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Healthy recipes for pedestrian shoppers

Dietetics major Kathryn Wolff created pedestrian-friendly recipes during her KC Healthy Kids internship.  Here’s what happened:

I moved to Kansas City from Nebraska at the beginning of August, and when my boyfriend and I were first looking at apartments, we wanted to find a place close to a grocery store. It was much more difficult to manage than we ever anticipated thanks to all of the food deserts in the Kansas City metro. kchk-bio-pic-kathryn

So, during my eight weeks with KC Healthy Kids, I’m exploring low cost, lightweight, and nutritious recipes for pedestrian shoppers and will distribute them through local stores and public transit. This means immersing myself the life of a pedestrian shopper, and actually cooking (and eating) the recipes I’m designing. I want to be certain that the ingredients are manageable and that the meals actually look and taste good.

I started with some of my favorite recipes and tweaked them to be more pedestrian friendly. Since there’s also a big emphasis on keeping the recipes healthy, I tried to stick to a couple of basic principles: use whole grain whenever possible, focus on lean protein, include as many food groups as I could, and no added sodium. There’s a big push from federal programs to make sure that school and hospital foodservice falls within a specific set of standards for nutrient limits and I wanted to try to pick meal items that would reflect those standards while still fitting in my constraints for weight and cost.

Once the recipes were ready, Leslie Wilson, KC Healthy Kids’ policy assistant and I went shopping for ingredients.

Being an out-of-towner, I really didn’t understand the differences between chain stores in the area. I suggested we go to Save-A-Lot since it seemed to be one of the closest stores and there were several located along the bus lines I was investigating. Walking into Save-A-Lot, we weren’t met with the same variety I was accustomed to in stores like Price Chopper and Walmart Neighborhood Market. They had a solid produce section that provided all of the vegetables I needed to make stuffed peppers and chicken soup, but upon perusing the aisles, I was surprised to see how much of what they carried was their own store brand. The only items we bought that were not store brand items were the carrots and celery.

Even while we were there, I was reading nutrition labels and doing mental math to make sure the ingredients the store carried would still work in my recipes. I’ve always been cautious of sodium in my own cooking, and especially with the USDA pushing to reduce salt in school meals, I wanted to make sure that my recipes would fit in those standards as well. One swap I had to make was the regular chicken bouillon for the soup. The store didn’t sell low-sodium bullion, so I simply used less of the full-strength version.

The biggest thing that caught my attention with shopping was the Kansas grocery tax. The only foods taxed in Nebraska are prepared items like deli fried chicken. Looking at the receipt and seeing that we had been charged over 9% in tax on plain groceries was almost insulting. Even on a grocery bill that came to less than $20, the amount of money we were charged for tax alone could have bought us another bag of rice and another can of black beans.

Here’s one of my recipes for a quick breakfast you can keep on hand in the refrigerator or freezer.

Breakfast Cups

Ingredients
1½ cups frozen shredded hash browns
6 large eggs*
12 oz breakfast sausage of choice
(Recommend Banquet Turkey Sausage Links)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese*
½ green bell pepper*
½ medium onion*

Optional Seasoning
1 teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon garlic
½ teaspoon dried parsley
¼ teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon hot sauce

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Lightly grease muffin tins, do not line with paper
  3. Evenly distribute hash browns into 12 tins, pressing lightly to flatten
  4. Dice green pepper and onions to desired size
  5. Add onions and green peppers to tins on top of potatoes
  6. Prepare sausage according to cooking instructions.
  7. Break up and evenly distribute sausage among tins
  8. Crack eggs into separate bowl, season to taste with desired optional ingredients, and mix thoroughly to break up egg yolks
  9. Pour egg mix into each tin
  10. Top tins with cheese
  11. Bake for 11 minutes or until centers are cooked through

Cups can be refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 1 month

*WIC Approved
Estimated cost: $1. 40 per serving
Estimated bag weight: 4 pounds
Nutrition facts: Calories: 270 cal, Fat: 13g, Sodium: 420mg, Carbohydrates: 8g, Protein: 15g

The Greater Kansas City Food Policy Coalition’s Grocery Access Task Force is working with local partners to make it easier for transit riders to buy groceries. You can get help planning your trip and planning meals, saving money and finding recipes at Grocery Shop with RideKC.

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