Monday, February 1, 2016

Eating Healthy on a Budget

Healthy Eating on a Budget
by Dr Madalyn Otto, ND

Everybody knows that they should “eat healthy”. The research done on the role of diet in prevention and treatment of a number of the top chronic diseases that plague our country is indisputable. We know we should do it, but why don’t we? There are a number of factors, to be sure, but one of the most common and most unfortunate misconceptions is that eating healthy is super expensive. This is simply not true.
Let’s first analyze the typical American food budget to gain some perspective. A 2015 USDA study shows that the average woman under 50 years old spends about $60 per week on groceries under a “moderate” spending plan while men under 50 spend about $70. On top of that, the average person will eat at a restaurant over 4 times per week, half of these meals being for lunch. A casual lunch averages at $10 per person. This easily means that a single female can easily spend $100 per week on food expenditure. A “moderate”-spending family of 4 is likely to spend approximately $1,062 per month on groceries, less if the children are under 5 years old, and less on thriftier plans. This data does not specifically account for variables in geographic location and household-income demographic. Keep in mind that single people spend more per person on groceries as compared to the amount spent per person in a family due to bulk meal preparation and so forth. While individual needs and desires of a household most certainly should be taken into account when deciding on a food budget, what I’m suggesting to you is that “eating healthy” can be done at the cost of, or in some cases cheaper than a “standard American diet”.
Click here to register for Dr Madalyn Otto's Eating Healthy on a Budget FREE lecture.

I am a person who has personally tracked food expenditures religiously over the years, especially the ones I spent in med school living on student loans. During these years, I made an effort to eat extremely health-consciously as well as money-consciously. From that data, I can report confidently that my food expenditure, including occasional restaurant-outings, rarely exceeded $80 per week or $320 per month. Given that I am female and given my stature and therefore inherently spend less than a larger male, we’ll say that my spending matches the national average for a single person. How is this possible when healthy foods like produce and sustainable farming costs so much? Here are some key ways to keep costs down without sacrificing nutritional value:
Avoid eating out as much as possible. Brown bagging your lunch to work is a sure way to save hundreds of dollars over the course of a year. You can put that money in the bank, or you can use it to invest in higher quality grocery food items that might otherwise be out-of-reach.
Use the dirty dozen/clean fifteen schedule for deciding what produce to purchase organic. Unless you have the financial means to spend “liberally”, as the survey puts it, you probably need to be a little choosey about what you buy organic, and that’s okay. Certain foods are much higher in transferable pesticide residue and should be consumed only in organic form while others transfer relatively little residue and are less of concern.
Follow a plant-based diet. Diets that are largely made of plant foods are inherently less expensive that animal-protein diets. This is because the cost to raise and feed an animal is disproportionately higher than the food you get from it, translating that cost to the consumer, and unsustainable. The added benefit to this is that not only are you now consuming less of the things that create problems in our health (saturated fat, arachidonic acid, added hormones, higher-chain pesticide/herbicide residues, etc.), but you are now also adding infinitely more vitamins/minerals and phytonutrients into your diet by way of plants. If you do eat animal proteins, eat the highest quality, organic, grass-fed ones, and limit it to very small amounts, or only once or twice a week in your diet.
Utilize coupons and bulk-buying effectively. The improper way to use coupons is to buy anything that you can get at reduced cost. This results in you buying more stuff you don’t need. Only use coupons that are relevant to your grocery list. There are nutrient-dense foods that can be purchased cheaply in bulk like beans and rice. Stocking up on these provides very economical staples for your diet that are nutritious and pocketbook-friendly.
Prepare your meals in bulk. As mentioned previously in this article, studies show that single people spend more per person than families do. Part of this is because families produce a larger quantity at once, thereby using fewer resources to prepare the food compared to making each meal separately. Just because you’re one person, doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of this trick!
Being health-conscious isn’t just for high-income people. In fact, I found that when I transitioned to a health-conscious diet, I actually saved money initially simply by decreasing cost on animal foods and cost on eating out where it was harder to find healthy options. This taught me that eating well simply requires a shift in perspective and developing some tricks. For more ideas and “healthy eating hacks”, join me on Tuesday, February 16th at 6pm at 24 Horseshoe Pond Lane, Concord. Click here to register.

In health,
Dr. Madalyn Otto, ND

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Fresh, Local Strawberries & Angel Food Cake

By the Concord Food Co-op Bakehouse Pastry Chefs
In New Hampshire, our local strawberry window is short but sweet: just a few weeks mid/late June. Though the harvest yields and flavor each year, the aroma and flavor far surpasses what typically gets trucked in from across the globe. Strawberries make any recipe better. That’s certainly the case for angel food cake, which looks plain boring without strawberries.

You’d be shocked by the ingredients list on conventional angel food and how many chemicals they fit into a “healthy” cake. Besides artificial flavors and preservatives, you’ll often find sodium laurel sulfate and sometimes propylene glycol. These dubious substances are more commonly found in shampoo and deodorant, and most of our customers won’t put them on their skin, let alone in their mouths.

In contrast, the Co-op’s bakery only uses real deal ingredients for desserts made from scratch by our trained pastry chefs. We even use flour milled in Vermont and local eggs, dairy, and seasonal fruit. Now that’s a cake you not only feel good about but that also tastes amazing!

Here, we share our top-secret recipe. But, if separating more than a dozen eggs by hand seems like a chore, just call in a special order, then swing by our bakery to pick one up ready to eat.

Homemade All-Natural Angel Food Cake


  • 14 room-temperature large egg whites
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/8 cups sugar (ie: white granulated)
  • 2 1/4 ounces confectioner’s sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 3/4 tablespoon pure lemon juice
  • 3/4 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 teaspoon almond extract


  1.  Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Carefully separate yolks from the egg whites. It’s very important that you don’t get any yolk in your whites. To avoid any mistakes, do each egg individually in a small cup, then add to a larger bowl of egg whites. 
  3. Sift flour, cornstarch, sugar, and confectioner’s sugar three times. 
  4. Whip egg whites, cream of tartar, lemon juice, vanilla extract, and almond extract until stiff and holding a nice soft peak.
  5. Fold in flour/sugar mix in three parts. 
  6. Pour it into an ungreased large two-piece angel food cake tube pan and bake for approximately 40 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean.
  7. Remove from the oven, rest the pan upside down on a glass bottle to let the cake cool completely. 
  8. To remove the cake from the pan, run a knife along the rim of the pan first. 
  9. Serve with fresh strawberries and whipped cream

Strawberries:Chop and combine with 2 tablespoons of sugar per 1 pound fruit.

Whipped Cream:Whip heavy cream with confectioners sugar and vanilla.

To special order this or other desserts, call our bakery at 603-225-6840.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Cheesy Wine Down for June, 2015

by Jaimie Jusczyk, Marketing Specialist

To take a break from our classroom type format, this month we did a more casual approach and just had an open wine and cheese tasting throughout the store. Heidi and Suzy prepared three different cheeses for sample including a very cool looking Grottone and then some creamy Camembert's for comparison. Suzy paired the cheeses with some fresh and in-season strawberries that also went well with the Wines of the Month from Natura.

Steve was set up near the wine display to chat about the Co-op Wines of the Month and sample them. Steve was pouring Natura varieties Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, Malbec, Rose and Sauvignon Blanc. If you are hosting a party and are looking for a few varieties to satisfy everyone's palate, Natura has you covered. Natura wines are also produced using grapes from the organic vineyards of Emilina in Chile. If you are looking for organic wines that taste amazing, look no further than the Co-op. We are very picky drinkers too!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Cheese for Salads

by Jaimie Jusczyk, Marketing Specialist

During our May Cheesy Wine Down Wednesday tasting class Suzy paired up with the produce department to share with us some yummy cheeses to try with fresh spring salad mix from Generation Farm in Concord, NH.
We tried different kinds of crumbly cheeses including a gorgonzola, goat cheese and a feta. I think I found a new favorite summer salad recipe to serve my guests using the gorgonzola with a sweet dressing.

Then we were spoiled with a Spring cheese from Nettle Meadow in New York, their Honey Lavender Fromage Blanc. This cheese would be perfect in a breakfast crepe with fresh fruit, yum!
An all time favorite of mine was served next, Somerdale Il Truffelino from England. This earthy cheese on a plain cracker stands out with a creamy texture followed by distinct truffle flavor. I enjoy this treat with a glass of The Seeker Malbec.

And the last cheese tried was a local from Hickory Nut Farm, Aged Goat Cheese. This is a perfect cheese to shave over a pasta dish or make a grilled cheese sandwich with some veggies in there, mmm mmmm!
We were also lucky enough to have Steve pouring wines from The Seeker for us. The Seeker sources wines from all over the world including a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, a French Rose, and the malbec I mentioned before from Argentina. These wines are in a great price range and have cool labels that will make you want to travel and see these foreign places all for yourself!

Stop by the Co-op and find all the above mentioned products and more. If you have any questions, Suzy is your go-to girl all about cheese.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Eating for Your Microbiome

By Maria Noël Groves, RH (AHG), Registered Clinical Herbalist & Co-op Wellness Coordinator

Fermenting krauts
Forget about eating for yourself. Did you know that your body is home to trillions of beneficial bacteria, and the standard American diet is starving them out? These good bugs are part of your microbiome, a newly coined phrase that refers to your body's ecosystem - both the human part of you and the microbial part of you. Did you know that microbial cells outnumber human cells in your body 10 to 1? Before you go reaching for the antiseptic spray, know that the majority of these bugs are good for you. Very good for you. In fact, hundreds of scientists throughout the world are currently studying the human microbiome, and this research is changing the way we think about health and the  human body. Click here to learn more about how your microbiome improves your health and vitality and the things you can do to cultivate these good guys in your gut...

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Food & Mood ~ The Missing Link

By Kelly Lang, Holistic Health Coach & Co-op Wellness Educator

In the age of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, most people are making food choices based on how it will impact their physical health. Sadly, it may not be until one of these conditions surfaces that someone will even think of focusing on healthier eating. A person who is thin and physically healthy might feel like their food choices don’t make a whole lot of difference or they might believe that they can eat “whatever they want” since there is no weight gain or obvious affect on health.The missing consideration is that food affects more than just our physical health, and it is, in fact, a key influence on mood and mental capacity as well. Our brains, like any other organ, require nutrients for proper functioning... (Learn more and register for one of the two FREE classes)

Thursday, April 2, 2015

April Fool's Cheese Class

by Jaimie Jusczyk, Marketing Specialist

Nobody likes to look a fool and especially when you are in front of family and friends. So, can you look at a cheese plate and know whether that is a stinky muenster from France or a milder domestic muenster? Will a block of low fat mozzarella have the same taste and texture of fresh mozzarella in a caprese salad? Should you serve on the side of your dessert a scoop of ricotta or mascarpone? Or do you want to pair your crackers and fruit with an Italian or Swedish Fontina? Thankfully Heidi, the Co-op's cheese expert was there to help us see, smell and taste the difference so we can enjoy our cheese the way it was made to be enjoyed.

First up Heidi asked us to try the mozzarella's. I had enjoyed the fresh Maplebrook Mozzarella's before and I found this easy to tell the difference. of course the fresh is going to be what you want to serve in your caprese salad. The low fat is firmer and has very little flavor. The fresh mozzarella is soft, melt in your mouth with a salty finish, perfect with basil, tomatoes, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a shake of salt and freshly cracker pepper.
Next we tried the mascarpone and ricotta. I am sure you will be able to tell the difference visually but what would you serve with a pastry dessert? I personally think the mascarpone is smoother and more buttery. A dollop of that on my cherry turnover would definitely go well or use in a cheesecake recipe, yum! The ricotta is a little grainer and lower fat. You really can substitute one for the other, but it doesn't have that rich creaminess like the mascarpone. The ricotta also has a higher moisture content, so if you were to use it in pastries it might not hold together as well.

Get ready to hold your nose if you want to try a French muenster! Definitely not what I was expecting after having tried domestic munster cheese here in the US. It is rather mild when you are talking about stinky cheeses, so a great introduction for enjoying something different. The texture was soft with a nice bloomy rind and the taste was amazing, but I don't think I would want to talk to someone afterwards, pee-yew! The domestic munster was very mild and firm with the tell-tale orange exterior. Beware if you see a French muenster on a cheese plate, make sure you have something to wash it down with after you enjoy.
Lastly we tried an Italian and Swedish fontina. While they both have mild nutty flavors the Swedish fontina is aged a little longer creating a firmer more earthy flavor. I think I preferred the Italian fontina for a cracker plate with freshly sliced peaches and a glass of Riesling. But don't take my word for it, try them!

During our cheese tasting class, Tracey was pouring us samples of Gen5 wines, the Co-op Wines of the Month (April 2015). We started off with a glass of the Chardonnay that I thought went well with the mozzarellas. Slightly chilled, this is a great Spring wine to break out with friends. Next we tried the Old Vine Zinfandel with the mascarpone and ricotta. This was an interesting combination. With each sip and taste of cheese the flavor would evolve on your tongue. It was like I was drinking two different glasses of wine depending on the lingering taste from the cheese in my mouth, quite enjoyable. Next Tracey poured the Cabernet Sauvignon, a stable for any wine rack. The fruity flavor will make any guest feel welcome in your home. Then lastly as a treat Tracey poured us a glass of Love, Oregon Riesling. A higher end bottle to impress the wine aficionado in your life, grab a bottle next time you need a host gift, they will know you mean it.
If you would like to join us next time, topic to be determined, register online before it sells out! Click here!