How to Eat Healthy on $4 a Day

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Photo: Getty images

If you cringe looking at how much money you spend on takeout and fancy restaurant meals (or even not-so-fancy meals), it could be time to tame your budget.

Leanne Brown, a food studies master’s degree student at New York University, has the solution. She’s created a 67-page cookbook called Good and Cheap, which aims for healthy eating on $4 a day. That amount is the set budget for people on SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as Food Stamps).

Her recipes are healthy and you can make most of them with kitchen ingredients you probably have on hand. (Added bonus? Gorgeous food images!) You can download a free copy of the full cookbook or buy a copy on her Kickstarter campaign, which aims to put copies in the hands of people who don’t have access to computers.

Check out some of her delicious recipes below for healthy eating that’s fast, easy, and cheap.

Baklava Oatmeal

Ingredients:
1 cup rolled oats
2 cups water
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp orange zest, finely grated
4 tbsp honey
2 tbsp almonds or pistachios, chopped

Directions:
In a small pot, add oats, cinnamon, orange zest, 2 tbsp honey, water and salt. Place it on medium-high heat, just until the water comes to a boil. Immediately turn the heat to low and place a lid on the pot. Cook for 5 minutes, until the oats are soft and tender and most of the water has cooked off. Once it’s cooked, top each bowl with another tablespoon of honey and a tablespoon of nuts.

Savory Summer Cobbler

Filling:
3-4 medium zucchini or summer squash, chopped into bite-sized pieces
3-4 large tomatoes, canned or fresh, chopped into bite-sized pieces
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 scallions, finely chopped
1 lemon, zested
¼ cup fresh basil (optional)
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper

Topping:
1½ cups all-purpose or whole-wheat flour
½ cup cornmeal
3 tbsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tsp smoked paprika
½ cup sharp cheddar, grated
½ cup butter
1 cup milk

Directions:
Put the butter for the topping in the freezer for 30 minutes. Set the oven to 425 F. Lightly oil an 8” x 10” baking dish (or any baking dish that will fit the mixture) and pile the vegetables, garlic, scallions, lemon zest, and basil into the dish. Pour the olive oil, salt, and pepper overtop and mix everything together with your hands. Bake the vegetables for 25 minutes while you prepare the biscuit topping. For the topping, measure out the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, pepper, paprika, and cheese into a bowl. Mix it up! Once the butter is frozen, use a box grater to flake the butter into the flour mixture. Gently massage the butter into the flour with your fingers until it’s crumbly but still clumpy. Add the milk and quickly bring the dough together. Don’t knead the dough: lumpiness is fine and results in flaky topping. Put it in the fridge until the vegetables come out of the oven. Once the vegetable mixture has cooked for 25 minutes, quickly top it with small clumps of biscuit dough. The vegetables should still be visible in some areas. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the vegetables are bubbly and the topping is lightly browned. Top with some more cheddar and some chopped herbs, then enjoy!

Cornmeal Crusted Veggies

Ingredients:
½ lb green beans, stems cut off
½ cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs
¼ cup milk
1 cup cornmeal
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp paprika
½ tsp garlic powder

Directions:
Heat the oven to 450 F. Set up your breading station! On one plate, spread out the flour. Crack both eggs into a bowl, add the milk, and mix lightly with a fork. On another plate, spread the cornmeal, salt, black pepper, paprika, and garlic powder. Mix the plate with your fingers. Spread a small amount of oil or butter across a baking sheet. A few at a time, take the green beans and dredge them in the flour. Next, transfer the flour-covered beans to the egg mixture. Cover the beans lightly with egg mixture, being careful to shake off any excess egg. Then transfer to the cornmeal mixture and coat them evenly. Carefully spread the crusted green beans onto the baking sheet. Repeat until you’ve done them all. If you run out of any of the three mixtures, just mix up a bit more. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden and crispy. Enjoy hot with your favorite dipping sauce!

Caramelized Bananas

Ingredients:
2 bananas, peeled and split in half
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp brown sugar

Directions:
Melt the butter in a non-stick or cast-iron pan on medium-high heat. Add the sugar and let it melt into the butter for about 2 minutes. Place the bananas face down in the butter-sugar mixture, then cook for 2 minutes or until they become brown and sticky. Carefully flip them over and do the same to the other side. Serve them whole or split them into quarters. Drizzle any caramel left in the pan over the bananas. Serve with ice cream or on their own.


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