DIY Wednesday: Everything Bagel Spice Mix

I used to eat a lot of bagels.  Like a lot.  In high school, our cafeteria was mostly a la carte and you could go in and choose from a variety of things.  There were the hot food entrees that would rotate each day but you could also get things like candy, chips, soda, snacks, cookies, and bagels.  Oh, the bagels.  They were huge and fluffy and a perfect vehicle for cramming more cream cheese into my mouth.  Because I didn’t spread my cream cheese onto my bagel like a normal person.  Oh no.  I would rip chunks off my bagel and dip them into my tub of cream cheese and eat it that way.

I have no idea how I didn’t weigh over 500 lbs in high school.

Anyways, I mostly stuck to plain bagels and got fancy with my cream cheese.  Strawberry one day, veggie the next, and sometimes they had a sour cream and chive version that was to die for.  Plus the cafeteria didn’t really have a ton of choices when it came to the bagels.  And then one of my friends introduced me to Panera bagels and it was game on.  Asiago cheese, cinnamon crunch, french toast…. and just as many amazing cream cheese spreads to go along.  But the one bagel that won my heart was the everything bagel.  I could almost (almost) eat that one without any cream cheese.DIY Wednesday: Everything Bagel Spice Mix | Life Healthfully Lived

I can’t remember that last time I had a bagel or cream cheese for that matter, but I love the flavor of those everything bagels so I make my own spice mix and put it on everything (see what I did there?).  You can put it on homemade bread (it tastes great pressed onto the top of rolls), sprinkle it over vegetables or stir-fry, and chicken and pork taste great if you use it as a crust while pan-searing.

So if you’re an everything bagel fanatic and want to add more of that flavor to your life or you don’t eat bagels anymore but still want that flavor try this simple everything bagel spice mix!

Everything Bagel Spice MixDIY Wednesday: Everything Bagel Spice Mix | Life Healthfully Lived

  • 2 tbsp poppyseeds
  • 2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds (place in a pan over medium heat and shake until golden)
  • 2 tbsp dried minced onion
  • 2 tbsp dried minced garlic
  • 2 tsp course sea salt (use less if you have a finer grain salt)
  1. Place everything into a small bowl or mason jar and shake to combine.  Make sure to keep it stored in a sealed container so it doesn’t go staleDIY Wednesday: Everything Bagel Spice Mix | Life Healthfully Lived

DIY Wednesday: Turmeric Paste and Golden Milk

If you have been following my blog for any length of time you know two things.  I like spices and I’m usually talking about the benefits of turmeric.

Any chance that I can slip turmeric into the conversation, I will.  If you’re sore from a really tough lifting session, I’ll probably tell you to use some turmeric in your next meal because it has anti-inflammatory properties.  If you’re at a high risk for heart disease, I might mention that turmeric can help lower your risk.  If you’re feeling depressed, worried about Alzheimers or cancer, I’m going to tell you that turmeric can help with all of those things.

I’m like the annoying friend who goes on a juice cleanse and it fixes everything from her weight to her crippling debt and she just won’t shut up about it.  You’re welcome.

But seriously, turmeric is SO good for you and you should really start including it in your diet.  It isn’t that expensive and you can find it in most grocery stores (if you shop at Whole Foods you can get it in their bulk spice section).  It’s also really easy to use and slip into a bunch of different meals.  But there are a few things you should know to get the most out of your turmeric:

  • Take it with black pepper
  • Take it with a fat

Why do you need to add these two things to your turmeric?  Turmeric’s main component is curcumin (this is what makes it so potent and beneficial) and curcumin is fat soluble.  In simple terms, in order for your body to absorb and use any turmeric you ingest it needs fat to break it down.

Black pepper enhances turmeric’s bioavailability which means it makes it easier for your body to use and distribute.  This is a good thing and what you want your body to do with anything that enters your digestive system.

You can use turmeric in so many different things like soups, curries, stir fry, smoothies, and sprinkled over vegetables or meat.  One of my favorite ways to use it is to toss some broccoli with a little coconut oil (fat), and then sprinkle garlic powder, turmeric, pepper, and a little sea salt over the broccoli and roast at 400 for 20 minutes.

Another great way to enjoy turmeric is to make Golden Milk which sounds expensive and fancy, but it’s really simple and easy to make yourself.  I like to make a turmeric paste and keep it in a jar in my fridge and then scoop out what I need to make the milk.

A few pointers when you’re making your turmeric paste:  Don’t use any utensils, pots, or jars that stain easily.  Turmeric is amazing for your health but can stain plastic bowls, containers, or utensils.  Glass and stainless steel work best and keep your kitchen tools looking nice.  Also, turmeric does have a very earthy smell and taste so it might be off-putting at first.  Use it in ways that you can sort of mask the taste at first and then start to slowly use it more prominently.

Ok, enough talking about turmeric and how good it is for you, time to actually use it!

Turmeric PasteDIY Wednesday: Turmeric Paste and Golden Milk | Life Healthfully Lived

  • 1/2 cup turmeric powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp black pepper (fresh ground if possible)
  • 5 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 cup water
  1. Place everything in a pot and whisk until it is completely combined.  Heat over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes until you have a thick paste.  Make sure you keep stirring and don’t let it scald.
  2. Pour your paste into a glass jar or container and let it cool completely.  You can keep it in the fridge for up to two weeks.DIY Wednesday: Turmeric Paste and Golden Milk | Life Healthfully Lived

Golden Milk

  • 1 cup coconut milk (or any other non-dairy milk you like)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric paste
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • honey or maple syrup, optionalDIY Wednesday: Turmeric Paste and Golden Milk | Life Healthfully Lived
  1. Place the coconut milk and turmeric paste into a saucepan and heat over low heat, whisking to combine.
  2. Heat until it is just warm and then remove from oven.  Add the cinnamon and honey or maple syrup if you would like it a little sweeter and whisk to combine.
  3. Pour into a mug and let it cool a little before drinking.

You can also use the turmeric paste in other things like soup or curries.  It adds a nice shot of turmeric along with the fat and pepper it needs so you can get the most out of it.  Along with my jar of roasted garlic, I’ve started keeping this paste on hand for whenever I need it!DIY Wednesday: Turmeric Paste and Golden Milk | Life Healthfully Lived


DIY Wednesday: Spice Blends

I’m starting a new Wednesday series, a DIY series.  Every Wednesday I’m going to show you how to make your own version of usually store-bought staples.  Companies want you to think you can’t live without their products, but you totally can.  It’s easier than you think, not to mention healthier and cheaper.

Today I’m going to show you how to make your own spice blends.  I used to buy these blends at the grocery store and thought nothing of it.  Then I started to read labels and noticed there were some funky ingredients in there.  Things like MSG and anti-caking agents.  Things that I did not want to be sprinkling over my food and ingesting.  So I started to make my own and haven’t looked back.  Make these when you have some free time and you will have all the seasonings you could ever want ready to go when you cook.

These are four of my favorite and most used blends.

Ranch Seasoning Blend

Ranch Seasoning Blend

1 tbsp onion powder

1 tbsp garlic powder

2 tsp dill

2 tsp parsley

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp celery seed

Onion Soup Blend

Onion Soup Blend

1 tbsp dried onion, minced

2 tsp onion powder

2 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp dried mustard

1 tsp parsley

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

Pumpkin Pie Blend

Pumpkin Pie Blend

1 tbsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp allspice

1 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground cloves

Taco Seasoning Blend

Taco Seasoning Blend

1 tbsp chili powder

1 tbsp ground cumin

3 tsp garlic powder

2 tsp onion powder

1 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, optional (if you want a spicier mix)

Measure out all the seasonings, mix together, and then store in an airtight container like a mason or bell jar.  You can adjust the seasonings to your taste or remove the salt to make each blend salt free.

Use the ranch or onion mix for dips by adding to plain greek yogurt, sour cream, or plain cashew ricotta.

Use the taco blend in place of store bought packets and add either tapioca starch or cornstarch to help thicken the sauce you pour over your taco filling.

Sprinkle the pumpkin pie spice over oatmeal or cereal for a little taste of fall.

Of course you can use these blends anywhere, on your vegetables, in your marinades and dressings, in desserts or snacks.  It really just takes a few minutes to put these mixes together and the flavor and price can’t be beat.  So use your DIY skills and get to blending!

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!

Tarka Dhal

I never expected to like Indian food.  Growing up, we had never tried any Indian dishes and it was something that just wasn’t on my radar.  Once I started to change how I ate, I branched out and tried a variety of different types of cooking and I started making a few simple Indian dishes.  Yum!  I love the way that most Indian dishes focus on the spices rather than the main bulk of the ingredients.  Most recipes start working with the flavor of the dish before they start adding in the main ingredients.  The way most people cook is to season their food later in the cooking process, almost as an afterthought.  One of my favorite Indian dishes is tarka dhal.  It’s simply cooked lentils that are garnished with spices.  My version is kind of like the comfort food version of this particular dish and will make you feel all good inside.  If you have never cooked/eaten Indian food before, have no fear!  This meal is simple and tasty.  The ingredient list may look long, but it’s mostly spices and things that you probably already have on hand.  Give this yummy tarka dhal a whirl and let me know what you think!

Tarka Dhal


  • olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp fresh ginger, chopped finely
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds (you can also use yellow)
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup red lentils (or whatever variety you have on hand)
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 1/3 cup water
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup canned coconut milk
  • 4 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala (you can find this at most grocery stores, if not use curry powder)
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder

1.  In a large pan, heat olive oil over high heat and add onions.  Saute for about 3 minutes and then add in the mustard seeds.  Cover the pan with a lid and cook until the seeds start to pop.

2.  Take off the lid and add in the garlic, fenugreek seeds, ginger, and salt.  Mix together and then add lentils, tomato paste and water.  Bring this to a boil and then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes

3.  Stir in the tomatoes, lemon juice, and cilantro.  Simmer for another 4 to 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the 1/2 cup coconut milk.  Remove lentils to a serving dish.

4.  In the same pan you just cooked the lentils in, heat a little more oil over high heat for a a minute or so.  Turn off the heat and stir in the garam masala and chili powder.  Pour this spice mixture over the lentils just before serving.

This is a really good meal to introduce someone to Indian food because these flavors aren’t too overpowering and it is a relatively simple dish.  Make a huge batch and freeze some for meals later or use for lunches for the week.  Enjoy!