Full flavor, hold the cost

If there's one true necessity of life that has been impacted by high fuel prices, it would almost have to be food. High prices on the grocery shelves shouldn't justify reaching for less healthy alternatives, though.

According to celebrity Chef Jason Roberts, it's possible to eat healthy on a budget with just a little planning and creativity. Roberts was showing moms and kids from Franklin Community Center some ways to do just that in addition to demonstrating a healthy snack recipe on Saturday, July 12 at the Saratoga Hilton.

Cutting costs starts at the grocery store. In regards to meat, Roberts recommended that the cost-conscious should move away from the choicer cuts. Instead, braise $8 of fresh ground chuck with potatoes and tomatoes for a cheap entrEe capable of feeding five.

Also, look for spinach in a bag. Roberts said that he saved money on a trip to a local Price Chopper by buying the bags on sage. They can be very affordable, and a quick way to add color into your lifestyle, he said."

Roberts prefers to use the word "lifestyle" over "diet." "The first three letters are D-I-E and it ends with a cross," he said.

New Zealand born, Roberts discovered his passion for cooking in the kitchen of a boarding house where his grandmother worked. He also grew up on a dairy farm; he attributes that background to his emphasis on locally grown foods.

"Especially in regards to social and economic factors, it's important to eat locally," he said. "I keep it as local and as fresh as possible."

That was his plan for Tuesday, July 15, when Roberts will be cooking for a Key Bank invitation-only dinner. In the meantime, he toured sheep and berry farms and still found time to whip up smoothies at Key Bank's Latham branch.

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