Simple Swaps: Cooking Spray

When I began label reading, there were certain staple items I bought that I didn’t even think to read the labels on.  One of these was cooking spray.  I didn’t think there would need to be anything in there other than oil.  I was buying the olive oil spray, so I assumed I was fine.  When I finally did read the label, I was shocked to find out there were numerous chemicals that I was spraying on my foods, along with the oil.  Thankfully, I found a great alternative, a reusable spray bottle that I pour my own oil into without any chemicals.  Even better, I can continue to refill it and reuse it, saving lots of money compared to buying disposable spray cans.

Why?  In order for disposable spray cans to work, chemical propellants are added.  Many times, cooking oils are made from GMO ingredients and have chemical flavoring added, which can cause hormonal disorders, mood disorders and other chronic health conditions.  By purchasing an oil spray mister, you are assured that the only thing that comes out of it is the oil you put in.

Swapping frugally: This is a great swap, as you’ll recoup the cost of the $10 mister pretty quickly and you’ll only need to buy it once.  Disposable cans contain very little oil, causing a need to replace it frequently.  I buy my olive oil on sale with coupons, and add this to the mister.  You can use any oil you prefer.  Some alternatives to olive oil are sunflower oil, safflower oil or garlic infused olive oil.  To keep your mister working properly, only fill it 1/4 of the way full and release the air after every use by loosening the top then re tightening it.  You can purchase the mister here or at most grocery stores.

How to use Recyclebank for Organic Coupons

One of the easiest ways to score coupons, is by joining Recyclebank.  This website offers easy ways to earn points and then use those points on many different rewards, from healthy coupons, to free magazine subscriptions, to gift cards.

Step 1: Click here to sign up for a free account with Recyclebank.  Click on “Register” in the top right corner.

Step 2: Click on “Earn Points” (you may need to go back to the home page to do this).  The fastest way to earn points is by clicking on “Learn, Read or Take Actions.”  Browse through the actions, click on each one and complete the action to earn the points.  Generally, you just need to take a quick questionnaire, watch a short video or read a statement to earn points.   Some easy ways to earn right now include: “Pledge to learn about recycling worldwide”, “Eco Time Capsule” and “Learn about Sustainable Sourcing.”  Once the action is completed, the points will automatically be added to your account.

Step 3:  Once you’ve earned some points, browse through the “Get Rewards” tab at the top.   At the top left, click “All rewards.”  Click on the reward that you’d like to purchase with your points.  Some of my favorites are $2 off 2 Kashi organic promise cereal, $2 off Avalon organics product (they make great face and body products, $1 off Lipton tea, This Old House, Country Living, Martha Stewart, Real Simple, Health, Cooking Light and many other free magazine subscriptions, $1 off Kashi frozen meal, $5 off $15 at Baja Fresh, $10 off $30 at Bed, Bath and Beyond, $15 off $75 at Dick’s sporting goods, $2 off Nature’s Gate product (great bath products, sold at Meijer), $10 off at Ruby Tuesdays, $5 Amazon gift card, $5 off $50 at Plum Market, $10 off $50 at Elder Beerman, $2 off Earth Friendly products (sold at Whole Foods), and much, much more.

Step 4: Once you click on the reward, Click “Get this Reward” then “Confirm.”  Click on “My Rewards”  where you can then print the coupon or fill out the form for the magazine/gift card.  Remember, you can usually print coupons twice by hitting the back button 3 times.
That’s it!  There are other ways to earn points, as well, such as making online purchases or recycling.  Take a look around their site.  I love their program.  Their rewards are usually a very high value and the points are super easy to earn.

Soft Dairy Free Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

2013 June 022

One of my favorite desserts is chocolate chip cookies.  Crunchy ones are okay, but I love soft cookies.  I could never find a recipe to get them soft, and I hated to buy the packaged kind.  I experimented a little and finally came up with a recipe for healthy, soft, chocolate chip cookies.

I try to sneak in coconut oil when I can, as it has so many health benefits due to high anti-oxidant content.  Even if you do not like the taste of coconuts, this recipe will work for you as you can’t tell it’s in there.

 

Soft Dairy Free Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup organic sugar or Xylitol if you'd like to reduce carbs/sugar content
  • 3/4 cup organic brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup coconut oil
  • room temperature
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 10 ounces of Trader Joe's chocolate chips (dairy free) or Enjoy Life Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips Dairy Free

Instructions

  1. 1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. 2. Mix ingredients together in a mixer or with a hand mixer
  3. 3. Stir in chocolate chips
  4. 4. Drop 2" balls of dough onto greased cookie sheet. Flatten slightly
  5. 5. Bake for 8-10 minutes until lightly browned
  6. 6. Cool on a cooling rack
https://allnaturalsavings.com/soft-dairy-free-whole-wheat-chocolate-chip-cookies/

Makes a dozen large cookies.

These freeze very well (dough or baked cookies).  You can also decrease the balls of dough in half for smaller cookies.

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Simple Swaps: Whole Wheat Flour

I used to think that if I switched to whole wheat flour, I’d still have to use white flour in addition to the whole wheat.  I recently discovered White Whole Wheat Flour (unbleached) and Bob’s Red Mill Organic Pastry Flour Whole Wheat, 5-Pound (Pack of 4).  I use these flours to completely replace white flour in recipes, there’s no need to go half and half.  This is great, as whole wheat flour recipes are hard to find.  You can just use these flours in any of your recipes, replacing the white flour.

Why? Whole wheat flour contains all of it’s natural nutrients, unlike white flour, which is stripped of it’s nutrients and replaced with synthetic versions.  It is a lot kinder on blood sugar levels and contains more protein.  White whole wheat flour is unbleached and is milled from white wheat instead of red wheat and mimics bleached white flour in baking.  Whole wheat pastry flour is ground extra to give it a softer, finer consistency, more similar to refined white flour.

Swapping Frugally: I buy Meijer Naturals White Whole Wheat Flour.  The price is $2.99 for 5 lbs, but can often be found on sale.  Meijer also runs promotions throughout the year, offering cash back on Meijer Natural purchases, so that is a good time to stock up.  Meijer Naturals commits to using non-GMO ingredients in their line.  Be sure to sign up for Meijer MPerks, as they sometimes offer coupons on this product.

Arrowhead Mills makes both WW pastry flour and White WW flour.  Currently there is $1 off coupon at Mambo Sprouts.  This brand can be found at Whole Foods.

Another good way to stock up is by using Amazon’s Subscribe and Save program.  Currently you can get Bob’s Red Mill Organic Pastry Flour Whole Wheat, 5-Pound (Pack of 4) for $19.22.  Even better, if you sign up for a free 3 month trial of Amazon Mom,  and buy 5 or more Subscribe and Save items in a month, you can save an additional 15%, bringing the price down to $16.18, or about $4 per 5 pounds of organic flour.  Subscribe and Save is a free program that can be cancelled at any time.  Choose this option when checking out to receive the discounted price.  To cancel, after delivery, go to your Subscribe and Save items and choose cancel.  Each month I buy 5 or more items through this program, save 20% off the already discounted price and I don’t even have to leave my house.  Plus, if you sign up for Amazon Mom, you will automatically receive 20% off diapers and wipes.  It’s a great program.

I will be posting my favorite whole wheat chocolate chip cookie recipe soon!

Organic Couponing: Stacking Store Coupons

In my last post, I talked about using coupons to score deals on healthy products.  The deals are even better when you use store coupons on top of the manufacturer coupons.  My two favorite stores for this are Meijer and Whole Foods.  Meijer has a program called Mperks.  You load e-coupons online and then punch in your phone number at the register and the coupons you’ve loaded are automatically applied.  You can stack their store MPerk e-coupons (not their manufacturer Mperk e-coupons) with a manufacturer coupon, so be sure to check which type of e-coupon it is.  Meijer has their own brand of organics that are affordable.  They often go on sale and there are many coupons on Mperks for these items, to save even further.

Whole Foods offers many high value coupons each month on their website.  They also allow you to “stack” these with manufacturer coupons that you find in the paper or the coupon websites I mentioned in the previous post.  There’s no limit on the amount of store coupons they will allow you to use which works great with their bulk program.  If you buy a product in bulk (usually 6-12, depending on the item) they will offer you an additional 10% off.  Often times you can find a product on sale, use a WF coupon, a manufacturer coupon and buy in bulk and you end up paying less than you would at the regular grocery store for a cheap, unhealthy product.  I’ve often gotten items free from WF using these methods.

Kroger now also has their own brand of Organics, called Simple Truth. They are priced below name brand organics and often go on sale. Kroger has a similar program to Mperks, however, you cannot use manufacturer coupons with them.  Sometimes, the coupons are high value enough that it’s worth using.

Trader Joe’s does not offer store coupons, but they do accept manufacturer coupons.  Their prices are reasonable and they offer a lot of products that are hard to find.

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