges. Arrange on ungreased large cookie sheet, rough surface up. Spray with cooking spray (about 5 seconds).
Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown and crisp; cool.
Meanwhile, spread hummus on shallow serving platter or in pie plate. In small bowl, mix yogurt, parsley, lemon juice and pepper; spread evenly over hummus. Top with tomato, olives, chopped cucumber, feta cheese and onions. Drizzle with olive oil.