Showing posts with label vegetable stock. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vegetable stock. Show all posts

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Did You Know That March is National Nutrition Month?

March is national nutrition month
Image courtesy of Pixabay
As National Nutrition Month, March seems a good time to review ways to increase your nutrition in your daily life.   Most people do not consume the recommended nutrients every day to keep their bodies running in peak condition, so let's look at ways we can fix this.

Of course you could use March as an excuse to give your body a reboot aka a spring clean for your body instead of your house!  This is a great way to start creating your healthy habits.

You may think that's a bit too much so let's look at other things you can do -

  • Reduce your caffeine intake
  • Reduce your salt intake
  • Reduce your sugar intake
  • Reduce your processed foods
  • Increase your fruit and veg intake


We've all heard these comments before haven't we?   The problem is how and where to start so lets's go through them all one by one.

How to Reduce Your Caffeine Intake

Now if you only drink one cup of coffee or tea a day then you are probably okay, but I know many people drink a LOT more than that.  The problem with drinking too much caffeine whether it's from coffee, tea, cola drinks or energy drinks is that caffeine can cause the depletion of certain nutrients such as vitamin B6.   Not only that but it also interferes with your body's ability to absorb essential minerals such as calcium and magnesium.

It can be had to cut back as a lot of the time we grab these drinks out of habit, one way that I've gone down from 10 mugs a day to 1-2 a week is by using Fizz Sticks.  Let me tell you more ...

I like to drink what I call a green ogre drink on my way to work and I find that it gives me the same effect as my morning latte that I used to grab on my way to work at my previous job.   If you start off by just replacing one coffee with this I think you'll find you won't need your next one as quickly because you don't get the espresso crash as the effects of the caffeine from coffee wears off.

If you enjoy having a cuppa when you get up or after dinner then try a few caffeine free teas instead such as these -

Why Drink Peppermint Tea?Why Drink Peppermint Tea?
I love the flavour of peppermint so I'm probably biased as to why you should drink peppermint tea! However it does have a lot of benefits from aiding digestion to helping with concentration.


Review of Lifestyle Awareness TeasReview of Lifestyle Awareness Teas
Lifestyle Awareness is a brand of organic tea and this review focuses on just two of the teas in the range - Immunity Now and Serene Slumber. These teas have medicinal benefits to them as well and we can all use help with boosting our immune systems!



Or I do enjoy a cup of Twinings Chamomile, Honey & Vanilla before going to bed on a cold night.

If you're more of a soda drinker or you feel like you need an energy drink to keep you going then Fizz Sticks are definitely something that you can substitute for them.   You will find that the effects last a lot longer so that you don't need to drink as many. They come in four different flavors and contain a lot less sugar as well as being a lot healthier in other ways too.

How to Reduce Your Salt Intake


Too much salt can adversely affect our sodium/potassium balance and let's face it everywhere you turn you're being told to cut down salt aren't you?

Salt is one of those foods that are often in hidden in the foods you eat, one product that is usually high in salt is commercial stock (especially the convenient stock cubes).   A simple way to deal with this is to make your own vegetable stock, it's very easy as you can see here - how to make veggie stock - and you can make big batches to freeze down.   Using this you can monitor exactly how much salt you add to your food.

Reducing the amount of processed foods will help a lot (more on that later) and reading labels to build your awareness will be quite a shock to you.

How to Reduce Your Sugar Intake


Sugar is empty as far as nutritional value goes and it's also addictive.   I would try and use other products to sweeten things for example when my daughter was younger I would half the amount of sugar a recipe called for to make sweet muffins and throw in a mashed banana to use for sweetness instead.

If you or your children like using flavored drinks instead of water then why not look at putting cubed watermelon in your water pitcher as this fruit contains electrolytes.  Berries or citrus are also great ways of  adding flavor.

Looking on sites such as Pinterest can help with ideas for sugar free or low sugar recipes and I find myself using dates, bananas, apples and even maple syrup in my cooking as a way to keep the sweetness while raising the nutritional value of a dish.

How to Reduce Processed Foods


Processed foods can be devoid of many nutrients as well as containing high amounts of sugar and/or salt - this is especially so with low fat processed foods.

Now I'm not saying you have to totally embrace the whole food movement (although it's really great!), but being more aware of what you're eating is a good place to start.   The best way to reduce processed foods is to start cooking a few things from scratch.

Now with our busy lifestyles it can be hard to imagine cooking everything from scratch so I would recommend starting with one meal a week and cooking double quantities, one lot for that meal and one lot for the freezer which means the next week you have your 'new' meal plus the frozen meal from the previous week.

Snack foods can be the biggest fall down for many households when it comes to processed foods so I like to make sure I have fresh fruit available and have vegetables such as carrot sticks prepared and ready to eat.   I also find making protein balls or bliss balls a great idea.

How to Increase Your Fruit & Veg Intake


We're all told to increase our fruit and vegetables, but how?  If you're starting to cook more from scratch and having it as snacks as well you will find that you start to increase your intake.

I try to throw extra vegetable into my meals when I'm cooking them for example when I cook a lamb or beef satay I will always add green beans.   I also add diced zucchini (courgette) to a number of dishes as it takes on flavors really well.

Another easy way to add vegetables into your diet is by using it to substitute some of your other foods for example use a spiralizer to make vegetable 'pasta' or using cauliflower or broccoli in place of rice.

Another thing that I do is I have a scoop of Greens Balance every day - this contains a rainbow of fruit and veg - and this can be taken on it's own, popped into a protein shake (or the green ogre shake above) or even added into something when you're cooking such as bolognaise.

I did see someone added the greens balance to banana muffins for her fussy child and he ate them because he was told they were made from monsters!

If you don't like eating breakfast or you have a child that doesn't like eating in the morning or at lunchtime then why not try a shake or a smoothie bowl - it's a great way to add in berries and other fruits as well as spinach, kale or a good old scoop of greens balance.

Reviewing Smoothie Bowl RecipesReviewing Smoothie Bowl Recipes
Essentially a smoothie bowl is a thick smoothie served in a bowl with different toppings and it is delicious. You can have a myriad of different flavors and there's really no rules as to what you can pop on top


Tropical Fruit Smoothie Recipe ReviewedTropical Fruit Smoothie Recipe Reviewed
The tropical fruit smoothies taste really good and they are very easy to make. Simply gather your favorite tropical fruits and the blender and you have a quick and healthy snack for breakfast, lunch or after dinner!


Healthy and Delicious SmoothiesHealthy and Delicious Smoothies
Feel more energized and healthier by adding a smoothie to your day, from tropical fruit to green smoothies and so many other recipes in between.



baby step ways to improve your nutrition for national nutrition month and beyond


So, Over to You


What are you going to do to improve your nutritional intake this month?




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Saturday, July 1, 2017

How to Make Easy Healthy Vegetable Stock for Free!

How to make easy, healthy vegetable stock for free!
Image by Lou of Lou's Designs
I love my slow cooker and one of the things I regularly make in it is my super easy vegetable stock.

The best thing about this recipe is that it's free food!  Well pretty much free - all you have to pay for is water (depending if you're charged for water) and electricity.

Let's review what you will need to make your own homemade vegetable stock (you won't believe how easy it is!) .......

What You Need To Make Easy Veggie Stock


  • Vegetable scraps/peelings
  • Water
  • Slow Cooker
  • Strainer

Vegetable Scraps


When I'm cooking I don't throw away any vegetable peelings, onion skins, carrot tops etc.  I have an old, empty, plastic ice cream container in the freezer and I put all of the vegetable scraps that are thrown away in most households into it.  I should note that I also add any mushroom stalks and skins (if I've peeled them), but I don't add asparagus ends as they don't do too well in the stock.

Basically making this stock is also reducing your household waste which is a big tick for the environment as well as your wallet - and the health benefits of eating stock that has got no hidden extras - well that's priceless.   Okay, sermon over and on with how to make the veggie stock.

I'm actually thinking that I need a bigger container to store them in especially since my daughter became a vegan.  At the moment I seem to be making a pot of stock once a fortnight.

Slow Cooker


I think everyone should have a slow cooker and they don't have to buy an expensive one.  I have a very basic slow cooker that has lasted me for more years than the company that made it.

 Crock-Pot SCV400B 4-Quart Oval Manual Slow Cooker, Black
The slow cooker I have has basically three settings - low, high or automatic and that's really all that you need for your first slow cooker.

 You can buy slow cookers that have a number of different programs, but I wouldn't spend more than $25 on a basic slow cooker for your first one and see how you find it.

The important thing that you want to make sure your slow cooker has is a removable stoneware for easy cleaning - I think most of them have this nowadays anyway.

Once you've left something cooking in your slow cooker and have walked back into your house to the delicious smells wafting through you will wonder why it took you so long to get one!   If you're already a slow cooker convert you know exactly what I'm saying, don't you?

So Exactly How Do I Make Simple Veg Stock?

The Easiest Vegetable Stock Recipe Ever!


Empty your veggie scraps into your slow cooker, add enough water to cover the scraps, turn on slow cooker and walk away!   How easy is that?  See if I say something's easy I really mean it!

I usually put my slow cooker on low and leave it for 6-8 hours, on occasion I have put it on high and left it for 3-4 hours and both options have worked well.

Once you've turned your slow cooker off you can either let it cool for a bit or strain it straight away.  I just ladle the contents of the slow cooker into a sieve over a jug and just strain all of the liquid through.   The vegetable scraps that you're left with get thrown away by me, although I might start keeping them for compost - I'm researching whether or not I should use them once they've been cooked especially as I've read that you shouldn't use onion skins in the compost.

You will note that I haven't added any salt to this vegetable stock - I just season the dish that you're making with the stock as opposed to adding any at this stage.   When I used to buy stock I hated it when you used a stock that was quite salty because your husband forgot to get salt reduced!
Vegetable soup make with veggie stock

When you're making your own homemade stock you will notice that every time you make it the color can be different.  This is because of the different vegetable scraps you have, if you are using red cabbage and red onion one week it will look very different to a week when you have mainly potato peelings and carrot tops.

Most of my vegetable stock is used to make a range of different soups as I usually make a different batch of soup each week.  The soup is then put into single serve containers and labeled with my favorite label maker before being popped in the freezer.

On days when I'm working I simply select which soup I feel like and that's a nice, quick and healthy lunch for me.

So let me know do you make your own vegetable stock yet?  If not I hope you'll give it a try and let me know how you get on.

How to make easy healthy vegetable stock
Image by Lou of Lou's Designs




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