The importance of family staples.
Again, if you guys keep up with previous posts, I like to make large batches of go-to items during harvest season (ie...summer/fall). These become an essential part of our winter meal prep, or last minute lunch ideas.
I made a couple of different batches of pesto's over the summer while my kale and chard were exploding. I froze them into little 1/2 cup servings. This morning, it came in handy as I searched high and low for something to put in M1's lunchbox....it's grocery day!
The Thompson Family Top Ten
Okay, so this should be fun. We have our TOP TEN foods that are pantry/freezer staples, and constitute a large portion of our diet. I though this might be fun. Much of it, we harvest and store ourselves, other things are items we purchase weekly.
1. Wild Game
As you've noticed, we are a hunting family. Hubby does a great job every year of stocking the freezer with healthy meats for our family. We eat quite a big of Venison and Elk on a good year. But, that's not all. Grouse, Wild Turkey, Trout, Rabbit, etc..is all fair game in the Thompson household. We do this with pride. As a family, it is part of our way of life, and I wouldn't want it any other way. I am, obviously, very concerned with what my family eats. I want quality! Nothing yells quality meat like wild game. Honestly, it doesn't get any healthier, or humane. Wild Game is meat the way nature intended. It is full of healthy fats, essential proteins, vitamins, and minerals. The quality is better because the animal lived a natural life, exercising and eating what it was meant to eat. This is a far cry from the commercial meat you buy at the stores. From a humane stand, Wild Game is not treated poorly, given antibiotics to prevent diseases from overcrowding, abused, and forced to live a less than sub-par shorten life. Typically the Venison we consume is older, more mature deer that have had time to reproduce and live a long and happy life.
This is a passionate topic for me, as I feel hunters are often put into a bad light.
Red Wine Venison Steak Recipe
2. Garden Fresh Greens
Green veggies are a staple in my gardens. I have a couple of small raised garden beds, nothing crazy, but by planting the right vegetables, I am able to have a extended harvest that not only feeds us well during the gardening season, but gives me enough to store for winter.
The greens I grow are: Lettuces, Chard, Kale, Basil, Okra, Green Beans, Zucchini, and whatever sounds good when I am buying seeds. (Can you believe it is time to start thinking about starting seeds!).
I blanch and freeze Chard to use like frozen spinach throughout the year. I blanch and freeze Kale to use as, well, Kale throughout the year. I also make items like my Kale Pesto and freeze it into smaller batches that are easy to pull out and use. Or, my Chard and Feta Pies that I made this year, which make for great lunches.
Kale Pesto Recipe
Oh Yes, we are a potato family. I am quite okay with that. I am not afraid of potatoes. They have been given a bad rap over the year. But, they are full of minerals, specifically Potassium (more than a banana). As well as phytonutrients that had previously only been discovered in GoJi Berries, that protect against the harmful compounds created when you cook meat at high temperatures.
New for the garden this year...Sweet Potatoes! Kind of excited about this one. My goal is to grow enough Sweet Potatoes in my large pot to store for winter. Wish me luck, and I'll keep you updated.
We go through A LOT of eggs. Between 2-3 dozen a week. For growing children, it's the perfect food. I make fried eggs almost every morning. We used them to make hard boiled eggs for snacks, crepes, egg casseroles, soups, etc... It's amazing how quickly we can bust through some eggs. This week I have 1 egg left from the 4 packages I bought last Saturday. WOW! That's a new Thompson record.
In some primitive cultures, eggs are reserved for children and pregnant women to eat only. Pregnant women would eat up to 12 eggs a day, in some cultures!
Good, pasture-raised chicken eggs are full of healthy fats, healthy cholesterol (remember the talk on Vitamin D), Lutein (for eyes), Choline (for healthy cell development), Omega 3's, Vitamin D, Complete Protein profile, B Vitamins, and Folic Acid. It has, literally everything you need to develop a life, except Calcium and Vitamin C (found in the shell).
We are a bread eating family, no doubt about it. I love toast to dip in my egg yolks in the morning, or dunk in some brothy soup. I am selective on my breads, though. When I purchase bread I am looking for two types...Sprouted and Sourdough.
As I mentioned, at some point (can't remember when), sprouting grains releases the nutrients within the plant. Early germination unlocks protein, minerals, and vitamins. It also breaks down the chemical Phytic Acid.
Sourdough, real sourdough, does the same basic thing, but adds the element of fermentation. I have made my own sourdough in the past, but man is it time consuming. I have been feeling the bug again, so I may start up the process this spring.
Again, I grow and number of different herbs in my yard. I tried to develop an edible landscape. So, in my shrubbery I have Thyme, Sage, Oregano, and Rosemary (died over the winter, very sad about this). In pots I have Stevia, Mint (to keep it from taking over my yard), Basil, Cilantro and Parsley. I HAD a Bay Leaf Tree as an indoor plant, but it sadly died when my 3 (now 4) year old decided to pull it out. I did dry all the leaves and store them.
During the growing season, I use fresh herbs in almost everything. When the season comes to an end, I pick what I can and dry it. Some of the yard herbs stay green and usable all winter (Thyme, Rosemary, Sage, and occasionally the Oregano). For those that do not, I pick them before the weather turns and either dry them, or freeze them.
Herbs are full of nutrition and phytonutrients that have many, many health benefits.
Oregano Chimichurri Recipe
7. Grass-Fed Butter
Talk about another food that I seem to blow through. I use Butter for all my cooking needs, okay most my cooking needs.
Have you ever looked at good quality grass-fed butter in comparison to regular 'ole butter? Grass-Fed Butter is ORANGE, not white. Big difference in flavor (it actually has flavor), and higher nutritional profile. Like I mentioned in the "food color" conversation. Orange colors means more Vitamin A, and much more.
Grass-Fed Butter is a wonderful source of good saturated fats, Omega 3, Vitamin A, Vitamin D, CLA, and so much more. Another important food for growing children, as long as they are not dairy sensitive.
8. Cultured Foods
I talked about this yesterday. I love to culture veggies. My girls will eat their weight in homemade sauerkraut, especially when I mix in beets and kale.
We also make a couple batches of Kim Chi every year...speaking of, it's about that time.
In addition, we love us some yogurt...or I should say M2 REALLY loves her some yogurt. We buy quite a bit every week. It is her go to snack, dessert, breakfast, etc... When she was a baby, she would wake up in the middle of the night (she did this till she was about 3), eat a cup of yogurt and go back to sleep. Nothing else worked for her, just yogurt.
I am really thinking of trying some Kombucha this year as well.
9. Seeds and Nuts
I wish I could grow more of these myself. We do sunflower seeds every year, which the girls just love. We also save our Pumpkin Seeds, which are really super seeds when you hear the amount protein and vitamins in them...wowzers.
I freeze them for freshness, or roast them.
We also buy a lot of nuts and seeds. We are huge fans of the Coco-Nutty Granola recipe, and vary it based on the seeds and nuts we have on hand.
10. Raw-Unfiltered Honey
Raw honey is my go-to sweetener for recipes and life. Organic Raw Honey is packed with enzymes, propolis, vitamins, and is a natural energy source. Yes it is sugar (fructose mostly, as well as some other types), but it's natural. As long as you use it in moderation, it shouldn't be bad. It's also so full of great immune boosting compounds, anti-bacterials, anti-virals, ant-fungals, that in my opinion are more important than the sugar it adds to your diet. The importance is moderation, and limited non-natural and bad sugars from your diet.
Just like fats, sugar is going down the road of bad food. While I agree that processed sugars, white sugars, high fructose chemical sugars, etc... are bad (same as chemically processed fats, refined oils, etc are in the fat world), there are good sugars that play an important role in our nutrition and biochemistry.