Wednesday, February 25, 2015

AIP Convenience Foods + Bonus "Broccoli Spinach Mash"

You might have seen the title of this post and thought "Yeah! I can eat fast food while following AIP." Sorry, but that's not the point of this post. Although here's a bonus tip for you....canned tuna, salmon & sardines all make a quick topping for a salad or can be eaten right out of the can in a pinch. I have been known to eat a can of tuna with a fork standing in an alleyway in Venice. :) Yes, I'm that girl. Other quick grab and go snacks are cassava (yuca) chips, plantain chips, epic bars, coconut butter and pre-cut fruits and veggies.




But, the real thought behind this post is what's a busy girl (or guy) to do when you just don't have time for all of that cooking. Like many of you, I'm a busy girl. I work full time. Evenings are busy with Bible study groups and church activities. Weekends often have conferences and other responsibilities. When am I supposed to cook all of this food to keep me nourished all week. I'd love to spend hours every day in the kitchen, but that's just not happening.  

My new best friends are my slow cooker and frozen vegetables. 


First, the slow cooker.... For years it sat gathering dust and would only come out every few months for a roast or stew. But now, it never leaves my counter and is almost always in use. I use it regularly for making bone broth, roasting whole chickens (you end up with a bonus broth), and making beef stew...as well as tons of other soups. I love waking up in the morning or coming home at night to cooked food ready to eat. 

Second, frozen vegetables (and fruit for that matter). Obviously the ideal would be for us all to buy local organic vegetables from farmers we know and trust, or even better...grow our own. But, back to the lack of time. Plus, where I live (Dubai) 90% of the vegetables are imported, so by the time they make all their international connections freshness is often less than ideal. My solution is big bags of frozen veggies. They're fresh and convenient, often cheaper, and precut (HUGE time saver).




But, you may be thinking, are frozen vegetables good for you. Evidence actually shows that "frozen vegetables may be even better for you than some of the fresh produce sold in supermarkets," says Gene Lester, Ph.D., a plant physiologist at the USDA Agricultural Research Center in Weslaco, Texas. Why? Fruits and vegetables chosen for freezing tend to be processed at their peak ripeness, a time when—as a general rule—they are most nutrient-packed.

A series of 40 tests were also carried out to measure nutrient levels in produce that had been sitting in a fridge for three days, compared to frozen equivalents. They found more beneficial nutrients overall in the frozen samples, in everything from broccoli to blueberries. In fact, in two out of three cases, frozen fruits and veggies packed higher levels of antioxidants, including polyphenols, anthocyanins, lutein, and beta-carotene. This conclusion supports previous research, which found that freezing produce does not destroy its nutrients. In one report, the vitamin C content in fresh broccoli plummet by more than 50% with a week, but dipped by just 10% over an entire year when frozen.


So, what kinds of frozen produce is in my freezer right now? And, more importantly how will I use it?? (Watch the blog for some of these frozen veggies to appear in recipes soon).

Fruits:
1- Mango chunks - blend with banana for 'ice cream' or thaw and chop for a 'mango/ avo salsa'
2- whole Strawberries - blend into smoothies

Vegetables:
1- Butternut cubes - thaw and pan fry for a breakfast hash, add to soups and stews
2- White Sweet Potato slices - boil and mash for 'Cinnamon Roll' dough
3 - Broccoli florets - stir fry or boil and puree for a quick broccoli soup
4 - Cauliflower florets - boil and puree for 'cheese/ cream' sauces, add to soups
5- chopped Leeks - soups, stews, toss into breakfast hash
6 - whole leaf Spinach - add a handful to almost everything...mix with broccoli puree, add to breakfast, add to soups, etc.
7 - sliced Zucchini - great for a quick side, or combine several frozen veggies and some broth for a quick soup

Vegetable Purees:
1 - Broccoli - season with garlic and eat with roasted meat - quick and easy for breakfast
2- Celery Root/ Celeriac - replace potatoes to eat with beef stew
3 - Carrot - makes my 'Garlic Carrot Soup' even quicker and easier

I bet you thought there wouldn't be a recipe in this post. You were wrong...



Broccoli Spinach Mash

Serves: 1
Time: 3 1/2 minutes

Place a handful of broccoli purée cubes and a small handful of frozen spinach in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on medium for 3 -4 minutes. Once thawed and warned through, take out and stir. Season with 1/2 t garlic powder and sea salt to taste. Top with leftover meat and enjoy! Dinner's on the table in less than 5 minutes.

**If you don't have frozen veggies, the same can be done by steaming broccoli and pureeing it and then mixing in a handful of chopped steamed spinach. 

For an added nutrient boost, stir in 1/4 cup of bone broth for a soupier consistency.

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Be sure to share your tips for AIP convenience foods in the comments or on facebook. Which frozen veggie gets the most love in your home?

This recipe was share on Phoenix Helix AIP Recipe Roundup