MAKING VEGETABLE STOCK by Vickie Kline

I have posted several times about CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) programs. I will begin participating in a new program in March, and am very excited about it. I’m already thinking about all the veggies I will receive in the coming months, and ways to use them.

Last year, I would receive a weekly bag filled with all types of greens, root vegetables, tomatoes, and potatoes. All sorts of wonderful things that I had to decide how to use. There never seemed to be a short supply of okra either… which isn’t my favorite vegetable, but I wasn’t about to waste anything.

With my husband’s help, we began making vegetable stock. veggies in freezer bagToward the end of the week when some of the produce began to lose freshness and get soft, rather than disposing of it, we would place it in a ziploc bag and throw it in the freezer. When the supply was large enough, we would pull everything together and begin the process of making vegetable stock. This was a way to enjoy our produce long after the CSA season had ended.

The process is easy and well worth it. Begin by placing all your veggies in a large pot and fill with water until well covered. Cook over medium heat for approximately one hour, until veggies are soft.veggies after simmering

Remove veggies from pot and blend in a food processor. (Do not dispose of water in your pot). Processing will create a lumpy, pulp-like substance. It will be an “interesting” color, but this is determined completely by what you put in, so don’t be discouraged if it’s not yet pleasing to view. Most likely it will be dark green or brown.veggies going into food processor

After processing, put back in the pot on stove with water reserved from first cooking. Let it simmer for 45 minutes, until your kitchen is filled with the wonderful aroma of an outdoor garden.

Strain the remaining pulp by placing a fine strainer over a bowl to catch the juice. As you strain, stir and push the pulp against the strainer to squeeze out all the juice and broth.veggies straining

What you end up with is a bowlful of broth that is salt-free, preservative-fee, MSG-free, and made completely from natural ingredients. And, it tastes wonderful.veggie broth

Pour it into bags and mark by type. I measured and placed 2 cups into each bag. That’s a standard amount for most recipes. This particular batch had some peppers in it, so was quite spicy. I didn’t want to confuse that with others, so I labeled it as pepper broth. Place ziploc bags in the freezer.veggie broth in bags

When you’re preparing food in your crock pot or on stove top, you can pull out one of these bags and drop it into your recipe batch. The flavor will be phenomenal. And you know exactly what’s in it.

Now, as I slice carrots for a salad or cut peppers for a stir fry, I save all the bits that I used to throw away. This is how I keep my broth batches going during the winter when my CSA program isn’t producing.

Making vegetable broth is a great way to reduce stress, make the house smell wonderful, and keep you on track for a healthful eating plan, free of processed foods.

Strive to be healthy!

BAD BREATH by Vickie Kline

bad breathBad breath, whose technical name is halitosis, can be embarrassing and troublesome. Our society is obsessed with bad breath, as is evident by store shelves overflowing with gum, mints, mouthwashes, and other products designed to fight halitosis. These products may temporarily relieve the symptom, without addressing the true cause of the problem.

Basically, all food eaten begins to be broken down in the mouth. As foods are digested and absorbed into the bloodstream, they are eventually carried to the lungs and given off in our breath. If you eat foods with strong odors, such as, onions or garlic, you may temporarily decrease the odor by brushing, but it will return as foods pass through the body. Once the process is complete, the breath odor should go away. If not, you may want to check with your dentist or doctor.

Bad breath can be classified into two categories: transient and persistent. Transient refers to a temporary odor which disappears after brushing your teeth or using mouthwash. Persistent bad breath occurs when you work to correct the problem and it remains. This may be cause for concern. It could be a sign of tongue bacteria, breakdown of protein in the mouth, gum disease, yeast infection in the mouth, or a problem with your tonsils. If you suffer from dry mouth and don’t produce enough saliva, you may also have bad breath. Saliva is necessary to moisten and cleanse the mouth by neutralizing acids produced by plaque. If you think you’re experiencing persistent bad breath and are having trouble getting it under control, seek medical advice. You may also be dealing with symptoms of respiratory infection, postnasal drip, diabetes, acid reflux, or kidney problems.

Don’t let halitosis become a problem. Use good oral hygiene and brush often. If you still encounter problems, check with your physician.

Strive to be healthy!

Image courtesy of Fresh Breath Secrets