Shopping Cart Envy

Shopping Cart Envy

What you’re about to read is based on a true story…

About 2004 or 2005, I was shopping at my neighborhood grocery store (the new Harris Teeter in Wesley Chapel, NC) for the week. List in hand (well duh–I’m the Dinner Diva!), I had conquered the store and my cart was filled with all I needed. 

I was standing at the checkout–not looking at my phone because no one did that back then (this is pre-Smart phone y’all!). 

The woman behind me looked at my cart and said, “What are you going to do with all of that?” She was referring to the plethora of green things in my cart. 

“Cook them!” I said with a smile. 

She looked at her grocery cart, then back to mine and sighed, “I’ve got shopping cart envy.” 

At that point, I told her what I did (how could I not?), showed her my shopping list that was generated from Dinner Answers (called Menu-Mailer at the time) and chit-chatted about dinner time, kids and how grateful we were for Harris Teeter finally opening in our area.

When I was loading the groceries into my cart, I thought about what she had said and determined that…

There are two types of grocery store shoppers in the world.

There are those who navigate the exterior of the market, list in hand based on their weekly menu, confidently reaching for fresh ripe produce, chicken, meats, and other healthy ingredients like eggs, butter, and herbs and spices. 

All the good stuff you need to prepare meals you’re proud to serve your family. 

Because Nutritious Meals Come From Ingredients, Not Packages

And when the healthy shopper is standing at the checkout, proud of what they’ve selected because they know what’s for dinner next week–they have peace of mind and confidence, knowing their meals are going to be delicious and healthy.

This confidence also gives them the strength to ignore the strategically placed candy bars next to the magazines. As a matter of fact, they don’t even think about that stuff anymore.

Years ago when my children were preteens, they’d open the fridge and bemoan the selection. “We don’t have any food in the house, just ingredients!”

There is also the “I don’t have time to cook” or “I don’t know how to cook” shopper…

You’ve seen those carts–maybe you’re the one filling them? 

These are shoppers who have coupons for everything and most of the stuff you can buy with coupons is food with very little nutrition: frozen pizzas, packaged rice mixes, canned soups for making casseroles, and lots of snack foods.

Convenience Over Nutrition

When you’re zealously watching your family’s budget, it can be a huge mistake to focus on convenience and price over nutrition. 

When your grocery cart is filled with packaged foods, “fat-free” this and “sugar-free” that . . . foods full of GMOs and empty calories and lists of unpronounceable ingredients on the sides of those packages, you’ve taken a wrong turn. 

The Myth That Healthy Food Is Too Expensive

There is an expensive cost to cheap food. Believe me, food manufacturers know this and prey on coupon shoppers and convenience shoppers. 

They’re hoping you don’t know how to cook and will want to buy their stuff–just add water, zap it in the microwave, heat it up in the oven. 

And they entice you with these price-cutting strategies. Huge food manufacturers want you to think you’re getting extreme value, especially when it comes to coupons or buy one/get one free promos. 

Eating healthy and on a budget might mean you don’t have the latest exotic microgreens in your grocery cart or organic eggs and grass-fed beef. 

But if you have a bag of potatoes, a whole chicken you got on sale, and a bunch of frozen veggies instead of all that couponed, manufactured faux food, you’re well on your way. 

These are all unglamorous foods maybe, but they require cooking. And they will cost less than your copay if you need to see a doctor on the regular for chronic disease and take medication for the rest of your life.

Food Shaming Happens

When convenience shoppers find themselves behind healthy shoppers at the checkout, they may have shopping cart envy like the woman in the store talking to me did. They might wish they knew what half of those healthy items are and what they would do with them if they had the courage to buy them.

They may also be aware that their own cart is being quietly judged by the healthy shopper in line behind them or visa versa, the convenience shopper could be judging the healthy shopper thinking she’s rich or a snob. 

Yes, there are generally two types of shoppers, though they may be at various extremes of this convenience vs. healthy spectrum. 

Fixing the Problem

If you find yourself suffering from shopping cart envy and are trying to get yourself closer to being that healthy shopper, first of all, hats off to you. You should be proud of yourself for wanting to buy healthier foods for you and your family because you recognize that the convenience foods are not contributing to your well being.

If you want to be the one making other shoppers envious of your cart, just go ahead and make the decision to cut out the packages and the frozen stuff with a bunch of ingredients on the labels you just can’t pronounce. 

When you commit to preparing your family’s meals from ingredients instead of chemicals, you naturally have to bulk up on fresh ingredients because you will no longer be able to rely on those processed foods to do the work for you.

And you’re going to have to cook. 

But fear not, cooking is easy. It’s certainly not brain surgery and with a few skills, you’ll be whipping up delicious meals with wonderful ingredients and creating a healthier life for you and your family. 

I see healthy in your future and a shopping cart filled to the brim with all the good stuff!

We make eating like this EASY with our Dinner Answers. Everyone in the store will be envying your shopping cart!

It’s always time for winter squash!

It’s always time for winter squash!

Today’s focus is on: WINTER SQUASH

There are two kinds of squash: winter squash and summer squash. The difference is that the winter varieties are normally better suited to survive the winter in storage (think hardy squashes like butternut squash and acorn squash), while summer squash tends to have edible seeds and peels, and a shorter life cycle (zucchini and pattypan).

This time of year, you see lots of winter squashes popping up. I love them all, but my favorites include buttercup, butternut and acorn squashes.

Winter squash is very sweet in flavor-as are most fruits (yes, anything with seeds is a fruit)-,and it’s quite easy to eat.

Winter squashes are delicious in soups and warm salads, or mashed with butter for a nutritious side dish.

Yes, winter squashes are very good for us. Winter squash is high in vitamins A and C, riboflavin and iron. Its signature orange color means it’s full of carotenoids, giving it lots of antioxidants.


Before you go pick up some winter squash to enjoy, it’s time for your Trick:

Spaghetti squash is a winter squash that makes an excellent gluten-free (and nutritionally dense) noodle. Cook it up, and top with pasta sauce for a yummy pasta dish that the whole family can enjoy.


Your Tip:

I prefer my winter squash roasted over boiled to keep in as many nutrients and flavors as possible. Simply slice the squash in half, lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and slice a bit off the rounded part to help it stand up evenly in the oven. Drizzle with maple syrup and top with butter. Roast at 350 for about 15 minutes or until fork tender. Mmm.


And your Recipe:

Print Recipe
Beef & Butternut Squash Stew
Beef & Butternut Squash Stew in a white bowl with the edge sprinkle with a red spice
Cuisine Paleo
Cuisine Paleo
Beef & Butternut Squash Stew in a white bowl with the edge sprinkle with a red spice
  1. Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat.
  2. Add onion, garlic, rosemary and thyme; sauté until fragrant, about 5 minutes.
  3. Sprinkle beef with salt and pepper.
  4. Raise heat to medium-high and add beef; brown on all sides.
  5. Add beef broth and whisk up all of the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
  6. Add butternut squash and stir to combine well.
  7. Bring mixture to a boil then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 1 hour until beef is cooked and fork-tender.
Recipe Notes

Nutritional: Per Serving: 457 Calories; 22g Fat; 48g Protein; 17g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 94mg Cholesterol; 381mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1/2 Grain(Starch); 6 1/2 Lean Meat; 1/2 Vegetable; 1 1/2 Fat. Points: 12


Don’t forget about the amazing One Pot Collection!  This is the perfect opportunity to stock up on warm recipes to get you through the winter—>learn more here!

How to Eat to Beat the Blues

How to Eat to Beat the Blues

The holidays are bearing down on us, and while this is a wonderful time of year for a good segment of the population, there are a lot of folks who find it difficult to cope with the hustle and bustle.

During the month of December, many people run around trying to do too much, spending more money than they should. The stress can start to take its toll!

For a lot of people, depression creeps in around the same time as the holidays. Maybe because of the stress of the holidays, maybe because the holidays aren’t particularly joyous for some reason or other or maybe because there isn’t as much sunlight as we need to get our feel good hormones. (This lack of sunlight leads to something called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and affects roughly 5% of Americans.)

Now, if you’re feeling depressed, I would suggest you make an appointment with your doctor. Depending on the state of mind you’re in, you may be prescribed vitamin therapy, counseling and/or some sort of pharmaceuticals to help you out a bit.

When you’re feeling sad, it’s natural to reach for sugary foods that tell our brains we’re happy, but of course that’s not a great strategy, because once that “sugar rush” wears off, you end up feeling worse than you did before.

There are some foods you can start adding to your diet in the meantime that are known for their feel good effect on the body. Heck, whether you’re feeling blue or not, we could all use a pick-me-up, am I right?

The following tips may help you feel a little bit happier:

  • Ensure every meal contains complex carb-rich foods. Complex carbs perk up your brain’s energy center. Reach for healthy sources of carbs like squash, dark leafy greens, blueberries and dark-colored fruits. Make sure every meal has extra servings of these good sources of carbs.
  • Increase your intake of Vitamin B6. Low levels of Vitamin B6 may cause mild depression. Eat lots of fish, bananas, chicken, dark green veggies, and avocado to boost up your intake.
  • Eat two servings of folic-acid rich foods per day. Folate (folic acid) is also important to get more of when you’re feeling blue. Pile your plate high with broccoli, spinach or chard.
  • Eat fish. Mackerel contains fabulous acids that can elevate your mood.
  • Add Greek yogurt to your daily diet. The amino acids in yogurt help to regulate your stress hormones. But don’t eat the sweetened stuff! Plain only!

In addition to these dietary suggestions, you might also want to add some exercise to your daily routine. The world always looks a little bit better after a walk in the fresh air.

Cranberries for Thanksgiving

Cranberries for Thanksgiving

It’s time once again for Tricks, Tips and a Recipe. Today you’ll learn a tip, a trick and you’ll get a great recipe to try it out with. Neat, huh?

Today’s focus is on: CRANBERRIES

Tis the season for cranberries! Around the holidays you can find fresh cranberries just about anywhere, so there’s no excuse for buying those nasty cans of jellied cranberry sauce!

Cranberries aren’t only beautiful, they’re also full of nutrition. Cranberries are full of Vitamin C, Vitamin E, potassium, iron, magnesium and folate. Cranberries contain antioxidants and phenols that can protect against urinary tract infections.

Now that Thanksgiving is here and fresh cranberries are so readily available, go ahead and make use of them as much as you possibly can!

Today your Trick, Tip and Recipe are going to give you some great ideas for incorporating cranberries into your Thanksgiving Dinner.


So without further adieu, here is your Trick:

Go raw with a healthy, sweet cranberry relish. If you have a food processor, toss in a cup or two of raw fresh cranberries (frozen won’t work out for you very well here) with the juice of one lemon and two or three pitted Medjool dates. Process until you get a relish-like consistency and serve alongside your turkey dinner.


Your Tip:

Make your own cranberry sauce! It’s so easy to make this popular condiment yourself that you’ll never buy it again. Start with 16 ounces of good, clean fresh cranberries (frozen will work fine here, but you’ll need a bit more cooking time). Add them to a medium-sized sauce pan over medium-high heat, along with 3/4 cup of orange juice and a couple glugs of maple syrup or honey. (Alternatively you can use 3/4 cup of white sugar or coconut sugar.) Cover the works, stirring occasionally. Important tip: do not walk away while the pot is covered! These berries are going to explode and pop, releasing their pectin and breaking down into a jam-like consistency. So stay close! When the popping starts, turn the heat way down to medium-low, and let the mixture reduce for about 5-10 minutes. After the berries have cooked, go ahead and put your potato masher to work on them. Let the sauce cool before refrigerating.


And your Recipe:

Print Recipe
Orange Cranberry Sauce
Orange Cranberry Sauce
Course Side Dishes
Course Side Dishes
Orange Cranberry Sauce
  1. Rinse the cranberries (even if they are frozen) in a strainer with cool water, and remove any stems and bad or blemished berries.
  2. In a large saucepan, over medium heat, heat the water, juice and sugar to boiling stirring occasionally.
  3. Continue boiling 5 minutes longer to assure sugar is completely melted, stirring occasionally.  Add the cranberries.
  4. Heat back to boiling over medium heat; stirring occasionally.
  5. Put a lid on the saucepan and continue boiling about 5 minutes longer, still stirring occasionally, until you hear the cranberries begin to pop.
  6. Remove the saucepan from the heat, give it a good stir and allow to cool for about 20 minutes.
  7. Pour the cranberry sauce into a bowl or container and allow to completely cool before refrigerating.


Delicious Thanksgiving – Paleo Style!

Delicious Thanksgiving – Paleo Style!

Oh, how I adore Thanksgiving. Family and feasting and giving thanks-what could be better than that?

Here in the US, our Thanksgiving marks the unofficial kick-off to the holiday season, too, so it really is an exciting time.

Thanksgiving is only a couple of days away, and you may be thinking about what is on the menu. If you’re eating Paleo, you might be wondering how you’ll survive this food-focused holiday without your non-Paleo favorites, but have no fear! It’s not as difficult as you might think to survive Thanksgiving as a Paleoista, and I’m going to prove that to you right now!

So, let’s take a look at some favorite traditional Thanksgiving standbys and I’ll give you some Paleo-friendly substitutes.



No need to take turkey off the menu, as you know! You’re free to add as much butter and bacon to that bird as you like! If you’re not sure about how to roast a Thanksgiving turkey, check out this page where I show you exactly how to cook your holiday turkey to perfection.



If you are avoiding gluten as part of a lifestyle choice, and not because of a celiac condition, you don’t have to offend anyone at dinner by skipping out on the famous dressing. By all means, have a bite or two if it won’t do you too much harm! But, if you’re preparing the meal, go ahead and experiment! Dressing doesn’t have to involve bread. Get creative in the kitchen and see what you can do with some pork sausage, diced sweet potatoes and apples, pecans, cranberries, mushrooms, celery, etcetera, etcetera.


Mashed potatoes.

White potatoes are one of those items that can cause debate between Paleoistas-some of us eat them, some of us don’t. A scoop of mashed potatoes isn’t going to send you to Paleo Prison, so if you feel so compelled, go ahead and enjoy a bite. If you’re preparing the meal, see if you can find some purple potatoes to boil and mash to serve on your Thanksgiving plate. Purple potatoes have more nutrition in them than their white counterparts, and they are so pretty on the plate! If you want to avoid spuds all together, whip up some faux-tay-toes by steaming cauliflower and whipping with butter, heavy cream and seasonings.


Sweet potato casserole.

By all means enjoy a sweet potato casserole for Thanksgiving this year! Just don’t add brown sugar and marshmallows to it. Peel and slice four or five sweet potatoes and toss into a baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and lemon pepper. Add about half of a thinly sliced red onion on top so it looks like there are pretty purple ribbons on top of your sweet potatoes. Drizzle again with olive oil. Bake at 400 for about 35–45 minutes until everything is golden brown. Even non-sweet potato lovers love this. My own brother was tricked into thinking these were carrots at one Thanksgiving dinner!


Cranberry sauce.

Most homemade cranberry sauce is made from sugar with sugar added to sugar and more sugar. But what is Thanksgiving turkey without cranberry sauce? For a delicious Paleo-friendly cranberry sauce, add some fresh or frozen cranberries to a saucepan. Cover the berries with orange juice and add honey, maple syrup or coconut sugar to your taste. Add in lemon zest or orange zest for color and a bit of extra citrusy zing. Once you start making your own cranberry sauce, you’ll wonder why you haven’t always been whipping up this simple sweet dish!


Turkey gravy.

Many gravies involve cornstarch or white flour-neither of those items are Paleo-friendly. Sometimes I like making a simple au jus out of pan drippings, butter and a bit of chicken broth. But you can find dozens of Paleo gravy recipes online. You may was to start experimenting with recipes now, so you’ll have just the right one down pat for your Thanksgiving dinner.


Here’s something that will make you smile–it’s our BRAND NEW Paleo & Keto Thanksgiving Menus! The menu is yours for F*REE! Just go here and get it sent straight to your inbox.

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