Category Archives: Nutrition

More on Preserving…

March 20, 2013

Eating food fresh out of the garden is best because the longer food is out of the ground, you are getting less and less nutrients from it. Second to eating out of the ground is freezing, as it preserves all of the nutrients and freshness. Third is dehydrating. Dehydrating keeps 95% of the food’s nutrients. Fermenting falls somewhere along the spectrum as well but admittedly, I know nothing about fermenting so I will stay silent on the issue. The final way people save their food from the garden is by canning. I am not a fan of canning for two reasons:

1.I do not have a fancy pressure cooker.

2. Canning is PROCESSING. Tomatoes seem to be the only fruit/veg that is better when cooked (because of the licopene) but I do not can tomatoes because of point #1.All other fruits or veggies lose nutrition when they are canned – mainly because the longer you cook food, the less nutrition the food has (raw food is best).

I realize if the power goes out for days, which is not unlikely during hurricane season around here, those who can have no worries while those who freeze (me) are sweating a bit. However, I would rather have the possibility of losing part of a harvest every once in a while to definitely losing nutrients every time I eat my harvest out of season. One day, I hope to have a dehydrator, which could take care of both issues for a lot of food πŸ™‚

Here are some more tips for freezing for those of you who are interested. I have talked about the nestling method I use to freeze beans, coleslaw, pumpkin puree, smoothies, etc. Some other freezing methods:

  • TOMATOES: freeze WHOLE tomatoes – just stick in a freezer bag! When you want to use a tomato in a recipe, let it thaw enough so that the skin loosens and then it comes off so easily.
  • FRUIT: freeze on baking sheet – once frozen, put in freezer bags so you can scoop out by the handful.
  • PEPPERS & CELERY: chop, then freeze on baking sheet – once frozen put in freezer bags so you can scoop out by the handful

One tip I recently learned from Chiot’s Run is to freeze in canning jars. This way, you do not have to worry about the BPA from the plastic leeching into your food AND you can reuse the cans & lids indefinitely so it saves a lot of money as well! I have tried this with broth thus far and plan on doing it more and more as we harvest from the garden this year πŸ™‚

What other ways have you found to preserve your harvests? Any other freezing tips?


Part 3 (again): A Few More Recipes…

March 15, 2013

I am continuing my series on menu planning, grocery shopping, and easy vegan/vegetarian meals…Click here and here to see parts 1 & 2. Part 3: Recipes (American), can be found here.

As this is not a ‘foodie’ blog, I’ll just post a couple more recipes and then point you to some of my favorite foodie blogs so you can go forth & be adventurous on your own πŸ™‚

Our all time favorite Italian meal is:

Stuffed Shells, Spaghetti Squash, Salad, and Creamed Kale

Stuffed Shells

  • tofu
  • 2 T EVOO
  • 1.5 t salt
  • 1 t oregano
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 10 oz frozen spinach or kale
  • 12-15 jumbo shells
  • marinara
  1. Cook jumbo shells according to package directions
  2. Drain (place hand towel on above & below & put something heavy on top) & crumble tofu into food processor
  3. Add next 4 ingredients & process until smooth/’ricotta-like’
  4. Defrost spinach (or nuke in water in microwave for 2-3 min) & press in sieve to remove excess moisture
  5. Mix spinach and tofu mixture
  6. Pour a bit of pasta sauce in 9×13 pan
  7. Stuff shells & place on top of sauce
  8. Pour more sauce on top of shells
  9. Cover pan w/tin foil
  10. Bake 30 min at 350

Give it a try! My parents are NOT vegan or vegetarian and were NOT excited about trying tofu for the first time but they really liked it πŸ™‚

Spaghetti Squash

  1. Cut in half, lengthwise
  2. Scoop out seeds
  3. Place open side down on pan
  4. Bake 30-45 min at 350
  5. Scrape ‘spaghetti’ out, place in pot, mix with sauce, & simmer while shells are cooking

Creamed Kale (recipe is on yesterday’s post)

Salad – whatever your family likes – try for more toppings, less dressing! πŸ˜€

Our favorite soup is a tie between Lentil and Minestrone. Minestrone is basically like a veggie stew with pasta. It has a basic soup base of onion, celery, seasonings, tomatoes, stock, carrots and then I add whatever I have saved from the garden the summer before: sweet potatoes, green beans Add noodles for the last 10-15 minutes. WONDERFUL during the winter! Lentil soup is your basic soup base with stock, tomatoes, and lentils. Simple yet very tasty. We love them both.

Finally, I will leave you with our favorite Mexican sides. Sometimes we eat enchilada casserole with these, sometimes quesadillas, sometimes bean burritos but these are by far our favorites side dishes:

Refried Beans

  • 4 c cooked pinto beans (my next post will cover how to do this without buying canned beans and without slaving over a hot stove all day cooking pinto beans before cooking them again…)
  • 3 T coconut oil
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 5 cloves minced garlic
  • 2.5 t cumin
  • 2 t paprika
  • 1.5 t salt
  • 1/2 t chili pwdr
  • 1/2 t black pepper
  1. Saute onion & garlic in butter
  2. Put beans in a measuring cup – add enough water until it reaches the top of the beans (but does not cover them)
  3. Stir in the rest of seasonings
  4. Simmer 15-20 minutes
  5. Puree (hand blender) and add any extra water, if needed


Hold onto your hats here, people. It’s as simple and tasty as one, two, three:

  1. avocado…mash it
  2. salsa…pour some in
  3. lime juice…squirt
  4. I lied, there’s a ‘four’…stir together! Simple. Yummy. Healthy. LOVE IT!

In my next post, I will be talking about how to save money and time by precooking some of this before hand. Look for it in the next couple of days!

The plan is that I will finish the shingles on the coop today (if I do not kill myself – yikes!) while my husband puts a door on and builds a roost. This of course will have to happen in between feedings – we’ll see how cooperative the 7mo is πŸ™‚ If he decides to cooperate, I will have a post coming soon with final(ish) pictures! It is all in the hands of the baby (isn’t it always) πŸ˜‰

P.S. Another reason this is not a foodie blog is because I do not take pictures of my food…too busy feeding little people, I guess. These pictures are not mine but I did try to find pictures that looked most like my end product so you could get an idea of what it looks like. And here are some of my favorite foodie websites, as promised:

Whole Food Mommies, Peas and Thank You, Peas and Crayons, Kiss My Broccoli

I also get a lot of good recipe ideas each week during Healthy Vegan Fridays!

Part 3: Recipes (American)

March 14, 2013

I am continuing my series on menu planning, grocery shopping, and easy vegan/vegetarian meals…Click here and here to see parts 1 & 2. Today is Part 3: Recipes (American).

We LOVE American cuisine! We love bean burgers, pot pie, baked beans, sloppy joes…
wipe off your mouth & keep reading πŸ˜‰ Today, I will share an easy meal and a more involved meal. Both are wonderful.

Easy meal: Baked Beans, sweet potatoes, broccoli, salad

Crockpot Baked Beans

  • 2lbs navy beans (soak overnight)
  • 1lg onion, chopped
  • 1/3 c. maple syrup
  • 1/3 c. ketsup
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • 2 t dry mustard/2T prepared mustard
  • 2 t Worcestershire sauce
  • 1.5+ c. water

Mix everything in the crockpot. Cook on high 5-6hrs or on low 10hrs. Stir once halfway through & add water if needed. The sauce is not as thick as baked beans you would buy in a can but that is because these do not have HFCS, so I see that as a good thing πŸ™‚

Sweet Potatoes (bake 1.5 hrs or if you don’t have that much time)

  • Chop sweet potatoes
  • place on silpat so it does not stick
  • sprinkle with cinamon
  • cover with tin foil
  • bake at 350 for 30-45 min

“Tastes like sweet potato pie” – child #2 πŸ™‚

Steamed Broccoli (we choose this specifically because it is high in calcium)

And, of course a salad! Go as crazy as you want with the salad. Please do not use iceberg lettuce, as it is the least nutritious of all lettuces/greens but other than that, top the salad with anything you want! fruit, beans, nuts, mushrooms, carrots, celery, peppers, cucumbers – whatever you & your family like πŸ™‚

Whatever is coming out of the garden is added to our meals as well – green beans, corn, tomatoes, whatever – add it in for another vegetable!

More ‘involved’ meal: Sloppy Joes, Coleslaw, Roasted Potatoes, Greens

Sloppy Joes

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 8 oz tempeh, crumbled OR 8-15 oz chickpeas, mashed
  • 2 t minced garlic
  • 1 t chili powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 2 t apple cider vinegar
  • 1 t maple syrup
  • 14 oz tomato sauce
  • 15 oz pinto beans
  1. Water saute the onion
  2. Cook tempeh 2-3 min (if using chickpeas, skip this step)
  3. add everything else & heat through (15 min on med/low heat)
  4. Place on burger buns

I used to use tempeh for a more ‘meaty’ taste but the only store that has it is 45 min from my house so, trying to save money, I decided to try mashed chickpeas (I have used this as a chicken substitute in ‘chiken salad’) and the Sloppy Joes tasted basically the same. Tempeh is also more expensive so it is a win (gas savings) – win (grocery savings) – win (taste)!

Again, does not taste as greasy (is a lot lighter-tasting) as normal Sloppy Joes but this is a good thing! I promise! πŸ˜€

Coleslaw (this is your salad)

  • cabbage (med)
  • 2 carrots
  • salt & pepper
  • mayo
  • mustard
  1. Shred cabbage and carrots (in the food processor w/the grater attachment is easiest – if you have one)
  2. Add salt & pepper
  3. Mix with your hands
  4. You will have extra – I will post soon about how I save the extra for later…i promise!
  5. Dole out how much you want, squirt & dollop with mustard & mayo (or Vegenaise)

February 22 13 - 0090-2

How simple, cheap, and healthy was that?!

Roasted Potatoes

  • chop potatoes
  • place on silpat so it does not stick
  • sprinkle with sea salt
  • cover with tin foil
  • cook at 350 for 45 minutes

Greens: Kale Chips (which I STILL have not mastered), or creamed kale is our favorite

Creamed Kale

  • Kale (pull off stems, roughly chop, steam)
  • Cashew sauce (raw cashews, water, garlic & onion powder in blender)

Steam kale & pour cream sauce over it. This is the vegan version. You could also just saute kale in a *tiny* bit of butter and sprinkle w/ground cashews or parmesan cheese. Whatever makes it palatable for you (remember – your taste buds WILL mature) – just start introducing kale whenever you can!

Those are two of our beloved American meals. I tried to be as detailed as possible – I hate being left in the dark when it comes to recipes online. I will post in the near future how I precook and save beans in order to avoid buying canned beans (for health, taste, and monetary reasons).

One more note: if you sit down for sloppy joes expecting the same sloppy joe taste as beef and canned sloppy joe sauce, you will be disappointed. Prepare yourself – these are beans, not meat. If you go into supper with the right expectations, you will be pleasantly surprised.

I say this because I remember eating mashed cauliflower for the first time, thinking it was DISGUSTING because I was expecting them to taste just like mashed potatoes! Once I changed my expectations, I found I enjoyed them a lot more!

Please try one of these soon and let me know how it all turned out! πŸ˜€

Part 1: Creating Your Menu

March 12, 2013

I’ve had some questions lately about what we eat, how we decide what to eat, how I plan meals, etc. so I decided it would be easier to devote a series of blog posts to these questions.

  1. Creating Your Menu
  2. How to make a grocery list and stick to it.
  3. Recipes (one cuisine style per post)

Creating Your Menu

A year and a half ago, when we decided to attempt to go meatless and basically vegan after watching Forks Over Knives, I didn’t know where to start to get recipes. A friend directed me to Whole Food Mommies and Kiss My Broccoli. From those two places, I dove straight into the Foodie (specifically the Vegan) blogging world. There are a plethora of recipes. Most are desserts but we have found enough meals to make a good menu πŸ™‚

The recipes I will post later in the week are what work for our family. We love them. However, I encourage you to search for your own family. Try some new recipes. Figure out what works for you!

The first six weeks, I tried about 21 recipes and starred them for

  1. how much they were liked
  2. how much time they took to make
  3. how much they cost to make

We now have about 12 recipes we LOVE and about 5 more that we rotate in and out, depending one how adventurous we are feeling.

I categorized these recipes on our menu sheet into cuisine: American, Italian, Asian, Mexican, and Soups.

Each item on the menu is a full meal. Each meal consists of

  • a salad
  • a main item (with most of the protein)
  • a green (kale or broccoli are our favorites)
  • and another vegetable.

It makes it easier when writing out a grocery list to have the whole meal written out , so nothing is missed.

I will post tomorrow about how to make and STICK to a grocery list. My goal is to go shopping only once a week so organization is the key!!!

Where do you get your…?

February 25, 2013

We don’t eat meat (98% of the time), have cut way down on dairy (1 grilled cheese sandwich a week and milk in our cereal 2x/week), and try not to eat processed food at all. We try to stick to what grows out of the ground – vegetables, fruit, nuts, beans, seeds, grains…

Go ahead and ask it…you know you want to…
How do you get your protein?” I asked my vegetarian cousin this only four months before we went plant-based.

Do you know what the term is for protein deficiency? Yeah, me either.Β  Yes, you can Google it but the point is, the reason you don’t know off hand is because we’ve never heard anyone with this problem.

The FDA recommends about 50g of protein/day. A chicken leg (and who only eats one of those?) has 18g of protein. One cup of milk has 8g of protein. One ounce of cheese provids 5g of protein. Who eats one ounce of cheese? Can you see how we are overloaded with protein?

On the other hand, romaine lettuce has 7.7g/head; spinach, asparagus, and broccoli have around 5g/cup; and, of course, beans and nuts are very high in protein. So even eating only a plant-based diet (no meat products), one can easily reach the FDA protein recommendations.
Next? “How do you get your calcium, after all, it is very important for you as a nursing mother to get plenty of calcium!”

Did you know that animal products, including dairy (among other things), actually prevent the body from absorbing calcium? Surprise, surprise – the many advertisements asking if we ‘Got Milk?’ did not really have our health at heart. [I’ll wait for the stunned silence to pass]

A diet high in animal products make your blood acidic. The body always wants to be alkaline; so it pulls calcium from the bones to achieve that alkaline state.

Countries in which people eat/drink more dairy are those countries that also have higher rates of osteoporosis.

On the other hand, beans, nuts, and vegetables are actually great sources of calcium and are more easily absorbable than animal products. Tofu (1/2c) has 227mg of calcium and bok choy is a WONDERFUL source of calcium as it is very low in oxalate (prevents calcium from being absorbed).

Want to know more? Read The China Study. It is fascinating stuff!
I realize eating without animal products seems crazy, impossible, out in left field, etc…but I encourage you to read up on it. It makes a lot of sense and certainly saves a lot on our grocery bills! AND medical bills (imagine – eating vegetables and fruit actually makes one healthy!)

As a side note, I went to the grocery store and the lady checking out asked me, “What do you do with all that kale?!” When I told her some of the ways we eat it (juice, smoothie, creamed), she said, “My niece was a vegetarian…but she was too vegetarian. She got really sick! She wasn’t getting enough protein and vitamins!”

There are two things to note from this conversation:

1. It is possible to be a vegetarian and not eat any fruits and vegetables! My OBGYN told me he is a wine, bread, and cheese vegetarian – certainly not healthy (as the bread he was referring to was refined flour, processed bread). Doing this is NOT healthy.

2. There are some vitamins you need to take if you are going to be on the vegan spectrum of a plant-based diet (not animal products at all). One is B12, which is needed for brain function, I think, but is only found in animal products. There are one or two more I think. We are not completely vegan so I do not worry about it as much (we eat eggs and some dairy every once in a while) Do your research! Make wise choices!

I love what Kris Carr says about food. (paraphrasing here) If it comes from nature/the garden, I’ll eat it. If it comes from a lab, it takes a lab to digest it. If it has a shelf life longer than me, it’s not for me. She was talking about processed food here, not meat, but I am against processed food WAY more than I am against meat or dairy products!!!

Where are you on your food journey? Here are some documentaries I have loved and have helped me see meat, dairy, SUGAR, etc. in the correct light: Forks Over Knives, Food Matters, Vegucated, Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead.