Saturday, March 13, 2010


Thanks for checking out our paperless 'handout' for our Inexpensive, Healthy Meals class. We've posted some of our favorite meals, some links we think you may find useful, and some tips we've researched out. Feel free to comment or drop us a line if you have questions, have a recipe to add, or liked something you tried :)

Dry Milk

WM's favorite dry milk is the Country Cream brand. She got it at Grandma's Country Foods ( The #10 can is $12.99 or you can get a 25 lb. bag for $84.95.

Books to Check Out

(hopefully from your library because it's free)

  • Independence Days: a guide to sustainable Food Storage and Preservation by Sharon Astyk 
  • Food Rules by Michael Pollan (this is the one with the catchy phrases)
  • America's Cheapest Family Gets You Right on the Money by Steve and Annette Economides 
  • Kneadlessly Simple by N. Baggett
  • Artisan Breads in 5 minutes by J. Hertzberg
  • The $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook by E. Chase
  • 5 Ingredient - 15 minutes Cookbook by Cooking Light
  • The Healthy Kitchen by Andrew Weil and Rosie Daley

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Instant Oatmeal

27 cups rolled oats
2 TB + 1 tsp salt
5 cups brown sugar
4 ½ cups powdered milk
3 Tbsp cinnamon
2 tsp nutmeg
3 ½ cups wheat germ
8 oz. powdered coffee creamer, opt. (French Vanilla and Amaretto are good)

Process oats in a food processor or blender until they are half oats/half powder. Mix all ingredients together well and keep in sealed container. To use, put ½ cup in bowl with water and nuke for 1 minute. Notes: May also add flax meal and dried fruit or add fresh or frozen fruit when served. Thanks SF!

Food Coops Rule - This is my food coop. I love it. You order at the beginning of the month and they deliver to 'team sites' around the valley at the end of the month. You can order a meat share, a produce share (or several), and then there are add-ons from local businesses. The nutty guy's samplers are a must have and I love being surprised by which veggies and fruits are delivered. It gives me a good chance to try new things and since I order a lot, it makes me get creative about how to use all of it up or preserve it for later. I've been really impressed with the quality and I like being involved in the effort.  - Though I'm not a member of this one, I've heard good things. They're out of Bountiful but do have a pick up site at the Daybreak firehouse. They deliver every other week at 7am there and charge $16.50 for a share of produce.

Blender Cheese Sauce

2 cups milk
2 TB butter
4 TB flour
1 cup shredded cheese
salt to taste

Heat milk until hot, but don't let it boil. Pour hot milk into blender. Add butter and turn blender on. While going, add flour slowly. Once mixed, add cheese with blender still on. Stop blender and taste. Add desired salt or more cheese. Notes: use as cheese sauce for noodles or other recipe. If you want it thicker, add more flour before adding cheese, remembering that it will thicken as it cools. This is the easiest, cheater bechamel sauce I've found. 

Chicken Pesto

1 cup cooked chicken
3 cups cooked fetuchinni or angel hair pasta
2 cups fresh basil or oregano leaves
¾-1 cup grated parmesan cheese
2-3 cloves grated garlic
¾ tsp salt
1 cup olive oil

Place all in blender or food processor. Blend well. Mix into hot pasta. Add chicken and serve. Notes: may use half parsley and half basil or oregano. May add 2 TB pine nuts or walnuts. Thanks WM!

Chicken Alfredo

1 cup cooked chicken
3 cups cooked fetuchinni or angel hair pasta
1 pt whipping cream
1 stick butter
2 TB cream cheese
¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp garlic

Combine butter, cream and cream cheese in a pan on low. Simmer until mixed. Add Parmesan cheese and garlic. Simmer 15 minutes on low. Mix in chicken and serve over noodles. Notes: Do not boil! May use canned chicken. Thanks WM!

Chicken and Potato Piccata

1 1/3 lbs potatoes (4 med.)
1-2 TB olive oil
4 green onions, chopped
3 TB lemon juice, divided
2 TB grated lemon peel, divided
4 boned, skinned chicken breast halves (24 oz)
¼ cup chicken broth or bouillon
2 tsp dried basil or lemon thyme
¼ cup chopped parsley
Salt & pepper to taste

Pierce potatoes with fork and cook in microwave on High for 6 min. Let cool for 2 min. then cut into 1/2” chunks. Heat some oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Place potatoes in skillet (cut sides down) for about 6 minutes, turning occasionally. When golden brown, mix in onions, 1 TB each of lemon juice and peel, and all of basil/thyme. Cook and toss 2 min.  Season with salt and pepper. Remove from skillet and keep warm. Pour in a little more oil, keep on medium heat and cook chicken about 10 min, turning once. Raise heat to medium-high and add broth to deglaze, scraping any bits of chicken. Add parsley and remaining lemon juice and peel. Season with salt and pepper. Return potatoes to skillet, toss to heat through and serve. Thanks WM!

Paper Wrapped Chicken

2 lbs chicken breasts
1 tsp salt 
1 tsp sugar
½ tsp fresh, grated garlic 
1/2 tsp fresh, grated ginger
2 tsp sesame oil
1 TB soy sauce
18 squares of tin foil (6”x6”)
2 cups oil

Slice chicken breasts thinly - 1" wide, then diagonally into 1/2" pieces (should have about 75 pieces). Put chicken in bowl and add all but foil and oil. Mix well and refrigerate at least 30 min. Remove and wrap 4 pieces of chicken in each foil square. Heat 2 cups oil and deep fry packages 1.5 minutes. Remove. Notes: serve over rice. Ginger is easier to grate if it's frozen. Thanks WM!

Chicken Enchilladas

2 cans of chicken, drained (pull apart so it’s shredded)
1 cup sour cream
1 can cream of chicken soup
½ bottle Salsa
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cumin
3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
10-14 flour tortillas

In a large bowl mix the sour cream, salsa and chicken soup. Reserve ¼ of this mixture and 1 cup cheese for top. Take one tortilla and spread soupy mixture in a line in the middle. Place chicken on top, then cheese. Roll it up and place in greased 9x13 pan. Repeat until you have all of the tortillas filled. Spread remaining soupy mixture on the top and then sprinkle your reserved cheese on top of that. Bake for 35-45 min. at 375'. Notes: may use 2 cups cooked chicken and add 1 can green chilies if desired. Thanks WM!

Chicken Taco Pie

1 cup chopped onions
2 TB oil
3 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 ½ cups sour cream
3 cups chicken
6-8 tortillas cut in strips
1 cup shredded cheese

In skillet, fry onions and add seasonings, soup, sour cream.  Heat and stir in chicken. Oil a casserole dish. Cover bottom with tortillas. Cover with filling, sprinkle on cheese.  Bake at 350 F until hot and bubbly. Thanks WM!

Buttermilk Chicken

6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup cold buttermilk
½ tsp Oregano
½ TB Basil
½ tsp Thyme
1 ¼ cup saltine cracker crumbs
¼ cup Parmesan Cheese
½ tsp garlic salt
2 TB Parsley
½ TB Pepper
¼ tsp Paprika
2-3 TB Olive Oil

Soak Chicken in buttermilk for two hours. Mix all other ingredients except oil. Dip soaked chicken in spiced crumbs to coat.  Cook 30 minutes at 350', then drizzle oil on it and cook for an additional 30 min. Notes: may sub buttermilk for 1 cup milk plus 1 TB vinegar. Thanks WM!

Chicken and Biscuit Casserole

One recipe biscuit dough
grated cheese
2 cans cream of chicken soup
2 soup cans of milk
2 cups chopped, cooked chicken

Make recipe for buttermilk biscuits from scratch (or use Bisquick). Roll out and cover with grated cheese. Roll up and slice like cinnamon rolls. In a 9 x 13 pan, mix cream of chicken soup, chicken and milk. Place biscuits in pan and bake at 350' for 45 minutes. Notes: may sub 2 cans of tuna for chicken. Thanks WM!

Grilled Key West Chicken and Fruit

¾ cup orange juice concentrate
¼ cup pancake syrup
3 TB snipped fresh basil or 1 tsp dry basil
¾ tsp garlic salt
8 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
2 medium red or green sweet peppers
4 baby crookneck squash, halved lengthwise
2 small zucchini or yellow summer squash, ditto
1 large pineapple, peeled, cored and in 8 slices
2 oranges, cut into ½ inch slices

Cut pineapple, squash, and oranges into skewer sized pieces. Seed and quarter peppers. Rinse chicken and pat dry. Mix orange juice, syrup, basil and salt well. Brush sauce generously over chicken, peppers, and squash. Place on rack of an uncovered grill directly over medium coals.  Grill for 6 minutes. Brush with sauce; turn and brush again. Add pineapple and orange slices; brush with sauce. Grill 6-9 minutes or until chicken is tender and no longer pink, turning fruit once. Stats: 8 servings, 201 cals, 3g fat. Thanks WM!

Chicken Long Rice

3 lbs bone-in chicken cut into ½” cubes
½“ frozen ginger root, peeled and shredded
1 TB salt
2 cloves frozen garlic, peeled and shredded
½ cup chopped green onion
2 TB vegetable oil
12 oz mung bean noodles
2 TB soy sauce

In large saucepan, place chicken and enough water to cover.  Add ginger and salt.  Cover and cook over medium heat until chicken is tender. In separate large pan, fry garlic and onion in oil for two minutes. Add the noodles and just enough of chicken liquid from the cooked chicken pan to cover the noodles. Add soy sauce and chicken. Simmer for 5 minutes until noodles are cooked. Thanks WM!

Feather-Light Overnight Rolls

1 cup water
1 cup butter (sliced or softened); plus some to spread on dough
¾ cup sugar
2 tsp salt
1 cup cold water
2 TB or 2 (0.25 oz) pkg yeast
½ cup warm water
4 eggs, beaten
7 ½ cups flour (4 c white, 3 ½ c wheat)

In a 6 qt pan bring the 1 cup water to a boil. Add the butter, sugar, and salt. Remove from heat. Add the 1 cup cold water. Dissolve yeast in the ½ c warm water (not hot). When first mixture is lukewarm, add yeast mixture and beaten eggs. Stir briefly. Add flour and stir. Cover pan with lid and refrigerate overnight. When ready to roll out, divide dough in thirds. Lightly flour surface of bread board. Roll each third out in a large circle about ½” thick. Spread dough lightly with butter. Cut dough into wedges and roll each up, beginning at the wide end, to form a crescent shape. Place on 3 greased baking sheets (about 12 per sheet). Let rise for 3 ½ to 4 hours. Bake at 400' for about 12 minutes. Thanks WM!

Fresh Peach Syrup

5 fresh peaches, sliced
1 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp butter
dash cinnamon

Combine all ingredients and cook in a medium saucepan over medium heat until thick. Thanks WM!

Banana Bread

1 ¾ cup flour (1 c white, ¾ c wheat or all soft white wheat)
2 ¼ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1/3 cup olive oil or applesauce
2/3 cup brown sugar
¾ tsp grated lemon rind or 2 T Real Lemon
1 to 2 beaten eggs
1 ¼ cups banana, smashed (4-5 frozen bananas work)

Heat oven to 350' and grease pan or muffin tins. Combine first three ingredients in small bowl. Mix all other ingredients in large bowl. Mix dry with wet in 3 parts. Beat batter after each addition until smooth. Add ½ c nuts and/or raisins if desired or 1 TB cinnamon and 2 tsp cloves. Place in pan for one hour or muffin tins for 20 min. Makes 1 loaf or 16 muffins. Thanks WM!

Oven-Baked Chicken Parmesean

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (about 1 ¼ lb)
1 egg, slightly beaten
¾ cup Italian seasoned dry bread crumbs
1 jar spaghetti sauce (26-28 oz)
1 cup shredded Parmesean cheese (4 oz)

Preheat oven to 400'. Dip chicken in egg, then bread crumbs, coating well. In a 9x13 pan, arrange chicken. Bake uncovered for 20 min. Take out and pour sauce over chicken, then top with cheese. Bake an additional 10 min. Notes: goes well with cooked pasta. Stats: prep time - 10 min, cook time - 30 min, 4 servings. Thanks WM!

German Pancakes

6 eggs
1 cup flour
1 cup milk
pinch salt
2 TB butter

Melt butter in a cake pan. Mix other ingredients together until smooth. Pour in pan. Bake on 350 F for 30 min. Cut immediately and serve with syrup or berries. Thanks WM!

Glazed Pork Chops

1 envelope Onion Soup Mix
1 jar (12 oz) peach or apricot preserves
½ c water
4 pork chops (bone-in or boneless, 1” thick)

Preheat oven to 375'. In a small bowl, mix the first three ingredients. In a 9x13 pan, arrange chops; top with mixture. Bake uncovered 30 min. or until chops are done (no pink in middle). Serves 4. Thanks WM!

Chicken Grape Salad

5-6 cooked chicken breasts, chopped
1 ½ - 2 lbs seedless grapes, washed
1/3 box raisins
3 stalks celery, chopped
Crushed walnuts or pecans
1 TB lemon

Combine ingredients and stir in mayo to desired consistency. Refrigerate until time to serve.  Great with cornbread! Thanks WM!

Hearty Vegetable-Beef Barley Soup

1 lb lean ground sirloin (90%)
½ cup chopped onion
2 med size carrots, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
4 ½ cups canned low-sodium beef broth
1 cup uncooked pearl barley
6 oz tomato paste
2 TB fresh parsley (or 4 TB dried)
½ tsp salt & pepper
2 cups (10 oz) fresh or thawed corn kernels
1 cup fresh green beans, trimmed and cut in 1” pieces
1 cup fresh or thawed green peas

Over medium-high heat, cook the beef, onion, carrots, and garlic in a large skillet or pot, breaking up chunks of beef with a spoon, 4 min. or until meat is no longer pink. Drain fat. Stir in broth, barley, tomato paste, parsley, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 1 hour or until barley is tender, adding up to 1 ½ c. water if mixture seems dry or thick. Add corn, beans, and peas, cover and cook 15 min. or until beans are tender. Notes: may use very lean ground beef instead of the steak. Stats: prep-15 min, cook-1 hour 20 min, 6 servings, 371 cals, $1.10 per serving. Thanks WM!

Brown Sugar Syrup

1 lb brown sugar
1 cup water
dash salt

Mix ingredients together. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 min. Thickens upon cooing. Use over fruits, pancakes and waffles. Thanks WM!

French-Toasted Ham 'n Cheese

8 slices of whole wheat bread
2 TB honey mustard
8 thin slices of Monterey Jack cheese
4 slices (2 oz.) ham
3 eggs
2 TB water
2 tsp butter or olive oil

Spread four of the bread slices with honey mustard. Top each with a slice of cheese then a slice of ham. Top ham with remaining cheese and cover with bread. Trim cheese and ham to fit bread if necessary. In shallow bowl beat eggs with 2 T water until well blended. Dip sandwiches in egg mixture, turning carefully to coat both sides. Melt butter/oil in large non-stick skillet over medium heat. When butter is foamy, add sandwiches and cook 3 min. on each side or until golden brown. Serve hot. Stats: prep and cook time-20 min, 4 servings, 360 cals. Thanks WM!

Beef Stroganoff

1 lb sirloin steak, cut into ¼” strips
½ lb mushrooms
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 T cornstarch dissolved in ½ c. cold water
¼ tsp thyme
½ cup sour cream
noodles for serving

Cook noodles according to package directions. Cook steak in a hot, non-stick skillet for about 5 min until browned. Remove and set aside. Reduce heat to medium. Add mushrooms and cook 5 min. stirring until warm. Add soup and cornstarch mixture, then thyme. Bring to a boil and when thick, add meat. Remove from stove and add sour cream. Strain noodles and add sauce. Serve hot. Notes: May cut meat down by half or use hamburger for a cheaper version. May use lite sour cream but fat free doesn't work well. Stats: prep and time - 20 min., 4 servings, 275 cals. Thanks WM!


2 cup flour (try 1/2 ww or all soft white wheat)
1 TB baking powder
2 tsp brown sugar
½ tsp cream of tartar
¼ tsp salt
½ cup olive oil or softened butter
2/3 cup milk

Preheat oven to 450'. Stir together all but last two ingredients in a bowl. Add oil/butter and mix until it resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center and add the milk all at once. Stir until dough clings together. On a lightly floured surface, knead dough gently for 10-12 strokes. Roll or pat dough to ½” thickness. Cut with a 2 1/2” biscuit cutter, dipping cutter in flour between cuts. Transfer biscuits onto a baking sheet. Bake at 450' for 10-12 min. or until golden. Notes: for drop biscuits, incread milk to 1 cup and drop by TB onto greased baking sheet (don't knead, roll or cut). For cornmeal biscuits, sub 1/2 cup of the flour for 1/2 cup of cornmeal. May add 2 TB carrots, 1 TB parsley, and 1 TB green onion for a garden version. Thanks WM!

Red Pepper Relish

6-8 large red bell peppers, cut into 1/4 inch dice
8-10 large tomatoes, seeded & diced
2-3 large onions, chopped
6-8 cloves garlic finely minced
2-3 jalapeno peppers, seeded & finely minced
3 TB kosher salt
1 cups sugar
1 ¾ cup cider vinegar
½ cup ketchup
1 TB mustard seeds
1 TB dried oregano
1-2 bay leaves

Mix peppers, tomatoes, onions, garlic, chilles, salt. Let stand 3 hours. Drain thoroughly but do not rinse. Combine remaining ingredients in large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, stir in pepper mixture and cook until peppers are transluscent but crunchy (30-35 min). Taste and add more sugar if desired - up to another cup (2 cups total). Remove from heat and cool until just warm. Continue processing or place in bowl overnight for flavors to develop. To finish processing, place in warm bottles and then in hot water bath for 15 min on a gentle simmer. Let cool to room temperature. Lids should pop closed within an hour. Notes: If storing in fridge, this will last 2-3 weeks. Thanks WM!

Crock Pot Potatoes

10-12 potatoes
Aluminum foil

Prick potatoes with fork and wrap in foil. Fill crock pot with potatoes, cover, and cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 2-4 hours. Do not add water. Thanks WM!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Sugar by Any Other Name is Still as Sweet

Barley malt, dextrin, dextrose, fructo-oligosaccharides, glucose, sucrose, polydextrose, diastase, diastatic malt, ethyl maltol, maltodextrin, maltose, mannitol , xanthan gum (fermented glucose or sucrose), high fructose corn syrup. Sound familiar? Read: Sugar.

Sugar is almost impossible to get away from if you're buying packaged food. It's even hard to stay away from it when you're making things from scratch. While sugar may have it's place in a healthy diet (granted, a small place), if you're insulin resistant like me, it's really important to keep it in check.

High Fructose Corn-Syrup is not good for you. I think people generally know this. I've known it's been bad for me for many years. But it took actually understanding why it's so much worse than eating sugar by the spoonful to actually start avoiding it. Apparently, fructose "does not stimulate insulin secretion and the consequent increase in leptin, a hormone produced by far cells that tells your brain you are full, which reduces appetite (Ultrametabolism pg 98).” When you eat fruit (nature's source of fructose), you have the fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidents etc. to slow down the absorbtion. When it’s processed into hfcs, it absorbs quickly and goes straight inside your cells which turn it directly in to cholesterol and triglycerides.

Artificial sweeteners aren't the answer either. Dr. Hyman explains, “putting something on the sweet receptors of the tongue tells the brain that something sweet is coming and to get ready by producing hormones such as insulin…(but) they do not act as sugar does and do not balance your insulin. As a result, you end up with excess insulin in your body, so you end up eating more food...This whole pattern disrupts your appetite control system in serious ways (UM pg 99).”

Natural, non-nutritive sweeteners have been all the rage for a while. Sorbitol and xylitol are made from wood pulp. Stevia and agave syrup are from plants. These are definitely an upgrade from the processed, manmade versions, but as I understand it, the jury is still out on their effect on insulin resistance.

My preference is to make every effort to reduce the amount of sugar I'm using and to use actual sugar when I do use it. I'm really fond of using honey as a sweetener. I try to substitute it in whenever possible. It lasts forever in your food storage and if you get local honey, it can reduce your allergies because it has bee pollen from where you actually live.I use molasses in my bread and brown sugar over white whenever possible. I've seen real maple syrup used in some recipes and I'd like to experiment more with that option. In general, I've found that eliminating sugar where possible is the best strategy I've had. When I really want something sweet, I try to limit myself to things I've made from scratch - can't live without that flourless chocolate cake. Maybe I need to learn to make donuts...

Update 6/22: We've switched over to using only honey or real maple syrup in everything for the last two and a half months. It wasn't as hard to do as I thought it would be. I still eat sugar if someone else makes something or brings treats but all of our at-home cooking is white and brown sugar free. I definitely feel a lot more healthy in general and I can tell a huge difference the day after I've had a 'cheat'.

Choosing an Oil

Considering the smoking point of the oil you're using is probably the most important thing when choosing an oil. The smoke point is generally regarded as the 'maximum usable temperature' for a given oil. Oils begin to break down when they get hot enough to 'smoke' and the nutritional benefits are diminished significantly (or they can become toxic). When I'm spending the money to use an alternative, healthy oil, I want to be sure that the health benefit isn't lost by by the time my food gets to the table. If I'm going cheap and using a processed, mainstream oil, I also want to consider the smoke point because I am wary about what it will turn into once it starts breaking down. 

Understanding the fat profile of your oil choice is also important. Most people understand that trans fats are bad for you. Natural saturated fats like those found in butter or coconut oil are the subject of much debate. After reading Nourishing Traditions, I feel very comfortable using a lot of these in our diet. Unsaturated fats - the omega 3, 6, and 9s - can also be great oil choices but sorting thru the choices in this category can be confusing. Omega simply refers to the end of the carbon chain (as in, alpha and omega). The corresponding number refers to where the first double bond occurs on the chain when counting from the 'omega' side. So on an omega 3 fatty acid, there is a double bond on the 3rd carbon when you count from the end. Phew, aren't you glad to have that straight?

Omega 3s are AWESOME. Eat more of them. Fish oil and flaxseed oil are packed with omega 3s. These oils have very low smoke points (235' and 225' respectively) and should not be used to cook with. Corn, soybean, olive, canola, macadamia nut and walnut all have small amounts of omega 3s and have higher smoke points. Be sure to research the processing methods of these oils because if they use high temperatures, the Omega 3s will go rancid and no longer be of benefit to you (or even become toxic).

Omega 6s are poly-unsaturated fats. They are good for you but only when they're balanced with enough Omega 3s. Ideally, you want as low of a ratio as possible. 1:1 is ideal but anything under 1:12 is still considered good. The problem is, we tend to eat a ton of the omega 6s without balancing them out with the omega 3s so our ratio tends to be closer to 1:20 - if we're lucky. Choosing an oil that's low in Omega 6s is going to do the least amount of damage to your omega 3:6 ratio. Oils high in Omega 6 also go rancid easily so be wary of the temperatures used in processing.

Omega 9s are mono-unsaturated fats. The American Heart association recommends that 80% of your fat come from omega-9 fatty acids (if you're not following the Nourishing Traditions ideal). Oleic acid is a type of mono-unsaturated fat and is very healthy for you. Supposedly, your body also produces these omega-9s on it's own but I haven't really looked into that.

To sum up, choose an oil that has a high enough smoke point for what you're trying to cook. Try to use natural fats like butter or coconut oil or choose an oil that has a good omega 3:6 ratio. If you're cooking at a higher temperature and can't choose an oil with any omega 3s, choose one that's high in omega 9s or use butter.

Olive oil seems to be everyone's favorite choice. It is a very healthy oil with a decent omega 3:6 ratio (1:12) and high omega-9s (72%). It's also readily available at the store - this is a big plus. But supposedly the labeling of olive oils isn't well regulated. Apparently some manufacturers mix refined and virgin oils together to lower the acidity and qualify for an extra-virgin rating. Others supposedly ship their product to Italy to get labeled as an Italian product. So don't be automatically go for the cheap evoo unless you know where it's coming from. With this product, you probably need to pay the price to get the real deal. Another problem is that its smoking point is 300'F, so I can't use it reliably for anything cooked at a higher temperature than that, or anything sauted on high. Olive oil is best used cold or with low to medium-low temperature cooking. 

Oils with higher smoke points don't tend to have any omega 3s but there are still some good choices. Avocado oil and Hazelnut oil both have high smoke points (520' and 425' respectively) and low omega 6s. Grapeseed oil is another good choice because of its high smoke point (400') but it is high in omega 6s and therefor low in omega 9s - and it tastes really 'clean'.

I know you're all waiting for me to mention canola oil. I suppose I do need to tackle it for a sense of completeness. The smoke point on canola oil is 350'F. It has a 1:2.4 ratio of omega 3:6s and only 12% saturated fat. But it's very processed. The rapeseeds are exposed to high temperatures and chemicals during the processes of refining, bleaching, de-gumming, and finally deodorization (to remove the awful smell that happens when omega-3s go rancid under high temperatures). Also, the trans fat content is listed at 0.2 on the label but research at the U of Florida at Gainesville showed levels up to 4.6 in commercial liquid canola oil. So, personally, I am very leery of this oil. The fact that more than 80% of the plants used are GMOs doesn't help my opinion of it either.

Macadamia Nut oil is supposedly the best thing out there. Its smoke point is 410'F. It has super high omega 9s (84)% and an unheard of 1:1 ratio on the omega 3:6s. It's also crazy expensive and hard to find. I did finally find it at a health food store here in LA and it's been fun to use. It adds a nice nutty flavor to simple dishes.

My cupboard has extra virgin olive oil, macadamia nut, and coconut oil in it. I have also started using a lot more butter (read Nourishing Traditions to find out why). I have used and enjoyed grapeseed oil. It's cheaper than many other non-standard oils so that was a starting point for me. Coconut oil has a smoke point of 450'F and has medium chain, not long chain fatty acids. And truth be told, I still have a gallon of vegetable oil in the way back on the bottom - but it's just there for food storage in case of an emergency, until I can ramp up my supply of the others. I don't actually use the stuff.

I have made some efforts to reduce our oil consumption so I can afford the nicer oils. I mostly use it in my bread, salad dressings, and for sauteing. Other recipes that call for a noticeable amount of oil, I just don't make that often. Other good strategies are replacing half the fat with applesauce or replacing it entirely with white bean mush. Brownies are surprisingly good with blended up black beans. Or just use butter :)

Note: Updated 5/3/10 after reading Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig

Blogs to Check Out  - Lets you pick your location and the store you want to shop at. Then it lists the deals for the week at that store with a 5* rating system (5*s means it's the best price it will ever be at that store) and gives you links to any online coupons that apply to the sale items. If you don't want to coupon at all, still go to this site to check what's on a killer sale at your favorite store before making your menu plans. They track the prices year round so it's a lot more helpful than the mailed ad you get from the store. - My favorite. I check it daily - sometimes more often. She posts multiple times a day and includes free things to do as well as online deals, cheap recipes, printable coupons and sale scenarios. - keokeo's blog on being frugal. - These guys have been doing it for a while and they're local. They have a lot of great resources here. - Also a local coupon blog. She's quoted a lot on other blogs as well so she knows her stuff. - This is a great food storage blog. It's also got some good tools for inventory help and ideas for using food storage in menu planning. - I highly recommend their book and here's their new website. - The national standard for coupon websites. - Lots of recipes for $5 or less. They're not all ones I'd like to eat but a lot of them are yummy and they're all cheap :) - Tons of ideas for redressing your leftovers. - Helping moms save money. - That recipe club that's free for 30 days and helps you print the shopping lists for your recipes and any others from the site that you choose. - The recipe club that plans menus for you and provides a shopping list. Costs $5 a month to join. - Tons of cheap recipes.

Whole Wheat Pizza

1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
2 fl oz lukewarm water
1 1/2 TB oil
4 fl oz cold water
7 oz flour (use hard white wheat)
3/4 tsp salt

Combine yeast and water and let sit 10 min. Add oil and cold water. Whisk in 2 oz of the flour and 3/4 tsp salt. Add the remaining flour 2 oz at a time. Knead dough 8-10 minutes. Let rest 15 minutes. Divide in two balls. Cover and raise 1 hour. Toss into two pizza rounds. Add sauce, cheese and desired toppings and bake at 450' for 12-18 minutes or until cheese browns. Bake on lowest rack or on baking stone that's been heated and tossed with cornmeal for best results.Notes: this dough can be refridgerated for 48 hours once it's raised. 

Alternate method: After tossing or rolling out into pizza rounds, fry in a dry non-stick skillet on high for 1-2 minutes on each side or until just starting to brown (and still partially doughy in the middle). Precooked rounds may be refrigerated or frozen. When ready to use, thaw, top with sauce, cheese and toppings, and broil on a cookie sheet or bake on a pizza stone at 450' until cheese is melted and crust is done (about 6-8 minutes). 

Apple Granola Bars (Dehydrated)

3 tart apples
1/2 cup slivered almonds
2 cups rolled oats
2 TB brown sugar
1 TB honey in 1/4 cup water
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Peel, core, and grate apples. Mix with remaining ingredients. Dry in a dehydrator for 2-3 hours or until crunchy. Cut into bars and store in an airtight container.

Cream of Mushroom Soup from Scratch

4 TB butter or oil
3/4 cup broth
2 TB flour
1 cup mushrooms, celery, onion or whatever
1 cup sour cream

Saute mushrooms in 2 TB oil or butter. In separate pan, melt 2 TB butter or oil and whisk in flour. Cook for one minute over medium heat and whisk in sour cream and broth. Add mushrooms. Notes: this makes the condensed version that you would use in recipes. If you want to serve it as a soup, dilute it with water or milk.

Greens Casserole

3 lbs greens
1 1/2 cups cream of mushroom (or other) soup
2 eggs
2 TB oil
1 small onion, diced

Saute the onion in the oil. Add chopped, washed greens and cook until they are wilted and 1/4 of their original volume. Lay the greens in a baking dish and cover with the onion. Mix together the eggs and soup. Pour over the greens and bake for 30 minutes at 350'. Notes: you can use all the same kind or a mix of greens (turnip greens, beat greens, kale, spinach, etc.) Using a homemade cream of mushroom soup will reduce the salt.

Creamy Squash Quinoa

2 lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced
1 cup quinoa
1 tsp salt
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups water
2 TB olive oil
2 TB shallots
2 eggs
1 cup yogurt
shredded cheese (opt)

Steam the squash until soft. Rinse quinoa well. Mix squash and quinoa together in a pot. Add water adn salt and bring to a boil. Reduce to low and simmer 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and let it rest. Heat 1 TB olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and cook 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook an additional minute or two - don't let the garlic burn! Pour this over the quinoa and squash mixture. Mix well. Add eggs and yogurt and season with salt and pepper. Top with cheese if desired. Bake at 400' until browned.

Roasted Vegetables

5-7 lbs mixed root vegetables
1/2 cup oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
4 TB blasamic vinegar
herbs, fresh or dried
kosher salt

Chop the vegetables into chunks and put them in a long, deep roasting pan. Mix the remaining ingredients and toss with vegetables. Roast at about 450', stirring occasionally, until caramelized and browned and tender. Serves 8-10. Notes: use whatever root vegetables you have - potatoes, onions, carrots, sweet potatoes, celeriac, turnips, rutabagas, leeks. If you have any fresh herbs, use those. If not, experiment with dry herb combinations. 

Eggplant Rollatini

3 medium eggplant
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup goat cheese
1/2 cup pesto
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 cup tomato sauce
2 TB fresh marjoram

Slice eggplant lengthwise into 1/3 inch slices. Place on a baking sheet and brush with about half of the olive oil. Ideally, you want to grill these 3-5 minutes on each side, turning once. You may also bake them at 400' for about 10 minutes. You want them limp but not mushy. Lightly salt and pepper the eggplant slices after they're cooked. Mix together the goat cheese, pesto and nutmeg in a bowl. Place about 1 TB of the mixture on the narrow end of a slice of eggplant and roll it up. Whisk tomato sauce with 1/4 cup of the olive oil in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon the sauce onto a serving place, top with eggplant rolls, and sprinkle with marjoram leaves. Notes: You may choose to refrigerate for an hour or overnight to allow the flavors combine first. Let it come to room temperature before serving if you do so. Based on Mario Batali's Italian Grill recipe.

Scalloped Turnips

Peel and thinly slice about three turnips and substitute them for the potatoes in this recipe:

BBQ Chicken Chop Salad with Jicama

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup bbq sauce
1 head iceberg lettuce, chopped
1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
3-4 roma tomatoes, chopped
1 jicama, peeled and diced
½ cup cilantro, chopped
1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup thawed sweet corn
½ pound Monterey jack cheese, grated

Marinate chicken in bbq sauce, then bake at 350’ for 30-45 minutes or until fully cooked. Chop into pieces and refrigerate. Combine chicken with remaining ingredients and toss. Serve with Ranch dressing, more bbq sauce and crispy corn tortilla chips or fritos.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Cooking Whole Grains and Legumes - This site lists cooking times and water to grain ratios for several different whole grains and rices.  - This is the dry pack handout from the lds church. It explains how to soak and boil beans on page 28. On the same page, it explains how to substitute white bean flour or paste for oil in your recipes. There are also several whole grain and legume recipes starting on page 21.

Articles of Note - a short article on ways to add more fiber to your day. - a list of the 'world's healthiest foods'. - this is a template for making the cutest menu planner on earth. - list of high fiber foods to eat.