Category Archives: Budget


Three weeks zoomed by and my husband’s back from his stay in Italy. I am genuinely jealous that, yet again, he got to enjoy a stay in Europe while I sat around at home, bored out of my mind. That’s life as the wife of a poor Ph.D. student. I do have to say that I lost weight while he was gone. For some reason I find myself relentlessly eating when my husband’s around. It might just be his bad influence, or his enthusiasm for snacking, but I found it rather easy to be satiated with my three, low-calorie meals each day and glasses of water.

Speaking of water, my favorite drink this summer has been water with ice and lemon.  When I think about all of the calories I packed on guzzling beer, wine, soda, or sugary coffee drinks, I shudder. Hundreds of empty calories settling around my waist in a sad, spare tire have finally started to melt away with the help of sit-ups and lots and lots of agua. Oh, and of course, VEGGIES. I’ve written about my love of beets before, but I have to include another beet recipe I just discovered.

I came up with the idea of combining lemons and beets from simply opening the fridge door and seeing the two sitting side by side.  The sweetness of the beets pairs with the tangy lemon juice and the ginger adds just a little kick.  I included the fresh thyme to round out the flavors.


Chilled Lemony Beet Soup

About 1 lb  (16oz) of cooked beets, sliced

1/4 cup chopped red onion

1 cup water (or stock)

1tblsp olive oil

The juice of 1 large lemon

1-2 tsp fresh ginger, grated

1 tblsp fresh thyme or rosemary, minced

1 tsp sea salt

Chopped chives to garnish

Add water/stock and lemon juice to a blender, add beets and onions and blend until smooth, about 2mins.

What you get is a shockingly red no-cook soup that’s both filling and low calorie, not to mention stunningly beautiful.

The licorice-y, minty flavor of pumpernickel rye enhances the earthy flavors of beet and onion.



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Beluga Lentil “Caviar” or How to Make an Elegant Appetizer for less than $5

Meet beluga lentils. A vegetarian’s best friend, these protein packed little gems are easy to cook, and uncannily similar in appearance to caviar. Beluga lentils or “black lentils,” can transform your next soiree into an elegant affair. Who needs to plunk down $100 for a can of salty fish eggs when you can have a heaping jar of nutty, flavorful lentils for around $2?

I’m the queen of thrifty eating. I’ve been known to get out the calculator and tally up the per serving cost of my daily meals. As far as deals go, lentils are a huge bang for your buck. They’re cheap and nutritious, high in protein, iron and vitamin B1, and (in my opinion) they taste great.

Beluga Lentil  “Caviar”
1 cup lentils
4 cups salted water
2 tblsp red wine vinegar
1 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt to taste

Lentils require a 1:4 cooking ratio. This makes quite a lot of lentils. To half the recipe, simply use 1/2 cup lentils and 2 1/2 cups of water. Bring the water to a boil, add salt to taste. Add lentils and cook covered for 20-25mins. After lentils have absorbed the water, add vinegar and olive oil.

This simplest of recipes also works great on top of salads, as a side dish for fish, or mixed with rice.

I made this dainty appetizer with the lentil caviar, a dollop of creme fraiche and a sliver of sundried tomato as a garnish. Elegant enough for a dinner party, easy enough for every day eating.

Whether you’re vegetarian or simply on a budget, there’s no reason to feel like you’re skimping.

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