Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Jax Attacks The Vegetables: Food Prep (Part 2)

It's 5 am right now and I'm in no mood for introductions, so let's cut right to the chase. This post is the second in my family food prep series. In my last post, I talked about how I streamline my cooking in one or two sessions so that my family eats homemade meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Today I'll share the vegetable-based recipes my family likes that are easy to streamline and are healthy! Be forewarned: there is a lot of chopping!

The secret to food prep is good tools. Just like you need a good education and training to be successful in your career, you need good kitchen tools to make your food. Consider getting the tools I use on here, and please feel free to comment with tools you think I should look into!

Remember, I make everything to serve troops. So my quantities are for large portions, and you may need more or less.

Let's start with soups. Soups are one of the easiest ways to incorporate lots of vegetables into your diet and enjoy a comforting, savory food. I also like them because semi-toothless babies can eat soups. We are having an issue getting our 3-year-old to try soup at this time. Oddly enough, he ate these recipes without complaining until 6 months ago, but now demands roasted vegetables. So as of now he's the only one not eating any of this.

"Creamy" Broccoli Spinach Soup

slightly adapted from Martha Stewart - I never make the toast
Makes ~10 servings (I usually make this in double batches, in two pots, it freezes extremely well)

3 leeks, washed and sliced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
18 cups of barely chopped broccoli (you can buy bags of broccoli at Costco, 3/4 of the bag should cover this), and truth be told, I don't measure, I just fill up the pot
18 cups spinach (again, large bag at Costco, or just one entire bag of Fresh Express Spinach)
2 cups chicken broth
1/3 cup Tahini (ground sesame seeds)
Salt, to taste

Heat the oil in a large pot under medium heat, then add the garlic. Cook it for about 1 minute, then add the leeks. Stir to combine with the garlic and turn up the heat to medium-high. Continue to let the leeks cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes. Let them brown slightly. Add the broccoli and the chicken broth, and immediately cover the pot. Once the broccoli begins to brighten in color, stir it to mix it thoroughly with the broth and leeks. Continue to cook it until it's just bright - don't cook it too long or else it will get soggy and brown. Turn down the heat to medium-low, add the spinach, cover, and let the spinach wilt. Once it's soft enough, turn off the heat and stir it in with the other vegetables until it's completely soft. Grab your hand blender - you need this - and begin pureeing the soup. Once it's basically pureed, add the tahini and salt, and puree it again to get it really soft and "creamy". If you would like, add a bit of parmesan cheese for more flavor in lieu of salt. Heath, our 16-month-old, DEVOURS this soup. He actually drinks it because the spoon takes him too long. If you're looking for a way to get loads of green into your kids diets, this soup is great.

"Creamy" Tomato Soup

Adapted from my Creamy Tomato Bisque - this is a much healthier version
Serves 16, and freezes very well, takes 10 minutes to make this

10-12 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 head of garlic, peeled. Chopping unnecessary (how easy is that?!)
12-14 celery stalks, or about one head of celery, not including the gross middle stalks, coarsely chopped
2 large yellow onions, coarsely chopped
2-28oz cans of whole tomatoes, drained
1 Tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/3 cup tahini (ground Sesame seeds)
chopped fresh basil, for garnish and flavor

Put everything but the tahini in the crock pot on high for 5 hours. When the vegetables are soft, use your hand blender to puree the soup, then add the tahini and puree it more until it's thick and creamy. Garnish with freshly chopped basil.

Amazeballs Ratatouille

I don't know where I got this recipe; at some point I added it to my recipe lists on AnyList, and then found it accidentally. This is for TWO batches. Cut it in half if you only want to make one to start.
Makes 2 batches, each which make about 12 generous servings. I make this two times without washing the crock pot between, and freeze the second batch. Then I only have to make it twice a month. 

6 medium/large zucchini halved length wise and sliced
4 red bell, peppers, chopped
1 medium-large eggplant, chopped
4 large tomatoes, chopped
4 yellow onions, chopped
12 garlic cloves, chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 can tomato paste
Salt, dried basil, dried oregano (or use fresh if you have it!), pepper
4 chicken bouillon cubes (no water)

Put half of everything in the crock pot on either high for 6 hours. Stir. Remove from crock pot, repeat process.
I feel like I should keep typing, but actually that's it.

Almond Slaw

From Les Mills 21 Grit Nutrition PlanMakes 16 servings. This is AMAZING. The ingredients look crazy- but people love this. It's great for a party salad as well as extremely healthy.

1 large head of cabbage, coarsely chopped into stripes
1 large onion, sliced (we use white or yellow, anything will work though)
4 garlic cloves, chopped finely
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup almond butter (Make your own! So easy and the jarred stuff is loaded with sugar)
1/3 cup Tamari or soy sauce (the original recipe calls for Tamari sauce. I don't eat enough soy to worry about a bit here and there in my diet)salt and pepper to taste.

Mix cabbage and onion in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk the remaining ingredients until it comes together as a dressing. Pour it over the cabbage and onions, and stir until evenly incorporated.

"Grilled" Vegetable Kabobs

1 Red Pepper, cut into medium pieces
1 Green pepper, cut into medium pieces
1 eggplant, cut into medium pieces
1 yellow onion, cut into large pieces
2 cups mushrooms, cut in half
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried italian seasoning

Pre-heat the broiler to high. Put the vegetables in a large bowl, drizzle the olive oil, salt, and Italian seasoning over them. Stir to combine, You can either thread the vegetables on skewers and broil them on high for about 5 minutes each side, or you can just lay them on a baking pan lined with foil, broil them on high for 5-7 minutes, then toss them around a bit and repeat the broiling time.

I don't have any pictures of my food, so I'll leave you with a picture of my kids playing near the harbor. In Part 3, I'll talk to you about the proteins we make in our house! Until then... :)

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