How Buying Prepped Vegetables is Saving Our Dinner

I'm so thankful I can buy prepped vegetables. They are helping us get dinner on the table! -- The Nourishing Gourmet

The first tip I wanted to share in my series, The Low Energy Guide to Healthy Cooking, is a simple one, but it has made such a difference for us during a challenging year.

Buying prepped vegetables.

Can I be honest for a minute? I never really thought I would buy pre-cut and prepared vegetables. I do hate the extra plastic packaging that pre-cut vegetables tend to have. Plus, I never saw a problem with an extra five to ten-minute preparation it took to prep my own vegetables.

It never seemed like a big deal to just prep them myself.

But then my kind of low-grade health issues sky-rocketed. This whole last year has been one long sick year for me (we finally got a diagnosis last week, but more on that later). Suddenly those five to fifteen minutes of extra preparation were a big deal. It could mean the difference between having a vegetable side or not, or getting a homemade dinner on the table that night.

I wanted us to eat healthy. I needed us to eat well. But there are seasons when you need all the extra help you can get to make that happen. This has been one such season for us, and having vegetables ready and waiting in the fridge for us to cook up has been a big help.

My husband has been helping much more with the cooking, which has been extremely helpful. But he often gets home late-ish, so having the dinner cooking process as streamlined as possible for him was also important. Once again, it’s been so helpful to have at least some of our vegetables prepped.

Unfortunately, not all prepped vegetables are inexpensive. However, I have been very happy with what I can find at Trader Jo’s. They have a large selection of prepped vegetables, including: cut and washed broccoli and cauliflower, riced cauliflower (frozen and fresh), washed lettuce greens, prepped kale, butternut squash “zigzags” and noodles, a multi-chopped vegetable container (that is very tasty), and more.

While I still have to prep some of our vegetables, having more than half of them prepared for me has been a dinner saver!

The next best thing is hiring someone to prep vegetables for the week for you, or setting aside time (perhaps with a spouse) to prep vegetables for the week using a food processor when possible to make it easier. Neither of these options works well for us right now, so we are really thankful for the prepped vegetables we can buy. If you have any available in the stores near you, give it a try!

Enjoying a Gluten-free or Grain-free Holiday Season

 

Enjoying the holiday season on a gluten or grain-free diet (resources and recipes!)

The first holiday season we were gluten-free was a big adjustment. So many family recipes and treats were off limits. But you know what? We’ve found that the holiday season can be a joy and a blessing with glorious food!

This week Megan from EatBeautiful.net and I shared about how we love the holidays, and holiday food – even though we eat differently. More then that, we found our holiday meals to be beautiful with real food!

Megan and her family have been on the GAPS diet, which is a healing, grain-free, starch-free diet. Half of my family is gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free.

Maybe you can relate. We hope that this conversation is encouraging to you! We discuss not only recipes, but also some of the surrounding issues, like how to handle children on restricted diets during holiday get togethers, making desserts sweet enough to share with the general public, and more!

To get all of the links to recipes and resources: visit my holiday recipe page here.

3 Tips for Sharing Food with Others (Even When Life is Crazy)

It's so important to offer hospitality and to bring food to those going through hard times. But how do you do that when your life is crazy? I'm with you there. I share 3 tips here on how to get it done. -- The Nourishing Gourmet

We’ve had some very peaceful time periods. But if I’m honest, more often than not life has seemed very busy, hectic, and at times, stressful too. During the midst of stressful times, it can be hard to rip your eyes off of your own situation and share and serve others. I know it is for me.

But I want to share food with others (and serve them in other ways too). Why? Because people have done that for me. For example: When I was 16, I was in charge of my younger siblings while my mother recovered from a serious surgery and my dad helped take care of her and worked regular long hours. Our community rallied around us by bringing us dinners for weeks on end. To this day, I remember the support and help that brought us during a stressful time and am thankful for it. Years later I was pregnant with my second child and went through premature labor. I was hospitalized for two weeks until I stabilized. Friends brought me dinner every night so that I wouldn’t have to live off of hospital food. Once again, I still remember and am thankful for that tangible support.

That’s why for my very first Periscope, I shared on the topic of Sharing Food with Others During Busy Times. It’s a topic dear to my heart not because I am a rockstar in this area (I’m not), but because I have been greatly blessed when others have done that for me.

I loved sharing these tips on Periscope, so I wanted to share them here too!

(You can follow me here to watch future scopes! For those who aren’t familiar, it’s an app that allows you to broadcast live stream videos, and it allows you to respond in the text box in real time too! It’s very fun.)

Don’t be a perfectionist when sharing food

It can be easy to allow fears to derail our good intentions. We may wonder if others will like our cooking, or whether they will think our food is good enough, for example. When you are known as a “good cook” or (the horror of it) are a food blogger and cookbook author, expectations can be high, and that can put a lot of pressure on you. Once we invited a couple over for dinner, and when the husband walked through the door he said, “I feel like I’m in a dream. I can’t believe I am eating dinner with The Nourishing Gourmet.” I just about died right there and hoped that dinner was especially good. (I think it was a success, or perhaps my guests were just very good actors as they talked about how yummy it was!).

Sometimes that pressure has held me back, because, in all honesty, we eat plain and simple food most of the time! Nothing fancy! But then I realized that it was my pride holding me back. I don’t have a responsibility for people’s reactions to my actions, but I do have the responsibility to share and serve those around me. And you know what I’ve found? People are always thankful for you sharing food with them. I think our fears are unfounded. Even if they don’t love the food you brought to them, they will love the heart behind it.
Sometimes it takes a small amount of courage to share with others, and that’s okay. It’s worth the bravery to share life and love with others.

All you need is one meal

Some of the people who are the best at bringing food to others during times of need have one meal they always bring. It’s delicious, they know the meal so well they could make it in their sleep, and it’s generally frugal and family-friendly. For example, one lady I know cooks up a pot of rice, steams some vegetables, and bakes teriyaki chicken. She then layers the cooked rice, vegetables and chicken in a casserole dish to bring to someone. It’s delicious! Another brings makings for a healthy taco salad, and that’s always popular too. Another brings a big pot of hearty soup and homemade bread. Homemade pizza is popular as well.

The point is this, if you just figure out just one meal that is well-liked and that you can fit in your budget, it won’t be stressful at all to share that meal with others – whether they are coming over for dinner, or you are bringing them a meal.

Bonus points if the meal is allergen-friendly, as then you can serve it to a wider base of people. For example, it’s easy to make gluten-free teriyaki and even soy-free and gluten-free teriyaki!

Make it serve you (and your family) too

My sister recently had a baby, and although my life seemed very chaotic at the time, it was important to me that I offer help and support. While I wasn’t able to do all that I wished to do (I also have a nine-month-old baby, and she had a runny nose at the time, so we didn’t want to expose her newborn), I at least wanted to help provide meals for her during that happy, but fragile newborn stage.

So this is what I did. I set aside a couple of hours and got in a good cooking rhythm. I whipped up some hearty soups from my cookbook, Ladled: Nourishing Soups for all Seasons. I made a homemade marinara sauce with Italian sausage, and bought some nice organic noodles for her husband to cook up to go with it. I made teriyaki chicken and rice. I made granola and bought a whole milk organic yogurt to go with it for breakfast or snacks. I picked up some fruit too. My sister-in-law made another soup to add to the box, and then I was able to send over a whole box of food for her.

But here’s the deal. While I was doing all of that cooking, I doubled everything so that my family also had plenty of food for the upcoming week. It was heavenly to have all of the food already prepared and ready to be enjoyed. I was able to serve not only her but my family as well.

If you deal with health issues, or just have a busy lifestyle, being able to kill two birds with one stone will be very helpful.

Finally, this list of gluten-free freezer meals may come in handy as well when sharing food with others. I often share freezer meals with others. This allows me to cook when I am able and then share when a need comes up.

What meals do you like to share with others? Has there been a time when people brought you meals? I’d love to hear about it!

How to Make Carrot Juice With a Blender

 

How to make carrot juice without a blender - easier than you think, and so helpful for those of us without juicers! -- The Nourishing GourmetBy Chloe, from How We Flourish

Here’s the thing: I have a very small kitchen. I’m also on a tight budget. I don’t have the option of having a kitchen filled with small appliances. However, I had heard a lot about the benefits of juicing. A morning carrot juice is also an important about of the GAPS Intro Diet, so I learned how to make carrot juice with a blender.

If you ask most people, they will tell you that you need a real juicer for juicing. To truly receive the benefits of juicing, commercial juice is not an option as it is pasteurized. Juices must be freshly pressed to preserve the enzymes and nutrients that makes vegetable juices so good for us. But not everyone can afford a big fancy masticating juicer! I’d love to have one, of course, as it is certainly less work than making juice with a blender. But when that is not an option, you do not need to worry. You can still get the benefits of juicing for a lot less money.

Why Juicing

I was never a fan of juice before GAPS. But I learned that juicing can help support detoxification, and the vitamins and minerals from the juiced vegetables can be quickly absorbed. It can be a great remedy for constipation! This might be TMI, but that is why I have taken such a liking to juicing. It helped for me very much, so it’s a tool I like to keep in my back pocket.

Interested? If you would like to test the benefits of juicing without the investment, read on to learn how to juice without a juicer.

How to Juice without a Juicer

The following tutorial is for 100% fresh carrot juice, which is the starting point for juicing on GAPS Intro. How many carrots you need will depend on how much juice you want – 2-3 carrots usually makes a decent sized glass for me. This method of making juice in a blender will also work for all types of juices!

  1. Wash and chop the carrots.
  2. Add them to the blender. Any type of blender should work fine.
  3. Add a small amount of filtered water. With more watery vegetables, you may not need any. If you like your juices more dilute, add more. For carrot juice, add enough water to come slightly less that halfway up the carrots. It just needs to be enough to help get things moving.
  4. Blend on medium until the ingredients are well pulverized.
  5. Place a nut milk bag in your desired cup/container and pour in the blended ingredients.
  6. Squeeze as much liquid out of the nut milk bag as possible. Save the leftover pulp in the freezer to be used in other recipes.
  7. Enjoy your juice! It is best to drink on an empty stomach, such as first thing in the morning before breakfast.

Tip: If you enjoy the benefits of juicing, but find that it spikes your blood sugar, try adding fat and protein to your juice. One of my favorite ways to do this with with the so-called “GAPS Milkshake.”

Want to make a large batch? It is recommended to always drink juice fresh. However, I believe that if you are experiencing benefits with juicing, less-than-optimal juice may be better than no juice at all. Try freezing the juice immediately and thawing it in a water bath when you want it.

Are you interested in learning more about healing your gut with GAPS Intro? Learn more about how I did just that (without going crazy!) in my book Healing Patiently.

How to Make Carrot Juice With a Blender
 
Author:
Recipe type: Beverage
 
Carrot juice is a delicious and nourishing drink. Learn how to make it fresh, even if you do not have a juicer!
Ingredients
  • 2-3 carrots
Instructions
  1. Wash and chop the carrots.
  2. Add them to the blender. Any type of blender should work fine.
  3. Add a small amount of filtered water. With more watery vegetables, you may not need any. If you like your juices more dilute, add more. For carrot juice, add enough water to come slightly less that halfway up the carrots. It just needs to be enough to help get things moving.
  4. Blend on medium until the ingredients are well pulverized.
  5. Place a nut milk bag in your desired cup/container and pour in the blended ingredients.
  6. Squeeze as much liquid out of the nut milk bag as possible. Save the leftover pulp in the freezer to be used in other recipes.
  7. Enjoy your juice! It is best to drink on an empty stomach, such as first thing in the morning before breakfast.

 Do you juice? What is your favorite type of juice to make?