Substitution Strategy

Dislike avocado? Or just want a new idea?

Avocados are a great source of potassium, fiber, essential fatty acids, and a bunch of other great stuff. But what if you don’t like the texture, or the color? What if you’d rather eat chocolate pudding? On the other hand, what if lactose intolerance bars you from enjoying pudding?

Not to worry, there’s an alternative: avocado chocolate pudding. At first, I was skeptical. So skeptical in fact that I almost let the avocado go bad before trying it. I tried it just in time.

The recipes on the internet call for things I don’t have, like coconut milk, so I just left those out. I mixed up the good part of the avocado (must be soft), 2 teaspoons of cocoa powder, and a bunch of sugar, maybe 2-3 tablespoons. If you have less of a sweet tooth than I do, start with less, you can always add more. Smush it all together and add enough water to get a pudding texture.

It looked like pudding. Summoning my courage, I tasted a little. Tastes like sweet chocolate. The texture is exactly the texture of chocolate pudding. Yay!

Refrigerate for best effect.


Is It True? Nutritious Food is Expensive

My answer is, yes and no.

Blueberries are expensive. Bananas are not.

Steak is expensive. Eggs are not. At two eggs per serving, they put the protein in your meal for about twenty cents.

Name brand ready-made fancy granola cereal is expensive. Oatmeal is not.

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are expensive. A whole chicken costs less per pound and is far more versatile.

Brown rice is filling and nutritious and inexpensive.

Lentils cook quickly compared to other beans, are high in protein, and are inexpensive.

Shelled walnuts are expensive. Sunflower kernels cost less and have similar nutritional value.

Ready-cut carrots are expensive. Whole carrots are not. Cabbage, potatoes, and onions are inexpensive and nutritious.



52 Weeks: Electricity – Cooking

A microwave oven uses much less electricity than either a stove top or oven, about a third as much. On the other hand, some foods need baking, broiling, or searing to bring out their best flavors. When I use the full size oven, I often fill it up with a pan of chicken and three pans of vegetables to roast. When I’m baking something small, like baked potatoes, I use the toaster oven. I use the micro-wave for reheating.

A pressure cooker will cook food in about 1/3 the time that conventional cooking takes. The best foods for this are foods that can be cooked with liquids, because the cooker needs steam to work. This is great for rice and for beans, and it also works for meats and vegetables.

Solar ovens use no energy at all, but there are disturbing reports of vision damage from the reflectors.

The Saffron – Turmeric Connection

Ever look at an interesting recipe and set out to try it, only to learn that one of the minor ingredients costs $5,000 a pound? Maybe not, or maybe because they sell it by the ounce, you don’t realize how expensive it is. On Amazon today, saffron for cooking costs $12 for .035 of an ounce, about one twenty-eighth of an ounce. That’s $342.86 per ounce, or $5,485 per pound. Many delicious seafood or rice dishes call for saffron.

Turmeric costs $3.50 for 2.35 ounces today on Amazon, or about $24 a pound. That still sounds terrible by the pound, but is quite manageable by the dash, sprinkle or 1/4 teaspoon. It is likely to be less expensive from the canisters at your health food store.

Turmeric is an excellent substitute for saffron. Or so I hear. I’ve never actually indulged invested in saffron, I just use turmeric, regardless. It makes yellow rice yellow. In combination with black pepper, it is reputed to help discourage cancer. I use small amounts because it does have a fairly strong taste.

So those delightful recipes are still possible for me, without spending a king’s ransom.

Grooming – Alternatives – Deodorant

Mineral salt deodorant sticks are sold at health food stores and online. They are a bit expensive to buy, but quite inexpensive per use because they last a really, really long time. Unless you drop it on the tile floor and it shatters into a thousand shards. That’s when I switched to baking soda. If a piece breaks off and leaves it too sharp to use, you can sand down the sharp edge.

To use baking soda as deodorant, I put about ¼ of a teaspoon into the palm of my hand and add enough water to make a thin paste. Then I rub my hands together and pat the baking soda onto my armpits. Baking soda can be abrasive, so I pat instead of rub. Some people dust the dry powder onto their pits instead of getting it wet first. A great advantage to baking soda as a deodorant is that it works even if you already stink before you put it on.

I have seen recipes online for making deodorant by mixing baking soda with other things like coconut oil and alum. I also know one person who uses alum by itself as a deodorant. Alum is sold among the spices in the baking aisle. White vinegar is another option. Dab some into each armpit. This works better for some people than for others. It’s just incredibly inexpensive, and thus perhaps worth a try. I’ve also seen mention online of using rubbing alcohol, Milk of Magnesia or coconut oil individually as deodorants. I haven’t tried those.

The commercial deodorant products that we think we have to buy and use are a fairly new thing. They’ve really only been available since Mum came out in the late 1800s. Before that, many, many generations of people used natural things to control body odor.



Marie Brack is the author of Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely. It’s available on in both Kindle and paperback versions.





52 Weeks: Grooming – Alternatives – Soap

My personal journey to low cost grooming began in 1995. That was the year I became sensitive to the ingredients in most grooming products. My immune specialist and fellow patients suggested several natural choices. Baking soda was the most popular. I use it in place of shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant, and facial scrub.

Baking soda comes in a biodegradable box and is non-toxic. A two pound box costs $1.24 at my Walmart. The one I’m using just for grooming purposes has lasted two months already and it is still not empty. Compare that to the combined cost of two months’ worth of store bought shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant, and facial scrub.

One of my fellow patients was sensitive to all soaps. She used baking soda in place of soap. I recently tried it out to see what would happen. It’s a little abrasive, but I certainly felt clean and fresh. For the first time I noticed by contrast how soap does leave a feeling that it is lingering on my skin even after rinsing. An added benefit would be no soap scum buildup on the shower and tub, and in the drains.

Later, I made a moisturizing baking soda body wash by combining water, baking soda, and coconut oil soap in an empty oregano jar. I used enough water to make a gel-like consistency. This has worked very well for me.



Marie Brack is the author of Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely. It’s available on in both Kindle and paperback versions.