How do you live to be a 103, look like you’re 75 and still have your wits about you? I want to know. So I’ve been asking the only person I know who fits this description. She is a feisty 103-year-old woman who happens to reside where I work, in a rehab hospital. She looks to be about 75. She puts on a suit every day. She does her hair and make-up. And she is very boisterous when she wants something.

While this feisty 103 year old was sitting in the hall asking to be put to bed, I was speaking with one of our visiting physician’s and I said, “Can you believe she is 103?” I went on to say that we are always trying to find out this 103 year old’s secret to longevity but she never really tells us what she’s done to live so long. I thought perhaps it was her diet, of course, but she doesn’t seem to have any sort of discerning palate. She eats a little bit of whatever is put in front of her. Then I thought that perhaps it was what she did for a living or with whom she spent her life. But I learned that she worked in a dress shop, hence her need to look good every day. She was married twice, although her first husband was abusive, she adored her second husband, but he died 25 years ago.

The doctor listened as the 103-year-old patient loudly exclaimed that she wanted to go to bed even though it was the middle of the day, even though she would have to get up again to eat. She didn’t care. Then the doctor said, “Well, she certainly makes her needs known.” I thought for a second and then said, “You are so right. I think that’s the key; making your needs known.”

With the new year here, and a new decade as well, this is the perfect time for reflecting on life. Whether it’s your own life or someone else’s, most of us think about what we have done in the past and what we want to accomplish in the future. A new year is a new beginning, for all of us.

Of course many people make the typical new year’s resolutions to change something: lose weight, get in shape, reduce debt, find a new job or perhaps even find love. Whatever you resolve to do this year, make your needs known. Don’t hold back. Put it out there. Be boisterous and someone will answer your prayers.

My resolution is to get, Eat2Liv with Elizabeth, my fun and educational, health-focused cooking show, on national television. One of the show’s goals, aside from teaching viewers healthy cooking techniques and educating them about nutrition, is to prove that healthy eating can be very cost effective.

Although I love Whole Foods in Venice, I sometimes venture next door to the 99 cent store where they have bagged organic spinach and large boxes of mixed salad greens for only one dollar. You would pay five times as much at other stores. You can also get bags of potatoes, even sweet potatoes for a dollar as well as 2-pound bags of carrots, bunches of celery, bags of pears, onions and packs of cucumbers, all for one dollar each. I also bought some bags of dried garbanzo beans and lentils (always inexpensive nutritious choices) before completing my shopping trip at Whole Foods where I bought natural peanut butter and organic canned tomatoes. For some things, I will pay a little more.

Yet, even with a mix of frugal foods dispersed with some finer foods, I was able to create a hearty meal for under $1.50. My inspiration came from some of my favorite African inspired dishes and the fact that nearly half the people in Africa live on as little as $1.25 per day.

If you’re going to live to be 103 you better learn how to stretch a buck, right?

By the way, I told my coworkers my theory about longevity and they all scoffed at me stating, “Sex is the key to longevity!” But there again, they were simply making their needs known; like food, water, sleep and air, sex is a basic physiological need, according to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

Try these cost-conscious, fat-reducing recipes chock full of nutrients you also need to thrive, and you are sure to get whatever it is you truly want out of your long life.

Elizabeth is a registered dietitian and certified holistic chef who wants to help people live long and vital lives without going broke. To learn more, please visit her website:

African bean soup

Makes 12 (1 cup) servings — 54 cents each.

1/2 cup water

1 Tbs. soy sauce

1 onion, chopped

2 small sweet potatoes, peeled & diced (2 cups)

2 large carrots, cut into half moons

2 celery stalk, thinly sliced

1/2 red bell pepper, diced

1 (28oz.) can crushed tomatoes

4 cups water

1 1/2 cups cooked (1 -15oz. can garbanzo beans)

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

3 Tbs. peanut butter

1/3 cup water

2 tsp. curry powder

Heat 1/2 cup water and soy sauce in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and sweet potatoes. Cook five minutes. Add carrot, celery and pepper. Cover and cook five more minutes stirring occasionally. Stir in tomatoes, four cups water, garbanzo beans and cilantro. Blend peanut butter with 1/3 cup water and curry powder. Add to soup. Cover and simmer 10 minutes.

Peanut butter dressing

Makes eight servings (2 Tbs. each) — 21 cents.

6 Tablespoons peanut butter

Juice of 1 lemon, 2 Tbs.

1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon chili powder

Dash sea salt & pepper

1 cup water

In a bowl, combine all ingredients. Add water gradually to reach pouring consistency.

Ethiopian lentils

Makes six (1 cup) servings — 38 cents.

1 pound dry lentils

6 cups water

1/2 red pepper

1/2 cup (4 oz) green chilies

1 yellow onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Bring lentils and water to a boil. Reduce to medium low. Simmer 10 minutes. Add rest of the ingredients, cover and cook another 30 minutes or until liquid has absorbed.

Serve soup & lentils with two cups mixed salad greens topped with Peanut Butter Dressing.

Total Cost: $1.47: 438 calories, 62g carbs, 22g fiber, 25g protein, 10g fat. Rich in vitamin A carotenoids, vitamin C, folate, manganese, iron, potassium, phosphorus, niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, B6, magnesium, copper, zinc, iron, calcium, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B6, selenium and copper.

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