A Diet for LIFE…for less than $10 a day

All You Can Eat & it costs under $10 for the entire day… (read all the way through to get a day’s worth of food for $8.26 plus all the vitamins & minerals you need & the perfect balance of omega-6 to omega-3 fats all for around 1,500 calories)

“When life hands you lemons, make lemonade,” a famous quote by Dale Carnegie, who, as far as I know, was the first to develop a course in self-improvement and who wrote such popular books as, How to Win Friends and Influence People as well as How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. These books were written in 1936 and 1942 respectively but their advice is timeless. So is that lemonade quote.

But sometimes life hands you limes, or cilantro, or rosemary, or potatoes, carrots, beans or brown rice. At least that’s how I see life, as a palette of colorful, versatile, nourishing foods.

Sure it’s great to make lemonade out of lemons, but with the rise in Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease and other obesity related ailments, I don’t think that making sugary drinks is the best option for those lemons. And don’t get me started on artificial sweeteners or even the more “natural” stevia plant. Sweetness has a purpose. Beginning at birth, your body was designed to eat sweet foods as a survival mechanism. Why on earth would you “fake-out” your body like that? It just seems so disrespectful. Check out my dissertation: Survival of the Sweetest.
So, when life hands you lemons, it’s perfectly acceptable to make lemon water. Now that’s a useful, naturally cleansing concoction. Water with lemon, maple syrup and cayenne pepper, that’s NOT an effective elixir. I’ve tried it and it makes me wanna hurl. “It’s just torturous,” I say.

Guacamole one week later. Look Ma’ no browning

Instead of making sickening beverages out of nourishing citrus, how about taking some limes, like the bag of 10 limes I bought for a dollar at the dollar store. Squeeze the juice of one lime and mix it with three cloves of minced garlic, also from the dollar store, four bulbs for a dollar. Add that to two mashed avocados, at four for a dollar. And blend everything with half a bunch of chopped cilantro which was three bunches for…you guessed it…one dollah! Add a dash of sea salt and pepper and “voila,” you’ve just whipped up a tasty batch of guacamole for mere pennies per serving. To keep your guac fresh longer, place a lime rind in your guacamole container to keep it from browning. Everyone tells you to place an avocado seed with the guacamole but I have never found this to be an effective method.

At Whole Foods, which is next to the dollar store and featured in this video, I bought two bunches of basil for $3, which I chopped and threw in a blender with ground flax seeds, nutritional yeast flakes and sea salt, to make pesto; again, for just pennies a serving. You can get a 24oz bag of whole flax seeds at the dollar store. That same bag would normally cost you around $10. Because of their hard outer shell, flax seeds have a long shelf life. But once you grind them you must store them in the fridge or freezer.

I bought a red pepper and a bunch of rosemary at Whole Foods as well. I love rosemary in my Super-Green shakes. But I also love rosemary in my harissa, a hot chili paste from North Africa. Harissa is common in Moroccan fair and it is so super easy to make. It’s a great way to use up extra rosemary, mint and that expensive red pepper; $2.23 for a single red pepper weighing in at 1/2 pound. At that price, I just can’t bear to simply slice it into a salad. I want that pepper’s flavor to last. However, once you learn to make harissa, you will find excuses to use it. So it may not last you more than a week. I can handle that.

I learned to make harissa during my holistic culinary training. Holistic in relation to food and nutrition means: making food to optimize health and well-being while considering life circumstances. OK, I just created that definition because I couldn’t find one that I felt satisfied all the components of holistic nutrition and culinary training. But when I create recipes and share them with friends, I try to consider all of these life elements. The only thing I’m not considering is time. Meaning that I am NOT all about the 30 minute meals. Harissa takes only five minutes to prepare, but the brown rice that accompanies my harissa takes 40 minutes.

Guacamole, Harissa & Pesto

Today I’m teaching you quick, easy, and inexpensive ways to flavor your food. Pesto, guacamole and harissa are your crayons which you can use however you like to “color” your food with flavor, nutrition and of course, color.

Below are the ingredients for making your colorful creations. Your job now is to assemble them in as many ways as you see fit. And don’t be afraid to color outside the lines.

Harissa & Brown Rice

I love reheated brown rice and harissa for breakfast, eaten about 90 minutes before a powerful workout. Then I can workout for at least two hours. Now that’s fuel to burn.

Ready in 5 minutes • Makes 9 servings

2 avocados, mashed
Juice of one lime
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch cilantro leaves, chopped (~1 cup)
Dash sea salt & pepper

Wash cilantro in a sink full of cool water. I like to add a few drops of grapefruit seed extract (GSE) to the soaking water. (GSE is believed to possess antiviral, antimicrobial and antifungal properties.) Rinse off the cilantro and set in a colander. Remove the leaves and chop. Combine with mashed avocado, minced garlic, lime juice, sea salt & pepper. Store in a container. Label & date & use within 4 days.

Cost per serving: $0.08
Nutrients per serving (1/4 cup, 1.8oz/51g):  Calories: 92, Total Fats: 8 g, Omega-3 fats: 50 mg, Sodium: 43 mg, Total Carbohydrates: 4 g, Dietary Fiber: 2 g, Sugars:
Omega-6: Omega-3 = 17:1, the goal is <4:1

% Daily Value (DV)
Vitamin C:        9%
Potassium:        9%
B-6:                   7%
Folate:              7%
Niacin:              6%
Copper:             6%
Manganese:      6%
Magnesium:     5%
Iron:                  3%
Vitamin-E:        3%
Vitamin A:        3%
Riboflavin:        3%
Thiamin-B1:     3%
Phosphorus:     2%
Zinc:                 1%
Calcium:           1%
B-12:                 0%
Selenium:         0%
Vitamin D:        0%

For a complete meal, serve 1/4 cup guacamole with 1 free-range scrambled egg, 1/2 cup warmed black beans & 1/2 cup corn.

Cost per serving: $1.23
Nutrients per serving (1 ½ cups, 9.50oz/269g): Calories: 351, Total Fats: 13 g, Omega-3 fats: 190 mg, Sodium: 115 mg, Total Carbohydrates: 45 g, Dietary Fiber: 12 g, Sugars: 5 g, Protein: 18 g  Omega-6: Omega-3 = 10:1, the goal is <4:1 (NOTE: the rest of the meals of the day will balance out the average to less than 4:1)

% Daily Value (DV)
Folate:            54%
Manganese:    34%
Thiamin-B1:   31%
Phosphorus:   31%
Niacin:            30%
Magnesium:   27%
Selenium:       25%
Riboflavin:      25%
Potassium:      24%
Vitamin C:      20%
Iron:                19%
Copper:           17%
Vitamin A:      16%
B-6:                 15%
Zinc:               14%
B-12:                 9%
Vitamin D:        7%
Vitamin-E:        6%
Calcium:           6%

Basil & Flax Seed Pesto
Ready in 5 minutes • Makes 10 servings

2 cups fresh basil leaves, chopped (2 bunches basil leaves)
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
2 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast flakes
2 Tbsp flax or olive oil
1/8 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper

Throw everything in a blender & blend to a smooth consistency. Label & date & use within 1 week or freeze in ice cube trays to use in recipes up to three months later.

Cost per serving: $0.48
Nutrients per serving (1 Tbsp, 0.50oz/14g): Calories: 56, Total Fats: 3 g, Omega-3 fats: 1,800 mg, Sodium: 40 mg, Total Carbohydrates: 1.5 g, Dietary Fiber: 1.5 g, Sugars: <4:1

% Daily Value (DV)
Thiamin-B1:   62%
Riboflavin:      54%
B-6:                 47%
Niacin:            45%
B-12:               12%
Manganese:      9%
Folate:              8%
Selenium:         3%
Magnesium:     3%
Vitamin A:        3%
Copper:             2%
Iron:                  2%
Calcium:           2%
Potassium:        2%
Phosphorus:     2%
Vitamin C:        2%
Zinc:                 1%
Vitamin-E:        1%
Vitamin D:        0%

For a complete meal, serve with a 6oz potato, diced & steamed (the potato should be the size you can hold in the palm of your hand), plus 2 oz Tuna. Toss warm potatoes & tuna with 2 Tbsp pesto and place mixture on top of 2 cups mixed greens.

Cost per serving: $1.76
Nutrients per serving (2oz Tuna, 1 ½ cups Potatoes, 2 Tbsp Pesto, 2 Cups Mixed Salad Greens, 13oz/365g): Calories: 355, Total Fats: 7.5 g, Omega-3 fats: 3,770 mg, Sodium: 128 mg, Total Carbohydrates: 49 g, Dietary Fiber: 9 g, Sugars: 3 g, Protein: 23 g  Omega-6: Omega-3 = 0.25:1, the goal is <4:1

% Daily Value (DV)
Thiamin-B1: 142%
B-6:                138%
Riboflavin:    120%
Niacin:          109%
Selenium:        73%
Vitamin C:       71%
Manganese:     69%
B-12:               53%
Folate:            54%
Potassium:      39%
Vitamin A:       37%
Copper:           35%
Iron:                 31%
Magnesium:    29%
Phosphorus:    26%
Vitamin D:       23%
Calcium:          21%
Zinc:                12%
Vitamin-E:        7%


Ready in 5 minutes • Makes 10 servings

1 large (1/2 pound) red pepper, seeded & diced
2 Tbsp fresh rosemary
(I didn’t have any mint but if you want to use mint, use 1 Tbsp each of mint & rosemary)
1 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp cayenne
1/8 tsp salt

1/4 cup olive oil

Throw everything in blender except the olive oil.
Store in a jar then add ~ 1/4 cup olive oil.
Leave oil floating on top to help preserve the harissa.
Use 1 teaspoon at a time when you want to add a spicy, savory flavor to your favorite foods.
Label and date and store for up to 1 month

Cost per serving: $0.30
Nutrients per serving (2 Tbsp, 1oz/28g):  Calories: 53, Total Fats: 5 g, Omega-3 fats: 30 mg, Sodium: 28 mg, Total Carbohydrates: 1.6 g, Dietary Fiber: 0.6 g, Sugars:
Omega-6: Omega-3 = 8:1, the goal is <4:1

% Daily Value (DV)
Vitamin C:       72%
Vitamin A:       13%
Vitamin-E:        4%
B-6:                   3%
Manganese:      2%
Thiamin-B1:     1%
Niacin:              1%
Folate:              1%
Copper:             1%
Iron:                  1%
Potassium:        1%
Riboflavin:        0%
B-12:                 0%
Selenium:         0%
Magnesium:     0%
Phosphorus:     0%
Calcium:           0%
Zinc:                 0%
Vitamin D:        0%

For a complete meal, mix 2 Tbsp harissa with 1/2 cup brown rice. Sauté 1 clove minced garlic with 1 tsp olive oil, 3 cups spinach, 2 cups (5oz) chopped crimini mushrooms. Serve with 3 oz steamed white fish. (NOTE: I added the white fish to increase the protein although, without the fish the protein was 12g. The fish also provides B12 which can only be obtained from animal sources and nutritional yeast. The omega-3’s were not increased significantly with the addition of the fish. There are plenty of omega-3’s in spinach & canola oil.)

Mushrooms are the riches plant source of vitamin D, a nutrient that  is difficult to get in the diet, period. Mushrooms are also rich in selenium & zinc, two minerals that are essential components of your body’s own antioxidant defense system. Plants aren’t the only ones who make antioxidants. We do too, but we need the right nutrients to help our antioxidant defense system work effectively. Zinc is normally highest in animal sources, but mushrooms are a rich plant source.

Cost per serving: $2.60
Nutrients per serving (3oz fish + ½ cup rice + 2 Tbsp Harissa + 1 cup vegetables: 16oz/450g):  Calories: 279, Total Fats: 12 g, Omega-3 fats: 780 mg, Sodium: 184 mg, Total Carbohydrates: 48 g, Dietary Fiber: 8 g, Sugars: 1 g, Protein: 28 g    Omega-6: Omega-3 = 2.2:1, the goal is <4:1

% Daily Value (DV)
Vitamin C:      116%
Manganese:    103%
Vitamin D:        98%
Copper:             75%
Vitamin A:        74%
Selenium:         66%
Folate:              53%
Niacin:              37%
Magnesium:     34%
B-6:                   32%
Riboflavin:        22%
Vitamin-E:        22%
Potassium:        22%
Iron:                  21%
Zinc:                 20%
Phosphorus:     18%
Thiamin-B1:     16%
Calcium:           11%
B-12:                   0%

MEAL PLAN for the Entire Day:

Breakfast: 1/4 cup Guacamole + 1 egg + 1/2 cup black beans + 1/2 cup corn

Snack: Super Green Shake (see recipe from last week’s blog)

Lunch: 6oz potato, diced & steamed + 2 oz Tuna toss with 2 Tbsp pesto and place mixture on top of 2 cups mixed greens.

Snack: Super Green Shake

Dinner: Mix 2 Tbsp harissa with 1/2 cup brown rice. Sauté 1clove minced garlic with 1 tsp canola oil, 3 cups spinach, 2 cups (5oz) chopped crimini mushrooms. Serve with 3 oz steamed white fish.

Snack: 1/2 cup Greek yogurt, 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries, 1 Tbsp walnuts, chopped, dash cinnamon or nutmeg

Cost for the entire day: $8.26

Nutrients per serving (95oz/2706g):  Calories: 1,556, Total Fats: 44 g, Omega-3 fats: 8,020 mg, Sodium: 184 mg, Total Carbohydrates: 202 g, Dietary Fiber: 41 g, Sugars: 54 g, Protein: 88 g Omega-6: Omega-3 = 1:1, the goal is <4:1

% Daily Value (DV)
Manganese:    287%
Vitamin C:      282%
Niacin:            242%
B-6:                 220%
Selenium:       217%
Folate:             211%
Thiamin-B1:   205%
Vitamin A:      194%
Riboflavin:     193%
Copper:           162%
Vitamin D:      135%
Magnesium:   134%
Potassium:      121%
Phosphorus:   110%
Iron:                104%
B-12:                 82%
Calcium:           61%
Zinc:                 59%
Vitamin-E:        58%



  1. I couldn’t get over avocados for 4/$1. I can’t even get one for $1 here!

  2. That is the typical price here as well. The dollar store is hit or miss for avocados. But even at $1 per avocado, the entire day will be under $10.


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