MY PRIVATE REFRIGERATOR by Vickie Kline

I noticed the other day how different my refrigerator looks…  I hadn’t really paid attention over the past few months as my refrigerator slowly morphed from a habitat of processed foods to one of colorful, fresh, organic fruits and veggies that are begging to be eaten. Sometimes I open the door just to look in… and I immediately feel better about the healthful eating choices in front of me. This photo is an actual picture of my refrigerator. Some things are hard to see – but there are lots of fresh foods on the bottom shelf and other  things like Agave Nectar, Greek yogurt, green tea, Coconut milk, and Ricotta cheese perched there.

A huge part of this new eating plan has been the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program I recently joined. Each Wednesday I pick up a bag of fresh, locally grown vegetables and fruits. The items range from greens, to several types of peppers, to potatoes, to pears, and apples. It’s always a wonderful surprise to open the bag and see what’s inside. I’ve discovered many new foods too, such as, okra, eggplant, and dandelion greens. The challenge is finding ways to use everything from the bag each week.

Several weeks ago as the veggies were taking over the fridge and I was afraid some would spoil before we could get them eaten, my husband suggested using the extra for soup stock. So, as items began to lose their freshness, I would place them in a bag in the freezer. We ended up with three, gallon-sized bags of all sorts of things. (As I cut vegetables to make a salad, I even began saving the tops of peppers or okra that I would have previously thrown away). We took the veggies from the bags, placed them in a large pot of water on the stove with a touch of salt and let them cook. After being on the stove for approximately 1.5 hours, the veggies were taken from the pot and pureed, then returned to the pot of water to continue cooking for another 30-45 minutes. Next, we strained the mixture and returned to the stove for another half hour until the water cooked down a bit. We were left with a beautiful, rich brown stock that is completely natural from locally grown produce. I placed the stock in six ziplock quart bags (2 cups each) and dropped in the freezer. As winter approaches, we will have soup stock ready for chicken and noodles, miso soup, or any recipe calling for vegetable stock. The house smelled wonderful the entire afternoon as the veggies cooked on the stove too!

Not only has my refrigerator changed, but my counter top of unrefrigerated items is growing as well. Some of this is purchased from Natural Grocers, but the pears, squash, onions, and dried oregano are from the CSA program. It’s easy to eat healthful if you try new things and search for items you like. There is a whole world of natural vegetables and fruits out there waiting to be tried that will nourish your body and help you feel wonderful. Go for it… you’ll be glad you did.

Strive to be healthy!

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