Easy Healthy Cooking

Easy cooking:                     
     Salads and raw vegetables are great, and learning to steam vegetables without overcooking is a very good skill to develop. 

    But knowing how to use a Good Soup Pot will help you create various dishes for quick, easy, and delicious meals !


SOUP: The best soup pot is a big stainless steel one with a thick bottom and lid. 

                    
                         This one is a little small, but will do.

Using a good soup pot is quite easy.  Cut up a lot of different vegetables after rinsing them and removing dark spots.  Put them in the pot. Add water to cover the veggies.  Put the lid on the pot and cook low to medium heat, stirring occasionally.

For additional taste, saute a few vegetables such as onions or celery in oil until they slightly brown, and add them to the pot.  Add a bay leaf, oregano, any other fresh or dried herb, or a little spice such as cheyenne or black pepper.  Put cut-up greens in later as they cook faster.  A very little bit of sea salt makes a big difference.  It is a good idea to add a little vinegar, lemon or even wine if you like.


                                                              
When it boils, turn it off. When cool, put this pot of vegetable soup stock into the refrigerator. It will last nearly a week and improve daily. When you want a meal, use a ladle or cup and transfer some into a small pot. Add whatever you want to make a different type of dish and warm it up. This is an easy way to make numerous meals that are inexpensive and convenient. Cook once and have quick and delicious meals for a week.

For example:
   
        CHILI - add beans, diced tomato or puree, and chili powder.  If you like, add hamburger, sausage, tofu, or all.

                                                     

         CHICKEN SOUP – add chicken. Use more of the stock liquid to make soup, or add water. Some rosemary is nice.

                       

            CHICKEN RICE CASSEROLE – add chicken and rice. Try brown rice.  For casserole, use more or the stock vegetables. If you have a pot of leftover rice in the refrigerator from a previous meal, add it.  Rice soaks up stock broth.
                                                                        

            BORSCHT – add steamed cabbage or cook it in hot soup stock. If you like, add steamed beets. “There are as many types of borscht as there are Russians.”

                                                   

            ITALIAN VEGETABLE SOUP – add white beans, perhaps sausage pieces or hamburger, maybe noodles.  Add Italian seasoning.
                                                      

            NOODLES could be cooked in the vegetable broth.  Fresh made pasta is not readily available here as it is in Italy.  Rice noodle cook rapidly, absorbing the flavor.  There are many types of noodles, some without gluten.
                                        
            MARINARA (Spaghetti) SAUCE – add tomato paste, puree or diced tomato with oregano, basil or thyme. Good over most steamed vegetables.

          
        
   
             “CREAM” OF MUSHROOM - (This works for "creamed" carrots, etal.)
Puree vegetable stock in a blender and add sauteed mushrooms. Or is this a gravy? 

                                    
                                         

            ASPARAGUS – use vegetables from stock and steamed asparagus. For the actual creamed version, add a little cream or half & half and stir before adding the asparagus.  Other vegetables work too.

            TOFU OR BEEF STROGANOFF – use vegetables from stock and add mushrooms, cubed or crumbled firm tofu, steak, roast strips or hamburger,  and a dollop (or dab) of sour cream just before serving.

            FISH SOUP - don't knock it until you have tried it. Add leftover fish from restaurant. Fresh fish can be cooked in the heated stock broth.

                                                                                

           AVGOLEMONO (Greek for egg-lemon) – beat up egg and put in broth. Stir while heating stock. Add the juice of a few lemons.  For the more classical chicken avgolemono, add chicken and rice.  Tofu works.  Fresh basil on top is satisfying, and perhaps you like oregano or fresh pepper.

           TURKEY STEW - Steam or boil potatoes. Add stock vegetables and turkey. 
                    

           LENTIL SOUP – you guessed it: add lentils. Puree the stock if you want it smooth.

                                       

           YOU NAME IT – any vegetable, meat, or legume or can be added. Adding herbs significantly changes the taste to create various dishes. Chopped fresh parsley is often a surprisingly good addition. Use more of the vegetables for main dished or sauces, more liquid for soups. More broth can be obtained later by adding water.

                                                                                                     

To change the texture for kids or elderly, or to make “creamed' soups, gravies or sauces, puree in a blender or try boiling the stock longer and mashing the vegetables. The variations are as many as your imagination. One very old woman loved adding scrambled eggs.

What Vegetables Make The Best Soup Stock?

 
                                      

Celery, carrot, leek or onion, squash such as zucchini, cabbage, some sweet potato or turnip, and any chopped green such as kale, endive or parsley. Cauliflower, rutabaga, daikon radish, green beans - any vegetable. Various vegetables are higher in different nutrients. Try different vegetables for different pots of vegetable stock. Some people rave about parsnip in soup. Most people like celery, carrot, squash, chopped greens, and cabbage in soup.

There is a surplus of corn products in most Western diets. Some people like corn, tomato, or potato added later to some dishes, rather than to the soup stock.
 

         
                           

And Why Is This Recommended?

Fresh raw or steamed vegetables are best for vitamins and fresh plant enzymes. Some people like to drink the water from steamed vegetables, as this water contains minerals leached from the vegetables during cooking.  These healthy minerals are contained in the soup broth.  It tastes good to you, and sends beneficial messages to you the cell of your body, which only have to eat what you feed them.

The other secret in the soup pot are the bacteria which are growing after cooking. Like the yeast in actually fresh bread, the culture in various dairy products (if preservative-free), or fresh sauerkraut, these bacteria are alive with protein enzymes. 
              
Soup stock also provides important soluble fiber, plant oils (best if not overcooked), and a flavorful transition to a better diet.  
    

Whether considering food or food supplements, there are four question:  purity, potency, price and bio-availability: easy for the body to absorb and use.  Freshly prepared food beats fast food on all four counts. 
  
Buying organic vegetables increases their purity, which is diminished by chemical residues and additives. Non-organic vegetables have the benefit of a lower price, but should be at least rinsed to diminish pesticide residues.  

Canned vegetables can be added to soup stock, although they have lost some of their potency depending upon the process used to prepare and store them.  As they were harvested during peak growing season, they may be higher in food value.  And they are generally low priced.

Some nutrients in food may not be as potent as in concentrated food supplements, but even small amounts of missing nutrients have real potency for improving health.  Vegetable broth nutrients are bioavailable.  And taste great !
 

             

A tasty, healthy snack 
    Hits the spot every time !
                                                  

A great snack or garnish to top salads and other dishes is made from seeds such as sunflower, pumpkin (pepita) or sesame seeds.  Try all three together.   Each one is great if fresh.  
Buy them raw. 

Since they cook at different speeds, cook each type of seed separately.  (Sesame seeks cook very rapidly.)   Put perhaps a cup of seeds into a frying pan with no oil, stirring them constantly on low to medi
um heat until they begin to smell and the seeds are more or less brown. At that point, move them to a bowl, adding each type of seed after it is cooked.

Most people like
tamari on seeds. Best is wheat-free. Soy sauce also works, as does other fermented sauces like Bragg's Liquid Aminos. Add it to the seeds while they are warm and watch them steam. Try adding any type of sea weed powder, such as powdered kelp or dulse. Nutritional yeast adds nutrients and a taste most people really enjoy.  Mixing in a little extra virgin olive oil after cooking seals in the succulent oils of the seeds.

After adding, stir to mix. When the seeds cool, they get
crunchy. They stay fresh for days, especially if covered. Put some in a bowl on the table and watch them disappear as kids and everyone else tells you how much they like them.

Seeds, nuts, beans and grains

Seeds are little packages that plants make, which sprout and grow to produce new plants. A lot of energy is put into seeds so they last through the winter and spout in the spring. Animals and people eat the seeds to get energy and nutrients such as protein enzymes and minerals.
                                           
Seeds are the favorite food of many animals, especially those with high metabolism such as little mammals like mice and song birds.  People usually ate apple seeds not that long ago, and in the 1950s advocates of laetrile as a cancer remedy advocated eating bitter almonds, which are commonly consumed in various countries.

                                                                                              
Grains like wheat and rice are the seeds of grasses. Nuts are the seeds of trees. (When nuts grow, they are surrounded by a soft pod called a fruit.) Beans are seeds. The seeds of other plants are just called seeds.
                                                                          
Cows can digest the seeds and fibrous straw in hay because bacterial fermentation in their “rudiment” gut help digest the hay.  People like raw foods such as salads or seeds, but have a much shorter intestine and generally need some foods to be cooked by heating to begin the digestive process of breaking food down for absorption, or “cultured” by bacterial fermentation.


Cultured foods
also contain live bacteria, whose enzymes provide nutritional benefits.  Such foods include pickles, sauerkraut, tamari or soy sauce, wines and beers, fresh bread and hosts of cheeses, yoghurt and other cultured dairy products.  Many have vitamin K, important for bone health. 


Unfortunately, these often have chemicals added to kill the bacteria and "preserve" the food.  If you like sauerkraut and are not restricting your sodium intake, choose one that says on the label "cabbage, water and salt", but not the one with preservatives.  Organic yoghurt without the preservatives or sugar is the best health choice.  Try adding real fruit.

                                                            
     
Many people are surprised to see how much their kids like cut-up raw vegetables. But then, many people are so affected by convenience foods and fast food habits they haven't tried cut-up raw vegetables themselves. For example, the inside of the stem of a broccoli is sweet and crunchy. Peel a broccoli stem and cut it up for a pleasant surprise! And that is just one one vegetable cut-up you may have not yet tied.

Seeds contain the greatest levels of nutrients when raw, but cooking seeds makes them easier to digest, as well as more appealing for many folks
.  Many people prefer cooked vegetables too, but overcook them and lose nutrients and flavor.  Just cook vegetables enough for a fork to go into them.  Just cook seeds enough for the oils to come to the surface, when they just begin to have aroma and are perhaps slightly brown.
                             
Nuts
are best raw or fresh cooked, as their oils become rancid with time and exposure to air and sunlight after cooking. Cook them as described above for seeds, in a frying pan, or roasted low heat in an oven.  They can have ingredients added, as described for seeds above.  All commonly eaten nuts are good to eat if not eaten excessively.  Walnuts are particularly high in heart-healthy antioxidants.  Peanuts are actually in the bean family, and are not a nut.
       

Beans
are best when soaked overnight before cooking.  This wakes up hibernating enzymes systems, so the beans begin to "sprout."  They need cooking on medium heat about 40 minutes, depending on the size and density of the type of bean.  Changing the water they are soaked in once or twice before they are cooked diminishes their tendency to produce intestinal gas.  Lentils need not be soaked, but are cooked like brown rice.
                                                                                

                                 

Rice and Lentils are easy to cook and can be stored in a container in the refrigerator to be warm later or added to other dishes such as soup stock to make quick, easy meals.  They are very inexpensive too.  Generally they are cooked by adding 2 1/2 times as much water, bringing them to a boil, then cooking them about 15-20 minutes on medium heat.  Let them sit a while covered to soak up water.  Brown rice has a lot more nutrients, particularly B vitamins, than white rice.

Wheat 
is too common in Western diets, as is corn.  As a result, many people have wheat sensitivities which can progress to celiac disorders, or even celiac disease, which to all too common and is frequently associated with osteoporosis.  There is speculation that the bromine residues from fumigation of wheat beginning in 1980s is the reason for the dramatic increase in wheat sensitivities, although others believe that the problem results from the proteins from wheat hybridization or perhaps genetic modification. 

Many alternative physicians note that antibodies produced from wheat sensitives are very similar to thyroid antibodies, as those with wheat sensitivities often have thyroid disorders.  There is an epidemic of such disorders.

                                         
                                                
Such a shame, since studies of other cultures have show the benefits of fresh bread consumption.  Sprouted organic bread can be found in most super markets, which might be better, but still contains gluten.

It is probably best for most people to diminish their wheat intake, although occasional fresh bread is probably fine for most people.
  Whole wheat is much better than white wheat products, as whole wheat contains wheat germ with its B vitamins and oils, and bran with its minerals and fiber.

There are many reasons to pass us Packaged Snack Foods
 with their altered, preserved or rancid oils and synthetic colorings and high sodium flavorings added to wheat.  If you want to be healthy, avoid such junk food.         
              
It is easy to buy and fix fresh snack foods. Raw seeds and nuts are easy to cook fresh. They stay fresh for several days.  Their smells and tastes are great!  Your body deserves great snacks.  If you treat you body well, it will treat you well.
 

                         
Coffee is a bean.  Think about the difference between fresh coffee and powdered instant.  Fresh coffee, if not excessive, has nutritional value.  It contains abundant antioxidants.  But these go stale quickly.  

Chocolate too is healthy.  But there is a difference between bars with high sugar content and "stabilized" oils, and fine chocolate.

                                       

A small anount of poppy seeds sprinkled onto some dishes is very satisfying (especially if fresh roasted).  Caraway seed is great mixed into steamed cabbage.  Pumpernickle seeds are distinctive.  Raw, ground, or fresh roasted flax seed have many health benefits such as promoting regularity.  Black pepper is a seed (waiters often offer fresh ground peppercorn in good restaurants). Celery seed is easy to use.  Then there is anise seed (tastes like licorice), cloves, nutmeg, and . .
                                       
If you express your art as a painter, some people will like your pictures, but others will not appreciate your efforts.  However, if you are a cook, everyone will appreciate your art

    " The way to a man's (or woman's) heart,
      is...  GOOD

                             
   
                                     
    
Cooking is a good way to care for friends, and bless people with truly satisfying art.    
                                                                                

There are the health benefits.
                             

 And
the ability to function well !