We made it.
I’d like to say that I’ve grown from this experience. I think I have. I’ve learned to think about my life situation in a different light. I hope I can carry this wisdom with me as I continue in my “normal” life now. I’ve learned that I can live without so many things that I’ve deemed necessary in the past. That $5 after-work cocktail to unwind? No longer is it a necessity on a Friday. It’s a luxury. That $5 could feed a person for an entire flippin’ day. That $5 fed me for a day.
I’m well aware that living on a limited budget for a week doesn’t come close to the struggles that low-income families face for weeks, months, or years on end. It does, however, give me a better understanding and a new perspective. It was also a good reminder to why I volunteered for so many years at food pantries. It was the push I needed to get back out there again; because no matter how busy life gets or how hard it may seem, there is always time to help another person out.
What we ate on our last day:
- Breakfast: oatmeal with egg (me) and whole wheat toast with peanut butter and banana (Mike)
- Snack: grapes (me) and cookies and pineapple chunks (Mike)
- Lunch: black bean soup with baked tortilla chips and guacamole (me) and sandwich with turkey, cheddar cheese, guac, and mustard (Mike)
- Dinner: black bean soup
I will leave you with my favorite meal of the SNAP Challenge: spicy black bean soup with a cumin lime sour cream and baked tortilla chips.
Spicy Black Bean Soup with Cumin Lime Sour Cream
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 onions, chopped
2 carrots, diced
4 jalapenos, minced
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons cumin
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons white pepper
2 teaspoons dried oregano
6 cans (15 ounces each) black beans, drained but not rinsed
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
7 cups water
for the sour cream:
1/2 cup light sour cream
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1 lime, juiced
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 green onions, thinly sliced
baked tortilla chips (recipe below)
- Heat olive oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add onions, carrot, jalapenos, and garlic. Saute until onions are translucent, about 3 – 5 minutes.
- Add spices and stir until well combined. Continue to cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add beans, tomatoes, and water and bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until thickened, about 40 – 45 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare the sour cream: To make the sour cream, combine all ingredients in a bowl. Refrigerate until needed.
- When soup has thickened, use an immersion blender and blend soup until smooth or use a blender to puree in small batches.
- Garnish with sour cream and sliced green onions and serve with baked tortilla chips.
Baked Tortilla Chips
5 flour tortillas
nonstick spray or canola oil
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, divided
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Lay tortillas in a single layer on a cutting board. Brush them lightly with oil or spray with cooking spray.
- Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the garlic powder. Flip tortillas over and repeat.
- Stack tortillas and cut into 8 wedges. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 – 15 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through.
- Let cool on pan before serving.