Saturday, June 7, 2014

Frozen Kale

At the beginning of my week, I have a nice selection of fresh fruits and vegetable to use in my meal planning and preparation.  I'm learning which ingredients last longer, which freeze well, and which ones to buy the morning before I make a specific dish.  One thing that has helped me to make healthier food in a convenient way is to use prepared food items.  These prepared foods are not necessarily processed, they may be pre-cooked or pre-washed and cut.  Buying ready to eat quinoa and shredded carrots/cabbage at +Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market has brought so much joy to my life.  I love my mandolin, but I'm also scared to use it more than I have to.  Frozen food is another great way to save time.  I wanted some greens for the end of my week so I bought frozen kale, spinach and butternut squash cubes.  I mixed those with some other ingredients I had in my kitchen and came up with a pot of soup and a pan of stir fry.  I portioned them into reusable containers and now I have meals for the week and meals in the freezer saved for later.

A note for IC people, always check labels for problem ingredients like the soy sauce in Upton's Naturals or my use of ginger.  Substitute with other ingredients like chopped garlic or unseasoned seitan/wheat meat.

Kale Quinoa Stir Fry

2 boxes of pre-cooked quinoa (3-4 C)
3/4 bag of frozen kale (2-3 C)
1/2 bag of frozen spinach (2-3 C)
1-2 C shredded carrots (and/ or red cabbage, green cabbage, bell peppers. anything you enjoy)
1 box of +Upton's Naturals Traditional Seitan
Sesame oil to taste
1 Tb olive oil
2 Tb molasses
2-4 Tb crushed ginger
Salt and pepper

Cook the seitan in the olive oil until browned and crispy.  You may need to cut the pieces into smaller bites.  Add your carrots (and other fresh veggies) and cook until they begin to caramelize.  Add the ginger, molasses, and sesame oil and stir, immediately adding the kale and spinach to keep the sauce from burning.  The water from the frozen veggies will help to deglaze your pan.  When everything is cooked through, add the quinoa and mix well.  Season to taste.

Serves 6-8, keeps well in the fridge for the week.

Cream of Butternut Squash Soup

1 bag of frozen cubed butternut squash
1 C frozen kale
1 C frozen spinach
2-4 C water
2-3 C plain unsweetened almond milk
1/4-1/2 C whole wheat pastry flour
2 Tb Earth Balance Soy Free Buttery Spread
2 Tb olive oil
Herbs and spices (I used sage and marjoram)
Salt and pepper

Cook the butternut squash and olive oil in a soup pot.  When the squash becomes soft, add the butter.
When the butter melts, add the flour and stir to make a roux.  Add the herbs and spices, and almond milk.  When the milk begins to boil, reduce heat and hit it with a stick blender to make it creamy.  Bring back to a boil and add the water.  When the soup boils again, add the frozen greens.  Simmer until it reaches the consistency you want, season before serving. You can also thicken it with bread crumbs or Daiya Mozzarella Shreds.  This sounds like a lot of work, but it only took 15 minutes from start to finish.

Serves 6-8 (or 4 if you have giant chowder bowls :D), freezes well.