Sunday, April 7, 2013

Food Bloggers Against Hunger

This is a long one, folks, but stay with’s an important one. Oh, and there’s a recipe at the end. Nothing fancy, just an affordable, simple, feel-good recipe.

You probably know that obesity numbers in the US are through the roof. But you may not think about how closely obesity is tied to hunger. Millions of Americans live in food deserts—areas without access to healthy ingredients. The foods we should be eating—fruits and vegetables—are more expensive (and often less available) than fast food and processed food. People who participate in food assistance programs are limited to an average of $4 per person each day to supplement their food budget. That's not very much.

Here’s something else you might not know or think about. Those people on food assistance programs….a lot of them have jobs and still can’t afford to feed their families. Hardworking people doing their best to make ends meet. Families doing their best to make sure that their kids have dinner on the table and don’t go to school hungry. Families like mine.

When I was little, my family participated in a Commodity Supplemental Food Program—a government program that provides food staples to low-income pregnant women, new mothers, infants, children up to age six, and elderly people. I wasn’t even school-aged yet, but remember going to the commodity pick up with my mom (the old ladies who handed out the boxes of food always gave me a cookie). Even though my parents worked, they still needed a little help.

I’m lucky that my parents are both great cooks, because I grew up learning how to prepare healthy, low budget meals at home, and I grew up in an area with access to a lot of nature’s edible bounty—advantages that a lot of people don’t have.

That’s why I’m donating this post to Food Bloggers against Hunger—to help people prepare healthy, low budget meals, and to help spread the word about hunger in America. The Food Bloggers Against Hunger campaign is a response to the documentary A Place at the Table, about hunger in America. You can get involved too:

So, what would you eat if you had only $4 per day? If Evan and I each had $4 per day to eat, I’d make a big pot of black beans (be sure to plan ahead to soak them first). Dried beans are more affordable than canned and you can control the sodium. Then, I’d make a bunch of meals using those beans and other accessible, healthy ingredients.

Ever had a big bowl of saucy homemade black beans topped with a fried egg? It’s cheap and insanely satisfying. Want to get some green in your diet? Frozen spinach—scramble it in eggs, and make black bean breakfast burritos that you can freeze for later. You can even make your own tortillas with a few additional ingredients. I managed to get a bunch of ingredients that are available at most stores, for under $8, but it wasn't easy.

1 pound dried beans (about 6 cups cooked): $1.79
1 dozen eggs: $1.69
12 oz bag frozen spinach: $1.00
1 onion: $.50
1 Roma tomatoe: $.31
1 package of flour tortillas (10 count): $2.69
Simple Spinach and Black Bean Breakfast Burritos for Two
A splash of olive oil (or vegetable) for cooking
½ onion, diced
½ cup chopped, frozen spinach (or fresh, if available)
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups cooked black beans
4 flour tortillas
1 tomato, diced and lightly mashed
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil over medium in a large skillet, and add the diced onion. Cook until just turning golden, about 10 minutes. Be sure to watch and stir so they don’t burn. Add the frozen spinach, and cook a few more minutes, until spinach is cooked through and no longer frozen. Add the eggs, and let cook for a minute, then stir to scramble and continue to cook until the eggs are cooked through. Salt and pepper to taste.
Heat 4 tortillas, and fill with eggs, beans, and tomatoes. Roll and enjoy immediately, or wrap in plastic wrap and freeze. Unwrap and microwave to eat. 

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