Posted in Health

Gluten-Free Food…For Less

Recently, my doctor advised that I adopt a gluten-free diet due to some digestive and health issues I’ve been having.  The thought of going gluten-free was overwhelming even with the help of my nutritionist.  I did the obligatory Internet search, but I was still confused.


So I decided to go old school and look for a book. The Gluten-Free Bible provided me with invaluable information that alleviated my fears. Not only did it help define gluten and what it does to people who are sensitive to it. The book provides a list of food to avoid and gluten-free food I can enjoy. Best of all, it has dozens of recipes accompanied by colorful pictures. (Who doesn’t like a picture book, especially one that costs four bucks?)


With my new confidence, I put together a grocery list of items I needed. Meat, dairy, beans, fruits, and vegetables are all gluten-free. So I wasn’t going to starve to death.


However, bread, pastries, pasta, even some sauces and condiments (soy sauce) have gluten in them. I like pastries, but I can survive without them. I rarely eat bread so that’s easy enough to avoid.


But pasta. Oh, I like my pasta. I can’t give it up. I checked out several stores and the cost of gluten-free pasta was three times more than regular pasta. I found the best prices at Trader Joe’s.  (Big Lots had some bargains as well.)


Most of the pastas I saw were made of brown rice and quinoa. That seems to be the most common. The prices ranged from $1.99 to $2.99 which is reasonable compared to other stores. I saw some red lentil and vegetable pastas but they cost more. However, it’s still an option.


I’ve been on the Mediterranean Diet Plan for a month and it’s plant-based with lots of fruits, nuts, and granola for snacks. Big Lots has a great selection of natural food items at discounted prices. I found Bob’s Red Mill millet which is a gluten-free ancient grain. I also bought Gluten-free rolled oats that are absolutely delicious. Some items are marked gluten-free like the Chia seeds. Chia seeds are naturally gluten-free and there’s no need to pay a premium price for them. The Erin Baker vanilla almond chia granola is delicious. Here’s an example of where I had to read the label to make sure the granola was gluten-free, but I’m still taking a chance because it could have been manufactured in a plant with wheat which happens a lot with rolled oats. So far, it hasn’t given me any problems.


More snacks. The chips and dates are great in smoothies.

sam_2039 Here are some other items I found at Big Lots. Kale chips and gluten-free crackers. I confess. I hated both the kale chips and the crackers, so it’s a good thing I didn’t spend a lot of money on them. Beanitos are my favorite. They’re chips made out beans and taste yummy with hummus, guacamole, or salsa. I can eat corn chips and potato chips as long as they’re not covered with a sauce that has gluten in it. However, I’d rather avoid the nasty ingredients and stick with the healthier choices.


Brazil nuts are extremely good for you. They are high in calories, but you only need one or two a day to help regulate your cholesterol and they’re full of Vitamin E. This container was around $7 at Whole Foods. Cacao nibs are known as a superfood. Chocolate comes from cacao trees, so cacao nibs and cacao powder are great ways to add a chocolate taste to a smoothie, trail mix or anything else. The cacao nibs naturally give you a burst of energy and there’s no need for refined chocolate with all the sugar and fat. I found this bag of Sunfood cacao nibs at Marshall’s for $5.99. My absolute favorite snack is chocolate covered coconut chips. They’re chewy and they’re great in yogurt or by themselves. I paid $2.99 for this bag at Marshall’s but I found some chocolate coconut chips at Aldi for a dollar less and a bigger bag. BTW, Aldi has a gluten-free, budget-friendly brand called LiveGFree.


I found more budget-friendly goodies at the Dollar Tree which is my hangout. I’m eventually going to move over to coconut sugar, but for now I rely on cane sugar in the raw to sweeten my ice tea. Gluten free chicken broth, plantains’ chips, and popped potato chips. All found at the Dollar Tree for one dollar each.


And these waffles have been a favorite of mine for a long time. Gluten-free waffles from Trader’s Joe’s. I started eating these about a year ago and love the light fluffy taste. These costs around $2.30 a box compared to most gluten-free waffles that cost four to five dollars a box.

One thing to keep in mind, if you’re considering going gluten-free is that agluten-free products may not be healthy. Check the ingredients for fat and the calorie content. Another option is to make your own food items. This is something I’ll eventually do because its more cost-effective and quite frankly, reading labels is tedious.

I’ve got a major grocery haul coming up filled with gluten-free and healthy items. Please keep an eye out for it.

Stay Blessed,


Posted in FOOD, Gluten Free, Health, Mediterranean Diet, Uncategorized

Southern Style Collard Greens with Smoked Turkey-Healthy Version

Who doesn’t like Southern style collard greens? There are so many ways to make them and most are unhealthy. Here’s my recipe for fantastic collard greens that are pretty healthy for you.


Collard Greens- (1 to 2 bags or 3 to 4 uncut bunches)

1 large smoked turkey leg

Bragg’s Apple cider vinegar (1 to 2 tablespoons)

Raw cane sugar  (1 tablespoon)

Vegetable or chicken broth (4 to 5 cups)

Edward & Sons veggie cubes (1 cube)

Fresh ground pepper

Celtic sea salt to add minerals to the greens

Garlic (3 to 4 cloves)

Onion (1 small )

Red bell pepper (half )

Mrs. Dash salt-free seasoning

Maine Coast sea kelp granules with iodine (salt-alternative)

Red chili pepper flakes (to taste)

Butter (2 pats, optional)

Olive oil  in place of butter

Cut cherry tomatoes




Heat olive oil or butter in a pan and add one veggie cube.  These cubes are loaded with good stuff like onion, carrots, parsley and turmeric. They give a healthy boost to your dishes.

Once the butter or oil and cube have been blended together, add onion, red bell pepper, and garlic to the mixture and allow the vegetables to soften.


Add the chicken or vegetable broth and the smoked turkey leg to the pot. Let the turkey leg cook on medium heat for about an hour. The meat will be rubbery at first, but it will eventually fall off the bone.



I bought a bag of Glory collard greens. These say that they’re washed and ready to go. Don’t trust it. Go through the bag and get rid of the big hard stems.


Put the greens in a large bowl and add distilled vinegar with salt. Wash, wash, wash and then rinse. Repeat the process. Then repeat again. Let the third bowl of vinegar, salt and greens sit for ten minutes so that all the silt falls to the bottom of the bowl. Trust me. You don’t want mud and silt in your greens. Wash them those collards good or you will have gritty greens. Yuck.


Once the collard greens are clean and the smoked turkey leg has been cooking for an hour, add the greens to the pot. Season with apple cider vinegar, sea kelp, sugar, pepper and red chili flakes. Let the greens cook for an hour on low. Do not boil. Do a taste test and see if you need to add Celtic salt or any other seasonings.


After another hour, the collard greens will be done and you can pull the smoked turkey right off the bone. Delicious. Hope you enjoy.

Stay Blessed,



Posted in BODY, Gluten Free, Health, Mediterranean Diet

Celtic Salt, Korean Ginseng Tea, Kombucha & Honey


I grew up on iodized table salt, but in recent years I’ve switched over to Mediterranean sea salt and Himalayan salt which are better for you. Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot about Celtic sea salt so I decided to try it. I tested the Celtic salt out in my soups and stews and I enjoyed the taste. You can also add the salt to hot water and drink it. Celtic sea salt contains minerals that are good for your body. It can actually help lower your blood pressure. Here’s more information: Celtic sea salt health benefits.


If you’ve got stomach issues, try kombucha drinks. I suffer from an ulcer and other digestive issues. Kombucha, which contains live enzymes, helps regulate the acids in the stomach and improves digestion. It’s recommended to drink 8 to 12 ounces of the fermented tea every day. A bottle costs anywhere from 3 to 5 dollars each. Sometimes you can find the larger bottles of GTS kombucha for around $7.50 each.


I first tried IL HWA Ginex tea more than twenty years ago. My grandmother used it to help with her diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. She swore by it but I couldn’t stomach the taste. Things have changed. On my quest to become healthy, I’ve come full circle and now I embrace the Korean ginseng tea. I purchase it at a local health food store called HSU.

Basically, Korean ginseng cleans the blood of toxins. Here’s a link with more details and where you can buy it: Korean Ginseng. This tea is pricey. A box of ten granule packets costs  $13 and it goes up from there. The liquid extract is a better deal. It’s currently on sale for $39.95 for 100 cups.

I’ve only been drinking this tea for a month, but I recently had my annual physical exam and all of my numbers have improved. I’m no longer pre-diabetic and my cholesterol levels have normalized. I have more energy and feel better physically and mentally.


I generally skip sweetener in my tea but the Korean ginseng needs a little help. So I use my favorite honey. I’ve been using Y.S. Organic Bee Farms certified raw honey for years. It’s simply delicious. You can find this honey at health food stores or on for around eight dollars. I always have this honey in the house. It’s just that good.

Although the items on this list may bend the budget a little, they’re worth the cost when you consider the health benefits. In order to live a happy life, you’ve got to stay healthy.  Please let me know if you try any of these items or if you want more information.

Stay blessed,






Posted in FOOD, Mediterranean Diet, Recipes, Uncategorized

Pinto Beans with Rosemary, Turkey Bacon & Brown Rice

There’s nothing like pinto beans. On a weekend, pour them into a Crockpot and let them cook. This week, I decided to make pinto beans with rosemary and turkey bacon. Easy and delicious.


Pinto Beans (1 bag)

Vegetable or Chicken broth

Turkey bacon=four to five cut up slices

Onions-1 medium

Garlic-4 cloves

Fresh rosemary, Celtic salt, ground pepper, garlic powder, dried parsley

Brown rice



Add all the ingredients into the slow cooker except for the brown rice. Cook the rice separately. There aren’t any measurements. Everything is to taste. I generally cook a one pound bag of pinto beans on high for four hours or on low for six hours.

Once they’re done, ladle all that goodness on a bed or brown rice.



You can anything you want on top, cheese, salsa, or have cornbread on the side. You can even make burritos. Nothing better than hearty pinto beans.

Stay Blessed,


Posted in BEAUTY, lifestyle

Candles that Heal, Crackle & Relax


Candles are a necessity in my home so I’m always looking for a deal. Recently, I took advantage of the Bath and Body Works $10 off candle sale. I purchased two of their new scents. The White Gardenia is heavily aromatic and intoxicating. It was a must buy. So was the Wild Sage and Aloe. Sage is one of my favorite scents and combining it with aloe creates a smooth aroma that’s perfect for creating a relaxing atmosphere. Also, the mint green hue of the glass container is gorgeous once the wick is lit.


Years ago, I discovered a line of candles that smell incredible and are potentially good for your spirit. They are Crystal Journey candles which are great for meditation. Each candle is created with a positive intention and includes an inspirational message. I bought Protection which is a blend of  frankincense, sandalwood, rosemary, and clove. Angel’s Influence is comprised of honeysuckle, sweet heather, rose, and peppermint. Peace has a combination of vanilla, clove, myrrh, ginger root, and caraway seeds. The candles are usually found at small trendy stores or you can get them here: Journey Candles.


Like many people, I have an anxiety issue that causes me to grind my teeth. I saw this worry stone and decided to give it a try. It’s basically a smooth stone that fits between my fingers and thumb. I rub it to alleviate anxiety. So far it’s working for me.


Next, I came across a nice supply of WoodWick candles at Marshall’s. These candles crackle as they burn. They’re amazing and extremely calming. I paid $10 for this candle. It usually costs between $26 to $30.


Lastly, I found a LAB flameless candle at Marshall’s. I love this candle. I mean, I really love this candle. It’s made of scented wax and Himalayan salt. There’s a timer on the candle, so it turns on at the same time every night and stays on for four hours. My candle turns on around bedtime. When I walk into my room, I’m greeted by a delicate flowery scent. Once the lights are off, the soft illumination of the candle soothes me to sleep. The best part is the candle cost less than eight bucks. I love a great bargain, especially one that helps this insomniac sleep.

Stay blessed,






Posted in FOOD, Meatless Mondays, Mediterranean Diet

Hearty Veggie Penne with Pepper Jack Cheese






sam_1836This is an easy and delicious meal that’s perfect for the cold weather. More than likely, you’ve got most of the ingredients in your cabinet.

Here’s what you need: (4 servings)

Half a box of whole grain penne pasta

Half of a red onion

Garlic=3 to 4 cloves

Mushrooms (as much as you like)

Half of a green pepper

24 oz jar of Bertolli pasta sauce

Dried basil, rosemary, oregano, and a bay leaf

Garlic powder, salt & pepper

A half a teaspoon of sugar or Stevia (optional)

A tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce

A teaspoon of Red wine vinegar or to taste

Olive oil

Pepper jack cheese


Sautee veggies in olive oil. Add herbs and seasonings. Meanwhile start boiling water for the penne and a little olive oil.


Once the vegetables are done, add the jar of pasta sauce to the pot. I like to get every bit of sauce out of the jar, so I pour in the tablespoon or two of Worchestshire sauce, sugar or Stevia, red wine vinegar, and a dash of water. I swirl it all together and pour the mixture into the pot with the veggies and pasta sauce. Add the bay leaf, and more seasonings and herbs if you like. Now, let it all simmer for about 15 minutes.

***The sugar/Stevia cuts the bitterness of the tomatoes. Start with a little and add more from there.


I like to season my penne, so I add a little olive oil and parsley. I combine the pasta sauce and penne and then put pepper jack cheese and cilantro on top. This dish has a rich comforting taste and you won’t miss the meat. Delicious.

Stay blessed,


Posted in Sales

Blowout After X-mas Sale: 90% Off

Sometimes you just have to share. I stopped by Big Lots and got a fabulous deal on the last of their Christmas goodies.


I got all three of these plaques for less than $2.00.


These eight ornaments cost one buck.


These cost another dollar.


I paid $1.20 for these deer ornaments. The total came to around $5.20 for all of these Christmas decorations. That’s what I call a heck of a sale. Can’t wait to use them next year.

Stay blessed,