Food stamp diet: Calorie count

Being a geek scientist, I like to talk numbers since it’s an easy way to objectively look at the results of an experiment. So when a friend suggested evaluating the food stamp diet based on calories, that seemed like a pretty good idea.

Our daily intake ranged from 770 to 1401. In just one week, Brad lost six pounds, and I lost two and a half. Thank goodness for pasta, rice, and that godawful coconut cream pudding pie; otherwise, we would have gone insane.

Tuesday and Friday were the only days we didn’t bounce off walls, and, not surprisingly, pasta, rice-stuffed peppers, and hoppin’ john were on the menu. We ate healthiest on Wednesday — which, you might recall, was the day my body rebelled — and had it not been for an extra two snacks, we wouldn’t have come near 1000 calories.

According to the Mayo Clinic’s calculator, someone of my build needs 1700 calories a day to stay healthy, and Brad’s looking at 2050. Without turning to processed junk food, that’s an all but impossible goal for someone on a SNAP allotment.

Epic diet fail.

Saturday
Grits:  81
Egg:  70
Banana:  105
Carrot pesto:   560
Hoppin’ john:  292
Total:   1108

Sunday
Grits:  81
Egg:  70
Banana:  105
Hoppin’ john:  292
Greens and cornbread:  222
Total:  770

Monday
Grits:  81
Egg:  70
Banana: 105
Greens and cornbread:  222
Apple:  80
Peanuts:  160
Stuffed peppers:  480
Total:  1198

Tuesday
Grits:  81
Egg:  70
Banana:  105
Stuffed peppers:  480
Apple:  80
Carrot pesto:  560
Carrots:  25
Total:  1401

Wednesday
Grits:  81
Egg:  70
Banana:  105
Hoppin’ john:  292
Apple:  80
Peanuts:  160
Cheese:  114
Sweet potatoes, peas & carrots, broccoli:  260
Total: 1162

Thursday
Grits:  81
Egg:  70
Banana:  105
Sweet potatoes, peas & carrots, broccoli:  260
Apple:  80
Spaghetti marinara: 395
Coconut cream pudding pie: 270
Total:  1261

Friday
Cheese grits:  195
Spaghetti marinara: 395
Apple:  80
Peanuts:  160
Hoppin’ john:  292
Pie: 270
Total: 1392

Several folks asked for last week’s recipes, so here goes.

Carrot green pesto

  • carrot greens (discard hard stems)
  • olive oil
  • garlic cloves
  • salt
  • nuts (not used in the food stamp diet, but I normally use pecans or pine nuts)

Place carrot greens, garlic, salt, and nuts in a food processor. Be sure to add oil a little at a time, then pulse the mixer and check consistency. It should be smooth but not runny. There’s no rule on the seasoning — add as much or as little as you like. I use about one teaspoon of salt, six garlic cloves, and 1/4 cup of nuts to flavor two big bunches of carrot greens.

For long term storage, spoon into an ice tray, freeze for 24 hours, then pop out into a freezer-safe bag for up to two years. Otherwise fresh pesto can be stored in the fridge for a couple of days. To eat, simply mix a couple of spoonfuls in warm angel hair pasta and toss.

Hoppin’ john

  • 16 ounces dried black-eyed peas
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • red pepper flakes to taste

Place black-eyed peas in large stock pot and cover with 3 inches of water. Boil rapidly for 45 minutes.

In the meantime, place the onion, garlic, salt, pepper, and bay leaf in a crock pot. Cover with 3 cups of water, and cook on high until black-eyed peas are ready.

Drain black-eyed peas, reserving one ladle of stock. Add peas and stock to crock pot. (Ham steak can be added too, if you’re a meatosaurus.)

Turn heat down to low, and cook for 7 hours. Serve over rice.

Corn bread

While there are a million ways to jazz up corn bread, this is the easiest, bare-bones recipe.

Heat oven to 425° degrees.  In a mixing bowl, place one heaping handful of self-rising corn meal for each serving. Throw in a pinch of salt. Add milk, a little at a time, until soupy — slightly thinner than pancake batter. Pour into a greased cast iron pan and bake for 25 minutes.

Stuffed peppers

Cut tops off peppers and remove seeds. Boil for 5 minutes. Remove from water and pat dry. Stuff with whatever you have on hand. For us, it was grated cheese, leftover rice, chopped onion, and diced garlic. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes.

Baked sweet potato cubes

Peel sweet potatoes and dice into one inch cubes. Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes, turning once halfway through.

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