Kroger healthy food deals for week of January 20, 2013

Well, that shortened my weekend.

About 3:30 this afternoon, a deep tiredness swept over me and I had to lie down. I had intended to just rest for about 20 minutes—a good ol’ power nap—but it turned into a 2-hour sleepfest.

Ah well. Sometimes we have to trust that our bodies know what we need.

For this week’s Kroger healthy savings, it’s sadly lacking in options; but there are a few good things, so without further ado:

Organic mini peeled carrots 2 lbs./$4 (great for snacking when you just want “something” and you are trying to ignore the potato chips)

Organic Fuji apples $1.59/lb. (these are really yummy!)

Navel oranges $3.99/3 lb. bag (oranges are in-season, so enjoy them while they are fresh and cheap!)

Simple Truth organic milk $2.99 ½ gal.

Birds Eye Steam Fresh frozen vegetables 10/$1.49 each

There are various cheeses on sale that you can use for snacks.

That’s it for the healthiest options. Not a whole lot to go on, but you have to remember it’s the middle of winter so there isn’t much produce for grocers to purchase unless they want it shipped across the country or from Mexico.

Don’t forget to check out the community market on Wednesday mornings and Saturday. Again, not a lot of produce, but I got a very yummy spaghetti squash a couple weeks ago and used that for a side dish for several meals. It’s very tasty with just a little butter, Himalayan salt, and cracked pepper. If you haven’t tried it yet, you should. It’s very mild tasting. Here is my blog entry for a super easy way to fix spaghetti squash.

Also, don’t forget to check coupon sites that help you match coupons with sales items for every day groceries and personal items. There are many out there; my favorite is The Frugal Find. 

This is important if you believe you can’t afford whole foods or organic options. Save money on your other grocery and personal purchases and you can splurge on a few whole food and organic items that you can integrate into your meals.

How are you doing with substituting the less healthy foods for healthier options? Let’s talk about it!

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The Skinny on Spaghetti Squash

I tried spaghetti squash for the first time around 2003 when I was on one of many low-carb diets.

For a pasta lover like me, a pasta substitute it’s not.

However, it was good on its own merit and I liked it. I’d just as soon consider it a vegetable option rather than a substitute for pasta.

If you have considered trying it but wasn’t sure what to do with it or how to fix it, this will be the post for you.

I’ve even included pictures.

However, don’t expect those amazing food photos where the food is artfully arranged on a beautiful platter and the surroundings are blurred to add artistic drama. These are taken with my Samsung phone and you get what you get!

So, here is what the squash looks like.

Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti Squash

The last time I bought spaghetti squash at the Community Market, I paid $1/lb. The last one I bought at Kroger was $2.29/lb. Even if you have to pay full price, you are getting a decent amount of fresh, whole food for your family.

Not knowing there was an easier way, I spent many years battling with a gigantic knife cutting this sucker in half and baking it. This was a turn off for me and many times I bypassed this scrumptious food option simply because I didn’t want to risk life and limb trying to cut this thing in half.

One day I decided to just bake it whole.

Voila! It worked just as well and it was a piece of cake to cut after cooking. Please don’t try to cut this thing in half before baking it unless you are a skilled ninja swordsperson. I can’t believe I didn’t lose a hand.

Here’s what you do.

Turn your oven dial to 350 degrees.

First, you will want to pierce the squash just like you would a potato you bake or microwave. You don’t want this thing to explode all over your oven. (It’s also a great time to take out frustrations from your nagging boss or gossipy coworkers! Just be careful.)

Pierce the squash all over with a knife to allow steam to escape

Pierce (or stab!) the squash all over with a knife to allow steam to escape.

Secondly, wrap the squash in a foil cocoon. It doesn’t have to be airtight; in fact, I leave a little steam spout in the top.

Foil cocoon around squash with a vented top.

Foil cocoon around squash with a vented top.

Put it in a baking pan or on a cookie sheet for added protection from any moisture that might drip and make it easier getting it in and out of the oven.

Bake it for at least 45-50 minutes. If you have a big squash you could leave it in for as much as an hour and a half.

You almost can’t mess it up.

In fact, a couple of weeks ago, I put one in the oven and forgot about it. THREE hours later I pulled it out. It was still edible.

The night I cooked this one in the pictures, I stuck it in a 325-degree oven (in case I was stuck out in the snow and I needed a little cushion for time) and went down to White Hart for a decaf Americano. See how pretty it was when I left?

White Hart after the snow storm on January 17, 2013.

White Hart after the snow storm on January 17, 2013.

Once you’ve cooked it to your satisfaction, carefully remove it from the oven and unwrap the foil. This one ended up baking for about 2 hours on 325.


If you don’t need the squash for a meal right away, you can let it cool a bit; it will make it much easier to handle.

Cut the stem end off and discard. Then, cut the spaghetti squash in half, lengthwise.


With a spoon, scoop the seeds and the murky, gooey middle stuff that surrounds the seeds and discard.


Then, take a fork and slide it upside down starting with the cut side pulling down towards the middle and pull the strands of squash away from the shell.


You should scrape all the way down to the rind, but do it layer by layer. Put the shredded squash in a bowl as you go.

When it comes to fixing it, I like it simple and easy. I add real butter, Himalayan salt, and cracked black pepper. It makes my mouth happy.

Here is my finished product. I served it with homemade chicken croquettes patties (too lazy to make ahead and do the required one-hour chill for a real croquettes form), and sliced up some of the kiwi we got on sale from Food Lion last week for color and variety.


Depending on the number of people at your table, this should last for two or three meals as a side dish. For my husband and I, we ate on it for three days. There was one day I think I had a little for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!

Big bonus for those looking to lose weight: It’s only 42 calories for an entire cup (not including the butter). I found this information on its nutritional properties.

Try it and comment here on how you liked (or disliked) it and how you fixed it. I’d love to hear from you.

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Food Lion Healthy Specials

Rather than spend money on food, I think Central/Southside Virginians need to buy canoes. Is this rain ever going to stop?

I heard we have a little snow coming in tomorrow, so possibly many of you have already been to Food Lion for your “MBT” snow run.

Milk. Bread. Toilet Paper.

Can you imagine how many feet of snow we would have if the last three days were cold enough to have snow instead of rain? I shudder.

Anyway, for the week 1/16-1/22, Food Lion has these healthy or healthy-ish items on sale.

Seedless cucumbers $.99 each (not on the “clean 15” list, but if you need some fresh produce, this would work. Just be sure to peel the skin for a less likely chance of pesticide residue.)

Hass Avocados $.99/each

Sweet onions (bulk) $.89/lb

Navel oranges $3.99/bag

Organic Soy milk $2.69 1/2 gal

My Essentials olive oil $3.00/17 oz. (no idea how pure the olive oil is, but it’s a good price)

Ragu Pasta Sauce 2/$5

Ragu isn’t the healthiest option compared to homemade sauce with organic tomatoes, but who has time for that?

Team this up with some Dreamfields pasta–coupon was in Sunday’s paper for it–and be careful of serving size.

Dreamfields pasta has lower glycemic index so that the simple carbs don’t immediately hit your system as if you ate a cup of sugar.

Make a very tasty large salad and eat it before you even dip out the spaghetti and sauce. With a true serving size of pasta and sauce, you’ll have a relatively healthy meal.

When you are trying to wean and cut back on drive-thru fast food, making simple, tasty meals like this make it easier to make the switch.

Soon (tomorrow?) I’ll share an upcycle project I’m working on to raise money for a missionary. I’m so excited about it!

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What in the world is a GMO and why should I care?

There is a literal mountain of information out there, folks. Trust me on that; I’ve read a lot of it.

But if you are like me and just want someone to give you the skinny and what-you-need-to-know-now kind of thing, read on.

If you even want it simpler and have a reader’s digest version, I’ll start with that!

Now you have no reason to be misinformed any longer. In the next three minutes you will know enough that you will want to start paying attention to your food labels and make grocery purchases without blinders.

Reader’s Digest Version:

Scientists have learned how to splice the genes in seeds to inject them with pesticides and weed killer. The food you may have purchased and eaten 20 years ago probably had some chemicals sprayed during its growth, but now it has the chemicals built right into its DNA…AND has likely been chemically sprayed during growth (the chemicals injected only served to make the weeds and bugs resistant so farmers still had to spray).

Why would someone do this and why won’t someone stop it?

Well, it was a great concept idea back in the seventies and eighties when the seeds and crops from the GM seeds were in the testing and production stages. Combat world hunger by developing a seed that would withstand any bug, weed, or drought and feed the world.

Almost wants you to grab your neighbor’s hand and start swaying and singing, “We Are the World,” doesn’t it?

So like I said, it was a noble idea.

But it didn’t work.

In fact, it has been such a fiasco that cotton farmers in India, who were persuaded by GMO seed giant Monsanto to plant their GMO cotton as opposed to traditional seed, are committing suicide by the thousands. Why? Because their crops failed.

GMO crops are now banned in most of the EU, many countries in Africa (yes, even in those countries with starving populations), Russia, Switzerland, Norway, Australia, New Zealand, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Brazil, and Paraguay.

There are many non-GMO legislative discussions all over the US right now. The problem is, Monsanto’s entire livelihood and existence depends on GMO seeds remaining in circulation so they are publishing studies that determine GMO are safe.

In the US, most of the corn, soy, canola, cotton, tomatoes and potatoes are  grown with GM seeds. Other produce to check carefully are papaya, rice, rapeseed, and peas.

Additionally, livestock who eat large amounts of corn products are riddled with these toxins and then processed in meat-packing plants delivered right to your grocer.

There is also a bit of brouhaha over linking dying bee colonies with GMO crops. Sidenote: Without cross pollination by bees there are no flowers or crops!

Once you understand this and you start reading your food labels more carefully, you’ll see how much of your diet is made up of dangerous chemicals.

The biggest offenders that you may not even realize and you probably have in your kitchen right now are cooking oils, food with soy products, and anything with corn or corn by-products…including high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

If I told you to throw out everything in your house that has (non-organic) corn, soy, or canola in it, you’d likely be left with bare cupboards.

I found a page on Vitacost’s website that highlights non-GMO food and gives a little summary about it as well. If you find something on the website you want to order, please use this link to get a $10 coupon. It will give you $10 off your first order and will give me a $10 credit for when I order my coconut oil! Thanks!

There are many more reasons why GMO’s should be avoided, but I wanted to start with the promised info so that you can be more aware of what you put in your grocery cart this week.


If you want more details expounding on these basics, this article on organic consumers website is a great place to start.

Have any of you made any headway in making some swaps from overly processed food to whole foods or at least better foods?

I have already decided that I will never use standard cooking oil anymore. Olive oil is preferred, but there is a whole controversy about what companies actually sell real EVOO and not olive oil cut with canola or other cheap oils. So I haven’t figured all that out yet.

I’ve also decided that I am always going to use organic greens for my salads.

Baby steps, right?

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My Percival’s Isle Experience and This Week’s Healthy Deals

How crazy is it that we’ve had temps in the low 70’s in the middle of January?!

In fact, it unnerved my husband so much that he dragged me out to the river walk down on Percival’s Isle yesterday and made me walk a mile.

Percival's Isle river walk downtown Lynchburg

Percival’s Isle river walk downtown Lynchburg

He’s not an exercise junkie and neither am I. But he knows that I have been very unhappy with the pudgy results of spending nearly two years in a boot,  in a wheelchair, with a walker, or on crutches due to Achilles pain and surgery.

My husband must really, truly love me to motivate me on a walk because I was a big whiner.

I must say, after the walk was over (he refused me even the smallest shortcut across the parking lot), I was glad he dragged me (read: kicking and screaming) down there.

Now I know what the walk is like. It’s easy.

No monumental hills unless you want to go off the nice, flat, blacktopped path to go down the dirt path to the river. And that’s not really that big. Seriously. I saw a three-year-old and his grandmother navigating that “difficult” path while pushing a stroller.

I admit, however, to feeling bitter while my sweaty self was leaning and wheezing against the quarter-mile marker.

Why? A man jogged by.

Was he buff? A jock? Training for sports? Probably not. However, this man could give Methuselah a run for his money on the prize for the oldest living human.

Therefore, I seriously need to buck up. If a three-year-old, his grandmother, and Methuselah can do it, so can I.

And, by the way, so can you!

If you have mobility issues or need an easy place to start a walking exercise program, Percival’s Isle river walk has my stamp of approval. Wheelchairs could easily navigate through the main walkway. There are plenty of places to stop and rest. If you only want to go a short distance, it’s easily done.

Anyway, back to the task at hand. Here are the healthy deals I found in today’s Kroger circular:

Kroger frozen vegetables 10/$10 (although, aren’t they usually? The circular states that you only get that price with your Kroger card.)

Simple Truth chicken 20% off

Simple Truth organic salad varieties 5-9 oz. $2.99

Simple Truth organic butter $3.99/lb

Simple Truth organic yogurt 32 oz 2/$6

Simple Truth organic beans 15 oz can 10/$10 (my only note is that, unless specified, cans have lining with BPA and can be very detrimental to your health. I do not know first-hand if Simple Truth has BPA-free cans or not.)

Cascadian Farm organic cereal or bars $2.99

EnviroKidz organic cereal or bars 2/$5

Simple Truth organic pizza 2/$9

Horizon organic milk 1/2 gal $3.79

Horizon single serve choc and van milk 10/$10

Grapefruit and navel oranges 8 lb/$5.99

Organic Braeburn apples $1.79/lb

Eggplant 10 lbs/$10 (Um. Ten pounds of eggplant? Not for me! But perhaps they will allow $1 per pound if you don’t buy 10 lbs?)

Kroger cream cheese 10/$10

Private Selection turkey is on sale for $.99/lb, but check for hormone/antibiotic free. If it is, it’s a great option to cook and store the meat for fast and easy use later in casseroles and other family meals.

If you have pets, today’s paper has a coupon for Purina One Beyond. It’s one of the few foods that I like to feed Lazarus (my long-haired black cat) and Daisy (my Shih-Tzu dog). There are no corn or wheat ingredients.

I also want to encourage you to take advantage of other coupon sites that help you match up the rest of your grocery needs. If you can save money in one area, you can splurge in other areas by integrating more organics and whole foods into your diet.

If you have the means and resolution to do so, trash everything in your cupboards and spend hundreds of dollars a week buying strictly organic and whole foods. Don’t let me stop you.

But if you are anything like me, changing from a fast-food-and-mostly-instant meal options to a healthier lifestyle of eating doesn’t happen overnight. That’s the point of this blog.

I’ve learned a lot about about healthy food over the past few years and I can say that my everyday diet still has a lot of room for improvement.

I promise: Next post I will provide some information about why GMO food is something that we should avoid as much as possible!

Have a great week!

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Really late Food Lion sales and Community Market news

25 years.

That is how many years it has been since I spent any time with one of my favorite college roommates.

Not sure how it happened; after all, I’m still 20-something, right?

Oh. Wait.

I’ve been 20-something for a couple decades. The last time I saw her my now 28-year-old son was 3.

I was able to squeeze a couple great hours of catch-up time with my dear friend in between her intensive college course at LU.

I spent an evening with another old college friend this week, too. It’s been far too long since we’ve seen each other; no good excuses, either as we live about an hour away from each other.

Anyway, it was the week for reunions…and part of why I haven’t had any new posts lately.

I grabbed a Food Lion store flyer last night when I succommed to the need of ordering my favorite pizza-style cheese sticks at Mr. Shipps in Forest, VA. Let me tell you, it’s bad food heaven.

That’s one reason I have been contemplating this blog for months. It’s not easy making healthy food choices sometimes. Some days are a pass, but most days are a fail. I think that there are a lot of people like me out there.

Some may think they are eating well based on USDA/FDA guidelines but still struggle with weight and health issues. Guess what? The government mostly legislates by what lobbyist group is paying best and it has nothing to do with what is healthy and best for us.

Others might have a pretty good idea what is and isn’t healthy, but because of food addictions, bad habits, exhaustively busy lives, and/or cravings can’t seem to keep on track.

My hope is that this blog will help provide thoughtful discussion about healthy eating and and assist in making healthier choices for you and your families.

This week in Food Lion they have the following decent options on sale:

Cantaloupe 2/$3

Honeydew or Personal melons 2/$5

Kiwi 2/$.88

Cabbage $.49/lb

Mushrooms 6 oz. $1.29

Kraft Deluxe Cheese 16 oz. $4.99 (this is real american cheese, not “cheese product” or “cheese food”; they’re not real cheese!)

They also have Nature’s Place all natural chicken on sale for $3.00/lb (The best chicken will be local organic chicken, but this is a much better choice over standard grocery store chicken)

I am sitting at my favorite coffee haunt, The White Hart cafe and Blackwater Coffee Company, after perusing the choices at the farmer’s market across the street. As you can imagine, there aren’t hoardes of farmers selling fresh produce in mid-January but that’s no reason to stay away. They’re open until 2 PM, so if you are out and about, stop by.

I scored a small jar of raw honey (my throat is a bit sore and I need some great honey benefits), a jar of habenero/apricot jelly, and a nice sized spaghetti squash for $3.50.

If you like greens, one farmer has some nice kale and collards, and there are plenty of apples. However, don’t forget to ask about their pesticide use. None specified organically grown and pesticides are a problem with garden greens and apples.

That’s all I have for right now, but there is much more to come. Have a healthy, happy weekend!

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Amy’s Organic Vegetarian Frozen Meals Clearance Price Alert!

I can’t believe I forgot to mention this. Call it old age senility, I guess.

Kroger is having a closeout sale on Amy’s Chili Cornbread meal and Thai Stirfry. This is at the Kroger on Wards Road, so I am not sure it will be in every Kroger.

While that does make me sad because I love Amy’s meals and never met one I didn’t like, it was a fabulous opportunity to stock the freezer with healthy, fast options for lunch.

If you use any of the other frozen food quickies like Lean Cuisine, Weight Watchers, Stouffers, etc, you will really see the difference when you try Amy’s. All of her ingredients are organic and have not been grown with genetically modified seeds. Any dairy products they use are from milk that has no rBST hormones, animal enzymes, or animal rennet.

You’ll have a filling meal full of real, nourishing food rather than a lot of chemicals, additives, and by products.

And they are vegetarian!

The chili meal was $1.99 for 10.5 oz and the Thai was $2.29 for 9.5 oz. They won’t last long, so stop by Kroger in the next day or two.

Have you seen any unadvertised specials on healthy meal options at your Kroger or Food Lion?

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