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How I Spent the Day Before my Birthday

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I got up and did one of my favorite things. I filled up Elvira, and took a road trip to Birmingham. I need to get an oil change/inspection at the Subaru place and I knew I needed to get there early in the day so Eddie could take care of her. I don’t ever go to Birmingham without stopping by some of my favorite “wish we had in Tuscaloosa” places.


I haven’t been to Penzey’s since before the holidays. In fact, I still have a bag with some candied ginger bits and a bottle of vanilla hanging around behind the chair—RV living means unique storage places. Since I was down to the last few whisps of powdered ginger and bits of Salsa seasoning, I had a long list and I was prepared to blow some funds.

Why Penzey’s? It’s the best I have found. So many spices on shelves are way too dry. Way too dehydrated. No flavor left. I found Penzey’s a few years ago and I have not looked back.


It was 2-bagger day. It’s been a while! However, some of these are freebies. The more you spend, the more they throw in your bag.


The next stop is Whole Foods. Since Trader Joe’s joined the ‘Ham, my Whole Foods budget is much lighter. Joes is cheaper for quality food. I bypass their produce section for the most part. I can buy California and Mexico produce much cheaper in Tuscaloosa. If they have REGIONAL—down the road stuff—I will often buy it. Greens and sweet potatoes are standards and trust me, the Alabama sweet potatoes are AMAZING! If they are not at my local River Market, I will stock up from Whole Foods.

I love to replenish my supply of these. Tessemaes literally changed my quick dinner rotation. These are very flavorful, WHOLE 30 compliant (except the soy ginger), finishing sauces and dressings. They have a few ingredients but pack in some flavor.  If you are sticking to a Whole30 plan, check the back of these labels. They have large graphics for Whole 30, dairy free, gluten free, etc.

I use these with stir frys. I cook or re-heat chicken or beef, add in chopped vegetables, and pour in some of this. A little salt and dinner is ready in 15-30 minutes depending on length of protein cooking.


Right down the produce refrigerated shelf from Tessamae’s is something I’m so excited to see. Harvest Roots is located in Mentone, AL. This is a company that ferments foods and drinks. Think kombucha and kraut, kimchi, kvass, etc. And let me tell you, the kombucha is freaking out of this world. It’s not too vinegary, but not super sweet either.

Kombucha is fermented tea. I should be able to taste TEA. And with Harvest Roots, I can discern the tea from the berries, lemons, etc. The kraut is crispy and flavorful with the bite you expect from kraut. I grabbed several cans of all of it.

harvest roots

Next on the list, I check for baking flours, nut butters, vitamins, protein powders, and coffee. I didn’t need any of it so I went to search for the Unicorn Bacon. I found it! NO added sugar. Sugar is usually a preservation product in smoked bacon, but Whole30 and keto is sugar and nitrate free. This Pederson’s bacon is compliant and worth every single penny.

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After a wistful stroll through the beer/cider, I didn’t find anything I needed to break my diet for. I also cruised through the frozen vegetables. I do like WFs selection of plain frozen vegetables because they are usually priced very reasonably. TJ’s has more seasoned stuff and seasoned usually means junk I can’t/won’t eat. I like plain broccoli rabe, thankyouverymuch.

No trip to Whole Foods is complete without a hot bar/salad lunch. Since I’m newly on Keto, I kept it simple with vegetables and brisket. I knew none of these had gluten, but there might be trace sugar in some spices. I was okay with that. I also learned that I will always get brisket when I return to WF. That cardboard bowl as nirvana.


Last stop on my birthday trip is Trader Joes. There are so many good things in here. I zipped past the produce. I will have some greens from the river market soon. I needed oil, cheese, frozen vegetables, WATER, artichokes, and nuts.


Did you know that Irish cheese is on sale the day before St. Patrick’s day? Me either.

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Macadamia nuts are the mainstay of a keto plan. Fat little nuts of glory. When I feel legitimately hungry, I can eat 4-5 of these and drink water and wait to eat a good dinner at home. I also wanted to try some of these almonds in rosemary oil. Sounds like we need to become acquainted.

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I use RX bars for long LONG runs. They have dates as their base, so they definitely have carbs, but fibrous carbs.

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The last time I came to TJ’s, they were out of these peppers. I was devastated! These peppers, and those small red containters above with crushed basil and minced garlic are FOUNDATIONS of many of my dishes. Have you ever opened a can of fire-roasted tomatoes and they tasted like the mushiest, waterlogged tomatoes? I hate that. These vegetables actually taste fire-roasted. Not scorched, but a deeper flavor.

trader joes

Grilled artichokes? What is this witchcraft?? I’ll report back. My artichoke antipasto that I’ve been craving lately can just move over on the shelf and make room. I bet these are delicious.


Here’s my entire haul. That flavored mineral water is so good. I often pour it in a Scandal wine glass while I’m cooking dinner. Then again, it’s just fine for guzzling after a hot day building a house. I’m not picky.


Remember my trip first thing to Subaru. This is why I come to Birmingham for simple oil changes. Eddie jazzed up my reminder sticker. He said he couldn’t fit all the letters in the “date” section but he knew I would get a kick out of it.

I thought it was hilarious that he already knew I would be back WAY before the date so it wouldn’t be useful info anyway. I’ve always hit my mileage limit before the date limit with my toyota and this Elvira Forester is no exception. Smile


Last year’s birthday, I was sick with the flu and trying to move. This year, I’ve already had a fantastic day before the big day. Healthy foods, cooking necessities, and a great new car to roll open the sunroof and embrace my age.

Happy Thursday!

Taxes on Tuesday
Pinch me