Fast, Easy, Healthy Meals on a Budget: Meal #1 Dijon Crusted Salmon with Zesty Cabbage Salad



Having a few go-to recipe ideas that work for you and your family helps to encourage healthy eating on a budget.

This delicious dinner can be prepared in 20 minutes, and is extremely healthy.  Salmon is one of the healthiest fish you can eat, especially if it is wild salmon.  Purple cabbage is loaded with nutrients.  The optional addition of fresh cilantro and scallions will provide even more nutrition (and flavor).  The health benefits of herbs, was discussed in last week’s post  about growing your own herbs.

Dijon Crusted Salmon


1.5 lbs fresh or (defrosted) frozen salmon, preferably wild salmon

salt & pepper

2-4 tsp Dijon mustard

3TBS panko bread crumbs or 1 piece of bread crumbled by hand

1 TBS olive oil


Pre-heat the oven to 275°F.

Rinse salmon and pat dry with a paper towel.

Place salmon skin side down in a glass dish or a metal baking tray.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Spread 2-4 tsp mustard on top of salmon.

Combine 3TBS bread crumbs with 1 TBS olive oil in a separate bowl.

Cover salmon with bread crumb mixture.

Bake for 15-25 minutes, depending on how well done you prefer your fish.


While the salmon is baking, make the healthy cabbage salad.


Zesty Cabbage Salad

Mix together in a large bowl:

4 cups thinly sliced purple cabbage.  (this is approximately ½ of a small head of cabbage)

1-2 TBS fresh squeezed lime juice

1TBS olive oil

¼ tsp salt

Optional: 2-4 scallions, sliced, including whites and greens.

Optional 1/3-2/3 cup chopped cilantro


The cost of this meal is roughly $6-$7/per person, roughly the same as the price of a Quarter Pounder with Cheese Meal at McDonalds, but it is much better for your health!

If you have leftover cabbage salad, mix the leftovers with and equal portion of drained canned black beans.  Add one cup of beans per cup of salad to a bowl and you will have another complete meal, which includes protein from the beans.




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Plant Your Own Herb Garden


Spring in in the air in New England.  Consider embracing the season by planting your own herb garden:

  • Fresh herbs are nutrient powerhouses, typically packing in more vitamins per ounce than other greens, such as spinach or kale.
  • Herbs help prevent disease. Herbs, like all plants, contain phytochemicals, which help the plant to fight off bacteria, fungi and other threats. These phytochemicals also help prevent disease in humans who eat the herbs.
  • Herbs make ordinary dishes extraordinary. Fresh herbs and a squeeze of lemon or lime juice can be all you need to turn basic food into a delicious meal.
  • Herbs retain more nutrients if you pick them right before you eat them.  Fruits and vegetables, including herbs, slowly lose some of their nutritional value as they sit on the shelf at the grocery store. The closer fresh produce is consumed to the date is was picked, the more nutrients are available. You can’t get any fresher than picking from your own garden.
  • Planting an herb garden is easy, even if your outdoor space is limited. The quickest way to create your own herb garden is to buy little pots of herbs your local supermarket or farmer’s market.  Investment in the pots of herbs will pay off in the long run, as they will provide fresh herbs all season.  Assemble the pots into a basket, or replant them into a larger container or into the ground.  You can also start herbs from seed indoors, using an old egg carton, and then replant them outside.
  • Herb gardens are convenient. They can be grown and maintained indoors by a window, or outdoors if you have a spot for them.  Cut what you need when you need it.  You won’t be wasting anything and herbs will regrow after you have cut.  Plus, you’ll likely have enough to share with neighbors!

10 Best Easiest Herbs to Grow in Your Garden and How to Use Them

10 Health Herbs to Grow and Eat at Home

Epicurious: Cooking With Fresh Spring Herbs

Gardening Without a Yard

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It’s National Public Health Week!


This week is National Public Health Week.

Public health connects us all.

Public health is the science of protecting and improving the health of families and communities through promotion of healthy lifestyles, research for disease and injury prevention and detection and control of infectious diseases.

Source: CDC Foundation website

Major public health advances were made during the 20th century.  Some well known examples of global public health initiatives include immunizations, motor vehicle safety and tobacco as a health hazard.

130904_TWO_TBWard.jpg.CROP.article568-largePhoto courtesy of Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services: This photo is from the 1950s and depicts tuberculosis patients on a hospital porch, getting  fresh air as part of their treatment.


Today, the average American can expect to live roughly 30 years longer than someone born in 1900, due primarily to advances in medicine and public health.  However, life expectancy in the United States falls behind many other developed nations.

In addition, some experts predict that for the first time in history, American children may have a shorter life expectancy than their parents.

New York Times: Death Rates Declining for Decades Have Flattened, Study Finds

 What can you do?

  • Watch this video for more ideas about what you can do to help make a difference in your community:

We can all play a part in the health of our nation and the world, beginning in our own communities.


3535. NPHW web

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Five Reasons to Eat Eggs This Easter, and Every Day

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Eggs have gotten a bad rap in recent years, and many of us have the impression that we should avoid them.  But recent nutrition science proves otherwise.  Here are five reasons you should enjoy an Easter Egg or two:

  1. Eggs are not bad for your heart and they do not cause high cholesterol. One egg contains approximately 213mg of cholesterol, but we now understand that cholesterol in food does not contribute to high blood cholesterol or to heart disease. In fact, eggs have been shown to help increase the amount of good cholesterol in the bloodstream and alter the bad cholesterol so that it is not harmful (by changing the particle size).
  1. Eggs can help with weight loss. Many studies have demonstrated that eating eggs for breakfast is associated with weight loss.  Eggs are rich in protein and nutrients and have an excellent ability to make you feel full.  If you eat a bagel, which has approximately the same number of calories as three eggs, you are much more likely to be hungry sooner and to eat more at lunchtime, than if you have an egg or two.
  1. Eggs are very nutritious! One egg contains approximately 75 calories and 5 grams of fat, mostly healthy, unsaturated fat. Eggs are a great meatless source of complete protein, because they contain all six amino acids. Count on 6 grams of protein for each egg.  Eggs are high in iron, selenium, phosphorus, iodine and vitamins A, B12, B3, B5 & D. Be sure to eat the yolk, as it contains almost all of the nutrients found in the egg!
  1. Eggs are good for your brain. Eggs are high in choline, which is a nutrient that 90% of Americans do not get enough of, but is beneficial to brain health.
  1. Eggs are good for your eyes. Two antioxidants found in eggs, Lutein and Zeaxanthine, dramatically reduce the likelihood of age-related eye disorders, like macular degeneration.

In addition, eggs are delicious, go well with many other foods, and are inexpensive.  Enjoy one to two eggs a day and your body will thank you!

For more detailed information about the studies and nutrition facts cited in this article, check out the following links:

Jamie Oliver: Why Eggs Are Healthy

Authority Nutrition: Why Eggs Are Good for You

Web MD: Good Eggs: For Nutrition They’re Hard to Beat

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Lucky Healthy Shamrock Shake


Only offered for a few weeks around St. Patrick’s Day, The McDonald’s Shamrock Shake is coveted by many.  If you ignore the 530 calories and whopping 73 grams of sugar in a small shake, you might be able to enjoy this frosty treat.  But for better luck with your health, why not make your own minty shake at home?

There are many recipes on-line for healthier versions of the Shamrock Shake.  Even making the shake at home with ice cream and heavy cream makes it a healthier than the McDonald’s version, because you will eliminate many extra chemicals, additives and food dyes found in the original.

Try any of the home-made recipes that appeal to you, and it will be healthier.

The recipe my family loves contains no added sugar, and is loaded with nutrients.  We recently gave it to ten of their friends and not one of them guessed the green was from spinach.  Everyone who tried this shake at our house, loved it.  It’s based on the recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie:

Healthy Homemade Shamrock Shake


¾ cup 2% milk

1 very ripe frozen banana

¼ cup frozen spinach

1 TBS chia seeds (optional)

1/4tsp peppermint extract

1 TBS mini chocolate chips (optional)

Pour milk into bottom of a blender.  Add banana, spinach, chia seeds (if using) and peppermint extract.  Blend well.  Optional: add mini chocolate chips and blend for 2-3 seconds.  Pour into a glass and enjoy!

Nutrition Facts (not including chia seeds or chocolate chips

Small, 12oz
Large, 22oz
Added Sugars
  • 1 tablespoon of mini chocolate chips adds 42 calories, 5 grams of sugar and 2.7 grams of fat.
  • 1 tablespoon of chia seeds add 60 calories, 4 grams of healthy polyunsaturated fat, 4 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein. Click here for: Health benefits of chia seeds.

If the comparison of calories, fat and sugar is not convincing enough, take a look at the very long list of processed ingredients in the McDonald’s Shamrock shake:


Ingredients: Milk, Sugar, Cream, Nonfat Milk Solids, Corn Syrup Solids, Mono- and Diglycerides, Guar Gum, Dextrose, Sodium Citrate, Artificial Vanilla Flavor, Sodium Phosphate, Carrageenan, Disodium Phosphate, Cellulose Gum, Vitamin A Palmitate.


Ingredients: High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup, Water, Sugar, Natural Flavor (Plant Source), Xanthan Gum, Citric Acid, Sodium Benzoate (Preservative), Yellow 5, Blue 1.
May contain small amounts of other shake flavors served at the restaurant, including egg ingredients when Egg Nog Shakes are available.


Ingredients: Cream, Nonfat Milk, Corn Syrup, Sugar, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Contains Less Than 1%: Mono-And Diglycerides, Carrageenan, Polysorbate 80, Beta Carotene (Color), Natural (Dairy and Plant Sources) and Artificial Flavor, Mixed Tocopherols (Vitamin E) to Protect Flavor. Whipping Propellant (Nitrous Oxide).


Ingredients: Cherries, Water, Corn Syrup, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Sugar, Malic Acid, Citric Acid, Natural (Plant Source) and Artificial Flavors, Sodium Benzoate and Potassium Sorbate (Preservatives), Red 40, Sulfur Dioxide as Preservative (Contains Sulfites).

Would you rather drink a cup of that, or a shake with just four ingredients that tastes just as good?

If you are still not 100% convinced, read this:

Why You Should Never Drink a McDonald’s Shamrock Shake



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