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Eating healthy on a budget

Ever wonder why a protein-packed salad can be $15+ but a fast-food hamburger is $3? You wouldn’t be the first one, and it can be frustrating as a college student trying to maintain a nutritious diet. Many people think that eating healthy means breaking the bank, but that is simply untrue. If you know how to shop through the fresh produce section, eating healthy can be cheap, easy and surprisingly delicious!

Aside from cost, lots of people also think that eating healthy means sacrificing taste, but that is yet again a myth. Spices and seasonings can really pack a punch in the flavor department and can also have major health benefits, such as helping with inflammation, digestion and immune health. Some examples of spices and their benefits:

Turmeric – anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties

Ginger – helps with nausea, relieves inflammation, boosts immune and gut health

Cayenne – reduces appetite, boosts metabolism, aids digestion, lowers blood pressure

Cinnamon – increases metabolism, lowers blood sugar levels, has anti-diabetic effect

Garlic – helps heart health, combats the common cold

Fresh lemon – reduces bloating, improves gut health, clears skin, levels blood sugar, is cleansing to liver and kidneys

Below are a handful of go-to recipes that are both delicious and nutritious:

Kale Kuku Soccata
Serves 2
From Gweneth Paltrow’s The Clean Plate cookbook

3/4 cups chickpea flour
3/4 cup water
1 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for the pan
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/3 cups chopped kale leaves
2 Tbsp minced fresh parsley
2 Tbsp minced fresh dill
2 Tbsp minced fresh cilantro
2 green onions, sliced thinly
1 tsp lemon zest (optional)

Whisk together the flour, water, olive oil and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Add the kale, parsley, dill, cilantro, green onion and lemon zest and combine well.

Heat an 8″ nonstick skillet (ceramic nonstick is the only kind of pan I recommend) over medium-high heat. Grease with olive oil and pour in half the batter. Cook for 4 minutes until the bottom starts to crisp. Flip and cook another 3 minutes on the other side. Transfer to a plate to cool and cook the second soccata. Serve warm.

Buttermilk-Marinated Roast Chicken

Salt Fat Acid Heat

3½- to 4-pound (about 1.5 kilograms) chicken


2 cups (475 ml) buttermilk

The day before you want to cook the chicken, remove the wingtips by cutting through the first wing joint with poultry shears or a sharp knife. Reserve for stock. Season the chicken generously with salt and let it sit for 30 minutes.

Stir 2 tablespoons of kosher salt or 4 teaspoons fine sea salt into the buttermilk to dissolve. Place the chicken in a gallon-size resealable plastic bag and pour in the buttermilk. If the chicken won’t fit in a gallon-size bag, double up two plastic produce bags to prevent leakage and tie the bag with a piece of twine.

Seal it, squish the buttermilk all around the chicken, place on a rimmed plate, and refrigerate. If you’re so inclined, over the next 24 hours you can turn the bag so every part of the chicken gets marinated, but that’s not essential.

Pull the chicken from the fridge an hour before you plan to cook it. Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C), with a rack set in the center position.

Remove the chicken from the plastic bag and scrape off as much buttermilk as you can without being obsessive. Tightly tie together the legs of the chicken with a piece of butcher’s twine. Place the chicken in a 10-inch cast iron skillet or shallow roasting pan.

Slide the pan all the way to the back of the oven on the center rack. Rotate the pan so that the legs are pointing toward the rear left corner and the breast is pointing toward the center of the oven (the back corners tend to be the hottest spots in the oven, so this orientation protects the breast from overcooking before the legs are done). Pretty soon you should hear the chicken sizzling.

After about 20 minutes, when the chicken starts to brown, reduce the heat to 400°F and continue roasting for 10 minutes and then move the pan so the legs are facing the back right corner of the oven.

Continue cooking for another 30 minutes or so, until the chicken is brown all over and the juices run clear when you insert a knife down to the bone between the leg and the thigh.

When the chicken’s done, remove it to a platter and let it rest for 10 minutes before carving and serving.

Five Spice Salmon Burgers

The Clean Plate


1 ½ pounds salmon, skin removed and cut into 1-inch pieces

4 scallions, thinly-sliced

1 garlic clove, minced

1 2-inch piece ginger, peeled and minced

½ teaspoon five spice powder

2 tablespoon gluten-free tamari or coconut aminos

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1. Place salmon pieces in the freezer for about 10 minutes, until very cold but not frozen. In batches, add the salmon to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until it’s well minced but before it becomes a paste (about 10 one-second pulses).

2. Remove the salmon to a large bowl and blend the remaining ingredients in the food processor until very smooth, about 1 minute. Add this to the bowl with the salmon and use a fork, spatula, or your hands to thoroughly incorporate all the ingredients. Either cook right away or cover and refrigerate for up to two days.

3. To cook, place a grill pan over medium high heat. Form the salmon mixture into 6 equal patties, and when the pan is hot but not smoking, grill burgers for about three minutes on each side.

Teriyaki Chicken

For the teriyaki chicken:
2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 3/4 pound)
1 small garlic clove, grated
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons coconut aminos
Olive oil, for brushing the grill pan

For the bowl:
Cauliflower Rice
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped romaine lettuce
1/4 cup chopped kimchi
1 small carrot, grated
Pickled cucumbers
Fresh cilantro leaves
Toasted sesame seeds
Coconut aminos sauce


To make the teriyaki chicken, combine the chicken thighs, garlic, ginger, salt and coconut aminos in a small bowl and marinate at room temperature for 10 minutes.

Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Brush the pan with a little olive oil, add the chicken, and cook for five minutes per side, or until firm to the touch and cooked through. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for at least five minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the cauliflower rice, then stir in the toasted sesame oil and scallion.

If you don’t have a food processor to make cauliflower rice, Paltrow suggests using an old school box grater.

Divide the cauliflower rice between two bowls and top each with half the romaine, kimchi, carrot and cucumber pickles.

Chop the grilled chicken and season with salt, if needed. Divide the chicken between the bowls and garnish each with cilantro leaves and sesame seeds.

Pour a couple of tablespoons of the dipping sauce over each and serve with more sauce on the side.

Chocolate Cherry Almond Smoothie

⅓ cup frozen cherries

⅓ cup frozen cauliflower florets

1 date, pitted

1 teaspoon hemp seeds

1 teaspoon chia seeds

1 teaspoon flax seeds

2 teaspoons raw cacao powder

1 tablespoon almond butter

1 pinch Himalayan sea salt

1 cup water

Instructions Combine all the ingredients in a powerful blender and blend until smooth, adding more water if needed to reach your desired consistency.

by Tori Ellis

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