Thursday, July 23, 2015

Homemade Vegetable Stock

    Malissa and I love preparing food that requires vegetable stock.  We think it adds a depth to the flavor that would otherwise be lacking.  The problem we found, however, is that many vegetable stocks have MSG's or other bad ingredients in them.  We also realized that we have a ton of food scraps while cooking that usually go to waste.  Solution: we discovered how to make our own vegetable stock with no MSG's that would allow us to put our food waste to a good purpose!

Health Benefits:  With regards to nutrition, this is more about subtracting bad things than adding good things into your diet.  Most stocks have a base involving animal products, which come complete with a huge amount of sodium, and some saturated fat, which increase your chances of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart disease.  Even the vegetable based stocks at the store usually have high levels of sodium and some unhealthy or unnatural ingredients.  You can avoid all of these things by making your own stock, lowering the amount of bad sodium and saturated fats you consume with each meal.

Homemade Vegetable Stock

4-6 cups scraps, frozen 
1 bay leaf
black pepper (or for a better taste, you black peppercorns)
Salt, to taste

Add all ingredients to a 5 quart pot. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer one hour.  Let cool until lukewarm, strain and discard (or compost) the solids, and pour stock into clean jars, leaving a half-inch of head space. Refrigerate or freeze to store.
Super easy, sustainable, healthy, and delicious!  Enjoy!

Here is a list of everything you can  use to make your stock.  Instead of throwing these things away while you cook, stick them in a gallon bag and freeze them.

NOTE:  You can use anything on any of these vegetables, including skins, stems, peels, etc.
mushrooms, onion, leek, garlic, green onion, carrot, celery, peppers, asparagus, broccoli, zucchini, Stems of herbs

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Sweet Potato Kale Salad

A couple weeks ago, Malissa and I were in the mood for something fresh.  A quick internet search on some of our favorite sites brought Malissa to this recipe, and after some simple modifications to make it simpler and vegan friendly, voila!  We had a new favorite side!  This salad has a sweet and tangy flavor, with a hardy taste and texture thrown in thanks to the sweet potatoes.  A definite favorite salad in our home, and an instant winner for any potluck!

HEALTH BENEFITS:  The combination of kale and sweet potatoes makes a powerful punch of vitamin A (the whole salad has around 1000% your daily need!) which is necessary for good bone growth and is a huge immune system booster!  This salad should be in your arsenal anytime someone is experiencing an illness.  Also loaded with potassium to help build stronger muscles, vitamin C to boost immune system more, and lots of fiber.

Sweet Potato Kale Salad
(Original Recipe by Real Simple, modified)
2 Sweet Potatoes cut into 1/2" cubes
6 Tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 Tablespoons Dijon Mustard
2 bunches of Kale
1 Pink Lady, Fuji or other sweet apple, thinly sliced
1/4 cup roasted almonds

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Toss sweet potatoes in 2 Tablespoons of oil until coated.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Bake for 18-20 minutes until tender, tossing them halfway through.
In a large bowl, whisk the lemon juice, mustard, salt, pepper, and remaining oil. 
Add kale and rub leaves with mixture to coat and soften leaves.  Add apple slices, almonds, and sweet potatoes and toss together.

Monday, August 11, 2014

My conversion to healthy eating: A Plant Story

2009 as a missionary

I have always been a lover of food.  Have you ever heard the expression, “eat to live or live to eat?”  I have always been on the “live to eat” side.  Unfortunately, when I was younger, living to eat meant eating extremely unhealthy.   Some people say they eat unhealthy, but I REALLY ate unhealthy.  Let me give you an example.  A common snack (not my lunch or dinner, a mid-afternoon snack) would be two frozen chimichangas, fried a second time in butter, topped with two eggs, fried in the chimichanga grease, and smothered in melted cheese...then dinner came a couple hours later.

…like I said…unhealthy…

            So how did I change from gorging myself on all the fake, processed foods I could get my hands on, to being vegan, living a plant-based lifestyle, and juicing or making green smoothies every day? 
When I was 19, I was serving as an LDS missionary and was suffering from many health issues.  I had chronic headaches, stomach problems, and was gaining weight incredibly quickly.  I was also getting colds almost monthly as well.
Doctors didn’t help much.  Every issue I would present to them would be met with a pill.  Without any alternative education, I would take these pills, thinking; “If I take this magic pill, all my problems will disappear...right?”  Unfortunately, that’s not how it worked.  The pills only made things worse.
Finally, after nearly two years of suffering, one doctor examined me and simply said, “you should cut down a bit on red meat.”  In two years, this was the first time any physician had given me ANY kind of dietary advice.  I decided to cut out all red meat and see what happened.  After only a few days, I could feel a noticeable difference!  I was still very sick, but I had a little bit more energy, and the headaches were slightly less severe.  During this time, I remember thinking to myself,

hmm…perhaps the food I eat affects my health!

             After seeing positive results from cutting out red meat, I determined that perhaps I would have even better results if I cut out all meat!  When people invited us over for dinner, I would eat the meat they served, and would occasionally eat some lean meat on my own, but ultimately, I became vegetarian.  This decision not only again increased my energy, and decreased the intensity of my headaches, but it also made me feel happier and more focused!  It was easier for me to study the scriptures in the morning, and I felt like a fog lifted from my brain (a fog I didn’t even know was there!).
When I finished serving as a missionary, I returned home determined to discover how I can live the healthiest lifestyle.  While searching, my mother introduced me to the book “The China Study,” a book all about a “Whole-foods plant based diet.”  Before I was halfway through it, I adopted the whole-foods plant-based diet for myself.  Over the next six weeks, my headaches and stomach issues went completely away.  I no longer needed any pills and lost 36 pounds!  I remember getting on the scale some mornings and worrying that I was going to wither away to nothing with how fast I was losing weight!

March 2014 on a Cruise with my family

"Just pills and bills...well not anymore!"

Ironically, at the same time, I was taking a nutrition class in college, and after I had lost all 36 pounds, we took a BMI (body mass index) test, and mine was perfect!  I had lost every excess pound I had on my body, and had reached my genetically perfect weight.
It has been over four years since I changed my eating lifestyle.  I don’t get headaches, I don’t have stomach issues, I don’t get colds, and I don’t need pills.  I also haven't gained or lost a pound since I hit the weight I'm at right now.  

Before I began eating this way, I was always someone who “lives to eat.”  I am so happy to be able to say that I have never changed to someone who “eats to live."  I have been, and always will be, a lover of food!  I still “live to eat,” and thanks to my conversion to eating healthy, I am going to live a long time while doing it!

 "Eating Healthy is extremely important, but never forget that the healthiest thing you can do is be kind."
                                                           -Jacob Moench

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Savory Tomato Gnocchi

The recipe we made tonight was a spur of the moment creation that turned into a masterpiece!  With very little food and a great desire to refrain from shopping, Malissa and I desperately looked through our cupboards for something to eat.  After finding a box of potato gnocchi, we devised a plan.  Who would have guessed that ten minutes later, we would have created one of our new favorite dishes!  This meal is delicious, reminding us of pizza in a bowl (except this is healthy).  To top things off, the total cook time is only 6-8 minutes.
Savory Tomato Gnocchi

1 pound (450g) potato gnocchi
1 Green pepper, chopped
4 Tomatoes, Chopped
1/2 Cup Olives, sliced
4 Tablespoons Olive juice (from the can of olives) 
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil (or 2 Tablespoons dried)

Cook Gnocchi in boiling water 4-5 minutes or until the Gnocchi floats to the top when stirred.  Rinse and set aside.
In a saucepan, heat oil over medium heat.  Add peppers, saute one minute.  Add tomatoes, saute 1-2 minutes more.  Add the gnocchi and all remaining ingredients into saucepan and saute for 1-2 minutes.  Easy enough!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

10 Minute Artichokes and Dip


A Wild Rice Pilaf Makes an Excellent Side for These Artichokes

    Growing up, artichokes in our home were a delicacy.  Because they were so rare, I always assumed that they were either very expensive or very difficult to make.  I was wrong.  Artichokes are very inexpensive (around $1.50-$3.00 each) and easy to make.  The total amount of time you'll take on making the artichokes and the dip is 10 minutes!  They are incredibly healthy and delicious as well.

Artichokes and Dip 

2 Artichokes, stems and tops removed
1/4 Cup vegenaise (can be found in most grocery stores)
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon dill weed
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Salt, to taste

    Place artichokes in pressure cooker with water just up to to the bottom of the steam rack.  Seal pressure cooker and cook on high.  Once it starts pressure cooking, turn heat down just a few degrees and cook for 9 minutes.  Take pressure cooker off heat and hold under cold running water until it can be released.

  For the dip:  Mix all ingredients together in a small container, adjust seasoning and mustard to taste.

*Note: to make the artichokes have a rich, smoky flavor, try putting a small amount of liquid smoke and onion powder in the pressure cooker water.

That's it! Super simple!  

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Quick, Healthy, Wild Rice Pilaf

    Like many of you, Malissa and I celebrate Thanksgiving at our parents home surrounded by our family.  We estimated that there will be close to 30 people at this feast!  That many mouths will generally also include many different diets, allergies, and food restrictions, so, for this thanksgiving feast, we decided we wanted to bring a side that would be hardy, substantial, and one that the whole family could enjoy!  This wild-rice pilaf is Vegan, organic, nut free, gluten-free, and delicious!

Wild Rice Pilaf
1-2 Tablespoons Olive oil 
1 Small onion, diced  
2/3 Cup mushrooms, sliced 
2 Cloves garlic, minced  
1/4 Cup celery, chopped 
1/4 Cup fresh parsley, chopped  
1 teaspoon dried sage, 
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried rosemary 
2 cups wild rice (for a unique taste and texture, you can mix brown rice in with it)  
3 1/2 cups water or gluten-free vegetable broth
In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add onion and cook until soft.  Add mushrooms, garlic and celery and cook 5 minutes or until mushrooms are cooked.  Stir in parsley, sage, thyme, rosemary. Add rice and stock or water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 50 minutes or until rice is tender.  Fluff with a fork before serving.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Easy Homemade Crockpot Applesauce

     Growing up, it was always a treat when I was at school, opened my lunch, and saw a small cup of applesauce from my mom!  The applesauce was always delicious, however, looking back and thinking of the added preservatives and sugar I was consuming de-romanticizes my elementary school days a bit.  Fortunately, after getting 22 pounds of apples, and scrambling to figure out what to do with them, Malissa and I discovered how to make delicious applesauce with no preservatives, and no artificial ingredients!  Now I can re-live my childhood memories without re-living the chemicals!

...OH! And it's SUPER EASY!...

Crockpot Applesauce

12 Apples, peeled and sliced into cubes (we used Fuji, which were really good!)
1-2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 Cups water
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 Tablespoon sweetener (optional)

Combine all ingredients in the crockpot, cook for 6 hours on low setting, stir and mash occasionally.