Cheap Health Meals: Polenta Cake

As you are probably aware, if you have read a number of my articles on cheap healthy meals, I like to purchase organically grown dried food in bulk. This not only reduces the product cost, it saves on the expense of refrigeration and the fuel cost in frequent trips to the supermarket.

Another major criteria to consider in preparing cheap healthy meals is convenience. We all know how much more expensive and unhealthy fast foods are. Yet there are often times in our busy days that if we don't have something on hand, that is quick and easy to prepare, we get sucked into buying it.

Not that polenta cake itself is all that quick to prepare but it freezes well and you want to make a big batch when you do. Dried corn is easily stored and if it is in an airtight container in a cool spot it keeps forever.

Polenta cake is a very popular Italian dish. Now that I have made some for myself I can see why it is so favored. It can be prepared in a variety of ways for breakfast, a dinner side or a meal in itself. One of the ways I keep costs down is to grow as many of my vegetables as I can.

As I wrote in another article on cheap healthy meals I preserve many of these by fermenting them. Sauerkraut has become a favorite. Then, in the winter time, rather than purchasing expensive fresh vegetables I like to rehydrate dried veggies and legumes.

Although I make my polenta cake with dried corn, which is technically considered a grain, the nutrients are just about the same as fresh corn, which is considered a vegetable. Hence the primary differences are only semantical.

The added bonus for me is that you don't know what you are getting in the supermarkets these days. There is so much GMO corn produced now, which many of the growers wouldn't eat themselves, that you never know what you are buying, especially out of season.

Polenta cake is very similar to hominy grits, made famous in the southern states. It not only has a tradition as a staple there, but during leaner years early last century, it constituted the major source of protein in many diets.

The problem was, though, this led to widespread incidence of pellagra, a disease with horrific symptoms. These include sore skin and mouth, irritability, depression, hallucinations and even death. This is caused by a deficiency in vitamin B3, aka niacin.

Corn is very nutritious and has sufficient B3 as well as 10 times as much vitamin A as other grains. The problem is that the niacin in corn is not readily bio-available. Corn needs to be nixtamalized by soaking in an alkaline solution to make the niacin bio-available.

Indigenous peoples south of the US border following their traditions have subsisted on corn for centuries without suffering from pellagra. They soak the corn in lime-water often made with the ashes from burned wood.

If corn does not constitute a significant part of your diet and you feel that you have other good sources of niacin this is not absolutely necessary. As I like to get as many nutrients as possible from my meals I soak my corn. It helps that I heat with a wood stove and is pretty simple to do.

Otherwise, you can just buy some lime-water and add that to water to soak the corn all day or overnight depending on your schedule. If you are using dried whole kernels you need a mill that is able to handle corn.

That is one of the reasons that I purchased a Junior Wonder hand mill. It also allows me to mill my whole grains in a range anywhere from pastry flour to cracked wheat. I consume a lot of whole grains so I often get a good workout preparing them. This does wonders for my prowess in kayaking!

After I hand mill my corn I soak it in lime-water, which I make with ashes from my wood stove. I just soak them after skimming the floating unburned portion and let the ash settle for a few days, then decant the clear water. It is already sterile from having been burned.

Corn also contains phytic acids, which can bind with important minerals including calcium, magnesium, zinc and iron and carry them out of our bodies. On top of this it does not have any significant amount of phytase, the enzyme necessary to neutralize phytic acid.

This is easy to deal with by just adding rye flour rich in phytase, about 10% of the volume of cornmeal, to the soaking solution as well as whey at a Tbsp per cup of flour. This will neutralize a good portion of the phytic acid.

I like to make my polenta cake with chicken stock but you can use water. The cornmeal needs to be brought to a boil and then simmered for about 20 to 30 minutes until it is so thick it starts to come away from the sides of the pot.

I like to add Parmesan, chopped onion and fresh herbs before pouring it into a pyrex dish so that it is about 1/2 inch thick. Then I bake it at 300 degrees for about 1 1/2 hours. There is an endless variety of options available online. This provides me with one more attractive way to prepare cheap healthy meals.

Snacks Can Be Healthy Too

The pace at which we live our lives nowadays is so hectic that time is considered a luxury. Because of the lack of time, we seem to ignore the importance of certain things in our daily activities; one of which is our eating habits.

Trying to get everything done within the day we tend to find the easiest way out when it comes to our diet. Instead of dedicating some time for a normal healthy meal, many times we try to find the easy way out, ignoring the ingredients of the meal, as long as we satisfy our hunger.

So what about our health?

Thrown out the window!

Of course we all care that we are healthy both from the inside and look healthy from the outside. One quick unhealthy meal can't destroy our health or the way we look right?


By giving ourselves the excuse that it's only one meal and that we don't have the time, we forget the seriousness of poor eating habits, leading us to give the same excuse to ourselves every single day.

The Solution

Let's start off with a 5 minute preparation for our breakfast. Literally 5 minutes!!


A whole grain toast smeared with vegetable margarine and some honey, accompanied by some low fat milk in our high fiber cereal takes probable less than 5 minutes to prepare. Yet it is a well balanced healthy breakfast to start off our day. You can even change it around slightly with yogurt and honey.


For brunch, again there's no need to go over the top with preparation. Two portions of fruit of the season is more than enough (ex. one apple and one banana) - no preparation whatsoever!


Lunch however can get a bit tricky because most people are still at work having less than half an hour to prepare the lunch and eat it in the same time. Not to worry! With a bit of organization and preparation from the previous day, we will have enough time to enjoy our lunch. By the way, when eating your lunch and dinner do not rush; not less than 20 minutes.

As mentioned above prepare your lunch from the day before, which can easily be packed and taken with you to work. For example foods like pasta, rice, grilled chicken, turkey, boiled eggs and even fish can easily be packed and taken with you to work. You can easily mix some of the above in a wholegrain sandwich with some fresh greens.

You can even prepare and pack a salad topped with some grilled chicken. To give you some other options prepare some pulses like lentils, peas, beans and split peas which are rich in protein and amino acids.

In between your lunch and dinner have some fruit or yogurt.


If you are going to have a light lunch (ex. salad) then your dinner can be more rich and complete (and vice-versa). Most people usually have more time to eat dinner than they do to eat lunch because of their daily jobs. What some people forget to do however, or should I say, not to do, is go overboard with our last full meal of the day. Stick to a normal sized portion, including a well balanced and nutritious meal.

Depending on whether you exercise during the day (always good to do) then your body needs those extra supplements which it has burned off during exercise. I recommend a protein bar with some fruit.

One final point I nearly forgot to make; drink lots of water, at least 8 glasses of water a day to keep your body hydrated.

As you can see, with some organization and willingness, your eating habits can be both healthy and time-saving.

If today is the day that you want to change your lifestyle, then do it today, because the more you put it off until "Next Week", the less likely you are to ever start. Just take a quick look at this site today to get some free tips at

Tips for Healthy Eating at Office

Our workplace is where we spend most of our waking hours. For many it is like a second home as we spend a good part of our day there. To lead a healthy life style, you need to eat healthy whether you are at home or in office. When you work more than eight hours a day, it becomes difficult to eat healthy if you do not plan ahead. Here are a few tips that you can implement straight away to start eating healthy at work.

Healthy Eating Style at the Office

    Sleep well at night - This may seem a bit out of place in this article. If you are not well rested, you will not eat well and will feel sluggish. Not only that if you have not slept well, you are likely to reach out for numerous cups of coffee to keep your energy levels up.

    Never ever Skip your Breakfast- After fasting for 8 hours the body requires the energy to function the whole day. Therefore, eat some breakfast. Go for protein like egg rather than the carbs such as cereals. Protein will fill your stomach therefore less cravings later in the day. If you're in a hurry, have a healthy milk shake of protein powder, banana slices, water or milk and a handful of berries.

    Carry food with you - It goes without saying that homemade food is always better than the store-bought lunches in terms of taste and cost. Even a sandwich and a salad carried from home is healthier than the ones bought from a deli. A simple lunch of natural yoghurt, fruits and nuts is healthier than the greasy food bought from the fast food joints.

    Cut down on your drinks - Consumption of beverages such as coke, tea or coffee along with cookies or cakes is bad for your health. The best solution is cut back on the tea and coffee consumption. Drink plenty of water. Fruit juices are good provided they are fresh and without sugar. Sipping green tea is not only healthy but also relieves stress.

    Don't stray away from your diet plans - This is easier said than done. You can always say no to the donut that is being passed around, if you are carrying your healthy snack. Stop buying sugary junk. This is one way to avoid eating them. If your work involves frequent meetings, carry with you a fruit or some nuts and a bottle of water. This way you can avoid the unhealthy snacks such as biscuits, cakes or other high-calorie goodies.

    Be prepared for late nights - If your work type is such that you may not reach home before 8pm most of the days be prepared. Remember, by the time you get home you're tired and worn out all that you want to do is eating anything and stretch your self. Either wake up early in the morning or make some extra food the previous night. Take the food with you and leave it in the office refrigerator to consume it in evening. This way you need not starve in the evenings.

    Eat slowly - Consider using the dining room instead of sitting in front of the computer. The brain and the stomach will sync with each other when you eat your meals slowly.

The Benefits of a Healthy Diet Shake Regimen

When it comes to diet shakes, many make claims of near miraculous proportions, however many nutritionists think "scam" when they hear of diet shake success stories or claims. There is an underlying feeling that better than 80% of dieters regain any weight lost, once the product is no longer used, though it may take 2 to 5 years. The weight lost from diet shake product use, is not considered permanent.

What are diet shakes?

Diet shakes combine protein, carbohydrates, and fats in varying formulas to regulate intake of these nutrients. Through the proper balance of the three groups one can maintain muscle, bone, skin and body tissues as required without exceeding those requirements, thus leading to weight loss.

Because of the discrepancies in formulas you must be careful of what you are consuming. Formulas can range from 100% protein to mostly carbohydrates with a little added protein and fat.The shakes come in bulk and single serving containers and of course in every conceivable packaging and flavor.

Jose Antonio, chief executive officer and co-founder of the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) says that diet protein shakes are safe for healthy fit people such as athletes needing a quick recharge. ISSN has stated that protein shakes ensure protein load but others say that protein shakes can be harmful to kidneys if used incorrectly.

What Are The Benefits?

Because you can include ample phytonutrients and micro nutrients to help obtain peak nutritional potential, reaching your ideal body weight is much easier. Micro nutrients such as algae, omega-3's and probiotics added to your diet shake can promote detoxification and help with prevention of cancerous cells. Additionally a healthy meal replacement regime can help improve cardio vascular function by improving the functioning of cells that line the blood vessels.

Improved gastrointestinal function is also a benefit, as the GI tract benefits from abundant fiber which helps to cleans the colon. An improvement in skin, hair and nails is a by product of any healthy meal replacement shakes fortified with vitamins C and E which are both essential for hair, skin and nails.

An alkaline rich diet shake will reduce your bodies acidity. Cancer and many other illnesses cannot live in an alkaline environment. If you smoke, studies show that you also like acidic foods such as coffee and bread products, so having a more alkaline diet is vital for smokers in particular. To make your diet shake a little more alkaline you could add a small amount of baking soda to it, this will also make your shake creamier as well.

Protein diet shakes may add to your endurance and help you get more from your day, more energy equals more life. Protein is recommended after intense exercise or periods of heavy labor to restore muscle glycogen which is depleted by physical activity. Protein helps rebuild damaged muscle tissue such as is often experienced by muscle builders and weight lifters. Studies have shown that those athletes who supplement their diet with 10 grams of protein, 8g of carbohydrates, and 3g of fat had fewer infections and less heat exhaustion.