A few days ago, a friend at school asked me if I could help him grocery shop, and perhaps “eat less frozen pizza” this semester. I thought to myself, “oh boy. You have no idea what you’re in for.” Had I just a little more nerve, I could have treated him to a full-on kitchen makeover and fridge purging, coupled with a vegetable invasion. Instead, I accompanied him to Whole Foods, where we picked out some organic produce and some healthier frozen options (Amy’s instead of California Kitchen). I didn’t whip out any of the nutritionist’s zeal for greens (though I did insist upon some spinach and broccoli), but I did make a few suggestions, including a plug for almond milk next time.
As we were shopping, of course, budgetary concerns were on both our minds. I went way above my typical grocery budget at the end of last semester, which was understandable, given that I did a lot of edible giving, but certainly not ideal. As a student, one is constantly scouring grocery stores for deals, trying to make things stretch, and balancing ideals (shopping all organic) against realities (not always having the budget for all organic).
One of my biggest expenses tends to be nuts and dried fruit. As a mostly raw eater, I eat a lot of them, but as a student, I fret over the cost. One of my favorite ways of slashing costs lately is to use sunflower and pumpkin seeds in place of cashews and almonds, and raisins in place of dates. Obviously, there are certain recipes in which cashews and almonds are truly irreplaceable, and that’s even truer of dates, with their distinctive, caramel-like flavor. But there are also a lot of recipes in which one can easily swap a seed for a nut, or a raisin for a date.
The snack ball recipe below is a perfect example. Not only is it more budget conscious than a typical cashew or walnut and date based recipe, but it is also incredibly tasty. To be honest, I think it’s a dead ringer for the flavors of peanut butter and jelly, and I like it every bit as much as my other favorite snack bite (my hemp cacao energy bites). A recipe win!
Budget-Savvy Seed and Raisin Snack Balls (raw, vegan, gluten free, soy free)
Makes about 20 balls
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1 1/3 cups raisins
1/4 tsp sea salt
1) Mix all ingredients together in a food processor fitted with the S blade until mixture is getting uniform, and sticks together easily.
2) Shape mixture into 1 inch balls by rolling with palms of hand. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes, then snack away!
I’m telling you. PB&J is reborn!
As always, shop organic everything if you can. And if you can’t, take heart in the fact that you’re doing your best, and you’re still managing to fill your body with healthy, plant-based food.
Have you been trying to be a little more raw, and stumbling along the way? This post is for you! Tonight, head on over to One Green Planet for my 5 Tips to Go Raw-er in 2012: practical, sensible, and fun. I hope you enjoy, and that it gives you a helpful dose of raw-ish inspiration!!!