Recipes

I Made Chicken Noodle Soup

I woke up this morning in the dark. The power was out and I thought “Argh…this should be fun.”

Getting my daughter ready for school means getting her to eat an energy packed breakfast, packing her lunch, getting dressed and cleaned up for the day. It was actually kind of fun. She got to eat breakfast by flashlight while I packed her lunch box by candle light. She washed up with a pot of warm soapy water and all without complaint except wondering if the school was out too. That’s not really a complaint though.

We have been lucky with our power. When it is out it should not be the end of all. Panic shouldn’t set in because the lights are out. It is quiet where we our house is. I am surrounded by trees. Our neighbors are close enough to see but far enough to have space. There are pros of living here. I love it. When the power is out it is super quiet. I become aware of the day to day sounds I’ve gotten so accustomed to. I don’t even notice until they are gone. The hum of the refrigerator and the furnace kicking in. The electric buzzes and clicks of the tv and computers. All the little led lights of this ‘n’ that device. When the power comes on it’s a whole mess of sound as everything comes back to life. Breath in….breath out.

The days are getting shorter and cooler. Our furnace is kicking in and we have already had a couple of fires in the wood stove to warm the floors.

I’m looking forward to uping our eating habits to be heathier for us and the world. I am looking forward to more soups and broths to be our every day norm. I want to keep moving my way towards things that are less processed and less packaged. When it comes to lunches that means no more cans of chicken nooodle soup. One of the things on the menu that she is almost always guaranteed to eat. I have been experimenting with different homemade ones to come up with a healthier, tasty family and ‘mykid’ approved version.

I have found one that works pretty well for my particular eater. The ingredients are simple.

  • Chicken (bone in)
  • Water
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • onion
  • Garlic
  • Egg noodles
  • Salt
  • Bay leaf

I used my electric pressure cooker and a blender for this. In the instant Pot, put every thing but the noodles they go in shortly before serving as they will keep cooking into a mush if put in too soon. Set for soup or 30 minutes. Remove bay leaves and chicken making sure to get any bones that have fallen off. The soup is actually pretty tasty as it is but in this case I am blending it to make a nice smooth soup base. Use an emmersion blender or let it cool and put it in a counter top one. Add salt to taste.

Shred chicken off the bone and add it back into the broth. Transfer into portions that can be frozen or kept in the fridge for a few days.

In the morning I can pull out a portion and heat it up. Add egg noodles and let it simmer for a bit before putting in her thermos.

By doing this:

I have less cans to recycle.

I have a better tasting meal with no additives.

FOOD, Sprouting

My Sprout Grower

This is the sprouter that started it all.

 

About 5 years ago I picked up this little guy from Mississauga’s VegFest. I was intrigued with the notion of growing something other than herbs on my kitchen counter.  I don’t actually grow herbs, not for a lack of trying, but when it comes to growing things I’m really not all that patient. This is designed like a greenhouse to safely sprout in a day or two.  It is so much fun to watch how they progress and I see it a learning opportunity for my daughter to see how food can be grown without soil and anytime of the year.

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I’m still using it even after being stood on and crushed a few years ago. By my then 4 year old. It just popped back when pushed  into shape.

Yes, I know it’s plastic and these days I am all about reducing the amount we use but I wasn’t thinking about it back then. This is one of those situations where the value of adding sprouts to my daily eating routine takes precedence.  The basket itself is stainless steel. There are many ways to sprout which I have since began exploring but this system is so simple,  efficient, and transportable that it grabbed and still holds my attention. My family is now part of a CSA program with a local company called Four Season Greens so we always have a consistent supply and variety. I still use my Sprout Grower in addition, but to make sure I have enough to make my salads and feed all of us I purchase a weekly supply.

That day I was nostalgic for when my mother made some bean sprouts as a kid. She didn’t do it often. I just have this vague memory her growing some soybean sprouts on the kitchen counter. I remember trying some and that wonderful crunchy mouthful of flavor that followed. I bought this new sprouter not knowing much about the benefits of it and micro-greens.  I was more interested in having a new addition to enhance our dishes and salads. The more I read and eat the more evident it becomes that we need to put nutrients back into our diet. We have over processed our food.

This is Tony’s site, the developer of this sprouter. It is chock full of links and information on sprouting and it’s benefits!

http://www.sproutgrowers.com

 

FOOD, Sprouting

Sprout Salads

How could I have not written a post about this yet. My new love of salads thanks to sprouts and micro-greens. Crunchy, crispy, chock full of flavour and goodness. My mouth waters just thinking about it.

About 5 or 6 years ago we went to the vegan fest in Mississauga. That day i came home with a sprout grower that works so efficient and simply. I was blown away by how I could be eating crunchy and tasty sprouts within a day or two. It came with a package of mung beans to get me started. Since then I have been eating, reading and learning sprouts.

FOOD, Recipes

Chickpeas! Made from Scratch

My newest pressure cooker adventure is cooking my own chickpeas instead of using the canned ones. I still keep some cans around for backup for those days when a recipe calls for them and I don’t have any made. I find a batch will keep in the fridge and I take what I need out of it as I go. In my instant pot I can make it in about 40 minutes from start to finish. Actually it’s a bit longer considering the heat up and cook down period so I have to plan an extra hour if I need it that day. It sure beats having to pre-soak and watching the stove, or the slow cooker. Oh, and the flavour! Much more intense than the cans.

I find a ratio of 1:3 works well. In this description I’ll double this because usually that will last a few days.

Here is how it goes:

  • rinse 2 cups of raw chickpeas and add to pot (pick out and sad looking ones)
  • add 6 cups of water
  • cover and adjust the manual timer to 35 minutes.
  • make sure the steam release is closed. I have forgotten to check before and wondered why the pressure would not build up. The cooker will just hiss away until it is closed.
  • After it finishes beeping at the end let it naturally cool down so you keep the flavours in.
  • I use a slotted spoon to transfer them into a container to go right in the fridge. Most of the water will be gone but there will be some left that can be turned into a fantastic soup. Last night I just added water, some chicken pieces that I had in the freezer, rice, and made a yummy congee snack for later. It would make a great base for a lot of dishes so you could also keep it in a glass jar in the fridge for a few days.

By doing this:

  1. I save in the cost
  2. I save the time
  3. I save the salt
  4. I have one less can to recycle

Buy doing this I add flavour and nutrients to my recipes!

FOOD, Recipes

An Alphaghetti Taste-alike

In my search for lunch ideas that a 7 year old would be happy to have in their lunch I have come up with this version of the infamous Heinz Alphaghetti that kids love so much. These ingredients are all items which I usually have on hand. Bonus! I will get right to it.

You will need:

  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 4 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • clove of garlic (or garlic powder)
  • oregano
  • cilantro
  • 1 cup shredded cheese
  • pasta
Go that extra step and use organic and fresh whole ingredients if you wish, but I am just pleased to have an alternative with less sodium, additives and without the can.
In a pot blend together all ingredients except the cheese.
Boil the broth, tomato sauce, garlic, coriander, oregano, and cheese. Simmer over medium heat to cook the garlic and thicken a bit. If your kids like their sauce thicker either use cornstarch blended with broth or water and add it to the sauce or adjust the amount of cheese. I find when you cook the pasta in the sauce it brings the starches out anyway. The cheese thickens and adds tasty creamy texture so you can always play around with how much you add.
If you are eating it right away add the pasta and cook for about 7 minutes. otherwise you can portion the sauce out in glass containers and freeze it or keep it in the fridge for the next few days.
I found because the pasta will keep absorbing the sauce even after it is cooked it works best for me if I just cook enough for that days lunch portion and add it before it goes in the soup flask.
FOOD, Sprouting

Veggie Bowl

I have never been a big fan of salads. I am talking about the idea of what a salad was growing up. The lettuce and tomato, bits of cucumber with croutons, bacon bits and maybe some dressing. Actually dressing seemed to be the very idea of a salad. I always would get a second look from the staff when I asked for “no dressing”, on the occasion that I did have one in a restaurant. I think the lettuce was my big turn off though. leafy pieces of romaine or head lettuce really don’t do that much for me.

I started eating sprouts occasionally about 5 or 6 years ago. I went to a vegetarian convention and one of the vendors was selling sprout kits. I bought one and have been in love with sprouts ever since! for a while it was hard to keep a consistent routine of sprouting my mung beans. I would go in spurts – have a few good weeks here and there when I could keep the batches going. And with every new spurt I would groan and vow to maintain this new routine. Last year I took a workshop from a local sprouter and afterwords subscribed to their CASE program. I get a weekly micro-green and sprout supply. My idea was to also make my own but to have it fill those big gaps and always have them around as a staple.

So my love of salads grew.

Having all sorts of salad ingredients ready to go in a bowl is key. I usually try to have chickpeas ready in the cupboard or in the fridge. Lately I have been making my own which is so much tastier and economical too. I have used navy beans too.

Here’s a list of ingredients that can be tossed in. It’s really depends on what I happen to have in the fridge ready to go.

  • Grape tomatoes
  • Green peppers
  • Chickpeas
  • Quinoa
  • Lemon
  • Sprouts and/or micro-greens

The trick is not to be stingy with your sprouts. There is a tendency to think of it as a garnish. A flavor to be added to enhance a dish.