Three (Cheap) Ways to Stay Happy and Healthy in 2016

Francis_Guy_-_Winter_Scene_in_Brooklyn

“Winter Scene in Brooklyn” – Francis Guy, 1817-1820

The new year is now well and truly here. Maybe you’re loving it, but maybe you’re feeling the January blues just a little. If so, here are three simple things that might help keep the cheer up as we head into the middle of winter.

#1: Cook more!

Winter can make it easy to miss out on regular exercise because we’re cooped up in our houses, hoping to stay warm when it’s freezing outside and enjoying comfort foods. It’s not too far to say it’s a little like hibernation!

One way to stave off the loneliness than come with season is to take more time cooking healthy meals at home with people you care about. Visit your local library and find a cookbook that grabs your eye. Go shopping with a friend and cook together. However you want to do it, spending time with friends around the preparation of food is great excuse to do something with friends instead of being holed up in your respective winter caves.

Here at Abundance, we’ve got your cooking needs covered. There’s always a friendly face. Cooking at home is usually much less expensive than going out to eat, and you might even expand your cooking repertoire. Plus it can be healthier–you’re in control ! It’s easier to customize your diet for different goals. Want to strengthen your immune system? Lose weight? Improve your gut health? Eat more fiber? No problem. Cooking at home lets you pinpoint exactly what you want to put in your body and then figure out ways to cook it deliciously!

#2: Eat beans!

Beans and lentils are among the cheapest sources of protein. They keep well, they provide fiber to improve digestion, and they are endlessly adaptable to whatever else you have lying around to eat.

Here’s a starter recipe for a hearty lentil stew. Leah, our marketing and deli assistant, makes a batch on the weekend and eats it throughout the week with various sides. The onions are the important veggie, the others can be substituted with whatever you have: bell peppers, potatoes, rutabagas, yams, etc. Buying the herbs and spices in bulk is a great idea because you can get only what you need, so it’s extra fresh and usually only costs a few cents.

Savory Lentil Stew

  • 2 cups green lentils (~$1.55 in the bulk section)
  • 6 cups hot water and 3 bouillon cubes (~$1.00)
  • 2 medium onions (~$2.00)
  • 4 cloves garlic (~ $0.05)
  • 3 medium carrots (~$0.60 if you get a 2lb bag)
  • 2 medium parsnips (~2.69)
  • 2 tsp thyme
  • 2 tsp fennel seed
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes

Dice the onions and garlic and add them to a soup pot with a little oil of your choice. Sauté until onion is slightly translucent, then add diced carrots and parsnips. Let cook about 5 minutes, then add herbs and spices and let cook 5 minutes more. Stir in the dry lentils and let cook about 3 minutes, then add the water and bouillon cubes, stirring until the cubes dissolve. Bring everything to a boil, then turn down to a simmer, put a lid on it, and let cook about 40 minutes, or until the lentils and vegetables are tender. It makes a few quarts.

Tastes great with a crusty bread, a fried egg, rice, or anything else. The whole thing costs under ten dollars and will be dinner for one person for about a week or dinner for two for maybe 2 days.

#3: Drink more water!

It seems easier in the summer to remember to have a nice refreshing glass of water, and many people don’t think of it as much in the winter. But winter is very dry season indeed. Chapped lips and skin from the cold, plus the dry heat in most homes can leave us drier than the Sahara!

An adult needs about a half gallon of water every day in order for the body to function best, or 8 cups a day. The kidneys will function better at cleaning out toxins from the body, your skin will look and feel better, your muscles will be less likely to fatigue, your head will be less likely to ache and it can help prevent constipation.

A tall, cold glass of water doesn’t appeal too much when it’s below 20 outside, so take your water hot! Plain hot water is actually a nice way to get your water for the day and to warm up. Adding herbal teas brings flavor without adding any dehydrating effects that caffeinated hot drinks can cause.

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