Cheap Salad – Broccoli with Orange Peel and Cashews

This is a great cheap vegan salad that was inspired by a recipe book created by a naturopathic doctor here in Costa Rica. The photos were nice in the ebook, but the recipes didn’t always call for the correct ratios or explain the directions very well. This could be a matter of translation issues but I decided only to ever use the book as a guide for myself. My first clue was that several recipes called for an insane amount of raw garlic, and believe me I love garlic, but I could tell it would have ruined the dish.

Salads are always a favorite of mine probably because of the rich, fresh taste of raw produce and the chance to play around with dressings. Plus, my husband and I have been on a broccoli kick as of late, which has shaped our dinners quite a bit. It isn’t unusual for us to cut up a head of fresh broccoli, steam it and throw some olive oil, garlic, herbs, salt and pepper and just down it for a full meal. So, when I found this recipe for a broccoli salad, I was hooked. It reminded me of a previous post of a roasted broccoli pasta salad, which I love and make frequently.

So, here is the adapted recipe. It’s easy, quick and delicious so don’t hesitate to make it and let us know what you think. Is it better than the broccoli pasta salad?

Broccoli Salad with Orange Peel and Cashews

Ingredients

  • 1 fresh broccoli head cut into florets
  • Zest from one orange
  • 2 cloves of finely chopped garlic
  • 1 Tsp of red pepper flakes
  • Toasted cashews
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • Himalayan (or sea) salt and pepper to taste
  • juice from 1 large lemon or 1 small lime

Directions

  1. Heat a medium-sized pot to boiling and quickly blanch the broccoli for 1 minute and then plunge into an ice bath.
  2. Toss broccoli in a large bowl with the remaining ingredients.
  3. Chill for 30 minutes to several hours and toss again before serving.

Cheap Pasta with Roasted Broccoli, Walnuts and Parmesan

So, i was looking to jazz up our lunch options last Sunday and had just visited the organic food market in Escazú (as you read in the last post). I have seen recipes call for roasted garlic before, but never tried it. So, I decided now was the time. I looked for other ingredients to make a good pasta salad to last for a few extra days this week, and came up with some walnuts and Parmesan cheese. A perfect mix. The salad turned out great, and roasted broccoli has a more hearty flavor than steamed, which was nice for this recipe. Enjoy!

broccoli mixture roasting in the oven

broccoli mixture roasting in the oven

ROASTED BROCCOLI PASTA INGREDIENTS

12 oz Small Shell Pasta
1 Bunch of Fresh Broccoli, cut into florets
1/2 C. Walnuts coarsely chopped
1/4 C. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Cloves of Garlic, pan seared and smashed
2 Tbl Unsalted Butter
1/4 C. Grated Parmesan Cheese
1/2 Tsp Salt
1/2 Tsp Pepper

ROASTED BROCCOLI PASTA DIRECTIONS

1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
2. Cook pasta according to package and reserve 1/2 C. of water when draining.
3. In a medium-sized bowl, toss broccoli, walnuts, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper until coated.
4. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes, turning once.
5. Toss broccoli mixture with pasta, butter and reserved pasta water until well-coated and add the Parmesan cheese.

Broccoli on FoodistaBroccoli

Incredible Cheap Meals You Can Make With A Blender

Time and money are two things that most people have a shortage of. Thankfully, we can cut down our grocery bill and spend less time in the kitchen with one fell swoop. These simple meals are delicious, incredibly cheap to make and can be prepared with an ordinary household blender or immersion blender.

Continue reading

Cauliflower Mashed Faux-tatoes

Experimenting with Cauliflower as Mashed Faux-tatoes

While my husband and I were testing out the 4 Hour Body diet, we started to get a little bored with the food we were eating. I’m sure this was because we weren’t accustomed to strictly eating foods without starch or a high amount of carbs, so we had to learn a whole new repertoire of recipes and understand the increase in amount of food consumed. One noticeable difference in how we were cooking was how much more food we needed to eat since there were no breads, potatoes, pastas, rices or other fillers accompanying the meats, vegetables and legumes.

The 4 Hour Body diet was a hard adjustment to make and we still wanted to make sure we weren’t overdoing the amount of meat we were eating, since this is a large part of the diet. We know the health risks in eating too much chicken, beef, pork and fish, even if they are organic, so we tried to eat a lot more vegetables and legumes instead of gorging on meats. This lead us to explore starch substitutes like garbanzo flour and other bean flours, making vegetable chips for snacks and mashing cauliflower to simulate mashed potatoes.

We wouldn’t be doing cheapfoodhere.com justice unless we analyzed the cost of our side dish and while we’re at it, we’ll do a health analysis as well. According to a UK publication: “At around 29p per 100g (roughly one serving), broccoli is rich in a plant chemical called indole-3 carbinol – or I3C – which significantly reduce the risk of breast cancer, according to a recent study. It is also a source of immune-boosting vitamin C.

But cauliflower, at just 18p per 100g, packs a more powerful punch with similar levels of I3C and higher levels of lecithin, a fatty acid that helps lower cholesterol.

It also contains vitamin C and folate, which helps to prevent birth defects, as well as dietary fibre, which aids weight loss. And it’s a native veg so clocks up fewer air miles.

Winner: Cauliflower by a knockout”

While they are usually similarly priced, cauliflower is almost always slightly cheaper and definitely cheaper by weight since they are more dense than broccoli and you’re paying by the head. The average price I’ve found on cauliflower is roughly $2 per head and with mashed faux-tatoes, you will need a medium-sized head for every two people. That’s a pretty sweet side dish and can get pretty close to satisfying your mid-week hankering for some real mashed potatoes.

I’m not sure who coined the term ‘faux-tatoes’ but it’s fun to say and definitely serves it’s purpose. We scoured the internet for low-carb recipes for alternative side dishes and came across a few for faux-tatoes that included chick peas in some, cauliflower in others but a lot of them used cheese, which is a no-no for the 4HB. Without much success in finding a high-quality recipe, I set off to create one of my very own.

Cauliflower Mashed Faux-tatoes Recipe

Cauliflower Mashed Faux-tatoes Ingredients

  • 1 large head of fresh cauliflower
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
  • 1/4 stick of butter
  • 1 tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper

Cauliflower Mashed Faux-tatoes Directions

  1. Cut the cauliflower into florets. Yes you can use the stem too.
  2.  

  3. Put the florets into a large pot and fill with water until it just covers them.
  4. Add the mustard seeds, cayenne pepper and 1/2 tsp salt to the water.
  5.  

  6. Bring to a boil and cook until just soft. About 6-8 minutes.
  7.  

  8. Strain the cauliflower and place back into the empty cooking pot.
  9.  

  10. Add the butter, rosemary, remaining 1/2 tsp salt and pepper and with a potato masher (I used a submersion blender) and mash to the desired consistency.
  11. Serve hot.

Cheap Food Costa Rica – Puerto Viejo – La Botanica Organica

La Botanica Organica

On our recent trip to the Caribbean side, we discovered that the best restaurants are the breakfast ones. There aren’t a ton open before 9am but there are a few that we went to and fell in love with. The first morning we were there our local friend brought us to a little place called La Botanica Organica (make sure you like their Facebook page), who has the freshest, most organic produce you can find around Puerto Viejo.

From their page:

Breakfast and Lunch Menu:
Super Goji Berry and Hemp Seed Granola…Whole wheat Pancakes.. Whole Wheat French Toast, Organica Eggs.. Organica Coffee and tea.. Lentil Burgers.. Hummus Sandwiches.. Fresh Salads.. Lunch Specails.. Vegan, Veggi and Raw and Gluten Free Options!

In the Shop: Everything from Tea Tree Oil to Natural Deodorants and Toothpaste.. tinctures.. natural Medicines.. Essential Oils.. Incense .. Crystals.. Special Ordering available

While most small farms in Costa Rica can’t afford the official certification for organic status, some are abiding by all best practices and with a tour of the farm you can see it for yourself. These small farmers are sought out by the owner of La Botanica Organica and they have an open and honest working relationship. One of the goals of the restaurant is to help the local economy so they don’t grow the food themselves, but rather support those in the area. It’s a great concept.

When we walked in we immediately noticed the concrete floors (mainly because my husband is now doing decorative concrete) with imprints of Costa Rican flora. It was rustic, yet modern, just how we like it and it fit in perfectly with the foliage creeping in from all sides of the place.

The rest of the charming decor included rustic wood benches and tables with centerpieces poised with local flowers and verigated leaved plants. They had their morning delivery of produce spread out on a back table which allows you to see just what your prepared food is made of. The kitchen is open where you can see a few locals running around putting together everyone’s orders. The macrobiotica on site is just off of the main patio for easy access after you eat.

We started off with cups of rich organic Costa Rican coffee and for me (a ‘coffee-only-in-case-or-emergencies’ drinker) a cup of hot herbal tea with dried tropical fruit, lemon grass and other local herbs. We quickly moved on to our breakfasts of organic whole wheat pancakes with fresh pineapple topping, a free-range egg scramble with broccoli, onion, bell pepper and feta cheese with fresh baked whole grain bread (amazing!) and a bowl of fabulous granola and local yogurt with goji berries. The three of us tried each others food and agreed that we picked a place that will become a regular stop for us. We live in San Jose, but plan to make it back to the Caribbean side more often.

When we were done we felt satisfied and reminded again why we live here. The owners are from California and have adapted well to living the pura vida life. They contribute to the local economy, make delicious food which is sometimes hard to find here, and have cheerful, attentive waitstaff. Thanks for a great start to an amazing weekend in Puerto Viejo, Talamaca, Cocles. You’ll be seeing us again soon.

After visiting the restaurant we moved on to visit the Jaguar Rescue Center just down the road to play with some monkeys! Make sure you support them, it’s totally worth the $15 per person for the tour.

Vegetarian Empanada Filling Recipes

If you haven’t checked out the previous posts written on chicken empanadas, beef empanadas, seafood empanadas or ham empanadas, don’t miss out. However, if you are of the veggie preference or just want to find something without meat for a meal or two, you’ve come to the right place. Some of the most delicious empanadas that I’ve made have been vegetarian. With the right ingredients the meatless variety is something quite spectacular.

Continue reading

Garlic Roasted Cauliflower

This recipe for garlic roasted cauliflower is more of an extension of a recipe I’ve used with roasted broccoli in a pasta salad. I loved how the other recipe turned out and needed a quick, cheap dish to take to an Easter cookout. To me, cauliflower has a nicer texture to it and is more versatile than broccoli, so it seems natural to make the switch.

We took the dogs to a barbecue where they served up sausages, hamburgers and the staples: guacamole, pico de gallo and refried beans.  Our roasted cauliflower fit in nicely with the spread. Here’s how the recipe goes for 8-10 people:

GARLIC ROASTED CAULIFLOWER INGREDIENTS

2 heads of fresh cauliflower
5-6 Garlic cloves sliced into ultra thin rounds (think Goodfellas)
1 whole fresh jalapeño, seeded and diced
1 small yellow onion, diced
1/4 C. olive oil
1 Tbsp coarse sea salt
1 Tbsp fresh chives, finely chopped
1 tsp fresh ground pepper

GARLIC ROASTED CAULIFLOWER DIRECTIONS

1. Pre-heat oven to 400
2. Clean and cut the cauliflower into florets and place in a large mixing bowl

Whole Cauliflower Cauliflower Florets

3. In a small dish, combine oil, garlic slices, chives, salt, pepper, jalapeño, and onion and mix well.

Mixed spices in olive oil

4. Pour over the cauliflower florets and toss until well-coated.
5. Spread seasoned cauliflower in a single layer on two cookie sheets.

Seasoned Cauliflower

6. Place inside the preheated oven and roast for 20-25 minutes or until slightly browned and tender. Stir halfway through cooking.

Garlic-Roasted-Cauliflower

7. Cover your roasted cauliflower and take to any cookout, or serve immediately.

Wasabi Cold Pasta Salad

As I’ve mentioned in a few other cheap pasta salad blog posts, like roasted walnut and broccoli pasta salad, tuna pasta salad, and southwest chicken stew, I’ve got an affinity for finding anything I can in the cupboard and  refrigerator and tossing it in some pasta. It’s a great way to make a salad heartier than if you just use lettuce as the base. This time I was inspired by the star-shaped pasta that I found recently and the wasabi paste that’s been sitting in the fridge for a few weeks (okay, months…). So, before heading out for the day with the dogs to a waterfall park about an hour out of San Jose, I put together the following pasta salad.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Feel free to tweak this pasta salad recipe for more or less kick.

WASABI COLD PASTA INGREDIENTS

• 1/2 of a 500 gram bag of small pasta (spirals, stars, orzo, etc)
• 1 Cup of blanched fresh broccoli
• 1/2 of a cucumber, peeled and diced
• 1 red bell pepper, diced
• 1 Cup of frozen peas
• 1 Tbl fresh cilantro
• 1 tsp garlic powder (or 1 clove of minced garlic)
• 1 Tbl wasabi paste
• 1/8 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
• 1 Tbl Sesame oil

WASABI COLD PASTA DIRECTIONS

1. Bring a medium sauce pan filled half way with water to a boil
2. Stir in pasta and cook to al dente, drain and rinse with cold water
3. In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and stir until well-coated and properly combined
4. Chill combined Wasabi Cold Pasta Salad for an hour and serve.

Organic Groceries Delivered in Costa Rica- NaturaStyle

We’ve been toying with the idea of getting our groceries through NaturaStyle for several months now (okay, about 9 months) and remembering our delivery service in Charlotte (Absolute Organics), I’m not sure what took us so long.

WHEN DOES NATURA STYLE DELIVER?

NaturaStyle only delivers on Saturdays, so planning is essential. We placed our order the Sunday prior and just survived off of the fridge leftovers in anticipation for the motherload to come the next Saturday. It was very easy to get in touch with Silvia, the one in charge of orders, to verify the time of delivery. They make the delivery schedule the Friday before, so make sure you don’t have plans for Saturday until you know your delivery time.

Ours was scheduled for 10:30am and the guys were less than 30 minutes late, which is considered early here in Costa Rica. Tico Time usually means everything happens around 2 hours after it was scheduled, so we were in great shape. The delivery guys came and were very friendly and helpful to put the groceries in the house. Here is what we ordered, and keep in mind this is all organic:

WHAT DOES NATURA STYLE DELIVER?

• bunch of 4 ripe bananas ($0.30)
• 4 Whole fresh beets with tops ($2.70)
• 2 Large heads of broccoli ($2.73)
• 1 Whole coconut ($0.35)
• 18 pk of eggs ($3.80)
• 1/4 Kilo Goat Cheese ($4.47)
• 1 large bunch green onion ($0.68)
• 8oz jar of Honey ($4.96)
• 6 misc lemons and limes ($1.39)
• 1 bunch lemongrass ($0.75)
• 1 head boston lettuce ($0.90)
• 1 container of whole white mushrooms ($3.23)
• 4 heads of garlic ($1.63)
• Medium Pineapple ($1.25)
• 250g (approx 1 Cup) Raw Butter ($3.79)
• 1 liter Raw Milk ($2.38)
• 3 Bunches of spinach ($1.63)
• 1 Kilo Star Fruit ($0.75)
• 3 Sweet Red Bell Peppers ($2.28)
• 1 Kilo Roma Tomatoes ($4.61)
• 2.3 Kilo Whole Chicken ($13.31)
• 1 loaf whole wheat and herb bread ($1.86)

TOTAL: $64.30

So, as you can see the prices vary. Some items are surprisingly cheap, like the kilo of Star Fruit or a bunch of lemongrass for $0.75. However, some of the other items you would expect to be cheaper, especially here in Costa Rica, like the bell peppers at $2.28 for three. But, the rest is reasonable especially for organic. If you shop at the markets you’ll find better prices, but you can’t beat delivery and the quality is spot on.

The best items we received, when considering flavor, were the bananas, which had a richness we had never tasted before, the star fruit, the bread, and the raw milk. We’ve been reading about raw milk and the benefits of not drinking pasteurized milk, but this stuff is delicious. We’re not too picky about some food but we’re not into buying our garlic from China, because who knows what they’re doing over there and who is regulating what. So, although the organic garlic is expensive, we definitely prefer it.

Check back here for more posts about NaturaStyle and their products.

Cheap Food Costa Rica – Farmers Market Pavas

Until about a month ago, we had been buying all of our groceries at the local supermarkets. We tried AutoMercado, Perimercado, Mas X Menos, Saretto, MegaSuper, PriceSmart, Palí and Hipermas trying to test out which has better quality of food, price per unit/measure and variety. I haven’t given my full research post yet, but it’s in the works. However, for now, we are realizing that some items, certainly not all, are cheaper at the markets. But, don’t be fooled, not everything is cheaper at the ‘ferias’.

Our regular shopping list includes onion, bell pepper, garlic, chicken, fish, lettuce, cilantro, tomatoes, broccoli, green onion and various fruit items. Finding cheap food in Costa Rica is much harder that it would seem and unfortunately for the citizens of this country, the cost of living has been rapidly rising for the last 5-10 years. So, the cost of food items is high along with the luxury and imported items we North Americans are used to. The grocery stores range in price on all items, as do the markets around San José.

Farmers market Costa Rica 1 Costa Rica Farmers Market 2

We have become regulars at the Saturday Pavas feria in our neighborhood adjacent to the Palí. The market runs from sun up to late afternoon and stretches about 500 meters down a through street (other than on Saturdays) with vendors on both sides. The people are friendly and the food is fresh, but do make sure you are getting a good price, specifically on eggs. I have found that they are no less expensive here than at any of the supermarkets. Buying frozen fish is certainly priced fair, as well as most of the produce. We can walk in with c 10,000 (about $18) and fill four reusable grocery bags. The flowers are beautiful as are the artisans handiwork available.

Grilled zucchini

Grilled veggies over coconut rice

When we got home after the second or so visit, we knew the best option for dinner was grilled zucchini and bell peppers over coconut rice. I don’t know what the open flame does to food but it always takes things up a notch. We’ve got a few other cheap grilling recipes on the site like grilled potatoes with onions and jalapeños and burgers with pineapple salsa. Also, check out the Food Costa Rica category to where you can find cheap food in Costa Rica.