Every Monday, I pull out a meaningful quote from one of the great books or articles I’m reading and share it with you. I invite you to look for inspirational words in what you read and share them each week in the comments.
This week’s quotes come from an article I just read in a homeschooling magazine. I won’t say who published it or who the author is, because I know they’re well-intentioned and I’m not interested in attacking them – just the information. The basic point of the article was to help busy homeschooling families get dinner on the table every day in thirty minutes or less. In general, I thought the author gave some helpful tips – like making menus, keeping your pantry stocked, and doing as much as you can ahead of time (this is key for me).
But even so, in a recipe that is called healthy, the author called for a can of cream of chicken soup. Excuse me? Cream of Chicken Soup’s ingredients include:
modified food starch, MSG, Soy Protein Concentrate, Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Soy Protein Isolate, Soy Lecithin, Nonfat Dry Milk, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and Cottonseed Oil, Lipolyzed Butter Oil, and Butter Flavor, among other almost non-pronounceable ingredients.
What is wrong with all this? It isn’t real or whole, for one thing. This is processed-food city, big time.
Next, as one of the “do as many things as you can ahead of time” tips, the author calls for making up a large amount of rice and freezing it in zipper-seal bags. That’s great! Just please, folks, skip the “it thaws in the microwave in less than five minutes” step! Plastic and the microwave do NOT go together, unless you want to eat plastic. (To her credit, the author suggests thawing it overnight in the fridge, too.) Have you seen my article on how easy it is to reheat foods WITHOUT a microwave?
Finally, the author suggests making and freezing broth from cut up chicken parts – which is a very good thing. But at the very end of the broth-making, she says to “remove fat before moving jars to freezer.” I know this is because most people think saturated fats are bad for you. But we need saturated fats. I should add though that it is important to choose naturally- and organically- raised animals for your meat, to ensure the most healthful animal fats.
So now we’ve got
hundreds of thousands of homeschooling families reading an article that calls these things healthy: Cream of Chicken soup, plastic in the microwave, and removal of chicken fat. It just riles me up!
Since I’ve just pointed out what’s wrong with this article, I’ll share one really, really good tip from the end. Freeze meal-sized portions of casserole leftovers in a freezer container – Dad can grab one out of the freezer on his way out the door in the morning and it will be thawed in time for lunch.
What do you think? Please share in the comments – and if you’re quick on the draw, I’d love for you to share a snippet of something you read this week that inspired (even angered!) you this week. Be sure to state the title and author, and/or give a link if appropriate.
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Tammy McConnell says
Well put Wardee! I agree that the author was probably well-meaning…but maybe should have done a little more research before publishing. We should all exercise discernment when it comes to feeding our families…after all, we’re the one’s in charge of teaching lifestyle habits…like it or not. You’ve given me food for thought. I will now be more attentive in the kitchen too. 🙂
I’m glad you brought up the skimming off of the fat from the broth, as this has been a question of mine for a long time.
Wardee, this is a great skill to be reminded of – throw out the bad, but retain the good.
To get ‘over’ our microwave I moved it to the garage. I used the same retraining method for replacing household cleaners, toiletries and such in our home – just collect and move them out. It works very well. Gives you the prompt to think of a new way of doing things, a developing new routines while giving up old ones.
Mary Ann says
Yes, I *love* the healthy recipes that call for ‘cream of’ soup! There is nothing healthy about it! Homemade is a good and healthy alternative if you just love recipes that contain it.
I do have a question about not skimming the fat off the chicken broth. I realize that we need saturated fats and full-fat dairy and all that and we do try to eat that way. But I skim most of the fat off of my broth just because if I make soups and stuff with the fat still in it, it looks greasy and kind of nasty. Does anyone else find this to be a problem?
.-= Mary Ann´s last blog post… Our Anniversary Dinner =-.
On the topic of reading labels, and becoming a bit fanatical about it, I’m extremely frustrated! What happened to our food?! When did things stop becoming what they say they are? A good example – I bought a pint of cream the other day. Okay, I know it’s pasturized but I still expect it to be cream. Well it wasn’t. Ingredients are cream, milk, carageenan. I just wanted cream! Even plain yogurt is hard to find. On shelves jammed with yogurt varieties, I can only find one worth my dollar.
.-= Marg´s last blog post… Thanksgiving turkey =-.
Kim Hanson says
I have to agree. I know I also have seen Bisquick in articles on cooking at home to save money. Like you said well intentioned but I don’t think we should eat unhealthy food to save a bit of money upfront.
Mary Ann – I haven’t found ‘fat’ to be a problem. Maybe you have an extreme amount, I don’t know, and could skim some to save for future use.
I save fat all the time. I buy organic beef and after cooking the hamburger I pour off and save the fat in the fridge. I do the same to the solid fat of my butchered chickens. Then when I am making lentils, split peas, beans and such I add a couple large scoops of this fat into my pot.
I learned from my Grandmother that fat adds a bling to the taste of soup and legumes that almost nothing else can (fat and garlic – bling bling). If I don’t have any fat I add raw milk cream, sometimes soured.
I would have reacted the same way to this article before this past month. Now I think that most homeschoolers would be doing well to just put home-cooked meals on the table every night. Suggesting that all soups be made from scratch, that the microwave be unplugged and plastics avoided may encourage some women to give up before they even get started. As for skimming the fat, I thought even Nourishing Traditions recommended that…not for ‘health’ but for the palate. I have not skimmed and have noticed that the broth tastes kind of slimy. Thanks so much for your wonderful blog. I really enjoy it. You recommended that I try eating raw milk and properly prepared grains several months ago. I have had food allergies for many years. By God’s grace, not only can I eat these things, but I can eat anything! Even so, I want to make nutritious foods as often as possible.
.-= Mel´s last blog post… Why is Simple Living So Complicated? =-.
great ideas, jami!
Sonya Hemmings says
Oh my goodness, Wardee! I wonder if the author of the article is the same person who spoke at our homeschooling convention this summer. I flipped out, too, when this speaker said to reheat frozen seasoned ground beef or grilled chicken in the microwave in plastic zipper bags to make it taste like it had been freshly cooked! So much bad information gets passed around in the name of convenience. Truly healthy cooking really isn’t convenient, is it? But it can be managed efficiently with some planning. 🙂 I’ve been using my microwave almost exclusively as a timer lately, and with your tips (and some of the others shared here), I’m ready to just move it out of the kitchen entirely!
.-= Sonya Hemmings´s last blog post… Falling for Comfort Foods =-.
Would also love to hear your thoughts on skimming off the fat on the broth as I have been quite confused about why this is recommended in Nourishing Traditions. Love your blog! Amy
I read this post this morning and I’ve been pondering it throughout the day. While I do not support the suggestions made as being healthy I can understand where the author may be coming from. I agree with the comment that Mel made, I would imagine that many homeschooling (and not homeschooling) moms are hard pressed to put anything resembling a homecooked meal on the table. And with the information that we receive in the media and from the government many people can’t tell healthy meals from less than healthy meals. Now we get the new “Smart Choices” labeling to ‘aid’ us in making healthful choices in food. Have you seen some of the items in that program? They do not meet my criteria of Smart Choices.
.-= Millie´s last blog post… My Wild Kitchen =-.
Hi, where I totally agree with you on the soup thing I guess I wonder what you’d suggest as an alternative? I am having my daughter learn to cook as part of her schooling this year, I purchased a book which was suppose to be quite wonderful in the homeschooling world but I have been extremely disappointed with it. Last friday my daughter was suppose to make salsbury steak which called for 2 cans of cream of mushroom soup. I had no better alternative than to purchase them and have her use it in the recipe since we didn’t have the time to try to make it from scratch and there really didn’t seem to be an easy quick recipe out there. I cringed at having to do this but I felt like I had no choice. I’d love to know what you all do in this type of situatiuon. I’m sure I’m not the only one who isn’t that organized.
Thanks, everyone, for your thought provoking comments!
I worried about writing this today because I thought I might come across as legalistic – which I’m not and wouldn’t suggest anyone be. We all are in the position of making our own food choices, discerning what is healthy or not, and doing the best we can do. That’s why I felt this author had good intentions.
To Millie and Mel – I applaud you for pointing out that many are doing well to get a home cooked meal on the table – and I agree! I really appreciate the compassionate comments you left. Thank you.
All day long, I’ve been thinking that since I pointed out how bad “Cream of…” soups are, I should try to find an alternative. So that is going on my to do list. Right now what I would do is use milk, season it up with herbs or broth, salt/pepper, etc., and then thicken it with arrowroot. Like a gravy with add-ins and using a milk base.
No matter what your tastes are for soup having fat or not – let’s not throw it away! I love Jami’s ideas for saving it. Thanks, Jami.
@Amy – I’m not sure what confuses you? The skimming fat part or the using fat?
I’m sure I didn’t respond to everything – but thank you all from the bottom of my heart for adding your comments. God bless you all!
I made a terrific homemade cream of mushroom soup to use in my real food tuna and noodle casserole recently. It turned out great, and I plan to make up large batches of both chicken and mushroom soup to freeze. Here is what I did:
Saute chopped mushrooms in butter or coconut oil. Set aside.
Make a roux, using 2 T butter and 2 T sprouted flour, organic cornstarch, arrowroot, or organic unbleached flour. Cook, while stirring, for a few minutes to get rid of the raw taste. Slowly add, while stirring, about 1-1/2 cups chicken broth and 1-1/2 cups milk, until desired thickness. You could substitute milk, or cream for part of the broth, but I think the broth adds wonderful flavor (and nutrients), so I wouldn’t leave it out! When it thickens, stir in the mushrooms. Add salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder to taste. Or you could saute some real garlic and onion with the mushrooms.
This turned out fabulous, and I had enough to use in the casserole, and freeze about 1 1/2 cups for future use. When I make the cream of chicken soup, I will add in a little chopped chicken instead of the mushrooms, and maybe a little poultry seasoning. You can get creative, but this basic method works great.
I plan to scale it up, and freeze in 1 1/2 cup size portions. Then I can easily grab it when I need it for a recipe. I think planning ahead and cooking in bulk is a real timesaver for items like this.
Our homeschool cooking program begins with reading “Nourishing Traditions.” There is so much great information both in the beginning of the book, and all throughout the sidebars and chapter openers. Then we teach skills: knife, flame, cleanup, the different results we get from stir, whip, fold, etc. Then we practice by making the recipes from the same book. A favorite exercise of ours is taking an old beloved family recipe and “cleaning” it up. In this way, the children learn how to rehab a lacking recipe they already enjoy.
Teaching our kids to cook is a very high priority in our homeschool. Many “other” subjects can be taught or reinforced in the kitchen, and an education that leaves out how to prepare nutritious food for oneself really isn’t preparing anyone for real life.
I truly believe the longer preparation time aspect of real food cooking is a myth. I spend almost exactly the same amount of time preparing real food as I did preparing a Standard American Diet. I even kept records of the time I spent doing each to prove it to myself. Like so much of life, you just have to do it! 😀
.-= Peggy´s last blog post… *Shakes head in disbelief* =-.
@Jen – thanks for sharing that! I’m going to try it very soon and I know it will be so helpful for many!
@Peggy – Awesome! What you do in the kitchen with your kids.
@Mel – I’m really, really happy you’re relieved of your food allergies. Praise God!
I can not agree more on not microwaving. Heating food on the stove and thawing in running hot water or in boiling water takes just minutes and if you plan ahead, you can thaw in the fridge while you work on other activities throughout the day. We have a built in microwave in our home and we never use it, I might as well start keeping spices in there!
I’m hoping to get my parents off the microwave. They buy wonderful organic food and then nuke it a couple times a day. I think they do not realize they are probably *not* saving time while they *are* jeopardizing health.
.-= Faith´s last blog post… The Vegan B12 Discussion =-.
I rarely make anything that calls for cream of mushroom soup as an ingredient, but if I was going to sub, I would use the recipe for Mushroom Gravy, which is very delicious and fast in “Cooking for the Love of the World” book. I always keep dried mixed mushrooms on hand that I get at Trader Joe’s (haven’t found a cheaper source) with my staples. I won’t share the recipe as it’s copyrighted, but it contains dried mushrooms, salt, olive oil, lemon juice, flour, and onions. You can go from there and add herbs to taste. Takes about 5 minutes to make, not counting about 10 minutes to soak mushrooms.
Cooking for the Love of the World is a wonderful book which I’m sure you’d enjoy, Wardee.
.-= Faith´s last blog post… The Vegan B12 Discussion =-.
Faith, that sounds like a good recipe and a very good book. I’ll see if my library has it. I think that’s a long shot, but I can always hope. 🙂
Faith, my library doesn’t have the book. 🙁 I’ll add it to my wish list.
Sarah Schatz - menu planners for limited diets says
Thank you for writing this Wardee. I had an experience over the weekend that made me realize I can’t even trust a label.
I got a soup at our local coop (won’t mention the name) and thought it was safe for me to eat it. It said it had butter (okay for me) in it and that the only allergen was dairy. It was a butternut squash soup that looked good so I got a small bowl.
After I ate it, I realized I shouldn’t have been so naive about one ingredient on the label – vegetable stock.
I realized that can mean a lot of things. If you are cooking from scratch, it is obviously not a problem. But I ended up having a reaction so I decided to ask the coop what kind of stock they use.
To my dismay, they used Better than Bouillon, which is loaded with all sorts of allergens and yucky stuff, like hydrogenated soybean oil, sugar, maltodextrin (corn) and other things I’m not supposed to be eating right now.
It seems so simply – to list all the ingredients that are used in preparing a dish. But when people aren’t used to eating whole foods or preparing food for people with allergies, it often becomes overlooked!
Thanks for writing this – I hope my comment isn’t too off subject but thought I would take the chance to share my experience.
BTW, I did write a comment to the coop, telling them about my experience. My hope is that they will begin to list ALL the ingredients on the labels of the soups and food they make.
.-= Sarah Schatz – menu planners for limited diets´s last blog post… A week of GAPS friendly Grain-free Goodies =-.
I just checked my copy of Nourishing Traditions and Sally Fallon Morell does recommend skimming the fat. Why?!
Christie – I guess I haven’t understood this all very well yet. 🙂 In rereading the stock section, I see with the fish stock, she mentions that the highly unsaturated fish oils may become rancid during the cooking, so removing it helps storing it long-term in the freezer (p. 119). Then there’s a quote from the Washington Post saying that off-flavors will result if the broth is not skimmed (p. 123). Then there’s a note with the turkey and duck stock that you can reserve the fat for cooking purposes (p. 125) (like Jami’s – above). Finally, when making gravies (p. 126), good fat drippings can be added to the stock – but those are the drippings from roasting a chicken turkey or leg of lamb.
So here’s what I think now: to store stock, you’d want to skim off the fat. This is what the author above said. (I am saying sheepishly.) But don’t throw any of the fat away, you can use it for other cooking purposes (like Jami does).
What do you think?
Christie – The other thing is that *I* think it would be fine (considering all this) to continue to keep your fat in your stock, especially if you’re going to use it up quickly. Fat is flavor. Our soups are delicious when I keep the fat in. But certainly consider everyone’s preferences, as it is true that an oily soup can be less appetizing. 🙂
I appreciate your honest investigations!
I’ve rarely skimmed fat from chicken broth, and agree that it adds such good flavor to soups. Here’s what I did tonight … I skimmed (more like spooned) the fat from my cooled broth and divided it equally among my freezer bags of broth. It really was only 1-2 TBSP per bag and that isn’t much for a big batch of soup. Besides, its what we’re used to, and I haven’t noticed any off-flavors.
I have never saved the fat for other cooking purposes, but I’d like to try Jami’s ideas.
Hello all! Thought I’d add my 2 cents..I used to always feel guilty for never skimming off the fat, but since reading Sally Fallon Morell’s book I don’t have so much guilt. I just used our last 2 cans of “cream o mushroom,” and it really wasn’t that great. They’ve changed it since the last time I used it for the chicken casserole. We get big 40 dollar bags of dried mushrooms from the Asian Market in town here and I figure on making a creamy thin gravy for it next time! As for that article, I guess it will still be a while before everybody else finds out what we already have about the healthy food myths. Until then people will still be preaching what they have been taught by the marketing about “healthy food.” Should see the defense my folks put up when I tell them what we have learned that goes against what they’ve believed for so long! But I do have evidence on my side…since switching to healthy fats my kids have not really had growing spells , just kept on growing like crazy, one nonstop growing spell, especially their hair!! Makes for growing out of clothes faster too though. Also i think homeschooling may have had something to do w/ it. No more sitting stationary for 8 hours/day!