Throughout my life, the one thing I cut back on
when I was short of money was food. I would buy
the cheapest things to eat that I could find. Now I
see that the "savings" were not savings at all. They
were big expenses because of the chunks they took
out of my health.

What I wish I'd known, and did know, actually, but I
didn't consistently use what I knew, was that beans
and rice may be more expensive than Ramen
noodles and spaghetti, but they are much healthier.

I don't mean VanCamps Pork and Beans, or Bush's,
I mean organic beans, dry and in bulk, and brown
rice.
Organic Lundberg organic br                        is
best, in my opinion. You do need to get a good
brown rice or it won't taste good and you won't want
to eat it. For instance, I tried some brown rice from
WalMart once; it was really bad. I had no idea
brown rice could be that bad. But having tried it I
understood why someone had emailed me that
she'd "gagged down the brown rice."

In terms of beans, there are many kinds: black
beans, navy beans, pinto beans, black eyed peas
and more. The only kind to be careful of is raw
kidney beans because if they do not reach a
boiling temperature for a
certain amount of time
they can be poisonous,
or so I was informed
when I lived in England
and people who cooked
them in slow cookers
were dying because at
that time slow cookers
were not hot enough
to eliminate the poison.

Slow cookers have actually played a part in my way
of saving money on food, especially in winter. Slow
cookers do that by making
healthy food easy, and by
warming my home as well as
my spirits. It's emotionally
comforting to have my home
fragrant with herbs cooking in
my dinner, without a lot of
kitchen work and attention.
(The candles I use now that I
have solar, are very similar to Slow Cookers.)

I discovered exactly how much a beautifully warm
meal affected my well being after the utility company
shut off my heat and lights on April 4, 2007. I would
be shivering and chilled to the bone by the time an
evening meal was delivered (I'm housebound). But,
after I ate I would feel warm and comfortable even
though my home was colder because it was now
dark and the temperature lower.










That reminded me of London, when I was a
silversmith. There were days when I'd pick up my
little son from play-school and I'd be so exhausted I
didn't see how I could go home, make dinner and
not yell at him if he wanted more from me than my
attention to making food.

What I would do on days like that was take us to the
"working man's calf" -- that's what John the
Topologist called it -- and order us a slightly soggy
but warm and effortless meal. (It was fun because
Sadler's Wells Theatre was nearby and dancers
and actors from the companies performing at
Sadler's regularly ate at the restaurant. Once it was
embarrassing for me because the lead Ballet
Rambert dancer was talking about doing lifts and
how hard it was if the female dancer was tall. I
accidentally stood up to leave just as he and his
friends did, and I towered over him. I felt my height
and weight to be more unwieldy than I had ever felt
before.) What's important though, is the consistent
way it was relaxing and reassuring to eat there
because it eliminated things that were harder than I
could handle.

From that experience, I can see why people go to
McDonald's, Burger King and the like, even though
the meals are expensive in terms of money. Far
exceeding the money involved is the value of the
relaxation they provide and the sense of reward that
the warm, effortless meals may instill for a hard
day's work.

This being true, think of how great it is to make food
at home that gives you the same sense of comfort
and reward but without the restaurant cost, and with
far better
pH level nutrition. Not to mention that at
home you can put things in your slow cooker dinner
that do not contain GMOs and are not full of
antibiotics from a factory farm.

You can do it so easily, too: when you go food
shopping buy organic dry beans, brown rice, lentils,
thyme, sage, bay leaves, rosemary, allspice, celery,
carrots, yellow onions and olive oil. Yellow onions
are good because the
quercetin in them reduces the
incidence of skin cancer. Quercetin is what makes
green tea so healthy to drink.

Then, in the morning before you go to work, quickly
chop an onion, a couple of carrots, a celery stalk.
Add that to beans and rice in your slow cooker. That
takes about five minutes from start to putting the
finishing touch of olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme,
rosemary, sage, a bay leave and maybe an allspice
or two into your slow cooker, covering the
ingredients with water, turning it on and forgetting it
till you come home in the evening to be greeted by
the rich aroma of a lovely home cooked meal.

If you aren't familiar with beans they may seem as if
they are going to need a bit of meat to jazz them up.
But in reality they are wonderfully tasty and very
healthy for us, to boot. By using your favorite spices
and herbs your beans will have all the best flavors
you come to expect from
eating meat. With so much
"good taste" going on you aren't going to miss the
meat the way you might expect.

You can change your meals by adding tomatoes
one day, a bullion cube another (I use only a portion
of a cube at a time), different kinds of beans and
using no brown rice on still another day.

When you think about it, you don't order vastly
different things each time you go to McDonald's.
Mainly you order the convenience and that greasy
good taste we've become accustomed, if not
addicted, to.

Speaking of that rich, oil texture and flavor, if you're
not used to olive oil you may find its taste a little odd
to begin with, but it totally ratchets up the flavor and
richness of the beans. You could use other cooking
oils, however it's good to remember that olive oil is
really good for us -- check it out on the
pH scale.

Brown rice is very healthy, too. If you have digestion
problems or swollen ankles, it helps. Plus, brown
rice is great for slimming because it makes us lose
weight. (Remember to get a good, organic kind of
brown rice or you won't be enamoured.)

Back in the Sixties when I first heard that brown rice
makes us lose weight, a group of us tried it and it
worked for each of us. At that time it was touted as
"the brown rice diet" which said you could eat
anything you wanted with the brown rice and still
lose weight, even if you ate the brown rice with
sugar, raisins and whipped cream. For those of us
that tried that extreme, just to see if it was true,
found that indeed it was. (We thought that it might
be true because over time the brown rice gets
boring, so no matter what you put with it, you eat
less.)

The great thing about brown rice is that it has a sort
of dumpling and gravy consistency if you cook it
with chicken. I totally love that! (But, I don't always
have the money for chicken. And now that I know
about factory farms, I don't like to eat anything
containing that much antibiotic.)

Brown rice takes several hours to cook, so it's great
in a slow cooker, just be sure to cover it with a lot of
water so it can plump up and not burn.

When I compare how I feel after eating brown rice
and beans with how I feel after eating a Ramen
Noodle dinner, or spaghetti and sauce, there's a
huge contrast. Eating rice and beans leaves me
feeling satisfied. Perhaps that's because they are
naturally rich in nutrients, besides which they are
known to reduce the incidence of cancer. Just be
sure to get the Organic kind, because GMOs have
been shown to cause tumors.

Another neat thing is that if you get into the habit of
cooking fresh every day you won't have to run your
refrigerator, and that's a big additional savings. Or,
conversely, you can freeze what you don't need at a
particular meal, so that later you can prepare it as
quickly as a frozen dinner from the grocery store,
only WAY more healthy and WAY less costly.

Stop paying for "factories" to prepare your meals.
They don't love you and your family the way that
You do!

In the summer the slow cooker would raise the
temperature in your home in a most likely unwanted
way. So come summer, buy the Eden Black Beans
in cans, they are SO good. Plus, they've been
prepared with a bit of seaweed that makes them
really easy to digest.

For the rice you might want to get a little, electric
rice cooker so that it's ready for you when you get
home from work. If you put some herbs in, the
aroma will be almost as inviting as during the winter.
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