Welcome to The Paprika Palace!
🍃 A place where goodness grows and beauty abounds. 🍃
Join me as I create quick, simple, healthy, luxurious, low cost meals for two in our small San Francisco kitchen — and everything is expensive here!
🍃 No cooking experience required.
🍃 Minimal equipment needed.
🍃 Meal prep and budget friendly.
With a sprinkle of creativity and a dash of adventure, everyday eating can become a sensory fairly tale, without a king-size budget. I’ll show you how.
Slay Your Dragons
You won’t find many of these dragons in The Paprika Palace, as we base our meals on healthy, whole foods.
However, we do believe there is a place for most everything.
It’s all about balance.
Why we limit these things:
❌ Processed foods
We’re talking about the packaged stuff, like things made from refined white flour, frozen dinners, and packages with a lengthy ingredient list of things we can’t pronounce.
We’re not talking about basic processing practices, like grinding wheat berries or dehydrating raisins. Those are natural ways of preparing foods.
We almost always have some canned foods with minimal ingredients on hand. That way, we can still put together a meal far healthier than anything pre-made in about the same amount of time.
When we get home late or aren’t feeling well enough to cook (although that’s pretty rare), we can still quickly and easily have a healthy, delicious meal in minutes.
❌ Excess Added Sugars
So many things have sugar added! Bottled pasta sauce really surprised me, with some having over 7 grams of added sugars per serving.
That’s about 1.5 teaspoons of extra sugar, about the same amount as in a bit over 1/4 cup of Dryer’s Classic Vanilla Ice Cream. Let’s save the sugar for dessert.
We love those sweet treats as much as anyone! I make most of our desserts (except ice cream), using coconut sugar in place of some or all the refined sugar. (It’s said to be a bit better for your blood sugar.). Still, a little goes a long way.
Same with honey, molasses, maple syrup, etc. But they have some nutrients.
❌ Butter, Grease, Excess Oil
We use avocado oil for most everything, conservatively. We prefer to get our fats from healthy whole avocados, nuts and seeds, salmon, sardines, and those special chocolate treats 😀
We also buy toasted sesame seed oil to use for extra flavor — a little goes a long way! Plus we feel better using less oils.
Avocado oil wasn’t so great for greasing pans, so we switched to butter or ghee for that (sometimes homemade!). Butter does a wonderful job of releasing foods from the pan.
When frozen, it’s easy to get a thin layer on your baking dishes. Far better than chemical sprays!
❌ Full Fat Dairy
We aren’t milk drinkers, but we do buy milk by the gallon so we can make our own yogurt. We prefer 1% for that, but sometimes we get nonfat if the 1% is not available.
We don’t buy cream for our coffee or matcha — my husband likes it black and I prefer unsweetened almond milk.
Cheese! Cheese! Cheese! We love our cheese. If a low fat option is available, we’ll get that. But often there’s not. So we enjoy our cheese in moderation.
When making yogurt from nonfat milk, I use a 5 ounce container of full fat greek yogurt for the entire gallon. It evens out to be very low fat per cup that way.
❌ Excess Salt
We’re lucky that neither one of us grew up salting our food. (We did have a salt shaker…somewhere.) Growing up, I didn’t like salty food because it made me so thirsty.
Cheeses (including cottage cheese), low-sodium tamari, and Worcestershire sauce are all salty on their own. No need to add more salt when you add salty things like these to a dish.
While excess salt can cause all kinds of health issues, so can a lack of salt. Again, it all goes back to beautiful balance. We all need sodium to live. It’s an essential electrolyte.
Both of us have a water bottle in the fridge full of electrolyte water that we take on our long hikes. When we’re working hard all day, our bodies need a bit more sodium.
❌ Age Old Habits
Do you always butter your bread? Salt your food before eating? Buy your lunch everyday? Have dinner delivered on weeknights? Keep your kitchen bare? Always eat on the run? Spend a fortune on frozen meals?
There’s nothing wrong with any of those things. But that doesn’t mean they are your best option. Or even one that’s good for you.
Ironically, some ancient age old habits may be far better for us than more modern ways.
Before processed foods were available, healthy whole foods were not only the best option, but the only one.
Also, from ancient times: Healthy serving sizes, simple recipes, and not rushing through meals so you actually enjoy them.
We’re big believers in balance and moderation. And we don’t believe it’s wrong to eat the things listed here. We’ve found a way of healthy living that works for us.
Do your own research and check with your doctor to see what is best for you. We’re not medical professionals.
A few things we never buy (and why):
My husband and I have never been big meat eaters, mainly because we don’t love it the way many do. We do eat meat on occasion, but we don’t buy it for ourselves. This includes both fresh and processed meats, like beef, pork, sandwich meats, etc.
Meat tends to be one of the pricier foods, so this saves us a lot of money. Plus, non-meat eaters in general tend to have much lower odds of cancer, heart issues, stroke, and Type 2 diabetes.
If we did eat meat regularly, we’d opt for grass-fed as it’s thought to be better for you. I haven’t found any research on people who only eat grass-fed meat and wonder if the same health risks apply.
Before we met, my husband had a glass or two of wine with dinner. When he found out I don’t drink, he gave it up. He felt so much better that he’s never touched the stuff since. That’s one thing that allowed him to lose the weight he wanted to lose and keep it off.
Alcohol can be expensive, so avoiding it saves us quite a bit. Also, since there’s a clear link with some kinds of cancer plus a number of other health issues, we prefer to avoid it completely.
Bananas — yuck! I have tried to like them. I’ve put them in breads, muffins, cakes, salads, and tried them all alone. But I just can’t seem to get past the taste and texture. Besides that, they’re great!
My husband does like them but decided not to eat them anymore because they are a higher carb fruit. And there are so many other fruits he likes just as much. So The Paprika Palace is a banana-free zone.
❌ Olive Oil
We used to buy olive oil but realized we always reach for avocado oil instead. Fortunately, olive oil is a great moisturizer for skin and hair, so it found a new place in the shower.
Avocado oil has a very mild taste (which I prefer), while olive oil add a distinctive flavor. Also, avocado oil has a smoke point over 500 degrees, while olive oil’s smoke point is under 400 degrees.
❌ Juice and Soda
We’ve never been big soda fans thankfully! An average 12 oz can of soda has almost 10 teaspoons of sugar. And the diet versions have a hefty dose of chemicals. Plus, the added cost, along with space needed to store soda, make us so glad we’re not soda lovers.
While fresh fruit and veggie juices can be a great way to get extra nutrients, we prefer to eat the whole foods. That way, we’re getting all the fiber those foods have to offer.
These Keys to the Kingdom guide our decisions and activities.
They can also serve as goals, perhaps in areas that are out of balance or in need of more attention.
This is what works for us and what you can expect to find here. You may have a few different keys to your kingdom, just be sure to know what’s guiding your decisions.
Together, these five keys create the foundation of a lifestyle:
A way of planning and preparing, cooking and creating, spending and saving when it comes to food and eating.
This way of eating frees time and money to do other things, have more fun, and stress less!
When you have plenty of healthy foods at home, there’s no need to have food delivered.
It’s all about balancing the science and art…
…of both cooking and creativity. The science is what you know. The art is what you do with what you know.
At The Paprika Palace, you will find a blend of information and inspiration you can use to create a life full of simple, healthy, luxurious eating experiences without spending a fortune.
We aim for wise spending in all areas, including groceries.
We go with the lowest-cost option for the most nutritious things we like.
By keeping things simple and organized, buying in bulk, and eating most meals at home, we fall within (or below!) the USDA Thrifty Food Plan.
What a surprise, given we don’t even have a budget!
Living in balance naturally leads to better health.
Think of simple food as the king and lovely presentation as the queen. They go hand-in-hand.
Efficient, organized, low cost options balanced with those that are playful, sensual, and fun.
It’s important the body, mind, and heart live in balance, too.
Work, play, and rest all have a place here.
And Your Home is Your Palace!
It’s easy to fall into the comparison trap. Social media can be a great place to look for inspiration, however it can also become a source of stress. Likewise can websites, even this one!
In truth, a lot of images we see are the best of the bunch, whether seen online, on social media, or shown to us in person by people we know.
Odds are, those photos took quite a bit longer to get ready to post than the meal you just created and enjoyed!
In truth, what counts most is what YOU think and how YOU feel about your cooking and your home. What’s more, if you and the people you’re serving it to enjoy those meals, other’s opinions don’t matter.
Likewise, if YOU like the way it’s presented, that’s all that matters. There’s no right or wrong here. Like beauty, luxury, elegance, and yumminess are in the eye (or taste buds) of the beholder.
That’s why you may find a few chipped plates around The Paprika Palace. Our time is spent creating and enjoying our meals and time together more than curating perfect pictures.
Yet, we do believe it’s worth an extra minute or two make the presentation more pleasing.
It always goes back to beautiful balance!
Be sure it’s a fun name that makes you smile and fits your style.
Having a playful name can do wonders to create a playful environment for whatever adventures await.
At the very least, a fun name will make you (and everyone who hears it) smile whenever you say it.
“Let’s dine at The Paprika Palace tonight.” vs “Let’s stay home.” See what I mean?
When you think of change as a great adventure, it can become one!
And every great adventure involves a treasure map, right? So here’s yours.
Start right where you are. Go through each stop on the map, pausing to look at what you have, what you want, and what you can get rid of in that area.
Remember, no judgement here!
Who lives in The Paprika Palace?
Although small, The Paprika Palace (our home) is a peaceful oasis in the heart of a busy city for my husband and I, plus our sweet tabby cat.
Instead of living in a bigger home with a hectic commute, the ideal location of our small, light-drenched space allows my husband to walk to work.
His commute now consists of healthy, stress-relieving exercise instead of crazy traffic, stressful parking, and the random vandalism that can happen to a car parked on the street.
Plus, I can easily meet him for a walk during his break when I’m working from home. How fun is that?!?! With his 12 hour workdays, there’s no way he’d want to exercise after work or get up even earlier to fit it in then. Also, on the few occasions when it’s really blustery out, we’ve determined it’s safer to be on the sidewalk than the slippery road.
A few random things about us:
Thanks for stopping by!
If you’re new here, check out the Start Here page. There you will learn about the Keys to the Kingdom, which are the guiding principles of The Paprika Palace. Or check out the Home page for a basic overview and a peek into the three main pillars of The Paprika Palace:
- Healthy Foods (Keeping your Kitchen Well-Stocked),
- Simplified Shopping (Grocery Lists by store, with links for online shopping coming soon), and
- Quick and Easy Recipes (Things you can easily make if you keep your kitchen stocked with items from The Paprika Palace Grocery Lists).
If you’re wondering about cost, take a look at the Let’s Talk Money page. There you will find monthly grocery spending reports, with itemized lists so you can see exactly what we spend on groceries, including what and where we buy things. And While Things Cook, brighten your mood, pique your curiosity or learn something new on the Just for Fun page.