why frozen is often better + cauliflower chickpea curry

bring-joy-chickpeas

I received an email the other day, regarding this post, about cutting our grocery bill & getting out of debt a year sooner. Essentially, my cra-crazy idea was to drastically cut the grocery budget & pretty much live on rice & beans.

When people say that–“we’re living on rice & beans”–I have serious doubts they’re only eating rice & beans. Because as much as I love rice & beans (I share two of my fave recipes in my free ebook, SIMPLE), man cannot live on rice & beans alone. I mean, is it possible? Yes. Just like it’s possible to lose weight eating only green smoothies & lettuce. You can do it. But if given the choice, would you? Probably not.

So back to the email. Denille writes:

“So it is April 2014 tomorrow, how did you do at the end of your journey?  Did you make your goal?  What lessons did you learn?”

Hahahahahahaha.

Well, we didn’t actually cut the grocery budget. Fact is, we increased it.

I spoke some time ago about how Joseph & I realized that we just had to spend more than $500 a month on groceries. We spend more like $900 a month (this includes household goods too, which is somewhere around $100 a month). For a family of 7, this amounts to about $115 a person, per month, for food, or about $4 a day per person. I know, I’m counting baby Tyndale in there, but he counts! Since I’m breastfeeding I do eat more (even when I’m losing weight) as well as make sure I’m eating a ton of nutrient dense foods (ie. produce, which is pricey). $4 a day is not too shabby.

The truth is, about our debt, we have a few more months of our first big debt payoff ($20K!), then we have about $35K left for our car, credit cards, & student loans. Next week I’ll share more deets & give a debt-snowball progress report. I feel like we’re going at a snail’s pace, but we are making progress & it feels good to see those numbers go down slowly but surely.

So there’s something that I feel strongly about when it comes to saving (in a number of ways). And it is buying frozen produce. Here’s why.

why-frozen-is-often-better----bring-joy

When you buy frozen fruits & vegetables you:

1. Save on waste. Food lasts much longer & you don’t end up throwing out mushy carrots or moldy brocolli because you didn’t get around to using it in time. Better on your wallet, better for the environment!

2. Saves on time. No washing, not cutting or chopping. It’s a lovely thing.

3. More nutrients. I know, there’s a huge trend in local & fresh. But consider, each day that passes that your cauliflower sits in the fridge, it’s nutrient content goes down slightly. Vitamins are sensitive commodities &  levels found in fresh produce go down as days go by. BUT, with frozen, produce is often picked at it’s peak & then frozen.

4. Usually less expensive than fresh. I can get a pound of cauliflower for about $1.25 in the frozen section. Fresh, it runs me about $3/lb.

5. You don’t always have to cook frozen vegetables to eat them! I will often “defrost” peas & corn simply by placing them in a colander & running under warm water for a few minutes. I then can use the corns & peas in salads.

Of course, you’re not going to buy frozen cucumbers or frozen lettuce (some things you’ll always want to eat fresh), but next time you’re at the store, take a moment to peruse the frozen produce section. I know first time I did this I was surprised to find everything from frozen lima beans to frozen okra, kale, onions, summer squash & collard greens.

I often use a mix of frozen & fresh in my recipes.

Here’s an example of one such recipe (also check out my cheesy siracha cauliflower bowl).

cauliflower-chickpea-curry-vegan-gluten-grainfree-bring-joy I realized awhile back, that chickpeas have become the “chicken” of the vegetarian world. They serve as the staple of so many dishes. And for good reason. They’re hearty, filling & have a delicious, versatile flavor that seems to soak up whatever flavor given it.

This dish has the traditional curry seasonings with the addition of a somewhat non-traditional curry spice–chili powder. I think it gives it a non-spicy kick, & makes things more interesting.

why frozen is often better + cauliflower chickpea curry

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: about 16 cups

Serving Size: about 1.25 cups, or 1/16 of recipe

Calories per serving: 232

Fat grams per serving: 7 g

why frozen is often better + cauliflower chickpea curry

A hearty Indian inspired main dish -- vegan, grain-free, gluten-free

Ingredients

  • 3 c. dried garbanzo beans--about 1.5 pounds or 8-9 cups cooked or 4 cans
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 TBS. olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 medium carrots
  • 1, 16 oz. bag frozen cauliflower
  • 1, 15 oz. can coconut milk (not lite)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, no salt
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp. tumeric
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 rounded tsp. salt | or 1/2 tsp. if you use salted diced tomatoes
  • 2 TBS. no-salt seasoning
  • 1 TBS. dried parsley flakes
  • 2 tsp. agave
  • few dashes red pepper sauce
  • lots of fresh cracked pepper

Instructions

  1. Soak chickpeas overnight. Drain. Cover with water, bring to boil & cook for 2-3 hours on medium heat, or until soft, but not mushy. Drain chickpeas & set aside.
  2. On medium heat, heat oil. Add onion & saute for 3-4 minutes. Add carrots. Saute for additional 2-3 minutes. Add all spices, salt & stir.
  3. Add coconut milk, plus one can of water. Add diced tomatoes, bay leaf & agave. Stir.
  4. Add cooked chickpeas, & frozen cauliflower & freshly cracked pepper. Stir.
  5. Cover & simmer on medium high for 5 minutes, turn down to medium low & continue to cook for additional 5-10 minutes.
  6. Make sure to remove the bay leaf before serving.
  7. Serve over brown rice & if possible, with some naan bread.

Additional nutrition info: 36 g carbs, 8 g protein, 7 g fiber, 583 mg sodium, 2.8 sugar; 6 WWP points

What are your favorite fruits or vegetables to buy & use frozen?


Comments


  1. Bliss Doubt
    on April 3, 2014 at 4:24 pm said:

    That dish looks unbelievable! I’m inspired to add cauliflower to my curried chickpeas now. Mine is similar to yours, but no coconut milk and, until now, no bay leaf. Gimme a bite!

  2. Alanna
    on April 1, 2014 at 7:21 pm said:

    Um, seriously, yum!!! I make something like this but I’ve never put carrots and diced tomatoes in. Thank you for this recipe. 🙂

    PS. I completely agree about buying frozen. I’m so proud of Costco lately. We just got organic frozen broccoli at our location. Yay!

    • Janae Wise
      on April 1, 2014 at 11:07 pm said:

      “I’m so proud of Costco lately. We just got organic frozen broccoli at our location.”
      I know! I’ve noticed most of their frozen fruits & veggies now are organic. It makes eating organic food totally do-able. I <3 Costco.

  3. Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine
    on April 1, 2014 at 6:46 pm said:

    I am a sucker for any Indian curry! This looks great 😉
    The whole bottom basket of my freezer is always over flowing with frozen veggies! I always buy more to have on hand and then realize I have way to many, haha! And I always have frozen fruit for smoothies on hand. I also started cutting up fresh fruit that I know we won’t get through in time, and freezing that for later! Great for not wasting food!

    • Janae Wise
      on April 1, 2014 at 11:05 pm said:

      I know, I love any kind of curry. I would like to expand my knowledge & repitoire of curry spices, but Joseph’s not the biggest fan of curry, so I’m just happy he eats this (doesn’t hurt if I serve it with naan bread either!).

      “I also started cutting up fresh fruit that I know we won’t get through in time, and freezing that for later! Great for not wasting food!”
      Love this. Such a great reminder. I do this with bananas, but I forget about other stuff like melons, berries, grapes…

      And I’ve become such an anti-food waster I’m turning into my mother!

  4. Sabrina
    on April 1, 2014 at 4:57 pm said:

    This recipe looks so good. I have some “fresh” cauliflower in my fridge that I need to use up. Gonna make it this with it 🙂

    Also, I love frozen veggies too!

    • Janae Wise
      on April 1, 2014 at 11:02 pm said:

      Thank you Sabrina!

      And, great idea–of course fresh works equally well 🙂

  5. Erica { EricaDHouse.com }
    on April 1, 2014 at 4:06 pm said:

    I’ve started transitioning into buying more frozen foods as I’m trying to keep my weekly food budget under $50. I also find it helps a lot with waste as it’s hard for me to eat all the produce before it goes bad sometimes. I love your cauliflower chickpea curry recipe! I make a similar one and will put it on a bed of spinach.

    • Janae Wise
      on April 1, 2014 at 11:00 pm said:

      “I also find it helps a lot with waste as it’s hard for me to eat all the produce before it goes bad sometimes.”
      I know! I threw away nearly a full container of greens today & a half-full bag of kale + a ton of mushrooms (I should have known better than to buy them in the first place! I’m the only one who will eat them in my house). It made me sooo sad. It doesn’t help I don’t have my blender fixed yet, so I haven’t made a green smoothie in nearly a week! I find it hard to eat all the greens I buy if I don’t throw them in a smoothie every day.

      I love your spinach idea. What a great swap instead of rice–especially if you want to keep the calorie count lower.

  6. Laurie
    on April 1, 2014 at 3:12 pm said:

    When you wrote several weeks ago about thawing frozen peas for a salad, I must admit that was the first time it EVER occurred to me that I didn’t have to cook frozen vegetables. It was a real D’oh!-smack-forehead-with-palm moment!

    I like frozen peas, corn, brussel sprouts, berries, and mango (peeling fresh is such a mess). One day when I think of it, I’m going to try frozen spinach or other greens for smoothies.

    • Janae Wise
      on April 1, 2014 at 10:54 pm said:

      “When you wrote several weeks ago about thawing frozen peas for a salad, I must admit that was the first time it EVER occurred to me that I didn’t have to cook frozen vegetables. It was a real D’oh!-smack-forehead-with-palm moment!”
      I learned that little trick from a raw foodist friend when I first became vegan 🙂

      I’m with you about the mangoes! I think frozen mangoes are worth their weight in gold–I’m willing to pay double to ensure that the mango is not over or under ripe, as well as not have to cut & peel the darn thing! Costco now sells big bags of frozen mango chunks–genius.

      I don’t intentionally freeze my spinach for smoothies, but I do buy big bags of it for smoothies & if it looks like I won’t get to it before it goes bad, I throw a bunch in a freezer bag before it’s too late.