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Healthy Cooking Made Easy

January 14, 2009 Written by JP       [Font too small?]

Today I want to take you into the HealthyFellow.com test-kitchen. From time to time, I’d like to share some simple recipes and tips that I’ve learned from trial and error in our own home.

I’ve personally found two kitchen devices to be of great help in making healthy and simple meals. The first item is called an immersion blender, also know as a “stick blender”. The second item is a slow cooker or Crock-Pot.

One Pot, Several Meals

I usually start by going to the market and finding some good quality stewing meat. You can use beef, chicken, lamb or pork. There’s a great deal of room for personal preference here. But the great thing about slow cookers is that cheaper cuts of meat with a bit more fat and sinew work best.

PotsI also pick up a can of organic roasted tomatoes, organic onions and garlic and any dried spices that I’d like to add to the mix. Having a nice bottle of wine on hand is always on my list as well.

Once at home, I will sometimes brown the meat prior to placing it in the slow cooker. This is optional and a matter of both taste and time considerations. If I’m lacking time, I skip the browning altogether.

I throw all of the ingredients (canned tomatoes, onion, garlic, spices and a cup or so of water) into the slow cooker and stir them up. Replacing the water with red wine imparts a rich flavor, but is also optional. Finally, I add my cut of meat, making sure to spoon some of the mixture on top as well.

Slow CookerAs easy as all this is, the rest is even easier. Simply set your slow cooker to the appropriate setting (high, low or warm). The setting type is generally dictated by the cut of meat, it’s size and the amount of time you have to prepare your meal. If you have plenty of time on your hands, a low setting, for a longer period of time will do just fine. If you’re in more of a rush, then you can utilize the higher setting.

During the cooking process, you can periodically turn the meat to make sure it cooks evenly. But try not to lift the lid too often, otherwise the loss of heat will prolong the cooking time.

By the way, in our home, we often serve slow cooked meats on a bed of mashed cauliflower. We find that it accompanies “fall off the bone” meats very well. Trust me, you won’t miss the mashed potatoes!

More Veggies Made Simple

So now you’re probably left with some leftover stewed meat and a good amount of homemade broth. Putting the meat to use is easy (tacos anyone?). But here’s a creative use for the broth.

Pour the broth into a pot and add any vegetables that you’d like to it. I typically add some frozen organic broccoli florets or organic asparagus spears. Heat up the broth and veggies until hot. Now, break out your handy dandy immersion blender and pulse the ingredients until you have a smooth consistency or the consistency that you like. For a chunkier soup, try adding some of your leftover meat.

For some, a nice feature about this hearty soup is that you can hardly taste the vegetables at all. It’s so rich and satisfying, that a big fellow like me can enjoy the soup as a meal replacement.

There’s one other thing I want to point out about these recipes. Homemade broth, made from healthful ingredients, is actually very healthy for you. It’s much cheaper than store bought soups and broths and you control exactly what goes into it. This type of soup also freezes well, which makes it even more versatile.

There are many other applications for slow cookers and immersion blenders, as well as many, many more recipes available on the Internet. My hope is that today’s blog might help you to enjoy more vegetables and healthy, whole foods in a simple and convenient way.

Be well!

JP

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