Recipies & Food

 DIY ~ Herbal Teas

The amazing health benefits of tea are well-known with more research being done each year.  Searching through the wide variety of available flavors in my local supermarket it dawned on me that the majority of the teas we buy can easily be made at home!  Growing your own ingredients are a fun healthy way to know exactly what it is you are consuming and I imagine fresh made teas keep much more of their nutrients than their mass-produced counterparts.


Tea gardens can produce a number of crops each year, offer a fun teaching environment for kids and attract the attentions of butterflies and pollen spreading bees! Many commercially produced teas are made with easy to grow plants that you can harvest from your own backyard or indoor planter. Let’s get started!

Mint – Mint is commonly used to treat stomach aches. During the middle ages it was used to whiten teeth and is a strong diuretic and is sometime used as a decongestant for mild common colds.  I recommend growing mint in a container because it spreads quickly and will take over your entire garden if you allow. Mint plants grow well in moist partially sunny areas and due to their hardiness I would recommend them to even a novice gardener.

Chamomile –  Chamomile is used for sore stomachs, irritable bowel syndrome, and as a mild sleep aide. Its grows well in sandy well-drained soil with lots of sun. Plants should be 15 -30 cm apart and lightly fertilized.

Lemon grass – The grass is considered a diuretic, tonic, and stimulant. For best growth, Cymbopogon citratus requires anything between bright sunlight and light shade and a damp soil having excellent drainage system.  When the plants are grown in tubs or containers, it is essential to divide them occasionally as the Cymbopogon citratus is known to have a belligerent growth.

Ginger –  Ginger tea is a beverage in many countries, made from ginger root. In China, the tea is made by boiling peeled and sliced ginger to which brown sugar is often added. Sliced orange or lemon fruit may also be added to give a flavour. It is often used to treat nausea and morning sickness. Ginger plants like a cool, sheltered place protected from strong winds and ideally a humid climate but they do grow well in cool climates as well. Soil should be rich and well-drained.

Brewing the Tea

  • Use 1 tablespoon fresh leaves/roots or 1 teaspoon dried you can adjust to suit your tastes.
  • I recommend using a steeping cup to contain the loose ingredients.
  • Pour hot — but not boiling — water in the mug and let steep for five minutes or less. Use sweetener and cream as desired.Note:  Make sure you know the identity of the plant you’re using to make tea, and be watchful for allergic reactions. Finally, don’t use any leaves or flowers that have been treated with pesticides. Do your research!


You are now on your way to enjoying a fresh cup of homegrown herbal tea! Do you have a favorite blend?

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Eating Healthy on a Budget

Providing healthy nutritious food for ourselves and our families is something that we all strive to do.  With rising food costs it can sometimes feel like an uphill battle.  With that in mind I’ve researched some healthy and low-cost foods that you can feel  proud to set on the table.

 1. Bananas – Bananas make the top of my list because they have always been the cheapest good for you food that I can remember. In my area I have never seen them cost more than .89 cents a pound.  They are a great source of potassium, fiber, manganese and vitamin C all of this with only 105 calories!  Whats more is that once they’ve ripened beyond what you would want to eat alone they are in an excellent stage to make Banna Bread one of my childhood favorites. Nutrition Info per serving: 121 calories, 3.5 grams fiber, 14% Daily Value for potassium (487 mg), 20% Daily Value for vitamin C.

2. Old Fashioned Oats –  Oatmeal is another cheap healthy food that can be used to make various dishes from breakfast to desert even pet treats!  A 42 oz container usually costs around $4 and holds 30 servings adding up to an inspiring 13 cents a meal!Nutrition info per serving: 150 calories, 4 grams fiber, and 5 grams protein.


3. Canned Tuna – This is one of my household staples because it is cheap, quick, will  bulk up many recipes. At less than a dollar a can you really can’t beat this for a cheap reliable source of protein and Omega 3‘s.Nutrition info per serving: About 500 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids (0.5 gram), 60 calories, and 13 grams of protein.


4. Potatoes – Russet potatoes can go a long way when your on a budget and you can get a five-pound bag for $4. They are used for breakfast lunch or dinner, are very filling, and can be cooked thousands of different ways.  Nutrition info per serving (one medium-size potato): 168 calories, 3 grams fiber, 5 grams protein, 20% of the Daily Value for vitamin C, 10% Daily Value for iron, and 25% Daily Value for potassium.


5. Whole wheat pasta –  Most types of pastas are cheap especially spaghetti or angel hair which I buy for just under a dollar at Harris Teeter.  With one box I feed three adults with  a bit left over so you could stretch a box into two meals. I usually make a traditional italian dinner with pasta $1, ground beef $2-3, canned mushrooms .89, and alfredo sauce $3.  I’m sure it could be done cheaper but it feeds my family twice for just under $10! Nutrition info per serving: About 200 calories, 7 grams protein, and 6 grams fiber.

Do you have any tips for Eating Healthy on a Budget?  Id love to hear them! Don’t forget you can sign up to follow my blog The Shanty Town and receive an e-mail each time I make a new post.
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Eating Organic For Less

My roommates and I used to say a blessing before our meals the went something like ” May this food nourish our bodies as it failed to do so for our wallets.”  It is no secret that food costs are on the rise especially if you opt for fresh and organic choices but it doesn’t have to. Try out these tips to eating organic for less.

1. Buy in Bulk – Many dry good items are much cheaper bought in bulk and have an amazingly long shelf life if stored properly.  Oatmeal, rice, beans, and flour are all good examples of items to buy in bulk and they are all easily kept.

Beans – Many food experts are of the opinion that dried beans can be kept without losing their nutritional value for up to thirty years.
Flour – The shelf life of flour really depends on what you are using if you use a particular kind not listed here let me know and I will track it down for you. All purpose flour will last in a cabinet sealed for up to eight months and twelve if kept refrigerated. Corn Flour is easily kept for up to a year and once again this is increased with refrigeration.
Rice – Properly sealed and stored, polished white rice will store well for 25 to 30 years after opening it should be used within 18 – 24 months.
Oatmeal – Processed oatmeal has a longer shelf-life than natural oatmeal because enzymes in the grain are destroyed by the heat of steaming and rolling. Processed oatmeal has a shelf life of about 18 months. Natural oatmeal can be stored in an airtight container for months, but once opened, it needs to be used as soon as possible (within weeks) because the enzymes breakdown.

 2. Find a local butcher – You may have to dig around but finding a local butcher and supplier can be a wonderful way to give yourself and your family with fresh organic meat at a fraction of the price. A couple of years ago my family purchased half a cow from Warren Wilson College in North Carolina. It was grass-fed, locally butchered, and lasted us through the winter and then some for just a few hundred dollars. Pound for pound we saved money and you can really taste the difference.

3.  Casseroles – Pan dishes are great because you can divide the finished meal into portions to use later. One casserole can feed a family of four two or three times and can be sent to  school or work for a healthy homemade lunch.

4. Grow your own veggies – Starting your own garden may seem like a daunting task but it’s really very simple. There are thousands of articles online to help you get started and with the rise in interest of urban homesteading its easy to find ways to grow in little to no space. Think vertical gardens.

5. Check out your local farmers market – What could be better than supporting your local farmers while eating healthy at a fraction of the cost. Find out where your local farmers market is and take a day to look around. The produce varies with the season and you can usually haggle with the vendors for a price and amount that fits your household and wallet.

6. Raise your own – If its possible raising chickens is a great way to get your own organic eggs and in a pinch meat. Chickens are great composters, bug eaters, and fertilizers. Many areas are now allowing households to keep a limited amount of chickens inside city limits. Another idea is beekeeping if your up to it and I have heard you can get financial help in this area because of their declining numbers in the wild.

What ways do you and your family eat organic for less?

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