Simple suggestions for retaining nutrients, improving overall health and accommodating food allergies/intolerances when preparing meals for large groups.
BEVERAGES: Offer fresh water and herbal teas.
SALT: Avoid salt in preparation and cooking. Use only unrefined sea salt. Substitute fresh or dried herbs.
SUGAR: Avoid using processed sugar, or use less. Substitute sugar with dried or fresh fruit, chopped or blended into baking.
HERBS & SPICES: Use fresh or dried herbs liberally for flavour and nutrition. Use crushed spices like cinnamon, turmeric, chili powder, peppercorns and juniper berries to add flavour and nutrition to broths, casseroles and meat dishes.
FATS: Add broth or water with oil when cooking. Use less cooked, processed, saturated and pasteurized fats like cheese, butter, lard and margarine. Eliminate synthetic transfigured fats like shortening and hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils.
SALADS: Use more cold pressed unsaturated oils like olive, hemp, sesame and sunflower (or a combination of oils) for salads. Offer a simple vinaigrette with oil, wine or apple cider vinegar, a teaspoon each Dijon mustard and honey. Use rice and non-gluten grains as a hearty base for salad. Grow sprouts during winter to add to salads for increased nutrition, very easy, satisfying and economical.
BAKED GOODS: Substitute cold pressed olive oil, mashed banana and applesauce or a combination of both for butter/fat in baked goods.
GRAINS: Use a variety of whole grains. Use less wheat. Offer gluten-free grains like brown rice, wild rice, quinoa, kamut, millet and bulgur. Offer less-gluten grains like oatmeal, rye, barley and spelt.
VEGAN/VEGETARIAN: Offer more vegetarian/vegan options like legumes, eggs, and vegan versions of lasagna, soup and casseroles.
FRUIT: Offer fresh raw whole ‘take-home’ fruit like apples, pears, oranges and bananas. Make desserts fruit based, rather than grain based.
VEGETABLES: Offer a variety of vegetables, raw, steamed, baked, or stir-fried lightly. Chop raw green leafy vegetables like kale, broccoli, beet greens, spinach, Swiss chard into salads, noodles or mashes; Chop onions, garlic, kale, spinach or peppers and mash them into potatoes, turnips, squash, carrots and/or sweet potatoes. Use dehydrated kale and Swiss chard during winter to add to mashes. Use seasonal vegetables. Collect during harvest and store for winter: apples, squash, potatoes, pumpkin, onions, carrots, beets, turnips and radishes. Collect fresh green vegetables like kale, Swiss chard, Parsley and leafy herbs, and Spring onions in season and dehydrate for winter use, to increase nutrition very easily and economically.
SOUP: Soup is nutritious, satisfying and economical. Make broth with vegetables, berries, herbs and bones and freeze for later. Avoid commercial broths with monosodium glutamate and other additives. Make ‘Once Around The Kitchen’ soups with vegetables, meat, herbs and grains you have on hand.
GMOs: Use non-GMO canola, corn, cottonseed and soy to avoid adverse reactions in sensitive people.
LOCAL: Buy local whenever possible. Preserve local food through the growing season to last through winter.
ALLERGENS: Don’t use peanuts, tree nuts or their butters and oils to avoid allergic reactions. Other common allergens include eggs, pork, dairy, soy, wheat and other gluten grains, food dyes especially red and blue and tartrazine, some preservatives especially sodium benzoate, monosodium glutamate and genetically modified foods as above.
Lisa Robbins, BScHN, Registered Holistic Nutritionist, CTT