Tag Archives: food

Recipes for making the most of what you have

Copyright 2013 by R.A. Robbins

These are some of my favorite recipes and ideas for making the most of what you have.  I’ve been using these while trying to work around not being able to buy certain ingredients.  Thought you might find these helpful to extend the food you have on hand or make do with what you’ve got during the pandemic.

Soup — recipes are flexible or you can just use what you have for the types of meat, veggies, grains, etc.  If you have bags of dried lentils, beans or dried peas check for recipes on the bag.  You might also want to read my article on Making Soup from Leftovers.

One of my favorite simple recipes is my Mom’s Potato Soup.

Egg Salad Without Eggs makes a good substitute for egg salad if the stores are out of eggs and you have a can of chickpeas on hand.  If you have mayo you may use it instead of the dressing in the recipe.

For a sweet treat, if you have access to peanut butter you might want to try my Power Balls.

A few of my favorite ways to extend or replace meat include salmon patties or loaf, meatloaf or veggie loaf, stir fry, veggie burgers and let’s not forget casseroles.  Check your recipe files or search online if you need recipes — there are many to be found out there.

I have posted many more recipes here over the years.  Use the search engine on the toolbar to access them.

Happy cooking!


(NOTE FROM BOB: Rogene, your hostess here at Espirational.com has written several cookbooks with foods specially created for those of us with food sensitivities like not being able to have sugar, milk, and gluten. You can review these books at Amazon.com and, if you like, get your own Kindle Web copy to read right on your own computer to help you get creative in your own kitchen.

If you are a member of Kindle Unlimited you can use these cookbooks free; otherwise, we have these books at the low price of only $2.99 each to help everyone out with the current money crunch. Click here to see the list of Rogene Robbins’ books.

Feeding Yourself and Your Family in Uncertain Times

I’ve always tried to keep a small pantry stocked because I don’t like to shop and of course for emergencies.  I add to it as I go along by adding an extra item or two to my grocery orders, especially sale items.

Recently I have been reminded of the importance of keeping a pantry stocked to last for 1 to 2 months.  First during the aftermath of a major storm at the end of last summer when we were out power for a week.  And now during the pandemic when stores are crowded and shelves are often bare from panic buying.

Here are a few of my tips for stocking a pantry.

  1.  Be sure you have items that you could actually live with and stay healthy on for a while if you had to.  Canned salmon and tuna, natural peanut butter, rice cakes, canned veggies and fruit, pasta and sauce, baking ingredients, shelf-stable milk, rice and other grains, lentils, beans, canned soup are a good place to start.
  2. Check expiration dates and rotate items in your pantry from time to time.
  3. Keep a few snack items on hand so you won’t be running down the chip aisle in a crazed frenzy throwing bags in your cart when disaster strikes.  Believe me, I’ve been tempted.  The chip aisle at our little neighborhood store is just inside the front door.
  4. Buy one extra of your household essentials when they are on sale.  I’ve been spared the mass hysteria in the toilet paper aisle during the pandemic by doing this.
  5. Resist the urge to panic buy or hoard during a crisis.  If we all buy only what we need and share with others there will be enough food to go around.

Remember those who produce, package, deliver and sell the food we need are also going through the same things we are.  Don’t panic.  Don’t let food spoil. If you have more than you can eat before it goes bad, share it with a friend.  Eat from your freezer and pantry and get creative in using what you have.



Mindful Eating

Mr. Pepper
Copyright 2013 by R.A. Robbins

“Instead of thinking of food as the enemy, allow yourself to enjoy the process of planning and preparing meals or going out to lunch with a friend. Stay in the present moment and understand that the purpose of food is nourishment.” – Susan Albers


Greek Pizza
Copyright 2018 by R.A. Robbins

We went into town for pizza to celebrate Valentines Day.  The gluten free Greek pizza was not bad, but it wasn’t mine.  The one in town had a small commercial crust with toppings that could almost be seen.  I make my own crust and load on the toppings — no comparison.   Look good?  Want to make your own?

Genie’s Greek Pizza

Crust Ingredients:
2 3/4 c. all purpose gf flour (my flour blend is 3 parts sorghum flour, 2 parts potato or corn starch and 1 part brown rice flour)
1 T. sugar
1 package quick rise yeast
1 1/4 cup warm water (105-115 degrees, a few drops on your wrist should feel warm but not hot)
2 T. olive oil

Topping Ingredients:
1 teaspoon dried oregano
About ½ bunch of fresh spinach, cleaned and stems removed
1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast baked and cut in bite sized pieces
1 small red onion sliced thin
1 can (14 ounce) artichoke hearts, drained
1 small can whole black olives, drained
6 ounces goat cheese crumbles

To Make Crust:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray pizza pan with pan spray.

Combine flour sugar and yeast in a bowl.

Add water and oil and stir to combine ingredients. This will form a dough, it will not be a batter.

Put dough in a 15 inch pizza pan sprayed with pan spray. With damp hands push the dough out to fill the pan. (I did not roll out the dough this time but may try that later.) Smooth the top of the dough.

I take one finger dipped in water and draw a slight indentation around the dough about 1/2 to 1 inch in from the outside of the dough. This will help form your crust.

Let dough rise in a warm place in the pan for 30 minutes. Don’t skip this step, it is important if you want a thicker, deep dish style crust. The dough should double.

Bake crust for 5 minutes.

Remove from oven.

Add Toppings and Bake:

Sprinkle oregano over crust.

Cover crust with a layer of spinach leaves.

Separate red onion rings and scatter over spinach.

Add chicken, artichoke hearts and black olives in that order.

Finally cover pizza with cheese crumbles.

Bake at 425 for 15-20 minute. If you have never used goat cheese before it does not “melt” like other cheeses.” You also do not want it to brown. When done the top will look much the same as when you put it in. Lift up a corner of the crust  — it should be lightly browned.

Cut pizza into slices and enjoy.

It’s Time to Buy Cranberries

My Fresh Cranberry SauceCopyright 2011 by R.A. Robbins
My Fresh Cranberry Sauce
Copyright 2011 by R.A. Robbins

I know the holidays are over, but there may still be fresh cranberries available in your grocery store.   This is a good time to stock up.

Why Cranberries?

The price may be going down. In fact it may already have.  If you haven’t already picked up a bag or two or six this is a good time.  I have found cranberries priced as low as 2 for $1 after the holidays.  Cranberries freeze well.  You can just pop the unopened bag in the freezer of put it in a freezer bag.  They freeze well so you will have them on hand for later.

They are full of wonderful nutrients.  In addition to being fat-free, cholesterol free, gluten free, sodium free and a good source of vitamin C and fiber, they also contain antioxidants and may help prevent urinary tract infections.

There are so many ways to use fresh or frozen cranberries.  You can eat them raw, but they are very tart.  You can make cranberry sauce, and of course cranberry nut bread, but they may also be used in savory dishes and stews.  The great thing about cooking with fresh cranberries is you control the sugar.

Copyright 2011 by R.A Robbins
Copyright 2011 by R.A Robbins

My fresh cranberry sauce and pumpkin cranberry bread (with dried cranberries) recipes are in my new e-book, Have Yourself a Healthy Little Holiday, available in the Amazon Kindle Store.

A Spring Recipe – Deviled Eggs

When I think of spring and summer something that always comes to mind is deviled eggs.  They are always a part of my Easter table as well as picnic food throughout the summer.

The other day I was talking to a friend about an upcoming potluck in our little community.  I said, “We might end up with six plates of deviled eggs.”  She laughed and then I said, “But I think everybody has their own special recipe so that might be okay.”  And we continued to talk about how many different ways there are to devil an egg.

At my house the filling is moist (I use an olive oil based mayo), tart (we add vinegar) and bright yellow (lots of mustard).  Our garnish of choice is paprika sprinkled over the top.  Your preference might be sliced olive, pickle or something else.

Here is my basic recipe, but I go by color and taste rather than exact measurement so feel free to adjust to suit your own tastes.

Deviled Eggs


6 eggs

1 t. vinegar (more or less)

1 t. prepared mustard (more or less)

2 T. mayo or salad dressing (more or less)


1.  Hard boil eggs using your preferred method.  Cool and peel.

2.  Cut eggs in half the long way.

3.  Carefully scoop our the yolks using a spoon and put in a small bowl.

4.  Arrange whites on your serving plate.  If you have a deviled egg plate, use it.

6.  Mash yolks and add vinegar, mustard and mayo to taste.  Continue mashing and stirring until yolks are very smooth.

7.  To put the yolks mixture back in the whites you can use a small spoon.  When I worked in a restaurant I learned to use a pastry bag for this and love that method.  If you don’t have a pastry bag you can use a plastic sandwich bag with one corner cut off on the diagonal.  This is much easier, quicker and less messy than the spoon method.

Makes 12 deviled eggs.  I like to use the whole dozen and make 24.


Eat Well to Live Well

I used to hang out online with people who were trying to be live frugally.  I always thought I could pinch a penny till it squealed, but some of these people were extreme in their methods as well as the beliefs that were driving them to save as much and spend as little as possible.  Those groups and I eventually parted ways and the general attitude toward food was a major reason.  Many believed it doesn’t matter what you eat and food was an area where you could really cut your spending.

If you know me at all you know I am all about health and wellness.  I do have a budget.  I do make a shopping list while checking the grocery ads.  I’m the person who stands in the grocery aisles actually doing the math trying to figure out the best deal.  But our budget is built realistically to purchase fresh fruits and veggies, minimally processed meats and other healthy, naturally gluten free foods.  This comes from our belief that you can spend money on healthy food or you can spend money on doctors.  We prefer to spend on food.

In addition to my other responsibilities I am essentially a homemaker, making a safe and healthy home for Bob and I.  Grocery shopping, meal planning and cooking are part of my “job.”  And, strange as this may sound in todays world, I actually like to cook.  So taking the time needed to cook from scratch instead of grabbing convenience foods is something I don’t mind doing.  At least most of the time.  When my other responsibilities are piling up and I barely have time to breathe I do mind and the crock pot gets called into service.

So why am I talking about all this now?  Well it’s January, and the beginning of a new year is a time when people seem to be talking, thinking and planning about food.  Many resolutions will be food or weight related.  Others will be looking at ways to save money and cut the budget.

While all this is going on there are a few things I would like you to consider:

  1. Food is fuel.  If the body does not have adequate, quality fuel it will not function properly.
  2. Staying healthy saves not only on doctor bills, lost time from work but also on pain and suffering.
  3. If you really do want to lose weight ask your healthcare professional to help you come up with healthy, reasonable plan.  Don’t be taken in by all the fad diets and cleanses being promoted this time of year.
  4. Don’t forget to move.  Get up out of your chair, walk, climb stairs, play with the kids, dance, whatever strikes your fancy, just move.
  5. Remember the phrase “all things in moderation.”  You will pay for that starvation diet and obsessive physical training later  — with your health.  Those things are not sustainable and never last anyway.
  6. Remember being healthy is a way of life.  Find a balanced lifestyle plan that works for you and live it.

Healthy Living A to Z: D is for Dessert

A Simple Fruit Salad
Copyright 2012 by R.A. Robbins

Don’t get too excited.  I’m not going to tell you to go out and indulge in every high fat sweet treat you can find but there are healthier ways to enjoy dessert.

One of my favorite treats is fresh or frozen berries.  Strawberries are natures candy.  Fruit can help satisfy cravings for sugar.

Chocolate has been proven to have health benefits.  We’re talking dark chocolate here — high is cacao and low in sugar.  Buy the good stuff and enjoy in moderation.

I do bake, but make sweets healthier by cutting as much fat and refined sugar as possible.  Be sure substitutions are healthy ones.

You might need to change what you consider a “treat.”  When I was young my sugar consumption was limited because my older brother had bad teeth.  For years I thought cheese was candy.

Why am I talking about dessert in a series on healthy living?  I know throwing out all foods we love and enjoy attempting to get healthy is setting ourselves up for failure.  Indulge in a little treat now and then.  Make your desserts as healthy as possible and practice moderation.

Need ideas for a healthier Valentine’s Day Dessert?

Pure Heart Brownies and Cocoa Truffles from Shivay Delights

Greek Yogurt and Warm Berry Sauce from Gluten Free Fabulous

Do you have a healthier dessert recipe?  Feel free to link to it in the comments section.