Tag Archives: food

Secrets to Sneaking More Veggies into your Family’s Diet

fresh veggies

If your family is like mine, you’re lucky if you can get them to eat salad with dinner on a regular basis. French fries are counted as a veggie, and pizza is a full meal (meat, diary, bread, tomato sauce). Indeed, one of my sons honestly admits that the only way I’ll get him to eat more veggies is to hide them. So I do. Hence, today I am sharing my secrets to sneaking more veggies into your family’s diet.

Today we hear that raw is best for you. Although this may be true, even I can only eat so many raw veggies. And I like my meat and eggs cooked – medium rare, over easy, but cooked. Some veggies release their heavy duty disease fighting nutrients only after cooking. I’m thinking about tomatoes, onions and garlic, among others. So for the purpose of increasing my family’s fiber intake and nutrition, I serve lots of cooked veggies. They just don’t know about it.

Salad

Salad before dinner is a mainstay at my house. The more toppings, the better, and lots of ranch dressing. Despite the fact that most ranch dressing contains msg and soybean oil, I have had to concede that ranch is the vehicle to get the veggies ingested. One small victory at a time.

Smoothies

A banana, raw milk or yogurt, more fruit, a raw egg, and, um, kale? Lettuce? Well, you didn’t need to know about that. I can put more greens in mine, but for the fam, just a leaf or 2…

Fried

Stir fry or chow mein makes the table at least once a week. Cooked rice or noodles are lightly fried with carrots, onions, garlic and 3 or 4 other chopped vegetables. Use coconut oil for natural sweetness and add leftover meats or an egg if desired. Chop everything fairly small so that it doesn’t take long to cook. Also, ginger, garlic and turmeric help add an asian flavor.

Casserole

Another favorite one pot meal is the good ole’ casserole. Mix cooked rice, potatoes or noodles with chopped veggies and meats (if desired) and douse with cheese sauce. Or if you’re a canned soup person, cream of mushroom, chicken or celery soup. Season to taste and bake at 350F  until done. This is easier with already cooked veggies and meats (aka, leftovers). Cauliflower hides real well, especially with cheese.

Tacos

Taco meat is a good place to hide veggies. Shred or cut them small and fry with the hamburger and onions. This works well with carrots, corn, zucchini, olives, chiles, bell peppers, tomatoes, etc. Moreover, adding veggies to your taco meat will stretch your meat budget further.

Spaghetti

Spaghetti sauce is very versatile. You can blatantly add chunks of zucchini, carrots and peppers, or you can shred or dice them. Use fresh tomatoes or canned sauce. This is delicious with or without meat. Don’t forget the onions and garlic.

Soup

Many people no longer consider soup to be a meal. In reality soup is a superfood. To say nothing of the wide variety of soups. Just think chicken broth, carrots, zucchini, corn, peas, green beans, broccoli, etc. for starters. Add some kind of fat for flavor. Butter, olive oil, and chicken fat all work well and help with digestion and nutrient absorption.  Season to taste. Serve with a good bread and butter.

I hope I’ve sparked your imagination. There are tons more ways to sneak those veggies in. This is just to get you started. Now go feed your family more veggies!

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Life Without Refrigeration

Life Without Refrigeration by [Gregersen, Susan]

Could you live off-grid without a refrigerator? Susan Gregersen has for over 30 years. She wrote Life Without Refrigeration to share her experiences and tips for preserving food without benefit of a fridge. She explains how bacterial growth and spoilage occur, and why some foods need to be kept cold.

To start with, several chapters address places to keep food cool –

  • root cellar

  • evaporative cooler

  • snow cave

  • basements and crawl spaces.

She then devotes a chapter to alternative means of preserving food –

With each method of storage or preservation, Ms. Gregersen offers examples of which foods are best suited for that method. I was particularly interested in the dairy and meat suggestions and found some new ideas for dehydrating that I plan to try. Especially cottage cheese and sour cream. Apparently it is possible. As another alternative, she gives information on commercial dried and canned meat, dairy and eggs, and alternatives. Raising meat and dairy animals is also an option.

I have stored food in my unheated workshop for many years with great success. Mostly canned, dehydrated, or dry goods, but also citrus and root veggies, wrapped in newspaper and put in boxes. It is very important to pay attention to signs of spoilage and know what kinds of storage or preservation are safe for the foods you are storing. Also how soon to use them.

Although Susan does not give detailed instructions for the projects offered, they serve as a springboard for ideas to further research.

To sum up, this book is a handy reference guide to all of the above, for the beginner. If you are looking for more advanced storage and preservation methods, such as for meat and dairy, it is a good jumping off point.

I bought Life Without Refrigeration from Amazon, Kindle Version. I did not receive any compensation for this review.

Life Without Refrigeration, by Susan Gregersen(c) 2013   82 pages

Available on Amazon $7.99 paperback, $3.99 Kindle

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Money Secrets of the Amish

money secrets of the amish

Money Secrets of the Amish, by Lorilee Craker is jam-packed with practical, down-to-earth wisdom from the Plain People. Probably most of us want to stop being slaves to money and start living the good life. The Amish have a reputation for living well on less, consequently, it might help to find out how they do it.

A “worldly” woman with a Mennonite background, Lorilee Craker is in a unique position to connect with the Amish. She introduces us to Amish farmers, housewives and church leaders, coaxing their secrets from them while sharing homemade artisan cheese and fresh garden veggies. As a result, she is able to provide insight for us into how this group of people thrives without credit cards, enormous mortgages, or six-figure incomes.

With amusing anecdotes and real-life stories, the author and her friends go from over-extended to simple and satisfied, all while making it look like common sense.

My grandma and mom endured the Great Depression, so my childhood abounded in these tried and true methods of acheiving abundance with very little. These suggestions have also helped me get back on track when I have foolishly overextended myself.

Chapters include:

  • delayed gratification

  • recycling

  • de-spoiling the kids

  • how the best things in life really are free

  • Amish style gift giving

  • what to and not to buy in bulk

  • the next best thing to growing your own food

  • how to barter

Lorilee ends each chapter with her own Amish Money Makeover tips, especially relevant for practical application in a non-Amish life. Money Secrets of the Amish is a great resource, first for rebooting your attitude and outlook on money and possessions. In addition, it provides simple, sensible instructions for putting that reboot into practice. A useful reference for every home library, with links to helpful websites, also.

I bought the Kindle version from Amazon. No compensation was received for this review.

Money Secrets of the Amish, by Lorilee Craker

(c) 2011

Published by Thomas Nelson

242 pages

Available on Amazon $11.34 paperback, $7.99 Kindle

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Side Pork – Better Bacon

side pork
side pork – bacon in the raw

Ah, the wonders of side pork. Just what is it? Side pork is the cut of the pig that bacon is made out of. And they do sell it “unbaconized” in the store. We acquired some the other day and sliced it up to fry as bacon. We also cut it into chunks and put it in with some beans. Sometimes we deep fry it into chicharones.

You can cure your own bacon by rubbing it with salt and pepper and whatever other seasonings you like and store it in the fridge for, oh I don’t know, a week or so and then freeze it and take it out as needed. That way you don’t have to have all those sugars and nitrites that are added to commercial bacon for “flavor”. Here is the cooked “bacon”. Can you tell the difference?

fried side pork
can you tell the difference?
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My New Favorite Way to Can Tomatoes

canning tomatoes
my new favorite home canned tomato sauce
Over the summer, I got a case of tomatoes at the farmer’s market and they were so tasty that I decided I needed to save some for over the winter. Sun drying was out of the question. Too much rain and too much humidity. So, I decided to make sauce and can it. My previous sauces have been too watery, so this time I tried a new approach. Lydia from Lydia’s kitchen, says the tomato seeds can make the sauce bitter, so I quartered and seeded them and filled 2 pots with the pieces, skin and all. I cooked them down for 2 or 3 hours, then let them sit overnight to cool, so I could put them through the blender. The next morning, I processed the cooked tomatoes in a high speed blender on the smoothie setting for a couple minutes, including the skins, which were now soft. I poured the thick, rich sauce back into the pots and cooked it down to half.
canning jars
boiling canning jars to sterilize
The following day, I heated the sauce, sterilized jars, filled them and capped them. I processed them in a boiling water bath for the amount of time indicated by the Ball Blue Book for 7800 ft. elevation.
ball blue book of canning
ball blue book of canning
This is my new favorite way to preserve tomatoes. Sadly, we have already used up all the sauce for spaghetti, pizza, and soup. The good news is, I seemed to have cooked out enough of the water for the sauce to stay thick. The flavor was incredible. I think next season I will be getting several cases of those tomatoes.
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