Homemade Vegetable Wash (Spray or Soak)

I have to admit that it just breaks my heart to spend a big chunk of my food budget on veggie wash.  Those tiny spray bottles of veggie wash never seem to last long the way I use it, and plain water just doesn’t do the job for soaking leafy greens. Here are two simple solutions you can make at home with common household products you probably already have on hand. They cost only pennies to make and work really well.  (You should refrigerate the spray because it contains fresh lemon juice)

SPRAY:

1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1 Tbsp. baking soda

1 cup water

SOAK:

1/4 cup vinegar

2 Tbsp. salt

DIRECTIONS:

1. SPRAY: Put all ingredients into a spray bottle and shake gently to mix (it will foam). Spray on vegetables or fruit and allow to sit for 2-5 minutes, then rinse with cold water and dry.

2. SOAK: Fill a clean basin or sink with cold water. Add vinegar and salt, then stir until salt dissolves. Place vegetables or fruit in sink and allow to sit for 25 – 30 minutes. Rinse under cold water and dry.

These ideas came from http://www.food.com where you can find even more great recipes and money-saving hints.

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Vegetarian Food Prep: Make it Easy

One of the comments I often hear is that vegetarian cooking takes so long and is so inconvenient.  I agree. All that chopping, slicing, and dicing is time consuming, but YOU ARE WORTH IT, so take all the time you need to be healthy. Better health for you and your family starts in the kitchen.

I would like to share some things I’ve learned that make preparing healthy foods a little quicker and easier:

–First of all, PLEASE, don’t cook for only one meal.  It is just as easy to make 10 cups of brown rice as it is to prepare 2 cups, so make a big pot and save the leftovers for future meals.  If you won’t use it all this week you can easily freeze leftovers to use next week or even next month.

–The same goes for dried beans; make more than you need and freeze the leftovers. I like to freeze two cup portions in plastic freezer bags for use later.

–Cleaning and peeling vegetables is best done when you have a big chunk of time, but I like to peel a 5 lb. bag of organic carrots as soon as I bring it home so that fresh carrots are always available for juicing and recipes.

–Romaine lettuce also gets washed as soon as it hits the kitchen; separate the leaves and let them soak in the sink with cold water and a little vinegar while you put the rest of your groceries away.  After draining, roll the leaves in a clean dishtowel, put it in a plastic bag, and store in the frig until you’re ready to make a salad or sandwich.  You’ll be surprised how fresh and crisp it stays this way!

–Don’t be afraid to buy in bulk.  Raw tomatoes (whole, cored), raw peppers and onions (chopped), and raw peas and berries (whole, washed) can be frozen with little preparation, and can make individual meal preparation go faster if you have them on hand.

–Finally, considering how mind-numbing a task chopping, slicing, and dicing is, consider multi-tasking.  You can put the phone on speaker and still have both hands free.  Or, USE that wasted time in front of the TV — chop the vegetables you will need for tomorrow’s supper tonight while watching your favorite show.  You’ll be so glad you did this when you get home tomorrow after work, and all that meal prep is already done!

I hope these ideas to make eating for better health faster and easier are helpful to you.  If you have any other time- saving ideas, please share them!

Zucchini, Zucchini, and More Zucchini!!!

IMG_0141By mid July most home gardeners find themselves drowning in zucchini. We loved planting those seeds a couple of months ago and the almost instant gratification when we saw the sturdy green sprouts poke through the soil. But by now we are asking why we ever planted so much zucchini (face it, you really only need one plant and you’ll have all the zucchini you need for the summer). You know it’s bad when friends start to avoid you because they’re afraid you’ll try to “bless” them with more of your zucchini harvest!
Well, did you know that you can freeze fresh shredded zucchini , and it’s so easy to do? Simply wash the zucchini. Don’t peel it, but cut off the stem and the blossom end. Shred the whole zucchini. Zucchini is very moist, so you will want to get most of the water out. An easy way to do that is to put the shredded zucchini in a colander or large strainer; salt and toss it so that the salt is evenly distributed. Let it sit for about 15 minutes, then squeeze out the moisture — you will be surprised how much comes out. You can freeze the drained shredded zucchini in one cup portions, and then it will be ready to use it in your favorite recipes all winter.
Hiding this shredded zucchini in whatever you cook (soups, stews, “meat” loaves) is a great way to get more green veggies into your kids’ diets. Hint: to make it even more inconspicuous, peel the zucchini before shredding and they will never suspect a thing:)

How to Stock a Vegetarian Pantry

While browsing the Internet I came across this article which I thought would be helpful to people who are new to the vegetarian lifestyle. I remember searching for hours for things I could eat when I made the switch (grocery shopping took forever!). I hope this is useful as you set up your vegetarian kitchen. When you have the common ingredients already on hand cooking is a breeze.

How to Stock a Vegetarian Pantry

from wikiHow – The How to Manual That You Can Edit

A vegetarian pantry has different needs from a more general pantry. It is important to keep vegetarian foods on hand that will provide energy and nutrients; and substitutes for other non-vegetarian food products. This article will help you achieve you goal of a well-stocked and healthy vegetarian pantry, all in the span of just a few hours.

Steps

  1. Clean out your pantry. If you are changing to a vegetarian diet, or even if you are simply updating an existing impoverished vegetarian pantry, it is time for a good clean out. Remove all out-dated food, any food with unsuitable animal-derived products (ovo-lacto vegetarians can keep more foods than vegans) and remove anything that lacks labels but you aren’t quite sure what it is. Wipe down all the shelves and allow to dry.
  2. Go shopping. It is always a good idea to stock a new pantry with as many fresh items as possible at the same time, so that the items date together. If you are simply restocking, keep items that are still plenty in date but note them. Make sure to write a list of the items that you need, so that you are not overwhelmed by choices or forgetful as to what you need.
  3. Select your items in food groups. A vegetarian pantry that is stocked with the basics should contain:
    • Grain products: rice (especially brown, arborio, jasmine, basmati and sweet), millet, couscous, quinoa, kasha, wild rice (aquatic grass), buckwheat, barley, polenta, and whole grain flours.
    • Pasta and noodles: pasta made from grain products (e.g., wheat pasta, rice pasta), noodles (e.g., udon, buckwheat etc.). Try to avoid quick-cook noodles; these tend to have a lot of the healthy nutrients removed and are often high in trans-fats.
    • Legumes: dried legumes (peas, split peas, lentils, puy lentils, chickpeas/garbanzo, kidney beans, pinto beans etc.), tins/cans of legumes, shelf-stored tofu.
    • Instant mixes for veggie burgers, falafels, etc. Try to prefer organic options and low sodium.
    • Vegetables and fruits: There are various ways of storing these in the pantry:
      • Tins/cans of fruit in natural syrup, tins/cans of some vegetables. Try to avoid sourcing a lot of your fruit and veggies in this way because canned varieties lose nutrients, have high sodium, and can leach chemicals from the can soldering/composition into the food over time. Always choose cans that are free from dents, and be sure to check use-by dates.
      • Preserved fruit and vegetables. Follow the instructions carefully if you make your own at home.
      • Dehydrated fruits and veggies can also be kept in the pantry for reconstitution.
      • Dried fruit. A must for both eating and cooking with. Apricots, peaches, pears, apple, nectarines etc. are all great choices. Beware of added sugar; dried pineapple, strawberries, paw-paw, kiwifruit etc. often have considerable added sugar.
    • Nuts and seeds: Nuts and seeds should be eaten quickly to ensure that they remain fresh. Only purchase small amounts at a time. It is handy to always have on hand walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, cashews, pecans and sesame seeds. Peanuts are a personal choice given modern allergy problems. Nut and seed butters are also very useful to keep on hand; consider tahini, peanut butter, cashew nut butter, almond butter etc. Some require refrigeration on opening.
    • Flavourings: There are a number of key flavourings that no vegetarian pantry should be without. These include:
      • Nutritional yeast
      • Soy sauce, shoyu, tamari; look for low sodium options
      • Vegetable broth/stock cubes, liquid or powder – check ingredients carefully!
      • Cheese sauce or cheese substitute sauces in packets; packet soups
      • Seasoned vegetable salt (there are numerous good brands around)
      • Concentrated liquid stock or flavouring derived from vegetable, herb and spice sources (a few drops will do each use)
      • Curry powder
      • Seasonings such as herbs, spices, salt, pepper etc. Dry your fresh herbs for seeing the winter through
      • Seaweed products for seasoning, including dulse
      • Flavoured vinegars, dressings
    • Sweeteners such as raw and organic sugar, stevia, rice syrup, agave syrup, honey, maple syrup, xylitol etc. Select whatever suits your needs, preferences, and dietary requirements.
  4. Have a few treats in store. It is useful to have some treats on stand-by for guests, children and the munchies. Good products include dark chocolate, soy chocolate, chickpea crisps, wasabi peas, sugar-free cookies (sweetened with alternatives), microwave popcorn and raw kernals, etc.
  5. Keep a few quick packet mixes for cakes, muffins and pancakes. Prefer organic and low-sugar versions where possible. It isn’t always possible to be a saint and make your own baked goods from scratch; having these packaged possibilities still allows you to add fresh fruit, macadamia oil in place of saturated fats and you have the choice of using eggs or not. This is far better than resorting to store-bought goodies.
  6. Have milk on hand. It is always handy to have some shelf milk on hand for times when you run out and guests arrive. Depending on your needs, you can purchase dairy, soy, nut, grain and other milks that can be shelf-stored. Flavoured milks are also handy, including chocolate, vanilla and strawberry.
  7. Keep an eye on use-by dates and discard products that go beyond these. They might seem all right, but once stale, items never taste quite as fresh. They also do not provide the same nutrients as fresher, in-date items. Circulate goods at the back of the pantry and bring them to the front at least monthly, if not more often. It’s easy to forget about items you can’t see, and the less you waste the happier your wallet will be.

Tips

  • Places to stock up on vegetarian pantry foods include health food stores, health food co-ops, large health-food oriented super-stores or supermarkets, fruit and vegetable stores, some bulk/wholesale stores, local markets (farmer’s markets etc.) and straight from boutique stores on farms.
  • Don’t over look your local supermarket. Many “regular” grocery stores are now catering to the Vegan crowd by offering several varieties of soy milks, tofu and vegetarian meat substitutes as well as organic produce.
  • Some specialty grocery stores are also great to visit in and discover new flavours and textures; try Chinese, Lebanese, South African, Italian, West Indian, Samoan, etc. stores for new ideas.
  • Some artificial sweeteners, while low in calories, have been implicated in health problems in some individuals. Research carefully before choosing an artificial sweetener option. Stevia is a good, natural sweetener alternative that avoids potentially problematic chemicals.

Things You’ll Need

  • Pantry
  • Items as listed in article
  • Shopping bags – take your own

Related wikiHows

Article provided by wikiHow, a collaborative writing project to build the world’s largest, highest quality how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Stock a Vegetarian Pantry. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

My Philosophy

   Recently I have been browsing through some other vegetarian blogs, and I must say that my vegetarian philosophy (and cooking philosophy, in general) differs quite a bit from some of the sites I have seen. When I see a vegan blog full of recipes for fat and sugar laden desserts I just have to ask “WHY?”

   First of all, I am  vegetarian for health reasons. I believe that everything we put into our mouths should contribute to our overall health in some way. I try to eat as naturally as possible. If I question an ingredient I ask myself, “Did Adam and Eve have this available in the garden?” “Is it of animal origin?” “Is it healthy?” When I ponder these points I can usually come up with a suitable replacement for any ingredient in a recipe.

   Secondly, I believe that a recipe should be easy to prepare, easy to duplicate, reliable, and need only a minimal list of ingredients. Some of the recipes I’ve seen look enticing, but realistically, how many of us have an entire afternoon to devote to preparing supper? A good recipe should be ready to eat in an hour or less. The goal here is to EAT, right? — not just to putz around in the kitchen. I am not against using pesto or roasted red peppers that come in a jar or from the farmers market. Don’t labor over the little things .

   I also believe that if you have a favorite traditional family recipe then you SHOULD try to duplicate it in a healthy way. Your family will thank you for making the effort, and they will more easily transition into the vegetarian lifestyle you are trying to promote. What I am saying here is, “Don’t let tofu be the first vegetarian dish you serve to your carnivore relatives.”

   In other words: Keep it simple, keep it easy, serve whatever you make with love and genuine concern for the health of those who will eat what you make.

Real Wisdom

   Humankind is spirit, mind, and body. In order to be totally healthy we must be balanced in each area. I have found that the Bible has a lot to say about healthy living. In fact when I began my search for physical health this is where I found the most help. With this in mind, I will occasionally share what I have learned from the Word of God concerning the health of the total man.

   Let me just say that I have been a Christian for 43 years, and in that time I have read every book in the Bible multiple times, participated in many Bible Studies, read hundreds of edifying books and articles, and sat under many excellent spiritual leaders. However, when God answered my heart’s cry and began showing me the words of health and healing that had been hidden in plain sight all those years I began a spiritual journey that continues today.

   Psalm 36:9 – For with You is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.