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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Veggie Productivity

So yesterday Michael and I were talking about food and our current cooking situation as it has been a bit crazy since I've been so tired lately and out of energy by the time 5:00 rolls around.  We're trying to come up with ways to make dinner preparation a little easier since he's not as avid a cook as I am, plus he's been at work all day and usually wants dinner pretty quickly after he's gotten home.

One of his suggestions to ease the dinner burden was...get ready for it...canned vegetables.  I couldn't believe he would even suggest it to me knowing how I feel about them.  I told him that asking me to buy canned veggies is like asking him to shop for clothing and shoes at Walmart (if you know him, then you'd know that that will never happen).  Now before you start fuming inside because you love canned veggies, here's my big DISCLAIMER: we weren't eating veggies at all (mostly just fruit and some veggies occasionally), so you are definitely eating more healthfully than we were.  More power to you, seriously!  They are definitely better than no vegetables at all, which is pretty much the state in which we had found ourselves.  Plus, I just prefer the taste of fresh veggies (steamed or baked) to canned.

After this conversation and reading a study that Michael had emailed me a link of that says that canned food doesn't lose that many nutrients (funded by the Canning Alliance or something like that), I realized that he was right; eating canned veggies WAS more healthy than what we were currently doing (mostly PBJs and grilled cheese sandwiches).

So today, I sucked it up and transformed my outrage into energy.  I found energy to make zucchini bread out of 2 of the 3 zucchinis that hadn't gone bad yet.

(I changed the sugar and honey from original recipe.)
2 ½ C. whole wheat flour
¼ tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
4 tsp. ground cinnamon
3 eggs
½ C. vegetable oil
½ C. unsweetened applesauce
1 C. sugar
1/2 C. honey
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 C. grated zucchini

1.       Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  In a medium bowl, sift together first 5 ingredients (flour through cinnamon).  Set aside.
2.       In a large bowl, combine eggs, oil, applesauce, sugar, honey, and vanilla. Beat well with an electric mixer.  Stir in zucchini.  Add flour mixture in batches and stir until just combined (do not over mix).
3.       Spray 2 regular size loaf pans or 4 mini loaf pans with nonstick spray (bottom and sides). Bake in the center of the oven for approximately 50 minutes for 4 mini loafs or 65-75 minutes for 2 regular loaves.  Cool slightly, run a knife around the edge of the pan to release the bread from the sides, and remove from pan.  Cool on wire rack or seal in plastic wrap to lock in moisture.
Then I decided that while that was baking, I might as well put the butternut squash and sweet potatoes in the oven as well.  Then I could prepare and freeze them so that Michael and I would have fast veggies to prepare for dinner.

I split it in half, spoon out the seeds, rub with olive oil, salt, and pepper, poke with a fork all over the top, then bake at 400 until tender.  Then I let it cool just a little, spoon out the flesh, and mash with a little butter, turbinado sugar (to taste).  This is one of Levi's favorite.
While these don't look too tasty, they are Samuel's all-time favorite veggie.  I poke them and bake them at 400 until tender.  Then I spoon out the contents and mix (with an electric mixer) with a little milk, butter, turbinado sugar, salt, and pepper.   You only need just a little butter and sugar.  Saturating it ruins it.  
While the oven was on, I decided to toss in the seeds in from the butternut squash (and some acorn squash that I made a few days ago.  Delish!  Even my picky little Samuel loved them.
I used the recipe here, except it took longer to dry them out than I expected.  Also, next time I will use less salt.  Still delicious, though!
While I was at it, I decided to steam some baby carrots (that weren't getting eaten) to freeze and a head of cauliflower (that I didn't know if it would ever get used) to puree then freeze for one of mine and the boys' favorite Deceptively Delicious recipes (buttered noodles).  I didn't take a picture, but there are about 6 or more freezer bags with the 1/2 cup of puree already measured out in my freezer ready to go.

I did all of that PLUS the dining room table is finally free of folded laundry after almost two weeks!


  1. It's so refreshing to know that laundry stays unfolded at your house, too. :-)

    We love frozen veggies that you just heat in the microwave in five minutes. No added salt. And I've heard, too, that canned veggies don't lose that many nutrients. Better than none at all, like you say!

  2. You're right, I always forget about frozen veggies. I think for a while I was buying the kind that I didn't like, and so they would just sit in the freezer and get freezer burn. Then I'd want them to not go to waste, so we'd eat them, and they'd be gross. I like those Green Giant ones that come in the shrink wrap inside a box. Those are pretty good, especially the sugar snap peas.

  3. I agree! Canned veggies are just not very good. I like frozen peas, corn, broccoli, and spinach the best. Fresh is sooo much better, I agree, but I shop for a month so we have to have a lot of frozen.


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