Thursday, June 7, 2012

Bits and Pieces

“Give a child a meal; you have fed him for today. Teach a child to choose Real Food; and you have nourished him for a lifetime.” – Kim Gerber, Out of the Box Food

I have to say, that I'm really glad that the obesity problem in this country is getting so much attention.  People are talking about it, some are even acting on it (baby steps I suppose) but at least it has become a topic of discussion.  There are many points of view, some that make more sense to me more than others but I think there are three main culprits to be aware of.  We don't move enough, we eat too much and processed foods are definitely adding to the problem.  I think we need to take some responsibility for ourselves and for our kids and get moving, watch our portion sizes and eat real food. The purpose of this blog was to share recipes that I have found and tested out so that people would be encouraged to feed their families real food.  Hopefully it's worked on at least one or two people so far!  Today I thought I'd share a couple of tips to make those homemade meals easier, better and maybe even more frequent.
Anyone who has been reading along knows what a big herb fan I am.  Fresh herbs can really make a  meal.  If you have a garden, flower box or even a flower pot you can grow enough basil to keep you going for a while.  They often sell it in the grocery store as a whole plant.  Just plop it in some dirt and water it once in a while.
If you don't want to deal with caring for herb plants, I have a couple of suggestions for dealing with the leftovers that you bought. Many times a recipe will call for a few tablespoons or a 1/4 cup of fresh basil or cilantro or what have you.  If you're not one to use fresh herbs several times a week, you don't need to let them go to waste.
My first choice would be pesto of course.  Throw what you have in the blender or food processor with a few cloves of garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil to thin it out (see earlier posts with specific recipes for pesto) and that is it.  You can even freeze it for later use.
Use the pesto to dress up some turkey burgers or whip up a quick pasta prima vera.  Saute a few veggies (whatever is on hand) and add the pesto and a little chicken broth to the pan to thin it out, delish.  I do want to comment on chicken broth though.  I noticed that one of the store brands we were buying has MSG in it.
There is a reason no one has (or should have) this in their spice rack anymore.  It's not good for you.  There are plenty of brands that don't have MSG so just take a look before you buy.
The next best thing to do with those herbs that you don't want to let wither away in the back of the fridge, is to make herb butter.  What a quick and tasty way to snazz up your salt potatoes this summer.  Just soften a stick of butter by letting it come to room temp.
Chop your herbs really small and fold them into the butter.
Put the herb butter on a piece of parchment or wax paper.
Roll it into a nice little log, sushi style.
Fold up the ends, pop it in a bag and throw it in the freezer.  Don't forget its in there though!
As long as we're onto freezing things, here are two more tips.  When you use that one tablespoon of tomato paste for a recipe and you don't know what to do with the rest...freeze it.  Whoever thought of this was brilliant.  I have never used a whole can of tomato paste in one (month) day.  I freeze it in tablespoon size portions so it perfect to grab just what you need.
Ever go berry picking?  It's hard to stop and then you end up with way more berries than you can eat before they go bad.  Then you try to give them to the neighbors, only to find that they went berry picking too.  The always thinking Nelsy, took a whole mess of these berries and froze them on a cookie sheet and then put them into bags in the freezer.  Guess who is now working on the last of last summer's strawberries (perfect for smoothies!) just in time to go pick some more.  I'm all out of bits and pieces to pass along for today, go eat some real food already!

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