"If we have broken down the body tissues with training they can become stronger and more able to cope following repair, if we feed them the right ingredients. If we fail to eat well then we are more likely to become ill or injured. Good nutrition is the perfect partner to a good training programme."
(Hayes, The Complete Guide To Cross Training)
I'm always looking for ways to boost the nutrient content of our existing meals and I especially like it when I can do that using all the same items that I usually have in my fridge.
This morning, while the porridge was cooking and the kettle boiling I quickly raided the fridge for all the slightly tired looking veges leftover from our weekend shop. In the same time it took for the kettle to boil they'd been chopped up, thrown in a pan and were boiling away with some fresh herbs from the garden, a bay leaf and some peppercorns to make the vege stock I needed as part of our dinner tonight.
Making your own stocks for cooking is a great way to draw out all those gorgeous vitamins and minerals from veges that you might otherwise have thrown away. Next time you're chopping up veges for dinner and are tossing away the stalks of broccoli, the ends of green beans or carrots, the leaves of celery or the butts of onions, pop them in a pan instead of the bin and put them to good use. The stock can bubble away while you eat your dinner and then stored in the fridge or freezer for whenever you need it.
Here's an easy vege stock recipe that I used today:
Any left over veges, or veges 'ends' you have gathered
1 bay leaf
Few sprigs of herbs - thyme and parsley work well
1 teaspoon peppercorns
Roughly chop all the veges
Put all the veges into a pot
Cover with water - less water makes a more concentrated stock, more water gives it a lighter flavour
Bring to the boil
Turn down the heat and simmer for an hour or so (there is no exact sicene to this, but 60-90 mins seems to work well)
Allow to cool, then skim off the surface layer of fat
Drain through a sieve, then pop in the fridge or freezer until you need it.
If you have time sweat the onions before you add the other veges to the pot. It gives it a stronger flavour.
Some recipes suggest adding garlic or spices to the stock. If you're not sure what you're going to use it for then keep it simple as above and just add the flavourings during the cooking of the meal instead.
Savory veges work best. I like to use carrot, celery and onion as my base and then add anything else we have. Today it was cauliflower and tomatoes. Other times I use leeks (especially the green part that is usually thrown away), mushrooms, mushroom stems and parsnips. If you keep the other veges in equal quantities it will help ensure a more balanced flavour to your stock.
Keep a freezer bag in the freezer then each evening when you chop up your veges, you can throw all the odds and ends you would normal put in the bin into the vege bag along with any wilted veges from the fridge. When the bag is full, make a stock.
If you roast any meat, keep the bones and add to the veges to get all the goodness from the meat bones too, to make chicken, lamb or beef stock.
Recipes you can then use the stock for - soups, pasta sauces, casseroles, potato topped pies, curries, risottos, or just boil your rice in it for more flavour and nutrients.