Tasty Local Treat — Feature: Mama’s Cold Brew

Ok… my 101st post (Uh, I know right?! When did that happen?!) goes out to my local AZ readers! I had heard many good things about Mama’s Cold Brew, a local Phoenix coffee company that appears at farmers markets and a few tasty restaurants/cafes in the area such as Chestnut (one of my personal favs) on Camelback and 44th St. After listening to a friend rave about the coffee Saturday afternoon, I decided to try it out myself.

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Anthem, AZ (Uhhh…. sorry if you don’t know where that is; I wouldn’t either except for my soon-to-be-hubby is from there) holds a wonderful farmers market every Sunday morning while the temps are still bearable. Mama’s Cold Brew makes an appearance on these mornings, so when life gives you a caffeine craving, coffee is the only fix. After heading down to the farmer’s market this morning and finally giving this tasty treat a try, I fell in love…. and I fell hard.

Not only is this coffee, it is a creamy, delicious, rich creation that just needed to be shared with any of my local foodie readers! A tasty combo of organic brewed coffee with warm, rich spices (if you love cinnamon, this is definitely for you!) topped off with a little homemade organic vanilla sweet cream creamer is the perfect start to any day (always in moderation of course… the dietitian in me speaking)! Yes, all of these thoughts are my own; no, Mama’s Cold Brew did not ask me to become obsessed with their coffee and spread the love. I’m doing it because when I find something this good, I think it needs to be shared!

Although the Anthem, AZ Farmer’s Market made it’s last appearance this weekend for the summer, you can check out Mama’s Cold Brew online or at one of the local restaurants that serves it! Hope you try it, and happy Sunday!

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Stretching a buck… How to shop smart & keep your healthy lifestyle!

With healthy eating becoming a new and exciting trend, more and more popular health food stores and markets seem to be popping up every couple of blocks. It doesn’t take much to find a spot where you can get local produce or a wide selections of fruits, veggies, and organic products. Maybe you’re really in to buying organic or maybe you just want really, really fresh and tasteful produce. Whatever your motive may be for shopping “healthy”, I’m sure there was a time or two when you’ve walked out of a market or grocery store thinking “how in the world did I spend that much money?!”

Grocery stores do a great job of making you think that they are giving you a great deal on “local” or “organic” produce. Pay a little more attention the next time you browse through the isles of your favorite health food/grocery store and really crunch some numbers in your brain.

“Apples, $0.69 each!”

“Almonds for $3.99.”

“Medium sized bag of chia seeds, only $6.99!”

Now go back and think about that…

Apples for $0.69, sounds great right? Let’s say 5 apples=1lb. Actually, in reality 5 apples is probably closer to 1.5/2 lbs, but we will stay with 1. That means you are paying $3.45 for 5 apples… that doesn’t seem as great when you can get 1lb of grapes for the same price right? How about the chia seeds? A little over-priced as well. Yes they are good for you, but you will use what…. a Tbsp/day max? Why are you paying $6.99 for something that you will barely use?

There was a period of time when I was spending a ridiculous amount of money on groceries. I remember walking out of a grocery store having spent $75 and only had 3 bags in my hand (mind you this was when I was vegetarian as well, so that does not include meat). It was then that I realized I needed to become a little smarter about spending and how I was shopping. Today, I’m going to share with you a few tips for shopping healthy on a budget. Now I spend anywhere from $25-35 dollars each visit to the grocery store, and yes… that does last me over a week AND includes a few chicken breasts here and there. Try using some of these tips and see if it help you shrink your spending instead of shrinking your wallet…happy shopping!

1. Look for a bulk-foods section. Often times you can find a bulk foods section in a grocery store, especially those that are marketed to sell local, fresh, or organic products such as Whole Foods, Sprouts, and even Kroger or Fry’s. This is where I purchase things like chia seeds, almonds or other nuts, and even sometimes trail mixes or specialty granola. Nuts, such as almonds, commonly run from $3.99-$5.99/lb. I typically never get a full pound, I get what looks right to me and what I think will last me about 1 month. When you compare this to that miniature can of almonds for $3.99, you will be shocked at just how much money you were wasting for very little product. This is also a great spot to get sugar, flour, nut butters, etc.

2. Freeze, freeze, freeze and take advantage of a current sale. No, this doesn’t work for everything but it can make a big difference when you do it right! I mainly use this concept with fresh fruit. When fruits like blueberries, strawberries, pineapple, etc. go on sale for “$0.88/pkg” I am all over them. I grab about 3-4 packs, take them home, wash them and cut them if I need to, then put them in a tightly sealed baggie or container and pop them in the freezer. A bag of frozen fruit can cost you anywhere from $2.99-$6.99 depending on the fruit. Make your own and save yourself some dollars!

I also use this concept with bread, bagels, tortillas, or other grain products as well!

3. Feel your fruit and veg. Sounds a little strange I know, but don’t get in the habit of just popping a few cucumbers into a bag or grabbing a bag of apples without feeling it first! If something has even a little bit of give, it will go bad within 3-4 days tops. Don’t waste your dollars just by being lazy! Look for firm skins, bright colors, and few brown spots or bruises to get the longest life out of your produce.

4. Don’t waste your time buying organic if it isn’t necessary. Yes, we’ve all heard of the “dirty dozen” and the “clean 13”. Well those lists were made for a reason! Buying organic just to buy organic isn’t going to help you become a healthier person, it is just going to burn a hole in your pocket that will have little to no repayment health wise. Why do you need an organic pretzel? I can answer that easily for you… you don’t!!

5. Look for the store brand. Most stores that are know for being “healthy” or “fresh” have a store brand. For example, Whole Foods has 365, Trader Joe’s has a store brand, Sprouts has a store brand, Kroger or Fry’s has Simple Truth. Look for store brands when buying packaged, bagged, or caned foods such as cereals, crackers, breads, pastas, dressings, etc. The store brand will usually save you at least $2 vs the other big name competitors.

6. Last but not least and probably my most important tip… eat something before you go shopping! If you don’t believe me on this one, test it out one time. Typically a hungry mind buys more and buys things that are unnecessary or uncommon to their usual grocery list. Don’t allow the tummy to shop for you!


Happy National Food Day!

In honor of National Food Day, I thought I’d take the chance to talk about something that seems to be a major buzz topic lately. Should I, or should I not eat organic?

Organic foods… are they better for us? What if I can’t afford to buy all organic? Are there certain foods I should or should not buy organic? What about eating local?

As a dietitian, I think that many times people confuse or intertwine “healthy eating” with “eating organic” or “eating local”. Let me start off by telling you how I eat; there is no wrong or right way to eat, purchase food, or feed your body. Everybody eats differently, requires different things, or is in a different financial situation which dictates what they “do or do not buy”.

When it comes to eating organic, my thoughts are: If it comes straight from the ground, don’t mess with it; If it breathes like you and I do, don’t inject or alter it (how would you like if someone injected you with a plethora of hormones to beef you up?).

On the opposite side of the spectrum: If it requires more than 6 ingredients, it’s technically man-made right? If there is any added salt or added sugar, it is being preserved or enhanced in some way, correct, even if it’s not necessarily “chemically” altered?

Eating organic doesn’t have to be as stressful as some people make it to be. It also doesn’t have to be an “all or nothing” lifestyle. The main food items that I purchase organic are produce (lots and lots of fruits and veggies!) and any meat (although I am mainly a chicken and turkey kind of girl). Sometimes, when my budget is tight, I don’t even purchase those items organic… and I’m still breathing and living normally! My beliefs are that living substances such as plants or animals should not be altered with. They should not be enhanced, preserved with chemicals, or changed from their initial state. When it comes to “snack foods” or anything that does not come off of a tree directly, sprout up from the dirt, or come out of the womb of another animal (ex. pasta, bread, cheese…wouldn’t t be great if there were cheese trees?!), I am not as worried about buying an item organic.

Have you even heard of the dirty dozen (actually now it’s 14) or the clean 15? The dirty dozen contains the top 12 foods that commonly contains the highest amounts of pesticide residue on their skin, and are foods that we typically don’t take the skin off of before eating. The clean 15 is the exact opposite. If you are really struggling on what foods to try to buy organic, maybe this is something that would help you out or give you a list to “prioritize”. dirty-dozen-list

Lastly…my views on eating local: If you can, why wouldn’t you? Giving back and helping fuel your community is something that is very important to me. Those involved in agriculture or local farming work hard for our benefit and expect little in return. Eating local can help keep your home and your community running efficiently, and your getting a great product in return. What is not to like?!

I hope this gave you a little bit to think about or a little extra information on National Food Day! What can you do differently in your diet? Or, what are you really proud of that you do already? Have a great day!