Homemade Veggie Stock

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Homemade Veggie Stock from Scraps

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Autumn is a few weeks away, and there’s nothing more comforting on a cool, autumn evening than a big bowl of steaming hot soup. It might seem like a daunting task to make your own from scratch, but if you’re starting with a rich stock base, making a variety of delicious soups is fast and easy. I make a large amount of stock, and store it in the freezer in 3 or 4 cup portions. So when you’re ready to make your favorite soup, or anything that requires a stock base, you can thaw only the amount you need.

It all starts with saving your veggie scraps, which once you get into the habit, takes no time at all. You’ll need ziplock freezer bags. Every time you cook with veggies, make sure you wash the skins thoroughly. Then take your peelings, end bits, etc., and throw them into the bag. Squeeze out most the air, and zip it up. Keep in the freezer, and add to it until the bag is really packed full. There are some scraps you should not use. Discard outer papery layer of onion skins, potato peeling, which have no flavor, and really tough end of veggies, or veggies that are starting to rot. Don’t use cabbage, cauliflower, or broccoli scraps, as they will add a bitter or overpowering flavor. Those can go into your container under the sink to add to your garden soil. Do add the base of veggies, such as celery, that are too tough for other dishes, and use the leaves of veggies like celery as well. Add mushroom stems, the stems of herbs such as cilantro and basil, or spinach stems, and the ends and tougher outer layers of onions. If you blanch tomatoes for other dishes and remove the center, add skins and juicy centers to your scraps as well.
Vegetable stock is much easier to make than meat based stock. It takes less time to cook, there’s no greasy mess to clean up, and you don’t need to constantly skim the top of soup. You don’t have to cool the broth and skim off fats before it is ready to us, either.

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Here are a few reasons for making your own soup stock:

  1. If you’re like me, and you’re into creating as little waste as possible, you’re going to love this process. No part of your vegetables go to waste. Mother Earth will love you too, because she gets the discarded veggie scraps once you’ve strained them. Instead of ending up in the garbage, they’ll end up in your garden, where they’ll be turned into fertile soil. If you don’t have a compost heap, that’s ok. Just dig them into the soil with a hand spade when you have a few minutes to spare.
  2. You’ll save money. If you buy broth, you know how much a 14oz. can costs. And it can take a lot of cans to make a good sized pot of soup. You want left-overs, right?
  3. You’ll be eating healthy. You know exactly what is going into your stock, and can use the freshest veggies, or organic veggies. I add whatever fresh herbs I might have left over from another dish as well, so they won’t go to waste either. You’ll know there is no added preservatives, flavor enhances, etc.
  4. It tastes so much better than store bought!

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Recipe:

Ingredients

  1. A gallon sized freezer ziplock bag packed full of frozen veggie scraps.
  2. A couple of medium carrots.
  3. A small to medium onion.
  4. About 3 stalks of celery.
  5. 3 to 5 cloves of garlic.
  6. 1 tablespoon of avocado, olive, or coconut oil.
  7. 8 cups of drinking water (I use spring or well water), or enough to cover veggies in the pot.
  8. Kosher salt and ground black pepper.
  9. A bay leaf, parsley sprigs, or herbs of your choice.

Method:

Add oil with roughly chopped onion, garlic, carrots, and celery, along with celery leaves, to large cooking pot. Bring to medium heat and sauté till slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Add water, frozen veggie scraps, herbs, bay leaf, and season to taste. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium low. Simmer for about 50 minutes.

Remove from heat. Strain broth through a large, fine messed strainer into a large heat proof bowl. Use the back of a wooden spoon to press down and eliminate all the liquid from the veggies. This can be a bit time consuming if you’re like me and have to squeeze out every drop.

Discard. The solid scraps into you compost container to offer back to the earth from whence it came.

Pour into freezer proof containers. Freeze till needed to make your next delicious, healthy meal.

Yields about 7 8oz.

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Please let me know how your homemade stock turns out in the comments section below. Or let me know if you have questions. I’d love to hear from you!

Spiced Sweet Tea Cranberry Cider

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Spiced Sweet Tea Blog

Spiced Sweet Tea Cranberry Cider

This spiced cider, brewed with fresh apples, oranges, and cranberries, takes little time to make and tastes amazing! Store a gallon in the fridge. On cool, autumn mornings, heat a mug full in the microwave, and sip the steaming, fragrant brew to awaken your senses and warm you from the inside out.

Not only is it delicious, but you’ll benefit from the antioxidants and vitamins in the fruit, which help boost your immune system and protect you against colds and flu. And did I mention how fabulous the house smells while your cider bubbles away in the crockpot for three hours or so? Yeah, you have to make this. I’ve been taking a thermos full to share with my students at my early morning yoga classes.

Ingredients:

Pot of brewed Ceylon or Chai tea (about 4 cups) I use loose leaf tea.

4 cups of water (I use well or spring water)

1 cup of organic sugar

1 12 oz. package of fresh or frozen cranberries

3 oranges

6 large apples

2 cinnamon sticks

All spice & Star Anise, to your taste

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Method:

Add sugar to the hot tea. Stir until dissolved.

Thoroughly wash the fruit. Without removing skin, chop apples and oranges into eighths. Add apples, oranges, and cranberries to crockpot.  Add sweetened tea and water, along with spices.

Brew on high heat for 3 hours, or until fruit is softened

Strain through fine sieve. Return fruit to crockpot and remove spices. Mash fruit. Return liquid to crockpot and cook on high for another 15 minutes. Strain again, squeezing the fruit to remove all liquid.

Serve hot in coffee mugs. Garnish with orange slices if you like. Also good served cold.

Let me know what you think in the comments section below, I love to hear back from you. And please share the recipe with friends. Namaste

 

 

 

Cooling Refreshing Mocktails

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Cooling Refreshing Mocktails

 

Have you had enough of the sizzling heat yet? Don’t despair! I’ve created some cooling, refreshing mocktails for you to toast the end of Summer, and welcome Autumn. I predict Summer is going to be slow to relinquish power, and we can expect a few more hot, muggy days, so what better way to celebrate the Autumn Equinox. And besides keeping you cool and hydrated, these yummy, non-alcoholic beverages are loaded with health benefits. Cheers! And please share my blog! You can comment at the end of the blog page. I love to get feedback

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Mock Mint Julep: Makes 2 drinks

1/3 cup water
1 tblspn. honey or blue agave nectar
2 tblspn. fresh, chopped mint
8 oz. organic or homemade lemonade
Mint sprigs to garnish
Ice

Bring water and mint to boil. Cool slightly. Add honey, then cool completely.
Add lemonade and stir to blend. Pour into 2 glasses filled with ice. Top with ice and garnish.

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Pomegranate Mocktini: Makes 2 drinks

6 oz. pomegranate juice (fresh is best, or I use Poms)
3 oz. fresh orange juice
1/2 oz. lemon or lime juice
1 tblspn. honey or blue agave nectar
Lime slices to garnish
Ice
Add all ingredients except lime slices to shaker. Shake vigorously about 50 times. Pour into glasses, and garnish with lemon or lime slices. To add some sparkle, dip rim of glasses in lemon or lime juice, then dip rim in Turbinado sugar.

Southwest Avocado Black Bean Salad

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Southwest Avocado Black Bean Salad

Easy, delicious, nutritious, and no need to turn on the heat! Salads are the way to go when summer rolls around, and Mother Nature provides such a bounty of fruits and vegetables at this time of year! If you’re into organic produce, take an early morning stroll on the weekend through your local Farmer’s market, and stock up on whatever is in season. The good thing about making salads is, chances are, you can substitute, eliminate, or add ingredients according to your personal taste, and it will taste just as great, maybe better! And don’t forget that fruit salads make a wonderful, refreshing dessert. Just chop them up, squeeze on some lemon juice, maybe a little honey or agave syrup, and serve. Or just serve one summer fruit, such as cherries or mangoes. I like to sprinkle sea salt and chili powder on mango slices. Try it!

Keep the pantry stocked with a variety of canned beans to add to your salads for protein, such as black, fava, or lima beans, and/or your favorite cheeses. And frozen corn, peas, edamame, etc. are good to keep on hand as an addition when fresh might not be available. I like to keep limes and lemons handy to create my own salad dressings. To make sure I always have the juice available, I freeze some in ice trays and store the cubes in freezer bags. Have extra-virgin, cold-pressed olive oil available, and your favorite vinegars for salad dressings. I prefer balsamic or white champagne vinegar for most salad dressings, or rice wine vinegar for Asian style salads.
So here’s an easy, delicious Southwest style salad you can throw together in minutes, with lots of alternate ingredients.

Southwest Avocado Black Bean Salad

INGREDIENTS:

1 (15 ounce) can black beans, (or substitute kidney beans) drained and rinsed
2 cobs of white corn, kernels removed, or 1 (10 ounce) package frozen corn, cooked drained, and cooled. Frozen edamame or peas could also substitute
1 cup of your favorite tomato, finely chopped
1/2 cup of red onion, chopped (or substitute sliced green onions, white onions, or shallots)
1⁄2 cup cilantro, finely chopped (substitute parsley, basil, or favorite fresh herb)
1/;2 cup of red, green, or yellow capsicum (bell pepper) chopped. For more heat, use your favorite hot pepper.
2 or 3 avocados, cubed
Juice of one lime, (or substitute lemon juice)
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1/2 tspn cumin (optional),
Tablespoon or less of olive oil, or substitute favorite oil

DIRECTIONS:

Throw all the vegetables into a bowl you’ve had cooling in the freezer (I add the avocado last, so it doesn’t start to oxidize). Squeeze the lime over the avocado. Toss all the ingredients gently. Now add last 4 ingredients, toss again, and adjust seasoning, oil, and lime juice to your taste. Let the salad sit for a couple of hours, if you can wait that long, to blend the flavours.

Let me know what you think in the comments section below. Namaste, and bien apetito.