Tuesday, 19 November 2013


A friend with a young, growing family recently expressed a desire for increased knowledge in how to add more nutrition to her family's diet without busting their budget.

I sat down this morning to write her an e-mail with some great ideas I have picked up over the years. Then I thought, I wonder if some of my followers would be interested in these tips. So I copied the e-mail to share here. 

I'd love to know if you find any of these tips helpful and I would be glad to share the recipes I have mentioned. Just PM me at teresaa@eastlink.ca and let me know which recipe/s you would like. 

(Your blender can be your best friend)

-          Everyone knows that onions & garlic are terrific for warding off sickness (including cancer, and possibly vampires), but most kids will NOT eat them. That is, most kids will not eat them if they can SEE them. That’s where your blender comes in.
-          You can puree any vegetable and add it to soups, stews, chili, pasta sauce, baked beans, even smoothies, and if your base flavour is dominant (Tomato sauce can hide all kinds of nasty veggies), they will never know any vegetables are in there; except that they will wonder what your secret ingredient is that makes it so delicious.
-          You can puree your vegetables when they are plentiful and in season; then freeze them in quantities that suit your family’s needs. Then when you make your soup, sauce or beans, just pop in your frozen pureed veggies and stir them in until they melt.


-          Making your own soup stock is one the most nutritious things you can do for your family. Homemade soups are great, even if you use bullion, but who wants all that processed crap? It just doesn’t have the same health benefits or flavour. Bullion is also very high in sodium,
-          You can add your stock to meats when you cook them, make gravy, cook rice or beans in the stock, add it to your pasta sauce for extra rich flavour and nutrition.
-          Save the skins of onions & garlic, peels of carrots and stems of broccoli to use in making your stock. Just pop them in a freezer bag and make your stock when you have a full bag. This is free nutrition because you would normally throw these out. You will toss them after your stock is made, of course. (Note: make sure to scrub your carrots before you peel them to get any dirt off)
-          I can send you instructions for making beef and chicken stock. I like to add beets to beef stock because they are so good for the blood and they add richness to the flavour. I often add turnip and ginger to my chicken stock. Ginger is very healing for the stomach. It is a good idea to reserve some chicken stock on its own for cold and flu season. One time Terry was so sick he couldn’t hold anything down but gingerale and my chicken stock. It made me feel good to know that he was getting all that nutrition and he got over the flu bug pretty quickly. Don’t worry if some of these additives don’t sound appetizing to you. You will not even taste them in the end product.
-          Soup stock is fairly easy to make and will fill your home with delicious scents.
-          You will feel so frugal and smart because you will be using ingredients that most people don’t use, like bones, chicken giblets and vegetable peelings.


-          Beans, the kind you make yourself from scratch, are highly nutritious and, if they are prepared properly, should not cause undue gas and bloating. I can send you instructions for the proper preparation to neutralize the gas-giving properties.
-          Beans are highly economical and keep in your cupboard almost indefinitely, in their dry state.
-          As mentioned earlier, you can add pureed (invisible) vegetables and/or homemade soup stock to your beans. You can make chili, baked beans or soups with beans.
-          Beans are filling and freeze well once prepared.
-          The smell of a big pan of bacon drizzled, honey-maple beans roasting in your oven will make your home smell delicious.
-          There are many varieties of beans: different shapes, sizes and colours. You can take the kids on a shopping trip to the bulk barn and let them help pick out different beans. They can even try making sprouts at home or planting some of the beans. They usually sprout within a few days.


-          A bowl of soup or chili cries out for something more. Instead of rolls or biscuits, you can serve a cheap and nutritious corn bread, hot from the oven. I have a recipe (my own invention) for Cornbread Pudding, which uses soft tofu as one of its ingredients. Tofu is high in protein and relatively inexpensive. Being that it is very bland, you will not taste it at all in your cornbread.
-          Cornmeal is super cheap, whether you get it at the grocery store or at the Bulk Barn.
-          You can use a gluten-free flour (coconut flour is nice) instead of wheat flour
-          You can either make it sugar-free or use organic cane sugar instead of white sugar. The taste will be the same.

-          This is a super easy way to boost the nutrition of your mashed potatoes
-          Sweet potatoes are packed full of nutrition. Add one to your pot of potatoes and mash them together when they are cooked. You can also try adding carrots to your potatoes and doing the same. Kids who won’t eat a pile of carrots on their plate will most likely eat them this way
-          Tell your kids, “Mommy is making special orange and white potatoes.”

-          This technique has saved me lots of time in the kitchen. It gives me a break when I have a busy day or if I am not feeling well.
-          Use huge pots when making soups, sauces, chili, etc. and freeze in family sized portions.
-          Feed the freezer: Get in the habit of making one for the family and one for the freezer. You will be so happy that you did on those days when you don’t feel like cooking.

-          Once the household is quiet, plan the next day’s menu. It will save time the next day and space in your overworked brain.
-          Take anything out of the freezer that needs to thaw. That’s when you will be glad you fed your freezer.
-          Take out your dry ingredients, measuring cups, pots or bowls for any baking you plan to do, as well as for what you plan to make for breakfast. My brain doesn’t work so well at 6 a.m. so having everything in front of me keeps me from forgetting key ingredients and is a huge blessing as I am still trying to wake up. Sometimes, as I scoop hot apple-oatmeal into bowls, I wonder who cooked this delicious breakfast and aren’t I glad I woke up in time to enjoy it.
-          If you plan to make beans in the next day or so, you can start them soaking
-          If you plan to make soup stock, you can get it started while the household is quiet. It only has to be watched for the first hour; then you will leave it to simmer for 2-3 days, stirring occasionally and adding your seasonings in the last hour.
-          Prepare baking mixes whenever you have time by pre-mixing the dry ingredients and saving them in labeled zip-lock bags or containers. Put the recipe on your label. Incidentally, baking mixes make great, economical Christmas gifts, stored in mason jars with the recipe written on cute tags that you tie on.
MY MOTTO -      “What they don’t know, will bless them.”
-          It is amazing to me how a person can make up his mind to not like something before it ever reaches his mouth. For their own health & well-being I will often refuse to tell my family all of the ingredients in some of the foods I prepare because, if they knew what was in there, they wouldn’t eat it. Without that knowledge they usually enjoy most of what I put in front of them. A side benefit is that they are now eating some of the foods, on their own, that they used to refuse. Terry used to dislike beets. I have been adding them as invisible vegetables for quite a while now, as they have great benefits for someone (like Terry) with blood pressure problems. Terry now eats them on their own and thoroughly enjoys them. I can only guess that he gradually developed a taste for them. Paul used to dislike sweet potatoes, but he enjoys my ‘orange & white potatoes’ more than regular potatoes on their own.

Whether your kids are six or sixty, it just feels good to provide excellent nutrition that everyone enjoys. And you don't have to be rich to do it.


Patricia St Martin said...

Teresa, Thanks so much for stopping by.. WOW!!! girlfriend I'm so glad I came over,I love this wonderful information on nutrition. You have some great ideas. My husband has diabetes and is on insulin we have been trying to eat health to keep his blood sugar level where it should be and any great ideas I'm always interested in and love the idea on the soup stock and the beans.
Hugs, Pat

ursula Uphof said...

Teresa, I just love some of your tips a d suggestions. I also do cooking for the freezer, especially in the winter and in the summer try and do lots with fresh salads. I would love to tap into your recipes. Busy planning our Christmas holiday with our son and family in New Zealand, but will be in touch when we get back. Thanks for sharing these lovely ideas. Hugs, Ursula

Dr Sonia S V said...

This is a super cool Post Teresa. SO much hard work put in to compile a good informative list!

Dr Sonia
Cards Crafts School Projects

Ellen Christine Smith said...

The mashed orange and white veggies trick is great. I have done that too. Another one is to add cooked zucchini!