Friday, October 28, 2011

The revised intro. . .

This is the current, and possibly final iteration of the book's intro.

The Pantry Cookbook
How to cook nutritious meals from scratch, on a budget, when time is short.
by Michelle Clay
cover art by Martinique Fisher

This book and its cover are licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported. This means you are free to share (copy, distribute, transmit) the book, and you are also free to adapt the work, so long as you attribute the work to Michelle Clay and Martinique Fisher. You may not use this work for commercial purposes. However, you may sell copies of this book so long as all profits go to support food banks, school or community gardens, or similar programs that address hunger or nutrition issues.

You can set this cookbook up as a fundraiser for your organization! A digital file of this book is available, for free, online. If you have a non-profit organization that addresses hunger or nutrition issues, you may upload this book to CreateSpace or another self-publisher, for the purpose of publishing copies for your program's patrons, publishing copies for fundraisers, and/or selling copies through an online source such as Amazon for the purpose of collecting royalties for your organization. For more information, visit

Or contact the author at If you decide to use this book for your organization, I would love to hear from you!

0.00 Welcome to the Pantry Cookbook!

How to Use This Book

Welcome to the Pantry Cookbook! In this book, you will find recipes and information on how to cook nutritious meals from scratch, on a budget, when time is short. While this book has been written for the complete kitchen novice, it is also thorough enough that it can be a reference book to experienced home-cooks as well.

If you have little or no experience cooking from scratch, start by reading the rest of this this Welcome section. Continue on to the Basics of Cooking (1.01), Basic Cooking Equipment (1.02), and Cooking Safely (1.03). Then you may want to skip ahead to the chapter on Quick Meals (10.00). Other good places to start are the recipes for Boiled Grains (6.01), Boiled Beans (7.02), Sautéed Vegetables (5.02), Baked Chicken (9.02), and Pot Roast (8.06).

If you already know how to cook and you have the necessary equipment, then you can proceed to the recipes. Use the table of contents to find specific recipes.

You may notice that every recipe in this book has a number. Each section heading, such as Chicken (9.00), has a whole number. Subsequent chicken recipes are labeled with decimals: 9.01, 9.02, etc. Information on cooking is in the 1.00 section, and everything else is recipes. I used this method of numbering rather than page numbers so that the book can easily be printed in different page formats or with additional recipes.

We Eat the Wrong Things

Here in the U.S. we eat too many of the wrong sorts of foods. Fast food, restaurants, and pre-packaged foods leave out nutritious, whole ingredients in favor of cheap fats and sugars. Because these foods are so convenient, we eat too many empty calories, and not enough of the other nutrients that we need to stay healthy. The results are obesity, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and other serious health problems.

What Are the Wrong Things?

Sugary drinks: soda, fruit juice, energy and sports drinks, flavored water, etc.
Fast foods: hamburgers, pizza, hot dogs, French fries, etc.
Snacks: potato chips, corn chips, candy, etc.
Grain-based desserts: donuts, cookies, cake, pie, sweet rolls, etc.
Dairy desserts: ice cream, cheese cake, etc.
Pre-packaged foods: mac-n-cheese, canned pasta, frozen meals, etc.

Any of these foods would be okay in moderation, but the fact is that we are not eating them in moderation.

What is in these foods that is so bad? Fats, sugars, and salt.

Some salt is necessary to a healthy diet, and almost all food needs some salt in order to taste good. However, snack foods, pre-packaged foods, and food from restaurants, especially fast-food restaurants, tend to include far more salt in a single meal than is good for us.

Some fat is necessary to a healthy diet. Fats supply essential fatty acids, and help the body to absorb vitamins A, D, E, and K. In general, “solid fats” - fats which are solid at room temperature - are less good for you than “oils”. Food from restaurants, especially fast-food restaurants, tend to include far more fat in a single meal than is good for us.

Some sugar is necessary to a healthy diet. Sugar is a carbohydrate, and carbohydrates are what fuel our bodies. However, “added” sugars, such as white sugar and high fructose corn syrup, are not necessary at all. These added sugars are what make soda, sweetened fruit drinks, and desserts taste sweet. Refined carbohydrates from white flour and white rice are also bad for us in excess. Our bodies function best on “complex” carbohydrates, such as those found in whole grains.

Why Don’t We Eat the Right Things?

People used to eat more whole grains, until someone figured out that if the brown outer layer was processed off of the wheat or rice, then the grains had a much longer shelf-life. Similarly, salt, sugar, and oil were found to be excellent preservatives of food. Almost all preserved foods last longer at the expense of nutrition.

The ability to store food for a long time protects populations from starvation when crop failures occur. So over the centuries, we have likely survived by developing a taste for foods that are preserved: overly salty, overly processed, overly oily, and less nutritious. This is in addition to an ancient instinct to eat high-calorie foods when we can get them.

Restaurants and food manufacturers capitalize on our taste for fats, sugars, and salts, because it is cheaper for them to cook from preserved ingredients than it is for them to make food from fresh ingredients, and because the more extra salt, sugar, and fat that they add, the more we seem willing to pay for and eat what they cook. Additionally, most restaurants do not consider themselves obligated to cook nutritious and low-calorie meals. By contrast, when we cook for ourselves and our families, and especially our children, we must strive to cook and serve nutritious food, in order to be healthy.

What Are the Right Foods?

The most nutrient-rich, low calorie foods we can eat are whole grains, vegetables, eggs, low-fat dairy, lean meats, poultry, seafood, nuts, and seeds. When we cook with these things from scratch, the results are far better for us.

Isn’t it More Difficult to Cook from Scratch? Yes and no. Cooking from scratch can be very difficult, but this cookbook focuses on recipes that are easy to cook.

Isn’t it More Expensive to Cook from Scratch? Yes and no. This cookbook focuses on ingredients that are inexpensive and easy to find.

Doesn’t it Take Longer to Cook from Scratch? Yes and No. This cookbook focuses on three types of recipes: those that can be cooked in a hurry, those that can be cooked in advance and then reheated, and those which can be cooked in advance and then used as an ingredient in a quick recipe.

Additional resources:

Harvard's Healthy Eating Plate: an easy-to-read resource on what constitutes a balanced diet.

The World’s Healthiest Foods: a lexicon of whole ingredients, the nutrients they contain, and how to best cook them to preserve their nutrients.

How to Cook Everything, by food writer Mark Bittman. This inexpensive cookbook may be the only cookbook that you ever need.

The US Department of Agriculture's SNAP-Ed Connection recipe finder. This is a database of recipes for foods made from inexpensive whole ingredients. It includes nutrition information, cost per serving, and print options:

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Harvard Fixed the Plate!

Harvard has fixed the USDA's flawed plate image!  Thank you Harvard!  I have sent them a request to use it in the cookbook.  Hopefully I'll hear back from them soon. . .

The Gods Be Praised. . .

I HAVE FINISHED CROSS-REFERENCING THIS INFERNAL BOOK!  Hallelujah!  I think my eyeballs are going to wither up and drop out of my head.  Big thanks to Faith for watching Gabe, and for Kaylee for taking an epic nap.

I still have to skim and troubleshoot the first third of the book again, because when I started this last pass, I assumed I would have time for another revision.  About a third of the way in I stepped up my efforts because I realized I would not have time.

And then I have to do the graphic design.

And I insist on getting this all done by November, which is coming up like a Mac truck.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


Argh!  Last night we decided to kick up our heels and make something quick from a box.  So I dumped the mac into the boiling water, and up floated a couple of insects!  The next box in the cupboard had a lovely little worm hanging out in it.  Lovely.  Our cupboard is infested with Indian meal moths.

I should have caught on when the sunflower seeds clumped together.  I assumed they were just old and decomposing.  The dried mango that went yucky. . . I just assumed that it was a contaminated batch, and I hadn't looked too closely.

Now that I know what I am dealing with, I realize I have to strip out all of the cupboard's non-canned dry goods, and dispose, freeze, or eat them promptly.  And vacuum out the cupboards.  And hope like hell that there are no meal moth larvae lurking under the oven or in another room, because it appears that these bugs are hard as hell to be rid of.

The worst part will be the spice cupboard, but I've been needing an excuse to sort it and start over.

It's a damn good thing these bugs don't carry diseases.  They are disgusting; they eat your dry goods and poop in them, and web them up with silk, but they're edible; or at least won't make you sick other than at the thought of eating insects.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Cookbook Cover!

We have our cover!  Many thanks to Martinique Fisher for her lush, delicious painting.  I have had friends ask me why I wasn't illustrating the cover myself.  Two answers: I don't have time!  And, even if the circumstances were perfect, I doubt I could do justice to a picture of food.  I know my limits as an illustrator.

But, ahem, I'm too clueless about graphic design to know my limits, so the real GD-ers out there can have a laugh at my novice attempt to do something psudo-professional with text.  I used to have fun mangling Palatino for fliers back in my college days, and it was a treat to fiddle with it again.  I'll be tweaking the cover layout some more before the final version goes to the publisher, no doubt.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Playing Hookey

Well, I would like to write about all the cookbook work that I got done today, but I shirked my duty, instead using nap time to write up an outline for my NaNoWriMo novel.  :D  On the plus side, I think I'm still on track to participate in NaNoWriMo.  I had left the second half of October open partially as schedule padding, and I'll be needing it to finish up, for sure, but it may just save my literary butt.

I'm still burning caffeine fumes, so time for a little more cookbookery. . .

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

More Coffee, Please. . .

Being back home with family has allowed me to be a coffee addict again.  My parents drink it morning and afternoon, and they upgraded to a maching the grinds the beans right before brewing.  Afternoon coffee has fueled my night-time writing.  I am so spoiled right now.  Next week, I'll be switching back to decaf.  It'll be messy.  There may be tears.

I lost my cookbook momentum with the arrival of my sister and my adorable little nephews.  For the three days of weekend, there was a katamari ball of sticky little boys rolling about the house.  I got to tell my sister about the cookbook project, and I cooked a little for her.  To my delight, she had never eaten barley as a rice substitute, and even more to my delight, she liked it so much that she asked how to cook it.  No higher form of flattery can come from my sister.

I also won over my mother with some pink veggie balls.  My mother likes her slabs of meat.  She is a genius with gravy.  What she taught me was the foundation for this book.  But she frequently declines to venture outside of her comfort zone.  She ate these bizzare balls, though, even though they were vegetarian, and even though they contained lots of beet.  And she liked them.  Woot!

My sister's family left behind a little viral gift, so I've spent the past days dealing with a sick baby instead of writing.  And Saturday's flight is looming large.  Time to put it into high gear.

Anyway, before the loss of momentum, I was churning through the book, cross-referencing the recipes, and filling in the gaps that were unearthed in the process.  The following are a couple of the new additions, and some sections which were heavily reworked an/or filled out.

13.11 Croutons
Croutons are small bits of bread that go on top of salad. Croutons are another way that you can use up leftover stale bread, but you can also make them with fresh bread.

There are any number of ways to make croutons. You can cut or tear buttered toast into small pieces. You can cut or tear fresh bread, and then bake or broil it on a cookie sheet. You can even stir-fry cubes of bread in a little butter or oil. Croutons can be seasoned with salt, pepper, and spice mixes. You can even use chunks of bread in a salad without toasting them at all.

5.11 Fruit

Technically, since they are a part of a plant, all fruits are vegetables. But sweet fruit that require no cooking tend to be put into their own category. Fruits low in calories. Sweet fruits are high in sugar, but are also high in fiber, which slows the body's absorption of the sugar. This makes fruit an ideal snack food. Whole fruit stacks up especially well against fruit juice, because a large glass of fruit juice contains all of the sugar of several pieces of fruit, and none (or negligibly little of) the fiber.

Some fruits will continue to ripen after they are picked. These fruits may be kept at room temperature until they are ready to eat. Once they are ripe, they can be moved into the refrigerator to store for a few more days at peak ripeness – with some exceptions. These fruits can be left to ripen on the counter:

Banana (Do not refrigerate – the fruit will turn black!)
Honeydew melons
Tomatoes (Tomatoes can be refrigerated, but their flavor will diminish.)

To hasten ripening, fruit can be left in a paper bag on the counter. To further hasten ripening, put a banana in the bag.

The following fruits stop ripening when they are picked, and should be put in the refrigerator at once:

Apples (Apples can be stored for months in the refrigerator, so stock up when they are in season!)
Blueberries (You can also wash and then freeze blueberries, if you intend to cook with them.)
Cranberries (You can also wash and then freeze cranberries, if you intend to cook with them.)
Raspberries (You can also wash and then freeze raspberries, if you intend to cook with them.)
Blackberries (You can also wash and then freeze blackberries, if you intend to cook with them.)

Apples and berries are good fruits to stock up on while they are in season, because apples can be refrigerated for months at a time, and berries can be frozen for use in Berry Sauce (15.12), Smoothies (2.02), Pancakes (2.06), Oatmeal (2.04), or other recipes such as pies or jelly.

Dried fruit is just as good for you as fresh fruit, and has the advantage of a long shelf-life. Try dried fruit in Grains with Nuts, Seeds, or Dried Fruit (6.05); or for breakfast, in Yogurt (2.01), Smoothie (2.02), Cold Cereal (2.03), or Oatmeal (2.04). Dried fruit is also great in desserts like Fruity Bread Pudding (16.06), Energy Bars (16.02), and Oatmeal Cookies (16.01). Fresh fruit works well in most of these recipes, too.

3.00 Store-Bought Bread

Bread has many uses beyond the sandwich. In addition to fresh bread, stale bread also has many uses, from French toast to breadcrumbs. This section gives examples of recipes which call for store-bought bread as the main ingredient. Other bread recipes can be found elsewhere in this book: Dessert Bread Pudding (16.05), Breakfast Bread Pudding (2.07), and Cinnamon Toast (16.03), French Toast (2.08), and Croutons (13.11).

Most breads are made from wheat flour. Wheat flour comes in two varieties: white, and whole wheat. White flour and whole wheat flour are made from the same plant, but in white flour, the outer portion of the grain has been stripped off. This gives white flour a longer shelf life, but unfortunately also removes more than half of the nutrients that are found in whole wheat. So, white bread contains a lot of empty calories. Use whole wheat bread when possible.

One slice of sandwich bread torn or cut up makes roughly one cup. One loaf of sandwich bread will usually have16 or more slices, not including the heels. One slice of bread (or one hamburger or one hotdog bun) makes between ¼ and ½ cup of bread crumbs.

3.01 Storing Bread, and Keeping Bread Fresh

Bread gets stale when it is exposed to the air, so the best way to prevent bread from getting stale is to keep it sealed in a plastic bag. It is fine to keep bread stored at room temperature. However, sealed bread will get moldy after a few days or a week. If you aren't likely to eat the whole loaf in time, you can store it in the refrigerator.

Did you know that sliced bread freezes nicely? Buy more than you need when it’s on sale, and put the extra away in the freezer. Frozen slices can be thawed in the microwave, or put directly into the toaster. Frozen bread must be thawed by heating it, however. Bread thawed in the refrigerator or on the counter will likely be ruined by the ice crystals that then melt and get the bread wet.

3.02 Making Stale Bread On Purpose
Many recipes call for stale bread: Croutons (13.11), French Toast (2.08), Dessert Bread Pudding (16.05), Bread Crumbs (3.03), Stuffing (3.07), etc. To make stale bread, leave slices of bread on the counter overnight without any sort of airtight covering. You can put them in a paper bag if you prefer.
To make stale bread in a hurry, put the bread on a cookie sheet in the oven at 350 degrees for a half hour.
If your recipe calls for cubes or torn-up pieces of stale bread, you may find that it is easier to cut or tear the bread before it has gone stale.
Stale bread can be frozen until you need it. This is particularly useful for Thanksgiving stuffing, which is a hassle to make if you leave the bread-chopping until the last minute. Save up heels of bread as you finish eating loaves of bread, dice them at once, and store them in a bag in the freezer. Then when you need them, the stale chopped bread will be ready to grab and use. You can toss them right into your recipe without thawing.

3.03 Bread Crumbs
Bread crumbs are an ingredient used in various recipes, such as “breaded” meats, and in Balls, Patties, and Loaves (12.00). If you don't want to buy bread crumbs,you can make your own by crumbling or chopping stale or toasted bread.
Some kinds of bread make better bread crumbs than others. Ironically, the easiest bread to make bread crumbs from is exactly the sort that you wouldn't want to eat any other way: cheap, mass-produced white bread. Whole grain breads and artisanal breads have a tendency to become rock-hard when stale. These can be grated to produce bread crumbs, but white bread becomes so delicate that it can be crushed into crumbs in your hands.
One slice of bread (or one hamburger or one hotdog bun) makes between ¼ and ½ cup of bread crumbs.

6.00 Whole Grains

Far too much of the typical Western diet is made up of “refined” grains. Refined grains are grains which have had the outer portion of the seed-hull removed. This makes the result white: white bread (made from wheat) and white rice being the most common. Traditionally, this was done to make the grain and flour last longer on the shelf. Whole grains go rancid faster. However, most of the nutrients and most of the fiber are contained in the brown outer layer of the grain. The “white” versions are pure carbohydrates, which are high in calories, and which break down into sugars quickly during digestion.

Whole wheat flour and brown rice are far superior foods. And there are quite a few other whole grains that are just as good for you: barley, oats, rye, wheat berries, and millet are just some of the grains available. Whole grains should be stored in the freezer if you don't plan on cooking them within a few weeks of purchase.

Whole grain flours are used in any number of recipes, but this section deals with whole boiled grains. For recipes that use flour, see Pancakes (2.06), Gravy (15.02), and Oatmeal Cookies (16.01). See Pasta (14.00) for recipes that use pasta made from whole wheat.

Lastly, if you prefer the taste of white rice, you can use the recipes here to cook white rice, too.

15.14 Cream Sauce

This sauce is the primary ingredient in Fettuccini Alfredo (14.03), but it can also be used as a sauce for meat or fish, or with Creamy Grains (6.06). Use this sauce in moderation, because it is high in calories and fat!

2 tbsp butter
1 cup cream
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Nutmeg to taste

Melt the butter in a pan. Add the cream, turn up the heat a little, and boil, stirring occasionally, for about ten minutes. This will thicken the sauce. Stir in the cheese. Add salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

"Hungry Muppets"

From a Seasame Street press release:


"The Food for Thought program will provide families with an educational outreach kit, which includes an original video featuring the debut of four new Sesame Street Muppets, the “Superfoods.” The video also features Elmo and friends, along with real families as they try new foods, learn about the importance of healthy snacks, and discover that sharing a meal together is a perfect opportunity to connect as a family. There is also a special section for parents and caregivers that addresses the social and emotional issues related to food insecurity; and a segment with award-winning chef Art Smith, who shows families how to stretch a meal and shop locally while saving money. Additionally, for the first time ever, the Muppet story featured in the outreach kit will air on Sesame Street on PBS on December 8th (check local listings)."

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Another Week's Menu, Done

Gads, these week-long dinner menus are tough to write, because I have to check every recpe that I reference.  I'm feeling guilty for putting them in the cookbook untested, but I just don't have the time.

Chicken and Summer Vegetables Week

Grocery list: 1 whole chicken, 1 pound or more of ham, 1 lb brown rice or other grain, 1 lb split peas, 2 pounds or more of carrots, 1 bunch of celery, 6 or more medium onions, dill (dried), 1 head of garlic (or granular garlic), soy sauce, 6 or more tortillas, Monterrey jack cheese, 3 tomatoes, 1 head of lettuce, butter, 1 loaf of sandwich bread, ½ gallon of milk.

Saturday: Cook the rice using the Boiled Grains recipe (6.01). Cook Baked Chicken (9.02) and pull all the meat from the bones. Refrigerate the carcass as well as the meat and the rice. Dinner: Stir-Fried Anything! (5.04) with cooked chicken, onion, carrots, and celery with soy sauce and garlic; serve over rice.

Sunday: Use the chicken carcass plus onion, celery, and carrot to make Chicken Stock (9.03). Refrigerate the stock. Dinner: Chicken Salad (13.05) with celery, onion, and dill, served with salad greens, tomato, and grated carrot. Dress salad with Basic Oil-and-Vinegar Salad Dressing (13.04).

Monday: Make Quesadillas (10.07) with chicken meat and Monterrey jack cheese, topped with Salsa (13.10) made from a chopped tomato, onion, and garlic. Use diced ham if the chicken is running low.

Tuesday: Make Quick Soup (10.02) with cooked chicken, chicken stock, rice, carrot, celery, onion, milk, dill, and garlic. Use diced ham if the chicken is running low. Make enough to have leftovers.

Wednesday: Make Southern Breakfast Gravy (15.05) and cook some ham and carrots in it. Serve over brown rice reheated using the Reheated Grains recipe (6.02). If any rice remains, freeze it.

Thursday: Cook Grilled Cheese (3.06) with sliced tomato and serve with leftover soup.

Friday: Make a pot of Split Pea Soup (7.10) soup with diced ham, tomato, garlic, and frozen rice, if any is left. Dice and freeze the remaining ham, if any is left.

At week's end, your pantry will have dill, garlic, butter, and soy sauce.

Split Peas and Lentils

Yet another forgotten recipe.  I haven't really tested this, but it's so simple, it should work just fine.

7.10 Split Pea Soup or Lentil Soup

It will take upwards of an hour to cook this soup, but you can largely leave it unattended. There are many possible variations, with and without meat. This recipe is a good opportunity to try out different spice mixes. Add milk or other liquid when you reheat the leftovers.

2 onions, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 pound (about 2 cups) split peas or lentils
½ tsp salt
pepper to taste
5 cups water or broth
(optional) chopped greens, carrots, or other vegetables
(optional) cooked meats, or ham
(optional) spices of any sort! Try Turkish or French Four Spice (1.05)

Over medium heat, saute the onion until transparent. Add the peas or lentils, and the liquid. Bring the pot to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover. Stir periodically for about 30 minutes, tasting occasionally. When the beans start to get soft, add salt and pepper to taste.

You can eat the soup when the beans are soft but still retaining their shape, or you may continue to cook until they are reduced to delicious mush. You can hurry along the beans to the mush state if you like by using a potato masher, or by running the soup a bit at a time through a blender.

After mashing the beans, add any optionals you like, and continue to cook until the optionals are heated through to your liking. Add more water a half-cup at a time if the soup is looking too thick.

Finally finished the Salsa recipe

13.10 Salsa, i.e. Bruschetta

A salsa is just a finely-chopped salad with a spicy dressing. You can use it as a topping on any number of dishes: salads, eggs, meats, grains, beans, bread, etc. By the same token, bruschetta (or more accurately, the topping which goes on bruschetta) is really just a salsa with olive oil instead of hot pepper. You can use it on anything.

Salsa can be primarily tomato, but it can also be corn. Or, for that matter, it can be made out of peaches, or mango, or apple. There really aren’t any rules.

Salsa can be used to dip tortilla chips in, of course, but it can also be served over salad greens, over meat, on toast, or eaten with a spoon. Toss some salsa with some cold cooked grains (recipe #) and you’ve just invented a whole new salad. It’s up to you.

1 chopped tomato (or 1 cob of corn)
1 minced clove of garlic, or dried garlic to taste
½ small onion, minced; or a stalk or two of green onion, minced; or dried onion to taste
hot pepper to taste, or 2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Sunday, October 2, 2011

So much mopping up. . .

I have cross-referenced about 1/3 of the book, set up an e-mail account to go with the book (and figured out how to have that mail forwarded to my main account), wrote the book's dedication, touched up the intro, and I continue to fill small holes, such as the missing paragraph explaining exactly how one is supposed to make grilled cheese.

The biggest hole I have found is the week-by-week recipes, which I had never fully written.  Oops.  So I write out a one-week menu tonight.  These are *very* slow to write, since I have to check each recipe and all the quantities, and I have about three more to go.

1.06 Planning a Week’s Worth of Meals

When you are eating on a budget, it is prudent to plan your meals a week at a time, to make sure that you have neither too little nor too much food on hand. The following are some suggested meal plans for a week of dinners. The quantities listed here are approximately enough for three adults, or for two adults and two small children.

To start with, you will need some staples in your cupboard: salt, pepper, flour, butter or oil, mayonnaise, sugar, oatmeal.

Note that each week's grocery list includes items that will last longer than just one week, such as spices, or extra beans for freezing. These purchases will help to slowly stock your kitchen, or bail you out if the recipes don't make quite enough food to get you through the week.

Meatloaf and Winter Vegetables Week

Grocery list: 2 lbs dry beans, 2 lbs ground beef, cumin, 8 or more carrots, 1 large winter squash, 1 cabbage, 6 or more apples, ½ dozen eggs, ½ gallon milk, 16 oz cheddar cheese, 1 loaf of bread, 2 15-oz cans of tomatoes, 1 small can of tomato paste, chicken stock, 1 lb pasta.

Saturday: Do the shopping. Cook Grilled Cheese (3.06), saute some cabbage (Sautéed Vegetables, 5.02), and chop carrot sticks for dinner.

Sunday: Cook Boiled Beans (7.02), Meatloaf (12.04), and Baked Winter Squash (5.08). Refrigerate half of the beans for this week, and freeze the rest for another week. Dinner is half of the meatloaf and half of the squash, plus apples. Refrigerate the leftovers.

Monday: Use the remaining squash to make Quick Squash Soup (10.03), and Coleslaw (13.07).

Tuesday: Use beans, canned tomato, half of the leftover meatloaf, and cumin to make Quick Chili (10.04). Top with grated cheddar cheese.

Wednesday: Use the remaining beans and cabbage to make Bean and Kale Soup (11.03). Serve with toast and sliced cheese.

Thursday: Make Marinara Sauce (15.09) with canned tomato and tomato paste, crumbling the last of the meatloaf into the sauce. Serve over pasta, with apple slices on the side.

Friday: Saute the remaining cabbage and carrots, and use them along with cheese and the leftover pasta to make Frittata (4.07).

Saturday, October 1, 2011

One more: unmentionables!

1.12 Digestive Issues

Although we don't like to discuss it at the dinner table, everyone occasionally has gas, diarrhea, or constipation. And, of course, what you eat has everything to do with it.

Fight diarrhea with the B.R.A.T. Diet: bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. Avocado helps. Be sure to drink lots of water to replace lost fluids. Diarrhea can be caused by too much salt, too much sugar, too little fiber, or too much fat, all of which can be found in overly-processed food. Food that is no longer fresh can also cause diarrhea.

Fight constipation with prunes, or any fibrous, sweet fruit. Apples and grapes are particularly good. Reducing your meat intake helps, as does avoiding B.R.A.T. Foods. Constipation can also be caused by dehydration, so drink lots of water. Stress and overly-processed foods can also cause constipation.

Whole grains and vegetables contain lots of fiber that helps maintain “regularity”.

Gas is caused by the breaking down of certain foods during digestion. While beans and vegetables such as cabbage are usually blamed, the biggest culprit is actually milk and milk products, especially as we age and our bodies become less able to digest milk. Try getting your calcium more from other sources to reduce your dairy intake. As for those troublesome beans and vegetables, eat them more regularly, and your body should become more efficient at digesting them, and thus produce less gas. You can also take a product such as Beano to help with gas.