The cheap­est, health­i­est foods money can buy

Canadian Cycling Magazine - - CONTENTS - by Matthew Kadey

The cheap­est, health­i­est foods money can buy

Of­ten, the cost of be­ing a cy­clist can add up. From car­bon-fi­bre frames to race fees – your bank ac­count can take a hit. So, you might want to look for some ways to save a few loonies, even dur­ing your trips to the su­per­mar­ket. While there’s no ques­tion you can spend a pretty penny on good-for-you fare (such as grass-fed beef, wild sal­mon and goji berries), there are plenty of bud­get-friendly foods that can help you save a bun­dle but still let you eat like a champ. Start by drop­ping these foods into your shop­ping cart that are stel­lar bar­gains and work harder to stretch your food bud­get. Though of­ten over­looked for more pop­u­lar swim­mers such as sal­mon and tilapia, at only about $3 a pound, the poor man’s oys­ter pro­vides a huge nu­tri­tional bang for your buck. Low in calo­ries, mus­sels are a good source of pro­tein, iron – an es­sen­tial min­eral for de­liv­er­ing oxy­gen to your cy­cling mus­cles – and mega-healthy omega-3 fats. The shelled won­ders also con­tain strik­ingly high amounts of vi­ta­min B-12, a vi­ta­min your body uses to make dna, the ge­netic ma­te­rial in all cells. While the ma­jor­ity of mus­sels on sale at the seafood counter are farmed, the process is an ex­am­ple of aqua­cul­ture done right. Mus­sels re­quire no sup­ple­men­tal feed. They fil­ter wa­ter to ac­tu­ally make it cleaner and re­quire few chem­i­cals to keep dis­eases at bay be­cause un­like sal­mon and shrimp, mus­sels grow well when packed to­gether. And even the most culi­nary-chal­lenged cy­clist can put a plate of per­fectly cooked mus­sels on the ta­ble in a flash. Sim­ply place them in a large saucepan along with a cup or two of liq­uid, which could be any­thing from broth to canned toma­toes to co­conut milk to wine, and then sim­mer un­til they pop open, dis­card­ing any that re­main shut. While quinoa has be­come a much-cel­e­brated whole grain, it’s a spendy ad­di­tion to your gro­cery cart. Cost­ing less than half as a much, mil­let is a great way to in­fuse your diet with whole-grain nu­tri­tional good­ness mi­nus the pain at the check­out counter. A sta­ple grain in parts of Africa, In­dia and Asia (and per­haps your back­yard feath­ered friends via bird­seed), mil­let pro­vides di­etary fi­bre, B vi­ta­mins and mag­ne­sium, a min­eral linked to im­prov­ing brain and heart health. It has a mild corn flavour, pleas­ant chewy tex­ture and is nat­u­rally gluten-free. As a bonus, mil­let is rel­a­tively quick to cook. Sim­mer 1 cup mil­let in 2 cups wa­ter or veg­etable broth and a cou­ple pinches salt un­til ten­der and the liq­uid has ab­sorbed, about 15 min­utes. Re­move from heat, let stand cov­ered for 10 min­utes and then fluff with a fork. Use as a side dish or in sal­ads, grain bowls and stir-fries. The price per pound for nuts, such as wal­nuts and pis­ta­chios, can make any thrifty shop­per wince. Con­sider the hum­ble seed of the sun-wor­ship­ing plant as a stealth health food that won’t break the bank. Sun­flower seeds are packed with a nu­tri­tional trea­sure trove, in­clud­ing heart-healthy un­sat­u­rated fats, mag­ne­sium, phos­pho­rus, se­le­nium, B vi­ta­mins and the im­por­tant an­tiox­i­dant vi­ta­min E. For con­ve­nience, you can pur­chase shelled sun­flower seeds, but choose dry roasted to avoid con­sum­ing a slick of cheap oils. Re­ally, any­where nuts go, so too can sun­flower seeds. Toss them onto your oat­meal, yo­gurt and sal­ads for a nu­tri­tional boost. They can also be blended into smooth­ies or diy en­ergy foods, such as bars and balls. It’s hard to find a bet­ter way to load up on nu­tri­ents than with ridicu­lously cheap lentils, which are less than $2 a pound (or no more than 50 cents a serv­ing). The legumes pro­vide a pay­load of plant-based pro­tein and fi­bre (a

whop­ping 8 grams in ½ cup cooked) along with a range of vi­tal vi­ta­mins and min­er­als, in­clud­ing iron, mag­ne­sium and fo­late. Stud­ies sug­gest that peo­ple who eat legumes such as lentils have an eas­ier time keep­ing their waist­lines trim. Un­like dried beans, lentils do not re­quire an an­noy­ing pre-soak be­fore cook­ing. Sim­ply sim­mer dried green or brown lentils in a pot of wa­ter un­til ten­der, about 20 min­utes. Use in sal­ads and soups or as a cost-ef­fec­tive meat al­ter­na­tive in tacos, bur­ri­tos, pasta sauce and burg­ers. At around $0.25 per egg, fru­gal food­ies have long known that eggs are one of the most eco­nom­i­cal sources of pro­tein around. Other nu­tri­tional high­lights in­clude use­ful amounts of the brain-boost­ing com­pound choline, vi­ta­min D, vi­ta­min B-12, se­le­nium and ri­boflavin, a B vi­ta­min that plays an im­por­tant role in en­ergy pro­duc­tion within the body. You even get a shot of lutein, an an­tiox­i­dant shown to im­prove eye health. Be­cause they’re easy to make into zil­lions of dishes, break out of your break­fast shell and use eggs more of­ten to rus­tle up bud­get-friendly din­ners, in­clud­ing frit­tatas, egg tacos and pasta dishes. We all know the pain of open­ing the fridge only to be wel­comed by a con­tainer of ex­pen­sive mushy salad greens. Thank­fully, a hearty head of cab­bage can go a long, long way. Yes, cab­bage is one of the health­i­est and most ver­sa­tile veg­eta­bles in the pro­duce sec­tion that also hap­pens to be se­ri­ously cost-ef­fec­tive. Nu­tri­tional tri­umphs in­clude huge amounts of im­mune-boost­ing vi­ta­min C and bone-strength­en­ing vi­ta­min K. The red va­ri­ety also sup­plies the same health-hik­ing an­tho­cyanin an­tiox­i­dants present in dark berries. Shred­ded red cab­bage is a great ad­di­tion to sal­ads, slaws and lunch sand­wiches. Also use whole cab­bage leaves as a low-calo­rie al­ter­na­tive to tor­tillas when mak­ing tacos.

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