Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Your questions answered

So Kate wants to know what kinds of leftovers can be used to make soup broth. I make soup the Irish way which is to keep a pot going on the back of the stove and throw in the bits from the daily cooking until the soup is ready. Only in my case the pot is a crockpot and I have the luxury of storing things in the fridge for a while before using them.

If I'm using organic vegetables almost everything goes into soup later. I keep a container in the freezer, or fridge depending on how soon I'll be able to use it. (If my vegetables aren't organic I won't use the peels because I don't want pesticide soup.) Carrot peels, the ends of celery hearts, cauliflower stems, broccoli stems, extra onions if I chop a whole one and don't need it all as well as the ends, the green ends of leeks, etc. I wash everything really well before I use it. I usually save extra vegetables from the dinner table to put in soup when I make it, but that's different from the broth. Remember, you will be tossing whatever it is you are making a broth out of away when this is over. When I have enough in my container I put it all in the crock pot with a bay leaf, perhaps some garlic or spices depending on what I have and what kind of soup I have in mind. I cover the vegetables with water and cook on low for a day, or night, about 10 hours. If you haven't got a crockpot you can simmer everything in a pot on the stove top. You will have to watch it to make sure there is enough liquid in the pot, and keep it covered so you don't lose vital minerals and nutrients through the steam. When finished, drain the broth to use later and discard the mushy mass of veggies, in your compost pile if you have one.

To use meat bones it is the exact same process. After you drain the broth you can pick through the bones and find whatever extra meat is left on them and add it to the broth before freezing.

I use fresh cilantro and parsley leaves a lot in salads and soups, etc. This leaves a lot of stems left over. Often I will puree the stems and leftover leaves with a little bit of water and save it raw to add a fresh flavor boost to soups when they are finished cooking.

One of my favorite Thai soup recipes (Tom Ka Gai) involves simmering together shrimp shells, garlic, lemon grass, galangal, and lime leaves to make the broth. After straining the finished broth you add the shrimp to cook, finely sliced onion, celery, and red pepper, lime juice and cilantro leaves.

Over time you can develop a sense of what tastes good together and get more creative with soup broths, but the fact remains they are incredibly simple in concept and invented in order to use what you have.


Deb and a. Borealis have asked about snacks. On my other computer I have a sort of master list that I made up one time, but that computer and the router just stopped speaking to each other again last week, so until we can find the little manual with the access number on it to fix things I'm borrowing the Genius Husband's computer. (See, the rest of my life is not nearly as organized as my kitchen, things go missing all the time.)

In the meantime I will send you here for some great ideas. Be sure and read the other family nutrition articles too.

I have a few staples that work for me.

Yogurt, nut butters, fruit and vegetables, cheese, wholegrain crackers and breads, and nuts and seeds.

Yogurt is a good base for anything. My kids especially like plain yogurt with apple sauce, sunflower seeds, raisins and cinnamon. These things can be kept on hand and take a few seconds to mix together.

I also cut up leftover fruit and make a fruit salad to which I add yogurt and cinnamon. (Cinnamon tastes good and for some reason it helps to keep your blood sugar steady.)

You can add anything to yogurt, nut butters, fruit, seeds, dried fruit, brewer's yeast, ground nuts, etc. and they will probably eat it. I used to mash up avocado and banana in yogurt when they were babies. It's the only time I've been able to get them to eat avocado, except in avocado pie.

Popsicles. Now that it's spring around here popsicles will reappear. I wrote about those here.

Dipping works for all fruits and vegetables, just cut them into easy to hold shapes and add dips. Fruit can be dipped into peanut butter or almond butter or yogurt, veggies can be dipped into hummus, yogurt with savory seasonings, dressings, guacamole, salsa, etc.

Another classic pairing is grapes and cheese. I loved this as a child and my children love it too. This is a good way to introduce new cheeses also because the grapes help soften the effect of strong flavors.

Celery filled with nut butter and topped with raisins, (ants on a log) is always a favorite around here.

Smoothies, a blend of soymilk, yogurt, protein powder, frozen fruit, nuts, green vegetables snuck in, etc.

I have a muffin tin that makes little tiny muffins. Once maybe every two weeks I will make a big batch of mini muffins and have these on hand to serve for snacks. Almost all of my healthy muffin recipes are from the Super Baby Food book on my side bar, so I can't share without permission, but I highly recommend obtaining it.

What often happens though at our house is a mixed tray of what I have handy. I have these little sectioned plates that I got at Target and use for snacks. A typical snack tray will have almonds, sunflower seeds, cut up apples or oranges or bananas, and some kind of dip. Or it will have baby carrots and broccoli, some dip, some crackers and a few cubes of cheese. These don't take any prep time because I use whatever I have already made. (Yogurt, hummus, crackers, and raid my pantry for the rest.)


If you have any other questions go ahead and leve them in the comments and I'll try to answer them if I know the answer. Ask away.


Alice said...

Thanks - I'm taking notes to refer to when writing my shopping list. I love the "ants on a log"! I can't get my little boy (3 yrs old) to eat avocado either. Such a shame. At least yours eat quinoa - mine won't eat that or rice, but loves brown pasta (at least).

You know, the founder of The Institute for Optimum Nutrition recommends cinnamon, too. Must be good stuff!

Alice said...

I've just tried ants on a log, and can't believe how delicious it is. My son has just eaten a whole stick - yeah!

coraspartan said...

I'm wondering if you have a recipe for homemade granola. I love to stir granola into yogurt, but to buy granola at the store is pretty expensive. It doesn't seem like it would be too difficult to make. I know I saw a granola recipe on one of the blogs I read, but I can't remember if it was yours or someone else's. Regardless, I would love a homemade granola recipe if you have one!

Deb said...

Thanks!! Right now they are not willing to try new things but dips are a big hit. This is pretty much what I do. Doesn't it seem like they eat all day long constantly????

ms said...

thanks for the great list! i tend to rely on crackers and cheese because my 19 mo can eat them by himself and stay relatively clean. he is getting into dips and now asks for flax to dip his bananas - it makes me so happy!

Kate said...

What is Avocado Pie?!?!? It sounds great and weird at the same time.

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