Healthy eating is easy on the wallet

In a financial pinch it's easy to grab for the processed foods at the grocery store because they seem to be less expensive than veggies and grains, but advocates for healthy eating say non-processed foods, for the most part, can be affordable.

Processed foods usually are made up of ingredients that don't really promote health, said Barbara Blanchard, acting chairwoman of the Schenectady Greenmarket. "The rule of thumb is that if you can't pronounce an ingredient then you probably shouldn't be eating it."

Baked goods purchased at the supermarket, for example, often contain excessive amounts of sugar, white flour and trans fats, all of which can be detrimental to health, according to Blanchard.

"Healthy foods are usually natural foods. They're not processed and those can be quite inexpensive fruits and veggies," said Blanchard.

She said inexpensive beans just might be the miracle food. Although dried beans are the cheapest, those in a can are still a bargain.

"Beans are very inexpensive and very nutritious, and they have protein and fiber," said Blanchard. "If you mix them with rice or serve them with rice, which is another quite inexpensive dish to prepare, and if you cook the rice in a little chicken broth, it really can be very good."

Blanchard also said that lentils are cheap and versatile. They also contain a lot of fiber and protein.

She cited the sweet potato as another miracle food.

"You can just cook it or bake it in the microwave," said Blanchard. "Sweet potatoes are really more nutritious " they're high in vitamins A and C and fiber."

According to Blanchard, a "really inexpensive meal" is to bake a potato and then sautE some veggies and stick them on top.

"You can use any veggie you have, like onion, mushroom, broccoli " you can just cook them and melt a little cheese on top," said Blanchard. "It's really good and very filling, and the potatoes also have a lot of vitamin C and fiber " they're good for you."

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