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Monday, March 26, 2012

How to Make a Simple Vegetable Stock

I have never been  to culinary school so there is probably a proper way to make stock that I don`t know about but I find this method easy and cheap. I can`t bare the thought of chopping up a bunch of good, edible veggies, boiling them all day then throwing the veggies out. It`s too wasteful. I don`t have the cash to justify that kind of action.

Instead, I keep a big ice cream container (not my ice cream, my husband would eat it a while ago so I saved the containers) in my freezer. When I chop up veggies through the week, I take the best trimmings and add them to the container. Ideal trimmings can be anything really but mine include pepper middles, herb stems, tops of leeks, mushroom stems, celery leaves etc. Be sure to wash well and don`t add anything spoiled, rotten or moldy.

When you have a good pile of veggies, add them to a stock pot with ample water and 2-3 bay leaves. I use the broken up bay leaves because you will not have to fish these out anyway so it is a good time to use them up. Bring the whole thing to a boil then turn down the heat to a simmer. Simmer until half the water has evaporated and your done. You can salt as desired or maybe use some lemon pepper instead if you are avoiding salt.

The stock works well as a soup base. Just add some veggies, water if needed, maybe a handful of sunflower seeds and a few cubes of tofu then boil a bit and your done :)

Quick and easy Breakfast Smoothie

One of my favorite and super easy recipes to make for breakfast is a Banana-Strawberry Smoothie. I like to have some protein in it so I throw in a spoonful or two of hemp seed. Hemp seed is full of high quality protein. It's one of the best sources you can get. I also add ground flax seed which has fiber and omega 3 fatty acids. I choose ground over whole seed because it is easier to absorb nutrients from the ground seed. Also, it is important to choose brown flax seed. The golden flax does not have as high a concentration of omega 3 fatty acids. For a more filling smoothie, you could add half a cup of raw, soaked cashews which will also make the smoothie seem creamier.

To make the smoothie, blend...
1 cup frozen strawberries
1 banana
2 tbsp hemp seed
1 tbsp ground brown flax seed
a few ice cubes

My Super Health Week: Day 1

My Super Health Week was a success in many respects but a failure in the sense that I could not find the time to actually post anything I was doing. I'm still figuring out where to find time with my little one in constant need of attention. He doesn't sleep very much during the day anymore so I have taken to doing multiple tasks with him in a sling. It's perfect, I get to actually clean and set up the apartment and the running around actually tires him out so he'll have a nap in the afternoon. As I have been quite tired I have not been utilizing the night hours as well as I could have been. I am going to make an effort to have the apartment tidyish before I go to bed every night. We'll see how long that goes for.

Back to Super Health Week...
Day 1

I started the morning off with a smoothie called "The Charmer and the Kale" from The Raw Food Cleanse by Penni Shelton. I tend to use a lot of recipes from this book as they are very high in fruits and veggies and my husband seems to like them. This smoothie is made by blending the following...

a handful of kale
some pineapple
1 apple
ice and water

Her recipe is more specific but I really don't measure when it comes to smoothies. The morning is too early for measuring.

I'm not going to record what I ate for lunch every day because it is not interesting. Generally I ate leftovers from the night before or fixed a simple salad with some toasted, homemade bread.

For dinner on Day 1 we had a delicious carrot soup from beautiful vegan. The recipe is raw but I brought it to a quick boil to make the onion a little less strong. I added flax oil because I need to eat more flax oil. And that's day 1, now on to Day 2...

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Super Health Week Continues

I am typing on a PlayBook and I am not great at it so hopefully I don't make a bunch of mistakes. Yesterday I began the day with a kale strawberry smoothie. It sounds weird but it tastes pretty good.  Unfortunately the recipe I used made 4 cups so I was drinking it all day. At lunch I had more hummus on some whole wheat bread with a few papadoms. Super had an unexpected addition. My husband had some dough rising in the oven which I  forgot about when I preheated the oven. So we had some bread to go along with our salad and stuffed mushrooms. The bread turned out surprisingly good so it was a happy mistake. I am making some more tonight. I'll post the recipes when I am not busy with baby. 

Healthy Reset Week

Fourth Floor Homestead has recently moved onto the eighth floor of a high rise building in a brand new, more urban neighborhood. As a result of this, all of my time has been devoted to moving and cleaning as well as taking care of baby. Healthy eating has not been the priority it should be for the last month. For this reason I have decided to pour some energy into developing an extra healthy meal plan for the week ahead.

The recipes I am including are all high in vegetables and low in processed goods and sugars. Though this is not a detox I will still try to drink lots of water as I have been finding it difficult to stay hydrated. Breast feeding takes a lot of liquid out of you and I don't like the taste of the water here. I am back to buying water unfortunately but I try to buy as big of a container as possible so as to not add water bottles to landfills.

I have been relying on fried foods and sugars to keep my calories up but this reset will force me to find a healthier way of doing that. Perhaps increasing the serving size will suffice, I'll have to experiment a bit. I made a large batch of hummus to snack on through out the day and intend to make lots of snacks. I hope to post the recipes here as I go. Hopefully I'll have the time to do it :)

The hummus recipe I used will be in it's own post. For supper tonight we had this Spicy Raw Vegan Carrot Soup from Beautiful Vegan and toast with hummus. I made the recipe with a few changes, most notably I cooked it. I was hoping to eat it raw but I am an onion wimp and the soup was too spicy for my so I mellowed it with a couple minutes on the stove. The consistency remained the same so the soup didn't cook too much. I sprinkled on some flax oil, paprika, sunflower seeds and cilantro to garnish. I quite enjoyed the soup and would make it again.

Easy Hummus

Hummus is such a blank slate. It's easy to make and there is so much you can do with it. Chickpeas are healthy and a great source of protein so it's a good idea to add them to your diet when you can. This week I experimented with herbs and garlic. I'm going to try to make up a new hummus every week for a while. I am happy with the result so here is the recipe.

1 cup dried chickpeas
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp dry oregano
pinch of tarragon
salt and pepper

a few basil leaves
a small bunch of cilantro

1. Cook the chickpeas in a slow cooker until tender in about 4 cups of water. This takes a few hours. Drain the peas and add them to a food processor with all the other ingredients except the fresh herbs.
2. Blend until creamy. Add herbs and blend until well mixed. Enjoy!