Flavorful Lemon Dressed Salads

I’m making an effort to eat more veggies and so am trying to eat salad for lunch a couple times a week. But, I want salads that keep me satisfied through the day. The salads featured today were inspired by salads I had regularly in chile and contain flavorful proteins and greens topped with lemon juice, ground black pepper and some of my new favorite veggies including avocado and cabbage! With a tangy* lemon dressing and other unsual flavors and textures, you won’t feel like you’re eating the same old salad every day for lunch.

*If you feel just lemon juice is too tangy for you, most of these salads taste great with some vegetable oil sprinkled along side the lemon or lime juice. I prefer just lemon juice, but I tend to love the taste of citris at full potentcy–especially on salads.

Fiesta Ranch Tuna Salad

Fiesta Ranch Tuna Salad with sliced avocado


  • 1/2 Avocado (slice it over the salad for easier eating)
  • 1/4 tomato
  • 1/2 lemon or lime’s juice or to taste (I like mine pretty potent)
  • 1/4 cucumber
  • 1 C. romain lettuce or enough to fill a cereal bowl
  • salt
  • pepper
  • Fiesta Fajita Seasoning
  • 1 can solid albacore tuna (you can use the chunk tuna, but it’s just not as tasty!)
  • About a Tablespoon Ranch dressing

Cut up the veggies and lettuce into bite sized pieces and put them in a bowl. Cut an avocado in half and place a halve  on top of the salad. Sprinkle the entire salad including the avocado with the lemon juice from 1/2 of a lemon or lime, salt, pepper, and fajita seasoning. Now mix 1 can of albacore tuna with just enough Ranch that the tuna sticks together. Put 1/2 of the tuna mixture inside of the avocado atop the salad you just made. Sprinkle the scoop of tuna with more fajita seasoning. Enjoy!

Seafood Salad-


  • 1/2 package Imitation Crab- High in protein and low in fat
  • 1 T. Miracle whip
  • 1 T. Lemon Juice + Lemon Juice desired to spread over the salad (1/2 lemon’s juice)
  • 1 green onion
  • A sprinkle of onion salt
  • salt
  • pepper
  • Spinach- Super high in Vitamin A and a good source of iron
  • Romain Lettuce
  • Purple Cabbage- High in fiber and potassium!
  • 1 teaspoon seafood cocktail sauce (optional)

Cut the green onions with kitchen shears. Shred the imitation crab with your fingers an combine it with the miracle whip, lemon juice, green onions, and a shake of onion salt. Cut up enough spinach and romaine lettuce to fill a cereal bowl. Squeeze 1/2 lemon or desired amount of lemon over the lettuce and sprinkle salt and pepper over it. Add your desired amount of Seafood salad on the top. Add a teaspoon of seafood cocktail sauce to your salad if desired. Enjoy!

Avocado and Egg Salad:

Avocado Egg Salad with bacon pieces

I first tried this salad in Chile and fell in love with the simplicity and flavor.


  • Romain lettuce roughly chopped
  • egg salad: Mine containes miracle whip, mustard, onion salt, and season all
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1/2 Lemon’s Juice
  • salt
  • pepper
  • Bac’n pieces or real bacon pieces
  • baby carrots (optional)

Chop your lettuce roughly and then squeeze 1/2 of lemon over it and sprinkle it with salt and pepper. Now remove the avocado pit from your avocado half and stuff it with a large scoop of egg-sald. You may sprinkle more salt and pepper over the egg if you’d like or bacon pieces as desired. Add carrots to the salad if desired.  Makes 1 large bowl of salad or 2 servings.

Avocado Egg Salad with bacon pieces


Bacon Pieces- Add flavor without adding a ton of sodium or calories!

Celery Salad or Cucumber


  • 2 Celery stalks (It tastes great with cucumbers too)
  • lemon juice from 1/2 lemon
  • veggie oil (if desired for more flavor)
  • salt
  • pepper

Slice your celery into long thin, bite-sized pieces until you’ve filled a cereal bowl. Cover the pieces with lemon juice and a sprinkle of veggie oil if desired. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the celery. I generally eat this one as a side since it it not quite as filling on it’s own.


Celery Salad with lemon juice and salt and pepper

How to Decide if an Instant Pot is Worth the Money to You

  1. Do you or would you like to start cooking more meals with plant-based proteins like beans and lentils?
  2. Do you hate how the oven heats up your entire kitchen when you’re cooking?
  3. Do you hate to use your huge oven when you just need to cook something small?
  4. Are you trying to save money on your electric or gas bill?
  5. Are you trying to reduce the amount of fat in your diet?
  6. Do you need extra motivation to try new recipes and get out of a I cook-the-same-food-all-the-time-rut?
  7. Do you have the patience to read a fair amount of directions before you start using an appliance?
  8.  Do you want to bake cheesecakes, but get frustrated with the difficulty of doing so?
  9.  Do you often decide last minute what to make for dinner and need to thaw out frozen meats quickly?
  10. Do you often forget about food you began to cook only to find it burned up in the oven or on the stove?
  11. Do you cook boiled eggs often?
  12. Do you cook rice often?
  13. Do you not have access to a stove or burner for an extended period of time?
  14. Do you not have a microwave?

If you answered yes to a few of these questions with #7 being especially important, you will probably make use of your instant pot quite often. I’m still learning to use mine to fit my needs, but I have been using it almost daily or multiple times a day.

Instant pots are energy-efficient, won’t heat up your kitchen, and make cooking beans, lentils, rice, veggies-including spaghetti squash, boiled eggs, cheesecakes, and cornbread much easier. It has also served as a good motivator for me to try new recipes and switch up my routine, because anything I put money into is an investment that I make sure to give some of my energy to.

They are not cheap, but especially if you are trying to cut back on your meat intake and use less oil in your cooking, instant pots are a big help. Cooking beans and lentils yourself will also save you money and allow you to have complete control over what is going into your beans.

The instant pot takes time to learn about, and requires some trial and error cooking, but it has some features which I love.


The saute feature- If you don’t have a stove or burner this is a life saver!

The automatic hold warm feature- I can take this pot to church functions like you would a crock pot and plug it in to stay warm, or it seems to retain heat well with the lid on. And it didn’t leak in my car either like crock pots have the potential to do!

Trivet- Allows you to cook things like cheesecakes, chicken, veggies etc. up out of the water so that they are not cooking through boiling, but through the heat of the steam surrounding them.

Cons- Chicken thrown into the Instant Pot doesn’t have the same flavor as meat cooking in a pan or the oven, but when you are cooking chicken to put into something else and want in to take on the flavor of whatever you are adding it to, this is a quick and easy way to cook frozen chicken breasts without having to defrost them and then cook them in a pan or throw them into the oven.

If your food isn’t done the first time, prepare to patiently wait while the pot reheats back up to temperature and then cools down enough that you can open it up again when it is done.

Learning Curve- Be prepared to read long directions before using this guy! It is not intuitive to use in my opinion, but with a bit of effort it gets easier.

Pre-heat time, but I can’t think of an appliance besides the microwave which doesn’t require time to warm up.

Want one? I’ve seen stellar deals on Instant Pots on Amazon around Christmas time, Cyber Monday, and on Amazon Prime Day. With brick and mortar stores preparing to run ads to bring people through their doors, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them deeply discounted in January and February. If you move you can also try applying the Amazon Move Discount.  Credit Cards will also offer cash discounts when you spend a certain amount at a particular store. You may look into a few of these options.



Cheap Super Foods: Lentils

Cost per serving: 18 cents!

Lentils cost anywhere from $1.25 to $1.50 per pound and provide aproximately 7 servings loaded with incredible nutrients.

1 cup of lentils includes:

  • 18 grams protein
  • 15 grams of fiber
  • 3.5 grams sugar
  • less than 1 gram fat
  • 358 milligrams folate (90 percent DV)
  • 1 milligram manganese (49 percent DV)
  • 6.6 milligrams iron (37 percent DV)
  • 356 milligrams phosphorus (36 percent DV)
  • 0.5 milligrams copper (25 percent DV)
  • 0.5 milligrams thiamine (22 percent DV)
  • 731 milligrams potassium (21 percent DV)
  • 71 milligrams magnesium (18 percent DV)
  • 0.4 milligrams vitamin B6 (18 percent DV)
  • 2.5 milligrams zinc (17 percent DV)
  • 1.3 milligrams vitamin B5/ pantothenic acid (13 percent DV)

Nutritional Information taken from https://draxe.com/lentils-nutrition/.com

Cookin lentils with and Instant Pot they become surprisingly easy to cook as well. I like to saute some onion and garlic in my instant pot, put lentils in the pot, cover them with water and 2 teaspoons of bouillon and then cook for 15 minutes on manual mode with a natural pressure release for 10 more minutes. Now you have lentils ready for nearly any recipe you’d like to make.

My Top 3 Tried and True Lentil Recipes:

    1. Lentil Shepherds Pie ( I like to add Worcestershire sauce to this recipe for flavor in place of soy sauce and put french sliced green beans on top)

    2. Lentil-Stuffed Zucchini Boats (Make sure you use a flavorful pasta sauce!

If you’re low on zuchinni make my Wrecked Zucchini Boats with some tips from the slideshow below:

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3. 5 minute Red Lentil Curry ( I use brown lentils, beef or chicken bouillon, red curry paste and add pineapple and add other veggies like carrots and broccoli for extra flavor)

All three of the recipes above have been put into my cooking rotation as Matt and I have continued to work towards eating more plant based proteins. Meatless or low meat meals can be delicious. I hope you enjoy trying these out!

10 Inexpensive Neighbor Christmas Gifts

  1. Please click on the pictures to visit the blogs where the ideas were pulled from. Most of the blogs include free printable tags so be sure to check them out!

    spice jar
    Mason Jar Shaker from Dollar Tree 

    I’m still working on this idea, but I’m thinking of buying mason jar shakers like the one above from the Dollar Tree and filling them with my favorite spice mix, which is a fajita seasoning made by Bolner’s Fiesta. This mix is awesome for fajitas or flavoring homemade salsa.

    The tag could say something like, A little something to spice up your new year, or for your next fiesta, or Feliz Navidad. I also thought including a salsa recipe would be a nice touch. What do you think?

2.  A few other people were thinking along similar lines, so you could do something like either of these:























3. Jam 













4. Gum- Magic marker snowman faces









5. Cinnamon Rolls

6. Kisses

7. Mints

8. Chips

9. Pineapple

10. Granola




Organize 18 of Your Spices for $13

Organize your spices and still easily access them for $13.


My spices before reorganizing


new spice jars
My spices after reorganizing

1.Buy one or two spice racks from Ikea  for $3.99.

2. Buy a set of salt and pepper shakers at the Dollar Tree for $1.00.

Salt and Pepper Shakers Dollar Tree

The racks will fit 18 of these salt and pepper shakers with space to spare (9 in the front and 9 in the back).  You may even consider putting some of your taller spices behind these so that they are easy to access.

3. Buy or make labels. I labeled mine with masking tape to save a little time and money, but printing labels on the computer would be inexpensive as well.

4. Put the spices in each jar using a funnel

funnel and jar
Using a handmade funnel (made from an olive oil bottle) to pour my spices into the new jars.

**Be aware that some of your larger spices may not shake through the small holes of these shakers. I plan on using a nail and hammer to make some of the holes a little bigger. However most spices I end up pouring into a measuring spoon, so the shaker isn’t as important to me on many of the large spices I use.

Two Elegant Christmas Candle Holders for under $8 Using Dollar Tree Items

All of the following items were purchased in December of 2017 at the Dollar Tree. While their inventory varies, I’ve seen similar items at the various stores I’ve visited throughout the United States.

All the materials you need: two glass bottles, 2 bags of potpourri, 2 candles, and ribbon or lace. Tools: A skewer, scissors, a sponge or rag, and a glue gun.
If you want to get by on one bag of potpourri just add in plastic pulled from the candles you bought and use it as filler in your candle holders.
Stick pieces of potpourri into the botttle
Use your skewer to move the plastic and potpourri around to your liking.
Cut large pieces of potpourri in half with your scissors.
Large potpourri piece cut in half.
Stick the candles into your jar, wiggling them back and forth while pushing gently down.
Push the candles in far enough that they are snug.
Use a sponge or rag to gently brush the candle wax off of your glass bottle.

Best of all, I can keep using these candle holders into January just by changing the ribbon and adding a few other touches. . . Although I do wonder about how the burgandy will work with the blue on this ribbon. Hmmm I’ll worry about that in January.

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Best of all, I can keep using these candle holders into January just by changing the ribbon and adding a few other touches. . . Although I do wonder about how the burgandy will work with the blue on this ribbon. Hmmm I’ll worry about that in January.
Oh by the way they have red and green bottles which are lovely too. Consider making your holders red or green and the dark color may mean you wouldn’t need to fill them with anything. If you try out a darker color please post pictures or let us know how it goes!

$10 Free for Amazon Prime Members

I’m not sure how long this have been offered, but today I noticed that on Amazon when Prime members reload an Amazon gift card with 100 or more dollars they get $10 additional dollars to use. *Pst– the digital gift cards are way easy to use. I reloaded an old card and my new gift card showed up right away under my payment methods. I didn’t even have to type in gift card numbers or do anything annoying to make it work. I wish I could say Groupon worked so smoothly . . .

10% off Amazon Home Purchases through USPS

If you’ve moved or are planning to move let Amazon know through USPS and you can get 10% off of home purchases fulfilled by Amazon. After you sign up, it automatically takes off the discount in your cart before you purchase. It will even let you have this discount on top of cyber Monday deals!

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Cheap Exercise- Free Couch to 5K Ap from Zenlab’s Fitness

Matt and I enjoyed living in the south and eating out, perhaps a little too much. Living in a hotel I did manage to cook quite a bit, but by our second long-term stay hotel I lost some steam and we ate out a lot. Throwing all caution to the wind when it came to food, both of us have gained some weight.

So being in an apartment and without the easy access to exercisde equipment our hotels used to offer us, I’m looking for inexpensive ways to exercise. This morning I decided to go back to using an ap I really enjoyed this last summer. It’s called the C25K ap from Zenlab’s fitness. It’s based on an exercise program called the couch to 5k, which was designed to help people who haven’t been active, “couch potatoes” if you will, to get active by following a step-by-step program done 3 times a week for about 30 minutes each week. The program prompts you to walk and run in intervals until over time you are in a condition to run a 5k. It’s designed to help non-runners work up to running longer distances over time. The ap I mentioned above makes this easy by cutting into your running music and prompting you to start and stop running and letting you know how many more runs you have to complete and when you’re almost done. You just listen to your music and follow the directions to run and walk when it tells you to do so. I’m not an exercise fiend or a runner so I was amazed that this ap got and kept me running. I have never trained for more than a 5k yet, and the 5k training portion of the ap is free, so it’s been a great deal for me.

So if you don’t have money for a gym membership or the stamina to run continuously for 30 minutes, this ap could be away to get back into good habits or help you maintain good habits you’ve built. I fall on and off the exercise wagon often, but have come back to this ap a few times, so I hope it can be helpful for anyone who’s looking for inexpensive ways to get healthier.

Pumpkin Maple Cheesecake Ball

I made cheesecake in my Instant Pot recently and had a few pieces left over. Gasp! Leftover cheesecake, how is that possible? I myself am shocked, but after I saw it in the fridge today, I pulled it out and spread some of this tasty cheesecake onto a cookie and had an epiphany! Why not make a sweet cheese ball instead of a savory one? A fall cheesecake ball!

This cheesecake ball is a great party treat for those of us who want to taste a little of every dessert at a party.

This ball was made from a maple pumpkin cheesecake I made from another blog. You can find all of the ingredients and directions to make the cheesecake on the blog post I linked to above. No need to make the glaze that goes with the cheesecake, unless you’re going to eat half of the cheesecake, as normal cheesecake like we did. If you’re making the cheesecake just to use for a cheesecake ball, you can make the recipe above without the crust and skip step 3 below.

Pumpkin Maple Cheesecake Ball

Makes 1 cheese ball or 2 cheese balls if you use an entire 7′ cheesecake.


  • 1/2 pumpkin maple cheesecake
  • 1/2 bag of ginger snaps
  • 1/2 sleeve of graham crackers

1. Pull your cheesecake out of the fridge to soften for 10-15 minutes or make a maple pumpkin cheesecake without a crust and let it cool over night.

leftover pumpkin maple cheesecake sprinkled with cinnamon
leftover pumpkin maple cheesecake sprinkled with cinnamon

2. Crush up 4 ginger snaps, graham cracker, or finely chopped nuts in a sandwich bag. You may even consider just sprinkling cinnamon on the ball instead of the coating it with cookies or nuts.

3. Cut the crust off of the bottom of your cheesecake or make your cheesecake without the crust.

Leftover cheesecake
Cutting the crust off leftover cheesecake

4. Using your half of your 7″ cheesecake, roll the cheesecake into a large ball with your hands.

5. Spread your crushed ginger snaps, graham crackers, nuts etc on a small plate and roll the cheesecake ball around until it is completely covered.

6. Put your cheese ball into the middle of a plate and place cookies and crackers around it.

I think colored vanilla wafers would give the plate more color, but I didn’t have any of those on hand so this plate is a little monochromatic, but boy was this pumpkin maple cheesecake ball delicious!

Maple Pumpkin Cheesecake Ball with ginger snaps and graham crackers!
Pumpkin Maple Cheesecake Ball with ginger snaps and graham crackers!

Anyone else have other colorful cookies they think would look good around this sweet cheese ball?

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