Category Archives: Budgeting

Thanksgiving Left-Overs the Veggie Part

Cross section of celery stalk, showing vascula...

Cross section of celery stalk, showing vascular bundles, which include both phloem and xylem. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Don’t forget to juice or blend yourself a healthy drink with any left-over veggies, fruits or herbs. Fresh produce is not a favorite for turkey day but they are the most important choice during every meal. Vegetables and fruit lose their flavor and important, unique anti-oxidants in 2-5 days if left to wither in the bottom bins (with the exception of apples which can do well for months in the fridge).

We are starting black Friday with a beet-blueberry-celery-spinach-dandelion green-apple smoothie…..maybe a banana or two as well. Your curiously cute  children will not turn down these delicious cool drinks especially if you add a little juice and/or a fancy curly straw served in a bright colored cup! Start your holidays off right with a nutritious adventure with your blender or juicer and those left-over goodies.  You will be ripe and ready to tackle all the seasons chaos ahead!

If your blender can crush ice it can also crush nuts so experiment if you want a creamier, heartier version. Cashews, pine nuts, and walnuts are excellent additions to a healthy breakfast or lunch smoothie in addition to strawberries, cranberries  and ripe bananas. Absolutely delicious and super filling!




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The Soup Savior

Five years ago, I would’ve never “allowed” myself to eat or buy anything processed. That included any canned, or packaged food from Macaroni and “cheese” to canned fruit. I know if I have to purchase something in those aisles times are tough. My spouse re-introduced me to Ramen a distant food I rarely consumed in college but saw plenty of in each resident hall. He didn’t have quite the luxurious life I had growing up so as we headed down the economic decline in went the packages of Ramen into our cart as well as an open mind.

What surprised me most about his recipe was not just how easy it was, but how healthy he made this seemingly horrible food item. While on $200.00 a month for food for two grown adults we had to become very, very creative and very, very cheap. Things we bought in bulk that really lasted were good looking yellow onions, 5-10 lbs bag of potatoes and finding a great deal on fresh herbs helped dramatically.

Here’s one idea that literally saved us from starvation:

2 pkgs of Ramen noodle (we liked the chicken flavor)

1-2 small potatoes chopped

1 Rutabaga (if large only use 2-3 thick slices and chop or cut triangularly) if less than 1/2 lb use the whole thing

1 carrot sliced/diced or grated

2-4 mushrooms diced

Cilantro Handful added right before serving

Spinach also works nicely when added towards the end of cooking. Makes the soup look healthy, and fresh with it’s bright greenery and adds all those B vitamins as does Cilantro.

2 chive stalks diced and added right before serving

Most people would look at this as a cheap soup idea. With my nutrition background I just love how healthy this soup really is. Google all the health benefits of Cilantro, add some chopped Garlic and you’ll have the common cold at bay for most of the year. I never thought of adding Cilantro to Ramen so please try, what a great flavor (I am not big on cilantro at all). Chopped Parsley just doesn’t do the trick, and too much basil or oregano seems to negate whatever the Ramen’s trying to create so just a little with other spices.

This brings me to my infamous “Sick Soup.”

Similar but not as gross as my childhood friends mother who would make “Cream of Everything Soup.” I made my “Sick Soup” before economic decline with all organic roots and vegetables like Burdock, Miso, Tofu, Seaweed, and Daikon Radish, now my Sick Soup is anything left in my produce drawer, freezer, or lower pantry shelves where we may luck out and find one or two onions, and a few potatoes left in the bulk bag. Luckily, for those that are adventurous this soup ALWAYS varies. That’s the whole idea, if there’s a respiratory bug going around be more generous with the herbs such as Basil, Oregano, Rosemary, and Marjoram.

Here’s what you will need as a base at all times….


1 package of Ramen (if you screw it up, they only cost 22 cents)

1/2 pack of Ramen seasoning (use more if your family has salt addicts)

1 medium or large onion

3 cloves of garlic

Start large pot filled with water, heat to a boil add seasoning and Ramen Noodle. Reduce heat to medium or medium low to  maintain low boil . Chop or dice all onion and garlic and sautee in a bit of veg oil for about 7 minutes under medium heat. II usually start the chopping while the water’s heating and add everything at about the same time. Add to a large pot where you have left plenty of room for whatever else is in your freezer, or fridge.

Van’s March SICK SOUP 

1 small turnip (hey root vegetables are healthy and cheap)

2 long carrots julienned

1 small purple potato

3 thick tomato slices cut in half

6-8 generous sprigs of parsley diced and added towards end of cook time

Marjoram generous pinch

Oregano generous dash

Cayenne pepper powder, the more the house has the sniffles or “coming down” with something the more I add

1-2 extra cloves of garlic added during cooking (this will add nice punch and great additional health benefits)

Boil all ingredients for about 8 minutes with the lid on at low to medium heat. Keep in mind that if you are cooking for health don’t over cook all the vegetables just until tender or preferred texture.

I always fill the largest pot I can find and if needed add some extra salt and be generous with the black pepper. The idea is to use the least amount of Ramen flavor and the most of your own ingredients be it fresh or frozen.


Keep in mind that any root vegetable has a much more bland taste after cooking so experiment with small slices of rutabagas, turnips, daikon radish, black radish, sweet potatoes. They add a great punch of nutrients with little alteration to the soup base. What I like about rutabagas is that they keep very well in the fridge crisper drawers and if you only use a few thick slices it will keep nicely for 2-3 more weeks in the fridge even after cutting as long as it’s dry.

With sick soup it’s easy for the whole dish to taste like a garlicky salt sea with hints of the powerful herbs you’ve chosen to add. I have literally been able to fight off numerous colds with this recipe.

If you can’t seem to balance the flavors add the remaining Ramen flavoring. I find it helps set a direction to the soup’s flavor but shouldn’t be the only thing you taste.

If you don’t have some of those items on hand, a small onion, carrot, and garlic clove (or powder) will do just fine.

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Down to the last drop, tips to remember for getting your money’s worth of household things

Three years ago I discovered something in NYC while visiting my sister in her cozy upper East Side abode. It was a tube squeezer at the corner Duane Reade to get all the product out of any plastic tube, for example toothpaste.  I laughed at it first, but then thought well this saves space in the landfill and I can also get all my toothpaste out which was always something that annoyed me while trying to rush out the door. For three bucks and change I got a set of two. The package said EZ squeezer or something of the like and had one blue and one pink clip in it. After visiting and now back home in Florida I used them right away and thought well that’s a pretty cool idea, why didn’t I think of that? And over the course of the past three years, I would’ve never imagined how important or how crucial it might be to get every last drop.

Lets evaluate the savings. I brush my teeth three times a day (also a really great idea if you don’t have dental insurance or coverage anymore) so I use about 8-10 tubes in the course of a year. I have found Colgate and other brands for as low as $1.00 at Walgreens, and $1.82 at Walmart for the big tubes, so not surprisingly this little gadget saved me lots of change per month and is a smart, ecologically better solution. For less than four dollars I have used both clips for every tube of toothpaste, or other product I needed to savor. Plus it saves space in the medicine cabinet, and I know there’s nothing left when I toss the tube in the trash.  Just make sure to remove the plastic clip first before tossing the empties.

I’m half Jewish and that’s the only half that I use while shopping or analyzing products. At home simply cut the tube open after the E-Z squeezer has done it’s job and see for yourself. There is literally not a thing left in any tube that it can be used on. It is GREAT! If I can find the inventor I will sell them or give them away to others. This is such a simple concept. You will save money, space and room in your bathroom garbage which no one enjoys taking out anyways, so pick one up if you can find one.

The leads to my next tip. Scissors. If you are poor or trying to recover from the decline make sure you have a nice pair of scissors. I always keep a sharp pair in the bathroom because after accepting my “lower than low income” I wanted to be productive and resourceful with everything I spent my dollars on. Nothing goes to the trash until I have opened or cut open that bottle myself. In a time when you’re financially “ruined” instead of getting angry or frustrated when something runs out again, you will find a tiny burst of joy when you realize that there’s another weeks worth of lotion hiding in that bottle, another two showers worth of soap, and enough shampoo or conditioner for the remainder of the week.

Nowadays, I don’t get sad or mad when something has gone dry, I get excited over these new found adventures! God, we’re all so broke now something in the day has to give you a glimpse of excitement, the little things can be very rewarding. It will amaze you at how much cream, lotion, moisturizer or hair products are hiding until the truth is revealed with your trusty pair of scissors. It’s fun and surprising to see just how much “extra” you have left in all your household products and bathroom niceties. For particularly difficult or hard plastics it becomes that much more rewarding when you uncover the rest of your money (and product) inside. If you get into the habit of getting every last drop (and please do) it may feel as if the plastic manufacturer was purposely making containers a certain way just so you will have to go buy more. I’m telling you from my experience, and especially with lotions you will kick yourself when you discover how much of the stuff we were throwing in the trash, prematurely.

I was a science student in college so I liked dissecting things and learning what was inside, if you’re not as analytical as me or don’t want to hack up your bottles like some lab experiment than at least go pick yourself up one of those EZ Squeezer tube thing-a-ma-jigs, and save on your pearly whites. It’s worth it.

If anyone would like info on where to purchase or can’t find them email me and I will do my best to get a store by your location. Have fun and remember there’s no shame in your situation, it’s just another adventure.

Vanessa =)

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