Minimalism to the rescue – When your Tiny House budget falls short Part I

All the signs were there but, to be honest, what good would knowing we did not have enough to finish the project have done?  Stop us from doing it?  That was just not an option.  We knew we were taking a chance, many chances as a matter of fact.

We were buying plans to build a Tiny House, on wheels, in a world where the absence of regulation, direction and general assistance was a looming presence.  But as Emerson once said “God will not have his work made manifest by cowards”.  

A few weeks ago it became apparent that there was not going to be enough and when our suspicions proved to be a reality I was not anticipating the effect it would have on my system.  I had become tired, but could not sleep, irritable and the feeling of unrest had settled over me.

It was then that my beloved had a break down.  Yes that’s right my Jeep Huck had a busted Drive shaft to the tune of $1089.00.  As I sat in utter disbelief and dismay it was then that it had come to me.  What would my father have done?

We had gone through a good many rough patches in my youth.  I remember the cheese you could get in the box downtown, weeks on end of Salmon cakes, canned veggies, day old bread from the thrift store and whatever else my parents could afford.  We spent an entire winter without electricity (in the days when they could shut off your electric in the dead of winter).

Our Cast Iron Wood-stove that would sustain us through the winter.

We used a wood stove for nearly everything.  At night my mom would heat up pots of cold water for a bath and bricks on the wood stove, place them into  a hand sewn bag and put them in bed with me to keep me warm.  Even so there were mornings when my hair had a thin crust of frost on it.

I would get dressed in bed, hand me downs with patches in the knees, and do my best to get my hair under control.  Due to my appearance I earned such names as Birdnest, Scruff and plenty of other clever names kids came up with.

This would not win me any popularity contests but it would, in times such as this, grant me a better perspective.  Help me to see clearer.  An appreciation for what others go though as well as guide me through the turbulent waters of life.

It was my parents resourcefulness and determination that would ultimately add the most value to my life.  They were Minimalists of necessity.  Despite our lack of cashflow my dad always found a way to come through for Christmas.  Never missed a summer at the beach and Mom would always have food in our bellies, especially Thanksgiving.

So it was in a flash of inspiration I’d realize that the same answer to a complicated, overextended life of consumerism and endless debt would also be the answer to my dwindling budget.  Minimalism.

I had already scaled back my clothing to a few efficient, complimentary outfits.  Rid ourselves of needless trinkets, gadgets and clutter.  We even divorced ourselves of a mortgage.  The time had come for us to apply the same minimalistic method to our spending.  It was time to draw on the knowledge gleaned from leaner times.


Out of the Darkness and Into the Light

Many days have passed since that cool early spring afternoon in April of 2012…


Never would I believed as I sat in a on my back porch, in a chair that was my fathers sipping a cup of coffee and healing from a motorcycle accident that my new found obsession would be taking shape now in the autumn of 2017.

Too numerous are the times I’ve fought that internal struggle.  The one that occurs every time I attempt to manifest the means to repay all of those dear souls who have lent a hand along the way.

Monetary compensation alone cannot hold a candle to the staggering generosity shown to Anne and I (which is apt as there is none of that at the present time).  To take upon themselves a task for no other reason than to add to another persons life, let alone provide them with a means in which to live it.

For a period of a little over a year our Tiny House has lay dormant for the most part, covered in a cloak of darkness, awaiting rebirth.  Now once again, thanks to the kind hand of others, we are coming out of the darkness and into the light.

As I sit in the master loft, looking out of the pane-less windows into the surrounding woods, a renewed sense of vigor and appreciation flooded through me.  I was glimpsing the future.  The future of what would be our home.  What would someday hold the moments and treasures of the memories of those who spent time there, loving, laughing and just sharing life.

Creamy Raw Vegan Jicama Chik’n Caesar Salad

Creamy Raw Vegan Jicama Chik’n Caesar salad

Ok now THIS is a game changer.  Moist and slightly chewy strips of Jicama smothered in creamy, savory Caesar dressing so closely resemble the flavor and texture of the Caesar salad you may remember that you will be shocked.  Shocked and a little swept away.  This is so simple too!

This delight would not be Possible if not for Stefanie Weiss, a dear friend and inspriation, who introduced me to the method of transforming Jicama into tender, moist morsels.

Jicama Chik’n: 


  • 1 large Jicama Peeled and chopped into fry like chunks
  • 1-2 tablespoons aminos of choice (I used Coconut Aminos)


Marinade the Jicama with the aminos over night then dehydrate on 105° for 10 hours or 110° for 8 hours

Jicama Chik”n
Caesar Salad:


  • 2 – 3 heads romaine lettuce
  • 1 large cucumber peeled and sliced
Raw vegan creamy Caesar
Raw Vegan Caesar Dressing



  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tsp mustard powder or 1 teaspoons of raw stoneground mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 small garlic clove (you can add another if you like it super potent)
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons aminos of choice
  • 2 teaspoons capers
  • 1 teaspoon sweetener of choice (if needed)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt and pepper, or to taste
  • 1/2 small zucchini chopped and added as needed for consistency


Add everything but the chopped zucchini to your blender.

Blend, adding chunks of zucchini until you get the right consistency.  I.e. Creamy and amazing.

Create your masterpiece! 

Arrange the cucumber slices atop a bed of Romaine, sprinkle the Jicama Chick’n on top and drown in creamy caesar.  May your taste buds be blessed with a dance of sheer joy and indulgence.

Raw Vegan Caesar Dressing

    Raw vegan creamy Caesar

Raw Vegan Caesar Dressing

 So you’ve given it all up. Parmesan cheese, creamy, rich and gooey dressings.

But then there’s this and when I say it’s creamy I really really mean it.

Drown  a few heads of Romain lettuce and some Raw Jicama Chick’n with this heaven and you’ll be whisked away!


1/2 cup raw cashews

1/4 cup water

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tsp mustard powder or 1 teaspoons of raw stoneground mustard

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 small garlic clove (you can add another if you like it super potent)

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

2 teaspoons aminos of choice

2 teaspoons capers

1 teaspoon sweetener of choice (if needed)

1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt and pepper, or to taste

1/2 small zucchini chopped and added as needed for consistency


Add everything but the chopped zucchini to your blender.

Blend, adding chunks of zucchini until you get the right consistency.  I.e. Creamy and amazing.

Spicy Raw Vegan Jackfruit Sliders with Creamy Coleslaw

Spicy Raw Vegan Jackfruit Sliders with Creamy Coleslaw
Portobello Slider Buns:


  • 2 portobello mushrooms for each hungry mouth
  • a few dashes of aminos of choice (I used raw coconut)
  • a few dashes of liquid smoke (optional)
  • a few turns of fresh cracked pepper
  • a dusting of garlic powder


Remove the stems, peel and douse each mushroom with the aminos, liquid smoke and spices.  Use a basting brush to work the mixture into the gills.

Place in the dehydrator (Click here for my choice of dehydrator) on 110° until tender but still dry on the outside.   In the meantime prepare the Jackfruit BBQ.

Portobello Slider Buns
Jackfruit BBQ

This recipe was heavily inspired by my dear friend Marina.  Here is a link to the original.  


  • 5 dates
  • 1 mango, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme
  • 1 garlic clove, sliced
  • few slices of sweet onion (to taste) – optional
  • 8 grape tomatoes
  • 1 tablesoon of apple cider vinegar or a few squeezes of lemon.
  • handful of washed cilantro leaves
  • 1 – 1 1/2 teaspoons Smoked Paprika
  • a few dashes of liquid smoke
  • 3- 4 cups fresh jackfruit


Blend all ingredients in a blender (I used a Vitamix) except the jackfuit until smooth.

Add the Jackfruit into the blender and pulse until roughly the consistency of Pulled pork.

Dehydrate along with the slider buns or until warm.

Creamy  raw vegan coleslaw:


  • 1/2 small purple cabbage
  • 1/2 small green cabbage
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1/2 medium red onion
  • Acid to taste/1-2 tablespoons (apple cider vinegar, coconut vinegar, lemon etc.)
  • Sweetener to taste/1-2 tablespoons (date syrup, maple syrup, agave, etc.)
  • Salt to taste/1-2 teaspoons
  • 1 cup or more Cashew Mayo (recipe below)


Chop cabbage into manageable pieces and either shred or wet chop in the vitamix.  Click here for a video on this method.

Shred and slice the carrot and red onion (I also use the wet chop method for this).

Place the whole mixture into a nut milk bag, cheesecloth or other mesh bag, as pictured below, and squeeze all of the water out.  Alternately you can use a strainer.

Now make the Slaw!

Mix the slaw ingredients together in a large mixing bowl adjusting the Acid, Sweetener and Salt until you get the taste just right.


Putting it all together…

Place your slider bun, heft a massive scoop of Jackfruit BBQ, douse it in Slaw and top with the other lonely slider bun.

Grab a bath towel and dig in!

*Cashew Mayo: 

I double the batch so I have plenty as well as some left over for Raw Vegan BLTs 🙂


  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1 teaspoon Lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt of choice
  • 1/2 small clove of garlic or 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder


Blend till smooth adding a little water if too thick.




Creamy Low Fat Mango Pepper Tahini Sauce

Mango pepper tahini sauce

Rich and Creamy Mango Pepper Tahini Sauce

This is creamy low fat mango pepper tahini sauce one of the most versatile and simple recipes to date.  Use as is for a sauce to blanket zucchini noodles or a macro bowl, use it as a dip for veggies or thin it out with a little water or fruit juice and use as a dressing.  Make it spicy or mild! uIt is as much like a blank canvas as Zucchini Noodles.

 Recently my son took me out to brunch and I stuffed this sauce along with some Salsa Fresca and a little Ghost pepper sauce into a jelly jar and took it to Ruby Tuesday’s for the salad bar and ate like a pig!
You can use fresh or frozen mango for this recipe depending on your preference.  If you have no coconut aminos and have to use another amino such as Bragg’s be sure to adjust the amount to allow for salt content.
Jade Rochelle Tornquist of The Rawsome Truth on Youtube and creator of the 25,000 member strong Raw Vegan Fruitarians 4 life facebook group not only approved she recreated it herself!
I hope you enjoy!
Serving Sizes:
Zucchini Pasta:
2 large bowls or 1 massive bowl
2-4 large salads
8-12 1/4 cup size cups
  • 1 mango
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup coconut aminos
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup raw unhulled sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon sweetener of choice or 2-3 dates
  • Juice of 1/2 of an orange (optional)
Add all to your Vitamix and blend until smooth and creamy. Pour over zucchini noodles, carrot noodles or your choice of veggies.

Raw Vegan Smoked Tomato Bisque

Rich and Colorful ~ Raw Vegan Smoked Tomato Bisque

This creation was one of those kinds that takes shape slowly, born of outside influences and developed into something rich and satisfying while being low in fat.

I’d say it began when my friend Stefanie Weiss posted a recipe for Raw Vegan Mushroom Taco Meat.  She recommended soaking sun dried tomatoes in fresh squeezed orange juice which imparts a sweet and sour acidic note that added well to the recipe.

Another inspiration came while shopping for store bought sun dried tomatoes as I hadn’t been able to replenish my supply of home made (Click here to learn how to make your own).  I came across a smoked variety, to which a friend who had accompanied me exclaimed that those were the only ones his wife will eat.

That is when the recipe took shape in an instant!  It would be Italian inspired with pine nuts, garlic and fresh cracked pepper.  It would be smoky, sweet and rich with all the right savory moves.  And it all began with a bomb…

I came up with the concept shortly after I became vegan and came across the concept of the water saute, which consequently led to low fat, then to the High Carb Low Fat way of eating, culminating in my current state of raw.   Why use just water or broth?  I mean why not add garlic, wine (if you so chose), spices, juices…. You get the picture.  So the flavor bomb was born and to this day it is my favorite way of preparing ingredients for a dish, especially when soaking is involved.

So I bring you my Smoked Tomato Bisque.  May is satisfy your soul 🙂

Serves one starving or two hungry vegans:

For the Flavor Bomb (prepare ahead):

  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup smoked sun dried tomatoes
  • 3-4 Medjool Dates
  • fresh squeezed orange juice to cover sun dried tomatoes
  • 1-2 Tablespoons Coconut Aminos
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • a few turns of cracked pepper

Add all of the ingredients into an appropriately sized container and cover with orange juice.  Let soak for at least 30 min though longer is better.

Be sure to chose ripe Heirloom Tomatoes for added depth of flavor.

Soup Ingredients:

  • 4 pints of cherry tomatoes
  • 1 large heirloom tomato
  • 1 stalk of celery cut into fourths
  • 1/4 cup of pine nuts
  • 1-3 scallions depending upon size
  • fresh basil to taste


Begin by adding 3 of the four pints of cherry tomatoes and the flavor bomb into a high speed blender such as a Vitamix, reserving the basil and the remaining pint of cherry tomatoes.

Blend on high until warm and creamy.

Add reserved pint of cherry tomatoes and basil, pulsing until chunky taking care not to over blend.  You want some texture.

Serve with Raw crackers or leaves of romaine.


Tear Free Raw Vegan Sushi

Tear Free Raw Vegan Sushi

Ahhhh Sushi!  It’s one of those foods that once you get the flavor wedged in your mouth the mere utterance of the word emits tears of joy from your mouth.  If it was never your thing then you just don’t get it but for those on the path to Raw Veganism you know just what I’m talking about.

Now this tear free version is not just for Raw Vegans, Nay Nay!  Anyone who has tried to approach the technique has shed at least one tear.  The rice too thick and pastey, the veggies to long or short, rolls too fat, too skinny…. Agh!  I get all twitchy thinking about it!

That was until my buddy Justin Lee put me on track.  Perusing my newsfeed I came across this.


And in my world the Tearless Sushi Roll was born.  It was genius!  Pick your ingredients, mix them in a bowl with some veggie rice and Pick it, Pack it, Roll it, slice it, Nosh it!

All of these ingredients are totally optional, this is what I used and it was out of this world!

For the filling:

  • 3/4 of a medium head of Cauliflower
  • 1 large Florida or 2 California Avocados (The Florida Variety is lower in fat)
  • 1 large or two smaller mangos
  • 1 large cucumber
  • 2 bell peppers
  • 2 Tablespoons of Nutritional Yeast (optional)
  • 1 Tablespoon of Chia Seeds (helps bind it all together)
  • 1-2 Tablespoons of Dulse flakes to taste

For Rolling:

  • Untoasted nori (if you aren’t a stickler you can just use roasted nori)

Fat Free Asian Dipping Sauce

1/4 cup your choice of Aminos or Namah Shoyu 
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar or Coconut Vinegar to taste
1/4 cup water
1-2 tablespoons grated ginger root
1-2 cloves of Garlic minced into a paste or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder (optional)
1 tablespoon agave nectar, maple syrup, date sauce or sweetener of choice. 
Chili Powder, or crushed red chilies to taste (optional)
Mix all ingredients together in a jar with a screw top lid and shake well.

Preparing the filling

Rice:  The method I use is the wet chop method in my Vitamix.  You simply, break up the head into roughly uniform florets, plop them in your blender and fill with water until they float.  Set the speed to max and pulse, check, pulse, check until you get the rice consistency.

Dice the rest of the veggies up into uniform shapes and toss it all together.

Now the next part can be a bit tricky though you can simply place a line of filling in and roll it up much like…a…uh…joint, cigarette, you get the picture.   But if you want to roll it like the pros grab a sushi mat and watch this video by Russell James – The Raw Chef.

I placed a nice healthy row of the filling about an inch from the edge.

Now this is where the no tears part comes along.  This is where I would lose it.  The rice would fall everywhere, filling ingredients dropping out of the end, sticking to mat, my blood pressure would rise, I’d re evaluate just whether or not I would ever be able to smile again.  But this time all I did was roll it up tight until I had approximately 9 rolls!

Slice and serve with the Raw Fat Free Asian Dipping Sauce and slip away into Sushi Fantasyland.

Raw Vegan Magic Mushroom Pasta Marinara

This is one of those recipes that changes everything, for me at least.  It’s a Frankenstein of the many I’ve come across on-line combined with my incessant tweaking and meddling  The marinaded mushrooms combined with the sweet marinara sauce both look and taste like magic settled on that bed of zucchini noodles, thereby the name.  This recipe is pretty simple with a minimum of additives that are of course optional such as Nutritional Yeast and Amino Acids and the end result is satisfying and decadent despite the low fat nature.  Enjoy!
Magic Marinated Mushrooms
  • 1 pound mushrooms of choice (I used two large portobello and 4 ounces of Crimini)
  • 1-2 Tablespoons of acid (I used Balsamic Vinegar but you could use lemon or lime juice, orange juice Coconut Vinegar, etc)
  • A few dashes of amino acids of choice
  • 1/2 teaspoon each
    • basil
    • oregano
    • thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
Toss all together in an appropriate size bowl and dehydrate at 120° for 1-2 hours or until everything else is ready.  You could just marinade them if you do not own a dehydrator.  Thinking about getting one?  Click here before you buy to read what I chose and why.
Marinara sauce
  • 3-4 tablespoons of Nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 clove of garlic or 1 tsp Garlic powder
  • 2-3 green onions
  • 5 dates
  • 2 pints of cherry tomatoes
    • 1/4 to 1/3 cup Sun Dried tomatoes (Click here to find out how to make your own)
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp amino acids of choice or salt of choice
  • 1/2 teaspoon each
    • basil
    • oregano
    • thyme
Toss in your Vitamix or other high speed blender and blend until thick and warm.
Ladle sauce onto a bed of zucchini pasta and top with the magic mushrooms and devour!

The Ultimate Raw Vegan Dehydrator

The search for the Ultimate Raw Vegan Dehydrator.

 This was my Search.

 This is what I found.

This is what I ultimately purchased. 

Here I was 15 days into a 21 day fully raw challenge when it hit.  It was bad too.  That kind of craving that crawls up from your belly.  With teeth.  It sinks in and takes hold.  Pizza. Wait more like PIIIIIIIZAAAAAAAAA.  If I recall I was actually sweating.

I had not long before satiated my craving for Vegetarian pizza with the finding of various vegan cheeses, both store bought and homemade.  But THIS was different!  Raw Vegan Pizza?  Impossible!

To the google!  And that was where I found her.  A recipe.  Not the one I would ultimately make but it was a recipe nonetheless.  Halfway through is where I found it.  6-8 hours at 115 degrees in the dehydrator.

Thus began my search.  I had first purchased an old Canadian model that I found on Craigslist.  After a search I found the keyword “Workhorse” applied to it and it was only 70 dollars so I bought it.  It was loud, heated my whole first floor and had hotspots, but it worked.  I made Sun dried tomatoes in it and was hooked!

But as the realization that this lifestyle was for me set in, so did the determination that this dehydrator was to replace my oven and long ago I found that your creations are oftentimes driven by the quality of your tools.

A few days of intense research ensued and after much deliberation I not only found the perfect one, but at an affordable price.  After All this was to be what i had to use for years to come, so it was an important decision to me.

Let me run through the sequence of my research which led to the ultimate decision.

 Excalibur 3900B 9 Tray Deluxe Dehydrator

 One of the most popular to be found on Amazon and at an affordable price for an “oven”.  Here is the thing though.  Not too long ago this model came with a starting temperature of 85° but thanks to the use of dehydrators to dry the flesh of previously free and living animals they now begin at 105°.  Oh well I thought!  I will be using the dehydrator at 115° most of the time.  Luckily I came across this little video here.

The analog models have a fluctuation of as much as 10-13 degrees at the lower setting.  This would mean that I’m pretty much locked into a potential maximum temperature on the minimum setting so no go on this one.  This brought me to my next choice…

Tribest Sedona Classic

This really got my hopes up.  It had all of the things going for it.  It was designed for the Raw Foodist in mind, it had a dual timer feature and it looked sturdy.  You could imagine my disappointment when I came across two things.

First was the price.  I had intended on investing in one that I would have a long time, it was to replace my oven after all, but I was and still am in the process of building my Tiny House Empire.  Plus if I was going to invest this kind of Cabbage (get it?  Cabbage?  Raw Vegan xD) it would have to have an immaculate track record.  Which brings me to my second point.

It had bad reviews.  Not only on amazon but throughout the web.  It was so low temperature that at times, so said the reviewers, it tooks days to create anything.  The two zone function tended to make it ineffective for either or both zones and for the price I just couldn’t justify it.

So I decided to go back to the video review on the first one which led me to my final choice (and current love of my life, as far as dehydrators go)…

Excalibur 3948CDB 9 Tray Food Dehydrator with Digital Controller and Timer


This did it all.  It had the dual timer function I loved!  This allows you to start your creation at a higher temperature, say 135°, for the first hour and then one 118° for the duration.  This cuts way down on time*.

The temperature range began at 95° which is higher than the old analog but this one is FAR more accurate, with only a fluctuation of 1-3° so in reality it has a starting temperature lower that the analog models of old.

Plus it looked great!  I know, superficial but if you’re obsessing over something you’d like it to look sexy too!

Now the price was not too comforting, if you clicked on the link above, so I headed on over to eBay which I haven’t shopped on for forever.  To my pleasant surprise I found one refurbished at a considerably lower price!  The seller had amazing reviews and I got it in a few days to boot!

 This is the one I purchased. 

If you’ve checkout any of my recipe posts or ran across them on facebook the pictures alone are a testament to how well this amazing appliance works.  It’s quite (IMHO), efficient and has completely revolutionized my lifestyle.  No more will I be without Pizza, Cinnamon Roles, Sun dried Tomatoes, Burgers, Crackers, Corn Chips, the list goes on.  Some of These are not THE healthiest foods to be had on the Raw Vegan path, but they help you stay on track with minimal impact on your journey to optimum health.

I wish you all the best on the path and please leave a comment if I can help in any way.  Please subscribe for updates right to your inbox too!

*Though the heat emited by the dehydrator is 135° the process of evaportation that occurs keep the fruit at a much lower temperature, well below 118°.  Be warned however as the water content of the fruit greatly affects this process.