I have some on-the-road food/snack ideas for you today because traveling doesn’t mean you have to eat at the gas station or stop at every fast food place known to man.

With a little careful and simple planning, you can have some healthy things ready for your road trip or a busy day away from home.  You want things that are easily portable, taste good, and don’t necessarily need to be warm or cold.  I know that sounds like a tall order but it can be done! On-The-Road Food | Life Healthfully Lived Continue reading

DIY Wednesday: Roasted Salsa Verde

After 2 years of Spanish in Jr. High, three years in high school, and two semesters in college I can say this with certainty: verde means green.  Therefore, that means salsa verde is green salsa.  Mind-blowing things revealed on my blog today, I know. DIY Wednesday: Roasted Salsa Verde | Life Healthfully Lived

In my brain I understood that salsa verde had to be made with some kind of green vegetable but I never really thought about it.  I just ate my regular salsa and left my green dip needs to guacamole.  Then I saw a sale on tomatillos at my grocery store, bought a few on a whim, and then headed home to figure out what to do with them.  After a little research AKA Google search, I realized tomatillos are what make salsa verde, well, verde.

I also found out that roasting them was common and helped bring out their flavor.  Since I am the Queen of roasting any and everything, I roasted them up, blended them up, and then ate them up.

That’s how simple this recipe is.  If you’ve never worked with or had tomatillos before, don’t be intimidated.  They come in a papery husk and kind of look like a giant green berry.  Like this:DIY Wednesday: Salsa Verde | Life Healthfully Lived

All you have to do is peel away the husk, like this: DIY Wednesday: Roasted Salsa Verde | Life Healthfully Lived

Rinse it off and you’re good to go!  I kept this really simple but you could add other things like jalapeno peppers if you want a kick, roasted apples if you want a little bit of sweet, or stir a little salsa verde into your guac for a delicious twist.

Roasted Salsa Verde: DIY Wednesday: Roasted Salsa Verde | Life Healthfully Lived

  • 3 to 4 medium-sized tomatillos
  • 1 small onion, about 1/2 a cup cut into quarters
  • 3 to 4 whole cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  2. Peel the husk off the tomatillos and rinse with cool water.  Dry completely.
  3. Place the tomatillos, quartered onion, and garlic cloves into a large bowl.  Drizzle a little olive oil and toss until everything is coated.  Sprinkle with salt and pour everything out onto the baking sheet.
  4. Roast everything for about 15 to 20 minutes until the tomatillos are a little brown around the edges and soft.  It’s ok if they explode a little while roasting.
  5. Remove from the oven and let everything cool for about 10 minutes.  Then, pour the whole pan into a blender, add the chili powder and blend.  Taste and adjust the seasoning.

This salsa is awesome on tacos, with homemade tortilla chips, and even as a dip for plantain chipsDIY Wednesday: Roasted Salsa Verde | Life Healthfully Lived


DIY Wednesday: Mushroom Gravy

IDIY Wednesday: Mushroom Gravy | Life Healthfully Lived have another holiday edition of DIY Wednesday for you today: gravy.  After the ganache last week, I thought we would go savory today.  I know it’s a little late for Thanksgiving, but there are still plenty of meals this season that will warrant gravy.  I wanted to show you how easy it is to make your own gravy because I was just as surprised when I learned.

When I was younger, gravy was bought in a jar.  My mom pretty much made the rest of our Thanksgiving feast from scratch, but the gravy and the jellied cranberries came from a jar and a can.  So in my tiny kid mind, that is how all gravy was made.  In a jar and then heated up on the stove.DIY Wednesday: Mushroom Gravy | Life Healthfully Lived

As I got older and started cooking for myself and reading cookbooks, I saw recipes for gravy.  What?! You can make this from scratch?!  Yes.  Yes, you can.  And it is really easy.

I’m making a mushroom gravy for those of us who don’t eat meat, but you can make gravy from pretty much any cooked meat you have following this recipe.  Whichever you choose, it’s really simple and so much healthier to make your own gravy.  It’s also cheaper which is a must during the holiday season!

Mushroom GravyDIY Wednesday: Mushroom Gravy | Life Healthfully Lived

  • 8 oz mushrooms (I used baby bellas), sliced
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • Olive oil
  • 1/3 cup onion, minced finely
  • 1 to 2 tbsp coconut aminos, liquid aminos, or soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp potato starch or tapioca starch (I used potato)
  • 1 1/2 cup cool water
  • 1 tsp parsley
  • 3 tsp fresh rosemary leaves
  • salt and pepper.


  1. Heat a little olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and mushrooms and saute for about 5 minutes until the onions are soft. Sprinkle in a little salt and pepper then add the garlic and saute for another minute.
  2. Add the coconut aminos or soy sauce, white wine vinegar, and the vegetable broth.  Cook until the liquid has reduced by about half and the mushrooms have gotten smaller.
  3. While the mushrooms are cooking make the starch slurry.  Combine the 1 and 1/2 cups water and 1 tablespoon of starch and mix together with a fork.  Make sure the mixture is smooth and all lumps are gone.
  4. Pour the slurry into the skillet and stir to mix everything together.  The slurry will start to thicken as it cooks.  Add the parsley and rosemary.  Taste and add salt and pepper to your taste.
  5. Once the gravy is thick enough, pour into a gravy boat or bowl and use immediately.

Gravy needs to be used right after it’s made, because unlike its store bought counterpart it doesn’t last forever.  It’s much better fresh and since it’s so easy to make you can whip it up right at the end of your cooking.DIY Wednesday: Mushroom Gravy | Life Healthfully Lived

What is your favorite holiday dish to make from scratch?

How To Stock Your Kitchen

For some of you, eating healthier is a whole new ball game.  You’ve never done it before and now you’re wondering what to buy at the grocery store and what to keep on hand in your kitchen.  You were used to shopping and eating one way and now that needs to change.  You can’t continue buying junk food and expect to lose weight or be healthy.  But what do you buy?  What are things that “healthy” people fill their pantries and fridges with?  I am going to share four simple things that I always keep around and are easy to incorporate into meals for healthy dishes.

Fruits and Vegetables


Let’s just start with the obvious one and get it out of the way.  Yes, I always have fruits and vegetables in my kitchen.  For the most part I buy what’s in season because it’s cheaper and tastes better, but I also buy carrots, bananas, frozen vegetables, and potatoes year round.  If you want to eat better, start adding more of these foods into your meals.  Your mother was right, eat your vegetables because they’re good for you!

Grains and Beans


At the moment I have a variety of beans, including chickpeas, pinto, black-eyed peas, and split peas, on my shelf.  I also have two kinds of oatmeal, millet, quinoa, brown rice, pasta, popcorn, and polenta.  All of these are great add ins to many meals as well as a food foundation to top with sauces, vegetables, meat, and more.  Most of the grains that I keep on hand are very easy and quick to cook so they can be made for a tasty week night meal.  I like the taste and texture of dried beans better than canned, but they do take longer to prepare because you have to soak them to cook them.  If you don’t have the time to do that, there are plenty of good brands of canned beans.  Just make sure to read the ingredient list and rinse them well before you use them.  The other reason that I like having a plethora of beans and grains on hand is that they are cheap.  I buy all of these things from the bulk bins at Whole Foods and most are less than $2 a pound.  If you don’t have a store with a bulk section these foods are still cheap.  You can get a one pound bag of lentils or brown rice for .99 cents!  That is some good and cheap eats.

Canned Goods


I always have at least one can of tomato paste, tomato sauce, and diced tomatoes on my pantry shelf.  These can be used for stews, soups, sauces, toppings for meatloaf, salsa, or anything else that you can think of for tomatoes.  I buy the no sodium added kind and make sure that there is nothing but tomatoes on the ingredient list.  These are also pretty cheap because I buy the store brand at Jewel.  One other canned good that I usually have on hand is full fat coconut milk and pumpkin.  Again these can be used in so many dishes, from sweet to savory and can be found for fairly cheap prices if you look around.

Herbs and Spices


I have a huge herb and spice collection and it is bound to get bigger.  I love making my own blends, like taco seasoning, and trying out new flavors in dishes.  Herbs and spices are a very important part of my cooking because they help take food to the next level.  Many people complain that healthy food is bland and boring, but it doesn’t have to be if you have a handful of spices around.  Try classics like oregano and basil, or branch out with spices like curry or garam masala or berbere or harissa.  Experiment with different flavors and find ones that you like the best and kick up your meals a notch.  I’m fortunate to live in Chicago near The Spice House and buy most of my seasonings there, but Whole Foods sells theirs in bulk as well and many grocery stores have a large and good selection.  As with any food though make sure you read the labels because some companies add in chemicals to keep the spices from clumping in transit.

There you have it.  Four staples of the Dawson household.  I use these things on a daily basis to create healthy meals and they are a good starting point for stocking a healthy kitchen.  Of course I have more than just this food in my house, but I would say that most meals that I make are based on or incorporate these foods.  Don’t feel overwhelmed if you are just starting out.  Build your healthy kitchen slowly and find things that you enjoy and will use regularly.  There is no wrong way to create your own healthy stock of food!