Since my last letter about wanting to switch things up and your go-ahead to do so, I spent some time wracking my brain about what that can look like. What parts of my communication with you do I want to leave behind and what do I want more of?
More self-assuredness, less complaining. I’m doing X. Rather than I think I’m doing X, but it might be a bad idea and I have no idea if it will work out. More curiosity and less dismissiveness. Like, I should actually try your recipes! More gratitude, less worry. Even if I fail my Arabic midterm, I’ve learned a lot.
It’s a nice meditation for this time of year – the reflection period between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur that encourages us to think about these things.
Here’s my first take:
I feel excited about school projects. I’m happily participating in the cleanse. My house threw a big party this weekend and no one called the cops or threw up on the floor. How are you doing? It sounds like you’re having fun in Portland – visiting your favorite book stores, cafes and happy hours.
The cleanse has been great for me this year. It always pushes me to be more creative with food. Now that we’ve incorporated a $$ challenge – to spend no more than $4.10, the national average food stamp benefit on food for each of the ten days of the cleanse – there’s an extra push. I’m cooking and thinking more.
Last Monday after Rosh Hashana services, I made a beeline for the grocery store. I had fun in there at first – hunting for sales, picking the least-bruised/mushy produce from the 99 cent bin in the back of the store, grabbing just a teeny bit of arugula instead of a huge bagful. I miraculously kept the bill under $30. But by the end I was tired. Out of all the food I bought, I didn’t even have a snack to munch on during my walk home.
It took a lot of time. I spent almost 45 minutes in the grocery store! It was fun … but what if I had a job? The 99 cent bin at Berkeley Bowl was swarming with customers at only 2pm. If I had a job and couldn’t get to the store til 5 or 6, I wonder if there’d still be good food.
I concentrated really hard in the checkout process. I selected yogurt I thought was on sale, but it rung up as $7.50 (!!). I asked about the sale, and the guy said that the sale was on the regular yogurt, not the organic. So I put it back.
Once I got back to the house with bags and bags of “imperfect” 99 cent produce, I had to prep it right away. I was on my feet for almost three hours dissecting brown spots out of apples, scrubbing dirty potatoes, carving into squash. It was therapeutic – I listened to my favorite podcast and enjoyed washing, chopping and putting things into tupperwear. But I can’t imagine doing the same job with hungry kids and a long list of other priorities tugging at my sleeves.
Five days later, I’m sick of eating sweet potatoes, the thought of brussel sprouts makes me nauseous and I can’t do more lentils. The homemade soy milk endeavor was not worth it.
I’m sending you cleanse-friendly recipes with their cost breakdowns. The hardest part of this whole thing is the math.
Can’t wait to hear more about your Portland adventures and to see you in a week.
Zucchini Noodles with Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
Serves 5 – 7
Cost per serving: $1.55
Gluten free, vegan, tree nut free, grain free, paleo friendly
- 1 jar roasted red peppers $2.85
- 3 cloves garlic (no kissing tonight!) $0.20
- 1 tbs flax meal (leftover from summer subletter)
- 3/4 cup pumpkin seeds $4.35
- 1 tsp salt
- black pepper to taste
- 4-5 long green zucchini, zoodled, peeled or vegettied *see below (free from garden)
- 1 tsp olive oil $0.17
- 1 yellow onion, chopped $0.20
Total cost: $7.77
Per serving: $1.55
Combine all ingredients in food processors and puree until smooth. Keep refrigerated.
With “vegetti” (my fav new kitchen tool), peeler or mandolin, shave zucchini into strips aka noodles – #zoodles.
Heat pan in olive oil and add chopped onions. Cook on medium heat for about 5-7 minutes til transluscent. Add zoodles and cook for 7 – 10 minutes til soft (but not mush!).
Top with creamy sauce and garnish with pumpkin seeds.
Sweet and Salty Peanut Butter Jelly Bars
I brought these to my Creative Non Fiction class and they went over well. I like bringing snacks to class/everywhere. I like to share. But it’s hard to budget snacks for the people when I’m struggling to budget snacks for myself. I figured that if I used basic ingredients (sorry friends, no almond-cocoa-date truffles this week), I could keep things relatively affordable. I feel very lucky that this is something I don’t have to worry about (too much) on the reg. What a gift!
- 2 cups puffed rice $1.5
- 1/3 cup flax seeds((leftover from summer subletter)
- 1/2 cup oat bran $0.27
- 1 cup oat meal $0.35
- 3/4 cup unsweeteened coconut shreds $0.75
- 3/4 cup golden raisins or other chopped fruit $1.15
- 1 tbs salt
- 3/4 cup unsweetened peanut butter (leftover from summer subletter)
- 2.5 cup pitted prunes $3.75
- 1/2 cup flax meal (leftover from summer subletter)
- 1/3 cup coconut milk $0.75
- 1tbs cinnamon powder
- juice of one lemon (from tree)
- dash of vanilla extract
- 1 tbs coconut oil $0.20
- dash of salt
(Added$0.40 for spices already in the house)
TOTAL cost: $9.12
cost per serving: $0.61
Need to poop? Eat this.
Put peanut butter, prunes, dates, flax, cinnamon, lemon juice and vanilla into food processor. Blend until a sticky paste forms.
While the food processor is going at it, reserve 1/4 cup of coconut shreds and mix dry ingredients in your largest mixing bowl.
Heat oven to 350 and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Mix coconut oil with salt remaining shredded coconut and line parchment paper with oil mixture.
With a large spatula, your hands or both, work dry ingredients into wet ones. You may need to add a bit of hot water to the fruit paste to loosen it up. Do this with caution.
Once combined, press mixture onto parchment paper so that it’s evenly distrubuted about 1 1/2 inch thick across the baking sheet. Place in oven for ten minutes, just to crisp the edges. Remove and allow to cool before scoring.
Cut bars into small squares and keep remaining crumbled in a ziplock for yogurt toppings. Keep bars in airtight container in the fridge.