Menu Planning Monday

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Wow,  I can’t believe it’s the last day of August! Where did the summer go? School has been back in session for a week, yet I’m still surprised to hear the school bus roll down my block each morning.

We had a busy weekend here, but in between chores and fun I was able to put together my menu plan and also do a bit of advance cooking. I roasted up a bunch of  vegetables – eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers, onion, asparagus with lemon, tomatoes and, of course, garlic. Boy, did my house smell good!

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I’ll be using up some ingredients I have on hand, hoping that will make for a small grocery bill like last week. Even purchasing mostly organic, my total came to just over fifty dollars!

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Here’s what I’ll be cooking; clicking on the links will take you to the author’s original recipes where you can print if you’d like.

Note: I follow a WFPBNO (whole food, plant-based, no oil) diet 90% of the time, allowing for a bit of oil here & there when dining out or when I just want a little treat. When the recipe calls for oil, I substitute vegetable broth or plain water when appropriate.  Sometimes the exact recipe I’m using is not published online so I will share a similar recipe.

So, what’s cookin’ at your house? Are you menu planning?

Michele

P.S. For other great menu planning bloggers, please visit Organizing Junkie!

Thrifty Thursday: Homemade Vegetable Broth

I became an avid nutrition label reader after going vegan, and even more so when I went oil-free. I was shocked to discover just how much oil is sneaked into the most unlikely of places! Vegetable broth, for example. Many of us rely on pre-packaged cans or boxes of broth, or we use those bouillon cubes. They’re convenient, right? Well, that convenience comes at a cost, not just monetarily but also nutritionally. So many of those innocent-looking cubes contain oil, corn syrup and other scary ingredients. 

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Why? Your guess is as good as mine, but I see no reason to put up with that when I can make my own fat-free, sugar-free broth with minimal effort and expense. Guess what? You can, too!

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First, you’re gonna want to gather up your veggie scraps. You know, the little bits & pieces of fresh vegetables that would normally get tossed in the trash. Carrot & onion peels, celery leaves, pepper tops, etc. Whatever is left over after preparing your meal, with the exception of salad greens because they don’t freeze well. I also avoid cabbage, kale, broccoli and other strong-tasting (and smelling) vegetables, but that’s just me. Dump these into your container, pop in the freezer and keep adding until it’s full. Now you’re ready to make broth!

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I rely on my Instant Pot for this purpose because it’s fast and easy, but you can also use a slow cooker or even stovetop method. The process is the same: dump the veggies into the pot, cover with water and cook until a nice rich broth appears.  (Times vary, but I did forty minutes in my Instant Pot because I wanted a very rich, dark broth. I’ve read that it can be made in as little as five!) If you want to get fancy, you can add some seasonings but since I’m using this as a base for future recipes, I don’t want any conflicting spices.

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Once it’s cooled down enough to handle, strain your vegetables over a large pot. (Some people put pasta strainers right into the Instant Pot, gonna try that next time!)

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Discard or compost the vegetables, then pour broth into jars or containers for storage. I got about 8 cups of broth.

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I used some immediately for a soup recipe, and the rest I poured into ice cube trays and froze. When I need a little bit of liquid for sauteing vegetables, I just pop one of these out and use in place of oil! So much healthier, right?!

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So, there you have it. Gorgeous, fat-free vegetable broth made from plain old water and stuff  you’d have tossed out into the trash. Frugal, eco-friendly and much tastier than anything you’d find on the grocer’s shelf.  Don’t you feel proud of yourself? I sure do!

Michele