As Danielle mentioned, I’m in school studying Dietetics. My curriculum includes food science, biochemistry, and medical nutrition therapy for different disease states; in general, how our bodies process nutrients. Though I continue to eat for flavor and pleasure, it’s hard not to start thinking about food in terms of nutrients…proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. It can be daunting to make food choices based solely on the needs of our bodies, but there is a pretty fool proof way to make sure that you get everything you need. Whole foods. No, not the store.
I still go out for a cheeseburger and fries. I still grab an ice cream cone in the summer (or last Thursday). I still buy a bag of tortilla chips and shredded cheese every couple months and live off of nachos for a week. There’s no reason to give up your favorite indulgences, but only if you continue to treat them as such and remember that food is more than just delicious…it’s our fuel and it’s our medicine.
The reason I love Danielle’s recipes is because she makes them using real ingredients. Her brownie mix doesn’t come from a box. Her soups aren’t from a can. Her veggies are fresh and in season, and at the peak of their flavor and nutritional value. This is how we should all eat in order to truly appreciate our food and to ensure proper nourishment of our bodies. And that doesn’t mean we have to get all fancy in the kitchen.
I am a proponent of buying quality whole foods even if they have a higher price tag. That being said, I actually don’t spend a lot on food because I make an effort to buy direct from farmers markets when I can, and more importantly I don’t like to pay for my food twice. What do I mean by that? I mean that I try to stretch the food I buy as much as possible and try to let as little food as possible go to waste. In some cases I even eat it twice. (HUH??)
Let’s talk about veggies. Veggies make their way into almost all of my meals, whether they’re added to soups, stews, chilies, quesadillas, stir-fries, or on the side of a protein. That leads to a lot of left-over bits such as skins, peels, stems, leaves, what have you. I paid for that onion skin so darn it, I use it!
I freeze my veggie scraps (as well as forgotten whole veggies that might be getting a little soft) in a gallon-sized freezer bag until it fills up (which in my house is ridiculously fast).
Dump ‘em all into a soup pot, cover with water and add some thyme, a bay leaf and a few peppercorns, simmer for about 60-90 minutes, strain and viola…vegetable stock.
(Why pay $4.99 for a carton when I already paid for the veggies once, right? Also, I like to know what’s in my stock…no high fructose corn syrup or tablespoons of sodium for me!)
I use veggie stock more than the average bear too, I think. It’s the base for all of my soups and stews, and I use it to add flavor to my grains, such as brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat groats and pasta. I usually freeze my batch in a variety of sizes; 2 cup servings in freezer bags which lay flat and take up little room, 1 cup servings in freezer jars and a couple ice cube trays full for even smaller servings (1 standard sized ice cube is about 1/8 cup.)
I also use some of these leftover veggies to make chicken stock for when I get 3 or 4 chicken carcasses (still not used to that word), which takes quite a bit more time to collect since I only bake a chicken once every few months. I use the same technique as above (adding in the roasted chicken bones and skin, of course), but increase the cooking time to several hours, skimming the fat off the top periodically. I then let it cool in the fridge overnight and skim the fat off once more. The chicken stock has a more gelatinous consistency because of the bone marrow, so I warm it up slightly to liquefy it, and then freeze in individual servings (see above). I’m looking forward to making a boat load of turkey stock after Thanksgiving this year!