All posts by BudgetEpicurean

Long-time student turned young adult with varied interests, mostly food and frugality. Pursuing wealth so I can help others pursue health.

Power Greens & Beans Salad


If you’re looking to fill up, super-charge your cells, up your fiber intake, and feel AWESOME for around 300 calories a plate, look no further!

This phenomenal salad uses a strong base of mixed greens (romaine & spinach) combined with the vegan four-bean salad from a previous post, and topped with fresh green onion to create a super heart-healthy, cholesterol-reducing, vitality-restoring super salad!

(Claims not investigated by the FDA. I made all this up so far.)

But seriously folks, this is delicious, and there is so much gorgeous color and fiber here, it might be a challenge to finish the whole plate! And with the vinaigrette from the four bean salad, you don’t even need dressing, which is where a lot of salad calories tend to come from.

So you can feel really super awesome about eating this.


  • 4-5 romaine leaves, chopped or torn
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 1 cup vegan four bean salad
  • 2 green onions, chopped


Step 1: Create a giant bed of greens on your plate. The more the merrier!

“Oh no, not more green leafy vegetables!” — Said no one’s internal organs ever.


Step 2: Smother the greens in the bean salad. Chop the green onions on top and that’s all there is to it. Enjoy your phenomenally healthy and tasty lunch/dinner/whatever.

Optional substitutions: Use any kind of leafy green here, kale would also work, even iceberg if you must. If you don’t like green onion, use any other fresh herbs. You can also add other toppings like raw nuts or seeds, croutons, olives, sliced peppers, etc.


Power Greens & Beans Salad

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Yield: Makes one huge plate of salad

2-3 cups greens and beans


  • 4-5 romaine leaves, chopped or torn
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 1 cup vegan four bean salad
  • 2 green onions, chopped


  1. Create a giant bed of greens on your plate. The more the merrier! "Oh no, not more green leafy vegetables!" -- Said no one's internal organs ever.
  2. Smother the greens in the bean salad. Chop the green onions on top and that's all there is to it. Enjoy your phenomenally healthy and super tasty lunch/dinner/whatever.
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Balsamic Brussels Sprouts – Less Than 5


Brussels sprouts tend to be a polarizing vegetable. Love it or hate it.

I love it. Bet you didn’t see that coming. =)

That hasn’t always been the case. Tastes change over time, as most children don’t enjoy the taste of many vegetables, but as we grow and our palates expand, things we once found revolting become favorites.

Brussels sprouts are in the Brassicacea family, along with broccoli, cabbage, kale, and collard greens. They may have originated in Brussels, Belgium, where they may have earned their name. They contain high levels of vitamin C and K, B vitamins, trace minerals, phytochemicals, and fiber. They, along with other brassicas, contain a chemical called indole-3-carbinol, under study for its effects on DNA repair and apparent ability to block growth of cancer cells.


Boiling used to be the only way brussels sprouts were prepared, and gave these beauties a bad name by boiling all the taste and life out of them . Better options for cooking to maximize texture and taste include steaming, frying, and my personal favorite, oven roasting.

Brussels sprouts are healthy and plentiful in the fall, making them an affordable option for side and main dishes. They tend to feature in Thanksgiving and Christmas meals. Umami and salty flavors tend to go well with the slightly bitter taste of these sprouts.

This side dish is simple and quick, as well as healthy for you. It is hearty enough to be a main dish as well if you please.


  • 1 1/2 cups fresh Brussels sprouts
  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 red onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 tbsp olive or coconut oil


Step 1: Cut the ends off the Brussels sprouts and slice large ones in half. Thinly slice the red onion. Heat the oil in a frying pan.


Step 2: Add the sprouts to the pan, and cook 4-5 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar and red onion, and cover. Let cook 5-7 minutes, until the onion and sprouts are tender.


That’s all there is to it! Serve warm, on its own or as a side dish.


The sprouts are tender yet still with a bit of crunch. The onions add a perfect sweet complement, and the balsamic coats everything in a sweet, slightly salty, and tart flavor.



Balsamic Brussels Sprouts – Less Than 5


  • 1 1/2 cups fresh Brussels sprouts
  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 red onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 tbsp olive or coconut oil


  1. Cut the ends off the sprouts and cut large ones in half. Slice the red onion thinly.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan, and add the sprouts. Cook 4-5 minutes, then add the onion and balsamic vinegar. Cover and cook another 5-7 minutes, until onion and sprouts are softened.
  3. Serve hot on its own or as a side dish.
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Pear & Almond Butter Breakfast Sandwich


Breakfast may be the most important meal of the day, but it is often the most rushed as well. Between snoozing alarms, alarms not going off, or just the fact that you hate mornings, it is often difficult to even think about nourishing yourself in the wee hours of the morning.

That is why I love planning ahead, and when push comes to shove I try to have things on hand that I know I can just grab on my way out the door and create a delicious, nutritious meal once I get where I’m going. Sometimes shoving a few things in a bag is all I have time for.

But I do try to always make or bring my own breakfast. Even a $1 coffee and $1.50 bagel adds up over time.

This is one option I have recently fallen completely in love with. I have had this for breakfast at least once a week for a month or so. Pears seem to be in season, or at least regularly on sale, so that is the fruit of choice at the moment. However, other fruits such as bananas, apples, peaches, or plums could be used as well.


Step 1: Smear one half the bread or sandwich with nut butter. If using cookie butter, spread that on the other half.


Step 2: Use a sharp knife to cut the pear or other fruit into round slices. Remove seeds. Place on the sandwich, and cover with the other slice.

One large pear makes enough for two sandwich slims, as well as a few pieces on the side. The cookie butter will make this much sweeter. For a vegan breakfast option, make sure that the butters do not contain any animal products.

Regardless of dietary preference, this is a super tasty, super quick breakfast option. You can just toss the nut butter, fruit, and bread in a bag and assemble later.

Turmeric Ginger Juice


Juices are a great way to add in extra vitamins and minerals from fruits and vegetables if you feel you don’t get enough in your regular diet. They are not a substitute for real, whole fruits and vegetables, because you miss out on the peels, flesh, seeds, and fibers. However, they are tasty and a good option for a little extra boost.

Some fruits and vegetables are already well-known for their juicing abilities, such as apples, carrots, celery, or spinach. However, there are many herbs and spices which would also be beneficial to add to your morning or afternoon pick-me-ups.

Two of my favorites currently are both roots, turmeric and ginger. Turmeric is beginning to gain more fame in the cooking community for its gorgeous yellow coloring, delicious flavor, and many health-promoting capabilities. Turmeric has long been used in medicine. It is thought to help ease arthritis, heartburn, stomach aches, diarrhea, intestinal distress, bloating, as well as increase appetite, and decrease liver and gallbladder disorders.

Turmeric does contain compounds which may reduce inflammation and swelling, contributing to its ascribed powers of easing the above-named illnesses. Traditional Eastern medicine claims even more potential benefits, ranging from curing headaches and bronchitis to more serious diseases such as fibromyalgia, depression, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Ginger, meanwhile, is an herb with an underground rhizome which is the most-often used part of the plant in both medicine and cooking. Most often ginger is ascribed powers of curing any “stomach problems” such as motion sickness, colic, diarrhea, nausea, and stomach aches. Other potential benefits include its use as a gentle, natural laxative and relief from muscle soreness, back pain, or stomach pain.

Whether or not you want potential relief from any of these symptoms, it is great for your heart and cardiovascular health to include these two roots in your cooking routine. Ginger is a delicious flavoring agent in stir fry and tea, and turmeric gives rice and curries a pungent smell and vibrant yellow color.

One simple way to get these benefits and more is to juice your roots! That’s right, simply add small pieces of these fresh, or a tsp or two powdered right into your liquid concoctions. This recipe was adapted from Jim over at Be Mindful Be Human’s Turmeric and Ginger Milk.


  • 1/4 fresh pineapple (or 1/2 can chunks)
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1-2 sticks celery
  • 2 apples
  • 1/2 fresh lemon
  • 1 tsp ginger (or 1″ piece root)
  • 2 tsp turmeric powder (or 1″ root)
  • 1/3 cup greens (spinach, kale)


Step 1: Slice all your fruits and veg into a size your juicer can handle. Juice them all, alternating soft (greens) and harder (carrot, apple) pieces.


Step 2: Add the ginger and turmeric, and stir well to mix. Fresh juices will often settle, and the micronutrients begin breaking down almost immediately, so try to enjoy within 20 minutes of juicing.


Cinnamon Ginger Candied Carrots


Carrots are a fantastic powerhouse of vitamins and minerals, including the one for which it is most famous, beta-carotene. This precursor to Vitamin A is what gives carrots their characteristic orange color. Along with other yellow, red, and green vegetables, carrots are a great dietary source of this vitamin which is critical for growth and development, a healthy immune system, and of course good vision.

The problem is that many people, including children and picky partners, do not enjoy carrots. Whether sliced, shaved, or cooked, some cannot handle carrots crunch or soft delicate flavor. One easy way to hide more in your usual cuisine is to puree into soups, chili, and sauces. But another way to ease loved ones into loving this healthy, humble root veg is to season and sweeten them into a soft, delightful side dish all will enjoy.

Candied carrots have always been a dish I am fond of, since childhood where three main veg sides reigned supreme: green beans, canned corn, and candied carrots.

This updated version has much less fat than the typical butter-smothered version, as well as less sugar. However, we amp up the overall flavor with the subtle spices of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, combined with just a touch of brown sugar and honey, to create the perfect accompaniment to whatever you put on the table tonight.

I guarantee kids and grown-ups alike will gobble them up, and maybe even ask for seconds!


  • 3-4 large carrots
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger (or 1 tbsp grated fresh)
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp honey


Step 1: Slice the carrots into thin rings. I simply wash my carrots, I do not peel them. However, you can peel them if you want.


Step 2: Put the carrots in a pot with enough water to cover, and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 20 minutes, until carrots are soft when poked with a fork.


Step 3: If any water remains, drain all but a few tbsp. Add the spices, brown sugar, and honey. Continue to simmer another 10-15 minutes, until reduced to a thick, caramel-y sauce and carrots are tender.


Serve your candied carrots alongside a lean meat like this spice-rubbed pork roast with other veggie sides, or with your favorite vegetarian or vegan salads or mains. See if they don’t disappear.

Stovetop Popcorn


As a certified popcorn addict, I can tell you that this stuff is like crack, only a hundred million times better and healthier. Bagged microwave popcorn can’t hold a candle to this. Just try it once, and you are likely hooked for life. Fair warning.

Popcorn is also a healthy snack option. As a whole grain, it is after all just a kernel of corn, it delivers about 2 g fiber per 3 cups popped, and contains more antioxidants than some kinds of vegetables. You do have to watch the amount of extras though, have a light hand with the oil or use an air popper, and don’t drown the popcorn in salt (like I do) if you’re watching your sodium.

You will need a large metal pot that you are okay with becoming “the popcorn pot”. I kid you not, my mother and I both have one, and popcorn is the only thing allowed to be cooked in this pot. It is that special, people.

To watch the video on my stovetop popcorn step-by-step how to, click HERE or scroll to the bottom of the page.



Step 1: Put the oil, kernels, and salt in the popcorn pot. Swirl it around so that the kernels are evenly distributed in a thin layer.


Step 2: Put the stove to medium heat, and try hard to wait patiently. When you begin to hear the “plink” of corn popping, you can occasionally swirl the pot around to keep popped kernels from burning and mix it all up.


Once you don’t hear any popping for a count of 5-10, your popcorn is ready! Be careful when you remove the lid, there will be steam. Pour into a large bowl and dive in. Best piping hot from the stove.


You can then dress up your popcorn (not that it needs it, I can eat my weight in this stuff) with a whole slew of toppings. Try adding spices like Cajun spice mix, nuts or dried fruits, topping with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese, or tossing with some candies and melted chocolate (very cute as a Christmas gift in a tin).

Recipe Review: Chia Fresca from Oh She Glows


As I research and educate myself about food and nutrition, I believe more deeply that plant-based foods have such phenomenal health-promoting powers, and want to incorporate more of them into my own life and cooking. I am constantly on the hunt for more ideas, tips, advice, recipes, and knowledge.

I have recently become aware of this fabulous vegan/veg-centered blog from Angela at Oh She Glows. Her story is inspiring, and her recipes even more so! With so much abundance of plant-based, fabulous foods, I will never again be without dinner ideas! Check it out yourself and you’ll see what I mean. My new foodie heroine.

So in browsing her many recipes, I came across this odd bird: The Chia Fresca. A popular drink in South America for centuries, it consists of water (or coconut water), chia seeds, lemon or lime juice, and usually sweetener.

For those who do not know, when chia seeds are soaked in water they produce a gel-like coating, much like tomato seeds. Chia seeds are so intensely hydrophilic (hydro = “water” philic = “loving”) that they can absorb up to NINE times the weight of the seed in liquid. That is just plain crazy awesome!

photo 2

Chia seeds also have two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble, which will help keep your whole digestive tract healthy. Their gel takes a long time for the digestive system to extract the water from, so it hydrates your whole system along the way. For more fun facts check out MySeeds.

Chia seeds are also a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids, so if you are vegetarian or vegan and cannot eat fish, this is a great option. Chia seeds are easily incorporated into any beverage, and can be used in cooking as well as a substitute for eggs or pectin in jellies and jams. That may be my next project.

Anywho, back on track.

The Oh She Glows chia fresca recipe called for 1 1/2 tbsp chia in 2 cups water, plus 1/2 a lemon or lime and sweetener to taste.

I tried exactly that, without the sweetener.


No sweetener partially because I didn’t want to add sugar, and also because I like lemony water so I figured it is just that with a little chewy bonus.


The chia seeds take 10 minutes or so to become fully gel-like. At first they sit on top of the water like a little film. Just keep stirring and be patient.


I thought this was a little bit too much chia for me, and it clumped together a bit. So I experimented a little (of course). There are tons of other recipes and ideas of what you could add to the water. Cucumber was pretty tasty, and would have been even better if I had fresh mint leaves.

But I think my favorite was when I added lime juice and a little orange juice, and a smaller amount of seeds. The amended recipe is below.

Give chia a try, it is probably a love-or-hate kind of thing.

As the SO said when he saw it: “Are those bees?!”

photo 1

To his credit, he did try it. And he said he actually likes the bees. Success.

And then he went to “drink some bacon grease”. Life is all about the little victories ya know?


Orange-Lime Chia Fresca

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 2 cups

1 glass-full


  • 1/4 lime, juiced
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • Optional: 1/2" piece of ginger


  1. Mix the chia seeds into the water. They will take 10+ minutes to completely gel.
  2. Add the lime juice and orange juice. Stir to mix.
  3. If using the ginger, chop it roughly and add to boiling water, mix well and let sit 30+ minutes. Strain and continue with ginger-water as above.


You can sub in any fruit juice here basically. Get creative and see what you like.

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This post contains links to Amazon Affiliate products.

Chicken Nests Three Ways: Super Bowl Snacks brought to you by Tyson


Word on the street is that this super important football game is happening this weekend. News to me. Glad my mom cares as much as I do (read; not at all) since she is in town!

However, Tyson Crispy Chicken Strips is sponsoring a recipe contest, and of course when she is in town, we have to cook together! So this worked out great.

After much brainstorming and asking friends for ideas, we settled on one of the most versatile bases we know: biscuit cups. The base of all these following combinations is the humble buttermilk biscuit. Then they can be topped with all manner of mouth-watering concoctions.


The top three: chicken-bacon-ranch, Buffalo chicken dip, and chicken-barbeque-tater tots.


The Buffalo dip can be served on its own, it is so stinking addictive! Seriously people. Spoons.

Chicken Nests


  • 1 can biscuits
  • 1/2-1 cups filling
  • Sprinkle of cheese


Buffalo Chicken Dip


  • 2 Tyson fully cooked chicken breasts
  • Biscuit dough
  • 1/2 c sour cream
  • 1/2 c cream cheese
  • 1/2 c ranch dressing
  • 1/2 c shredded cheddar
  • Hot sauce to taste


Step 1: In a bowl, mix the sour cream, cream cheese, ranch, and hot sauce. Thaw and chop or shred the chicken breasts, and mix in.


Step 2: Mix the cheese in well. Use later to fill biscuit cups. Alternatively, you can heat this dip in the microwave or the oven, and serve with chips. Or spoons.


Step 3: Spread biscuit dough in the bottom of a sprayed muffin or tart tin.  Put about 1 mounded tablespoon into the center. Sprinkle a little cheddar on top.


Step 4: Bake in a 400 degree oven for 8-11 minutes, until biscuit dough is puffed and slightly browned on top.


Chicken Bacon Ranch


  • Biscuit dough
  • 1-2 Tyson fully cooked chicken breasts
  • 3-4 pieces bacon
  • 2-3 tablespoons Ranch dressing
  • Shredded cheddar cheese


Step 1: Chop up or shred the chicken. Spread the biscuit dough in the bottom of a sprayed pan.


Step 2: Cook and drain the bacon, and crunch it up. On top of the biscuit dough, add 1 tbsp chicken, 1 1/2 tsp ranch, and a sprinkle of bacon. Top with a pinch of cheddar.


Step 3: Bake in a 400 degree oven for 8-11 minutes.


BBQ Chicken Tater Bites


  • Biscuit dough
  • 1-2 Tyson fully cooked chicken breasts
  • 2-3 tbsp BBQ sauce
  • Handful of tater tots
  • Sprinkle of shredded cheddar cheese


Step 1: Spread biscuit dough in the bottom of muffin or tart pans. Chop the chicken and layer 1 tbsp in the dough.


Step 2: Pour 1 1/2 tsp BBQ sauce on top of the chicken. Plop a tater tot on top, and cover with shredded cheddar cheese.


Step 3: Bake in a 400 degree oven for 8-11 minutes. If using a muffin tin rather than a tart tin, bake an extra 4-5 minutes.



These are the muffin-tin sized cups, same recipes but add about three times as much of each filling. The size makes for a great dinner, especially if served with extra sauces on the side. These can also be frozen, and re-heated for lunches and snacks later.

Muffin sized and tart sized



These are the hot tarts right from the oven. Cheese is all bubbly, and they all smell amazing.

Served on a vaguely football-shaped serving tray


IMG_8070 IMG_8071

I can’t even tell you how fantastic these things turn out!!!


Every one of these flavor combinations is totally delightful.


They are super delightful, and very customizable. You could top with just about any combination you prefer. Add spinach, or caramelized onions, use other meats or just cheeses.


The larger muffin sized ones are very filling, with a larger filling-to-dough ratio if that’s what you’re looking for.


They also make for a very nice presentation.


Serve with extra dipping sauces. Ranch, BBQ sauce, and hot sauce.


Add some carrots and celery to your ranch, or make some extra Buffalo Dip on the side as well. Great finger foods, I guarantee these will not last long!


Diced tomatoes, olives, or green onions can also be a nice topper.


This post is sponsored by Tyson Crispy Chicken Strips and The Daily Meal.

Vegan Four Bean Salad


This dish was cooked up (pun intended) for a work potluck I had. I wanted a dish that didn’t take too much time and effort, since I would put it together the day of, maybe even the night before. And it needed to be something that made a lot, to feed a lot of people, but on a penny budget.

In comes my old best friends, beans, to the rescue! Beans are delightful, cheap, and filling. They come in endless variety too, so when you put several kinds together you get a healthy, hearty, and also pretty dish.

This is a very easily customizable adaptation of your typical “three-bean” salad, in that I simply added an extra type of beans. Here I used canned, but you can slash the cost even further by starting with dried beans, and cooking them in a crock pot on low overnight to rehydrate. Then drain and refrigerate until needed.



Step 1: Open all the cans, put the beans in a colander and rinse them several times with cold water. This helps remove some of the excess sodium and any preservatives that might have been in the canned juices. Mix in a large bowl with the peppers and onion.


Step 2: Combine the vinegar and oil, and pour over the mixture. Add the spices, and mix everything up.


This post contains links to Amazon Affiliate Products. When you purchase items using these links, I make a small commission to keep this blog going, without affecting the price you pay. Thank you!

Book Review: Plant-Powered For Life by Sharon Palmer, RD


Do you want to feel vibrantly alive? Do you want to be in the peak health of your life, no matter your age? Do you want to enjoy a constant kaleidoscope of rotating colors, flavors, textures, and aromas in your meals? Do you want to do your fellow mankind, animals, and the planet a huge favor?

Living a plant-powered life can give you all that and more.

I had the great honor of being asked to read and write a review for “Plant-Powered For Life“, the recently-released second book by Registered Dietician Nutritionist Sharon Palmer. Also the author of “The Plant-Powered Diet“, an avid blogger and speaker, and with hundreds of hands-on hours helping people empower their life and better their health through diet, Ms. Palmer knows her food.


This is an insightful, instructive book which focuses on a whole-lifestyle approach to better health through better eating. It is exactly the kind of book I have been looking for. It includes tons of practical tips from how and what to shop for at the grocery store, to ways to prepare and cook different vegetables, to 125 plant-powered recipes.

There are also gorgeous full-sized photos of various recipes and produce sprinkled throughout every chapter. The food looks so tasty, it would make even the most hard-core carnivore crave a Farro and White Bean Burger, Thai Lettuce Wrap, or Strawberry Soy Lassi.


She begins the book simply, by asking the reader to create a plant-powered life goal. There is a whole spectrum from die hard carnivores simply aiming to include more plants in their daily diet, to going full-blown vegan. You choose how vibrantly plant-powered you want your life to become.

Since I am a lifelong omnivore, I’d like to add more veggies into my diet every day, as well as having a minimum of one meatless day per week. I will keep packing in more and more veggies, until they begin to supplant the meat naturally.


The book is broken down into 52 chapters, and each is a call to action about changing one small segment of your life. You can choose to take on one chapter per week for a year-long journey to plant power, or you can skip around to whatever chapters best fit in your life and speak to you.

Included in each chapter is 2-3 plant-powered recipes. These recipes feature seasonal produce, and a rainbow of variety. Ms. Palmer repeatedly makes the point that eating varied, whole, plant-based foods is the most ideal diet humans can follow.

Each fruit, vegetable, legume, or grain has a unique mixture of micro- and macro-nutrients that contribute to vibrant health. We need a rotating variety of these vitamins and minerals to achieve and maintain ideal health.


All the recipes have suggestions for substitutions or variations; for example, if you follow a gluten-free diet for dietary reasons there are substitutions included to make the recipe gluten-free. Most have very brief ingredient lists, and prep/cook times under an hour. I have already found at least a dozen recipes I am super excited to try and get into my weekly meal rotation!

I am so happy to have this handy plant-based eating guide slash cookbook on my kitchen shelf. I’m sure I will refer to it for advice, ideas, and inspiration for years to come. Count me in for eating more plants this year!


The best part of this article, is that Ms. Palmer’s team has been generous enough to enable me to give one lucky reader a copy of their very own! Below is a Rafflecopter giveaway; you can earn up to four entries, plus an extra one each day you Tweet about us!


This giveaway begins at midnight MST on Sunday January 25, and ends Sunday February 22nd at noon MST.
a Rafflecopter giveaway