YOLO COUNTY NEWS

Food & Drink

12 for $40: How to work vegetables into your meals

By From page A9 | October 16, 2013

The more we learn about health, food or nutrition, the more we realize that the answer to many problems is simply “eat your vegetables.” Vegetables are high in fiber and an astonishingly wide array of nutrients, very low in calories, inexpensive, easy to grow yourself and extremely versatile in the kitchen. In a logical world, we would hardly ever eat anything else!

Eating, however, is rarely logical. Humans eat for myriad reasons, and very few of them have to do with health. So, while a big bowl of salad might be the most nutritious dinner for you, it’s rarely the one that you choose — and when you do, you may feel some combination of virtuous and deprived by your healthful supper.

If you’re in charge of food in your house, this can be a problem. Some cooks solve this dilemma by hiding the vegetables – pureed squash in the mac and cheese, kale in the brownies, which is OK if you have the time, and if it tastes good. Others take a no-nonsense approach: here is a plate of veggies, and you must eat it.

What works best for me, I find, is to start with the vegetables and build the rest of the meal around it. If a pan of bell peppers is frying, or greens are wilting in a hot skillet, or a container of cold roasted vegetables is ready to go, I find it fairly easy to figure out how to add a little protein and starch to the meal. (The bell peppers get a bit of goat cheese on top and slip into a toasted whole wheat roll; eggs are stirred right into the greens and scrambled, roasties are tossed with some whole wheat couscous, leftover cooked chicken and vinaigrette.)

A word to the wise: frozen vegetables are just fine nutritionally speaking, and are often cheaper than fresh in the winter. The bottom line, really, is that they are very, very easy – if that means you serve more vegetables, by all means use them. Remember too that 75 percent of the work in preparing veggies is in getting everything out and doing the dishes after. You have to do exactly the same amount of that work whether you cook half a cup of vegetables or three cups, so you might as well cook a lot and give yourself a head start on another meal.

Planning is everything in sticking to a food budget, and we aim to help you with six days worth of menus, which should feed two adults dinner six nights a week* for around $40.

These menus assume you already have some cooking skills, and own a basic reference cook book.
Below the menus are tips for cooking, or for cooking ahead. If you see “In the fridge for future meals” then save those items from this meal for later in the week. That’s been included in the shopping list

*(Everybody needs to go out, or share potluck with friends, or otherwise enjoy life once a week!)

The menu
* Saturday
Roasted Roots with Poached Eggs

In the fridge for future meals:
beet greens
Tip: Don’t like parsnips? Out of yams? Substitute root vegetables at will!

* Sunday
navy beans
cornbread
greens

In the fridge for future meals:
beans
cornbread
celery
milk

* Monday
Cream of Celery soup
Tuna Sandwiches

In the fridge for future meals:
bread

Tip: Buy whole wheat bread for the best nutrition for your dollar.

* Tuesday
Delicious Baked Beans
Toasted cornbread
Broccoli

In the fridge for future meals:
cooked broccoli
Tip: Don’t care for bacon? Simply omit it.

* Wednesday
Golden Fried Tofu
Rice
Cauliflower

In the fridge for future meals:
cooked cauliflower

* Thursday
Savory Bread Pudding

Tip: Use up all the leftover dribs and drabs of vegetables in this dish.

Shopping and recipes
Our shopping and recipes are scaled for two adults. Increase or decrease as needed to allow for your household. We shopped this list at the Co-op. We picked what we’d use at home — the best value rather than the absolute cheapest. We also assumed you had a few things in the pantry, which were not included in the shopping total. Our total: $40.62

In the pantry:
vegetable oil
soy sauce
vinegar
prepared mustard
garlic
honey
baking powder
salt
black pepper
red pepper flakes
dried thyme
dried sage
bay leaf

Produce:
broccoli, 1 pound
cauliflower, 1 large head
garnet yam, 1
parsnips, 2
carrots, 4
turnips, 2
red potatoes, 2
beets with greens, 1 bunch
onions, 4
celery, 1 bunch
russet potato, 1

Dairy and cheese:
sour cream, 1 cup
eggs, 7
10 ounces extra-firm tofu
milk, whole, 2 cups
cheese, 1 cup grated/4 ounces

Grocery:
tuna
bread
tomato paste

Meat:
bacon, 3 strips

Bulk:
brown rice flour, ½ cup/3 ounces
rice 1¼ cup/8 ounces
navy beans, 2 cups/8 ounces
cornmeal, 1 cup/5 ounces
whole wheat flour, 1 cup/5 ounces
brown sugar, ½ cup/3.5 ounces
vegetable broth powder

Roasted Roots
1 garnet yam
1 yellow onion
2 carrots
2 parsnips
2 red potatoes
2 turnips
1 bunch beets with greens
olive oil
salt
dried thyme

Wash and peel vegetables. Reserve beet greens. Cut vegetables in cubes. Toss with oil, salt and thyme. Spread out in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Bake about 90 minutes at 350º, stirring twice, until tender and caramelized.

Navy Beans
2 cups small white navy beans
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced carrot
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoon dried sage

Pick the beans over. Cover with plenty of fresh water and soak 8-12 hours. Drain and rinse well. Put in a large pot with all the other ingredients and cook gently until done, about 2 hours.

Improved Corn Bread.
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup whole wheat flour
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
¼ cup milk
2 eggs
¼ cup vegetable oil

Grease an 8×8 pan. Heat Oven to 425°. In a large bowl, Mix together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a cup, mix together sour cream, milk, eggs and oil. Pour the wet mixture into the dry and stir until just combined. Bake 20 minutes.

Julie’s Greens
1 bunch greens, rinsed well
½ teaspoon canola oil
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1½ teaspoon soy sauce
1½ teaspoon vinegar

Remove tough stems and chop greens in ½ inch strips. In a pan with a lid, sauté garlic in oil 1 minute. Add greens and red pepper flakes and stir. Cover and steam until done to taste. Add soy sauce and vinegar and serve.

Delicious Baked Beans
3 cups cooked beans
1 cup liquid from beans
¼ cup tomato paste
2 tablespoons prepared mustard
¼ cup brown sugar
1 onion, minced
2 -3 strips bacon

Mix together everything except bacon and pour into a baking dish. Place bacon on top. Bake at 350º until sauce is thick and bubbly and bacon is crisp, about an hour.

Cream of Celery Soup
1 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups celery, chopped
1 onion, diced
1 potato, peeled and diced
1 clove garlic
4 cups vegetable broth
1 teaspoon salt
1 bay leaf
½ cup milk

Sauté celery and onion in oil 5 minutes. Add garlic. Add remaining ingredients except cream and cook until vegetables are tender. Remove bay leaf and discard. Reserve 1 cup of cooked celery; puree remaining soup. Return to heat and stir in reserved celery and cream. Heat to a bare simmer and serve.

Golden Fried Tofu
¼ cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
1 clove garlic, pressed
12 ounces extra-firm tofu
¼ cup vegetable oil
½ cup brown rice flour

Mix soy sauce, honey and garlic. Cut tofu into about 16 long thin strips. Heat oil in a large pan. Dip tofu strips in sauce. Dip in rice flour to coat. Drop carefully in hot pan. Cook, turning once, until golden brown on all sides, about 2 minutes. Serve at once with remaining sauce for dipping.

Savory Bread Pudding
4 cups torn stale bread
2 cups chopped vegetables
1¼ cup milk or cream
¼ cup broth or water
3 eggs
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 cup grated cheese
(garlic or herbs to taste)

Preheat oven to 350º. Grease a dish and mix the bread and vegetables together. In a separate bowl, mix together remaining ingredients. Pour over top of bread mixture. Cover dish and bake 20 minutes. Uncover and bake until lightly browned, about 30 minutes.

Julie Cross

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