A wave of change bought on by a couple of health issues washed me onto a path of searching for a stronger and genuinely healthier life. Over the year changes (all good!) were made in the kitchen and the way we eat in the household overall. Mostly eliminating the amount of processed foods we were consuming which surprisingly was more than I initially thought when I began the ‘clear out cupboards and fridge’ process. Interestingly enough, the shift to better nourishment has also saved a bit of money too, and so this has really kept us motivated for the long term.
The beauty about making your own is having control on the ingredients. Sometimes this control can improve health incredibly and I know for me it has tremendously. No need for preservatives or additives because transport and maintaining a shelf life are not considerations we need to worry about. And if you’re using local products there are many nutrients to enjoy, let’s not forget the sensational taste and texture. Also a little less drama when having to figure out the meanings of some of these ever changing ingredients on labelling – seriously who needs that!
Of course, convenience is sacrificed and this is the biggest hurdle to jump. However in saying this, it’s really rewarding and soon enough it becomes part of the routine. I would definitely encourage anyone to try making from scratch especially those stuck with health complaints. I would like to share a few easy nourishing dishes but more importantly would love to hear what you make from scratch or would like to attempt? I can’t seem to get my sauerkraut right.
Pick and cure olives
Olives where I live are costly to buy and it’s difficult at times to find ones not soaking in cheap heavily processed vegetable oils. Those that are cured in olive oil can be a little more expensive. Last year we spent a morning picking bucket loads of olives from an organic farm near home. Better yet, why not plant a couple of trees in the yard? We cured the olives for a couple of months and enjoyed a year’s supply at one quarter of the cost. By curing your own olives you’ll enjoy a deeper flavour that’s often lost at the commercial supermarket end, if it’s not added in artificially.
Make your own baked beans
Homemade baked beans is food for the soul and a good opportunity to use fresh herbs and ingredients, also without the added sugar found in a typical can of beans. The body may thank you greatly. I love the recipe from Stephanie Alexander’s Cooking Companion Book. Sharing the Food We Love has a great adaption of that recipe here. The Healthy Chef also does a very simple recipe here.
Make your own version of tin tomatoes
One of the biggest staples in our kitchen cupboard was tin tomatoes. There’s been a bit of talk and suggestion of the acidity of the tomato potentially breaking down the liner of the can leaching some chemicals into the tomatoes. While these days most cans have a BPA free liner which is good for anyone worrying about Endocrine disruption issues, I still prefer to make my own. If you love the flavour of tin tomatoes and well who wouldn’t? Then I would say make a batch ahead of time for a good development of flavour. My Whole Food Life has a great recipe here. Happy Healing uses an oven to slow cook the tomatoes, creating a nice roasted flavour. I can be a little disorganised at times and I end up just boiling the tomatoes on the spot, core and all. Then I peel and chop the tomatoes, transfer into a pot with extra seasoning and cook for a little bit to reduce before using in the sauce making process. Still tastes great!
Make your own almond milk
The price and quality of almond milk on the market is a joke because it’s so easy to make at home. So easy, step one and two of recipe here.
Prepare your own pulses
Chickpeas, borlotti, black beans, they can be prepared all the same way simply by soaking in water overnight and then boiling the next day ready for your chosen recipe.
Apple crumble pots
Such a versatile dish, I eat this at work when the munchies set in (which is always) but it can also be breakfast or dessert because it’s a genuinely healthy dish! Invest in ramekins, they make the bake and storage easier to manage. Spoon some stewed spiced apples and top with a crumble mix (I use almonds, oats and rye blitzed in the blender and mixed with some cacao, puffed buckwheat, butter and honey). Pop in the oven until the top is browned to your liking.
Pickled vegetables or fruit
Pickled vegetables adds a wonderful vinegary aspect to meals and also particularly good in burgers. Who loves burgers as much as I do? Purchase organic or good quality apple cider and some fresh vegetables, and I promise the jar of pickles will be incredibly nutritious for the body. Buy vegetables in season for maximum flavour and colour, also it can be cheaper when there is an over supply of produce. Not Quite Nigella has a wonderful pickled capsicum here and if you have time try making Tales of a Kitchen’s apple cider vinegar here.
Sneaking kale into minestrone soup
I don’t think my taste buds will ever warm to the grassy taste of Kale however the health benefits are far too good to ignore. I’ll throw a handful towards the end of cooking minestrone soup. To use up the rest of the kale bunch in the fridge, I divide and place in snaplock bags and snack on during the day when I’m out and about without access to a kitchen. Wash Kale thoroughly but not before you place in the snaplock bag as they don’t do well with moisture.
Go meat free every now and then
Slow cook lamb shanks are my favourite meal! However there are definitely benefits from going meat free one, twice or a few times a week. First of all is being able to save money, and every now and then lashing out on an a beautiful organic cut, and secondly replacing with a vegetarian dish really nourishes the body. Meat is fibre less and the digestion system works hard to break it down, mix that with overcooked or cheap meat and the liver’s working to remove the additives and chemicals. When we started this, we really missed the strong savoury taste that meat provides so I made a point of searching for vegetarian meals that fill that specific gap. Curries work well like chickpea coconut curry with garlic naan bread for example. Or adding mushrooms. Or making a batch of little potato dumplings.
Make your own butter
Margarine tends to be heavily processed with vegetables oils, and even vegetable oils are heavily processed before being used to make margarine. Those that can’t tolerate dairy, may be able to tolerate butter. Find a good quality full fat cream, preferably from a local dairy and run through a food processor or an electric hand mixer with your choice of herbs and salt. If you want to go fancy, add truffle salt. After several minutes the buttermilk will begin to separate, drain this away from the butter. Mould your fresh butter! Double cream works incredibly well too.