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.