Finding inspiration for healthy eating on the Web

We all know that it can be expensive to just suddenly try something new in the kitchen. Maybe you found a kick-butt, dinner-party-friendly entree but you have nothing in your pantry for it. So, you have to go to the store, hunt down each aisle for a long list of ingredients and come home with $70 worth of spices, canned goods and ingredients you’ve never used and may never use again.

Yes, that’s expensive. Especially if you end up with a total dinner fail and have to put your tail between your legs and order pizza for a full dining room.

Double dinner fail.

But here’s the thing: If you’re new to healthy cooking or new to cooking in general, you’re going to have to buy stuff. You’re probably going to try new recipes, and those recipes will call for things you don’t have and it’ll get expensive. Or it’ll at least seem a bit daunting and like it’s expensive, even if it’s not.

And there are ways to make this sort of transition less painful. A few of the best (which you’ve probably heard before from me or someone else):

1. Buy spices in bulk. Buy only a little, or exactly what you need (this goes for other dry goods like grains, nuts and seeds, too). That way you save yourself some dough, rather than buying a full bottle or box/bag of an ingredient.

2. Buy vegetables from the freezer section. Fresh vegetables are very expensive, yes, especially this time of year. To offset some of the cost (and make it impossible for you to have it wilt and die in your crisper), buy some of your vegetables in the frozen foods section. Unlike canned vegetables, frozen veggies don’t have any added ingredients (aka salt) and they’re comparable in nutritional value to their fresh counterparts. You can’t buy everything frozen, and you wouldn’t want to depending on what you’re making, but this trick should help you a bit in the beginning (and next winter).

3. Make simple food. This is the biggest way to keep eating healthy from being expensive, in my humble opinion. If you make a dinner that has five ingredients, it might be inherently cheaper and easier than if you made a dinner with 18 ingredients. This isn’t always the case because five ingredients can be super pricey if they happen to be the right ones (grass-fed beef, high-quality cheese, medjool dates, anyone?). When browsing recipes, try to take into account not only flavor and health but also what you already have on hand and what you might need to buy to complete it.

Now that we’ve got that down, I’ll get to the real goal of this post: To help you get free resources besides this blog to help you eat better. And what’s better than resources on the Web? Nothing. There are so many free recipes and sites that it’s almost TOO much, if you know what I mean. So I figured I’d share some of my favorite blogs/easy, low-cost/healthy Web-based recipes. I’ll link to the recipes specifically, but I urge you to check out the whole site for some good advice and a chance to join a community.

I’ve scoured my resources to try to find the simplest (and hopefully cheapest) recipes from my favorite sites in hopes that they’ll be of help and inspiration. So, without further ado, five of the best:

Kimberly Snyder’s Glowing Green Smoothie –

Kimberly is a celebrity nutritionist, which might turn some of you off, but if you just can’t get into the whole green smoothie crazy, you really should give her recipe a go before giving up all together.

Gena Hamshaw’s Sweet Potato Breakfast Salad with Almond Butter Protein Dressing –

Gena is a med school student and her blog is a fabulous resource for those who want to eat whole foods on a budget. She’s very good at explaining the nutrition in her recipes and the benefits of particular ingredients. And because she’s a student — with little money or time — she doesn’t ever really go crazy with outrageous or time-eating ingredients.

Chloe Coscarelli’s Pad Thai Noodles –

Chloe has a really great cookbook and a resume that includes winning “Cupcake Wars” with a vegan cupcake (against non-vegans). She doesn’t have a ton of recipes on her site (though she’s got hundreds in her two cookbooks), but this version of pad thai hits all the requirements above. Plus, it’s probably the very simplest recipe for pad thai I’ve ever personally made this side of a pre-prepared box.

Terry Walters’ Crispy Roasted Chickpeas –

I have two of Terry’s cookbooks and I love them. That said, my husband calls them “elitist” cookbooks because they tend to call for ingredients we never have. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve suffered through a giant shopping list just to make one of her recipes. That said, her basic recipes like this one are totally awesome. And I think her cookbooks are great for when you’ve been eating healthy for awhile and want to try something new and maybe a bit more challenging.

Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Ancho Lentil Tacos –

It’s no secret that Isa is my very favorite recipe source. There’s a good reason for that: Her food tastes great and my husband will try any of her recipes at least once. She’s really great at making vegetable-centric food pop and her dishes are often amazing (I don’t think we’ve ever been disappointed). But many of her recipes do involve several ingredients, though most of the time that’s because her recipes often contain a lot of different spices or herbs. If you have a good spice cabinet (or are willing to use that buying in bulk trick I mentioned above), you’ll be good to try any of her recipes without any sweat off your brow.

Good luck and I hope you try the recipes listed and maybe get other good ideas at those sites.