There are definitely some staples that I almost exclusively make at home these days. Once I realized how much hidden sugar there is in some of our every day foods, I decided to experiment at home. Yes, I invested in a VitaMix a few years ago, so some of these recipes are easier than others in a regular blender, especially the peanut butter. That will take some trial and error in your own kitchen. Everything else on this list should be fine in a regular blender.
My Top 5 Foods to Make at Home:
1. Peanut Butter
3 cups dry roasted peanuts (I like Costco’s Kirklands brand the best) ** You need AT LEAST 2.5 cups to make this work**
1/3 cup of your favorite oil (olive, grape seed or avocado oils)
1-2 TBSP of Honey or Agave
Start your VitaMix machine on variable 1 or 2 and blend the peanuts down. Use the tamper stick to push the nuts back down to the blade. After the nuts start to break down and are no longer rising, increase the variable to speed 4 or 5 and blend until you reach the creaminess you desire.
It’s as simple as that folks.
2. Bread Crumbs
Since I started making my own bread crumbs – I really do not enjoy store-bought. It is not flavorful and quite frankly, makes me think of eating sand. AND…making bread crumbs at home is SO easy.
My trick here is to keep a jelly roll pan in my oven. When ever I find myself with left over/stale bread – I store it on the jelly roll pan in the oven. DO NOT: I repeat, Do Not put plastic wrappers in the oven with the bread. If you accidentally turn on the oven you will have melted plastic everywhere. Not cool. Remove it and place just the bread in the oven.
When the jelly roll pan is full of bread ends, scraps and stale pieces – turn the oven on 250 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until the bread snaps when I break it in half. You can sprinkle some Italian seasoning or garlic salt (or both) to give it some flavor.
Once toasted in the oven, I cram as much of the “toasted” bread into my blender as I can – and I pulse until it becomes crumbs. I like my crumbs more coarse (like panko) but blend for as long as you like!
Pour crumbs into an empty jar – seal – place in the refrigerator. Shelf life is several months as long as its sealed. Delicious!
See my Eggplant Parmesan recipe from last month’s blog – I use these bread crumbs with Italian Seasoning.
3. Spaghetti Sauce
Did you know that Prego spaghetti sauce has 10g of Sugar and 480g of Sodium in a half cup? Have you ever put just a half cup of sauce on any pasta dish? Me neither. Coming to this realization, I thought: I can make my own sauce, I know I can! So here is the recipe that I use and serve at my table at least once per week! This is REALLY good on top of my famous eggplant parmesan – which uses this sauce and the bread crumbs that I shared in #2.
1 can Fire Roasted (diced) tomatoes
1 can Italian seasoned stewed tomatoes
1 -2 FRESH basil leaves
Fresh or dried oregano (to taste)
1-10 cloves of garlic (to taste)
3/4 cup olive oil
Place all in the blender and blend for 20-30 seconds.
Pour into a sauce pan, bring to boil and then simmer for 20 minutes.
Store in serving sized jars – freeze extra and save for another busy week!
4. Baby Food
My all time favorite thing to make at home versus buying at the store…. baby food!! When my kids were babies, I made all of their food at home. I took a class at the local community center and they taught us three recipes: Baby Guacamole, butternut squash puree and baby sized stew. Just by learning these three simple recipes, it opened up a whole world of “duh, I can do THIS!” and I never looked back. I started by throwing left over vegetables into my blender and serving them fresh to baby and eventually graduated to more complex recipes that included black beans, greens, hemp seeds, different milks to make 10-20 2oz meals for my little guys. The key is to freeze what ever foods you don’t use that day. Its easy to get carried away with making baby food because it is SO easy to do! I remember thinking “This is turning into a ‘will he eat it?’ game” – but it was a lot of fun! My oldest “baby” is now 4 years old, but here are a couple of my favorite baby food recipes for 4 to 6 month old babies:
1/2 cucumber (skinned and seeds removed)
1 ripe avacado (skin and pit removed)
3/4 cup thawed organic frozen Peas
1/2 ripe banana
1/8c organic apple juice
1/8c filtered water
5. “Sneaky” Mac and Cheese
If you have kids – I’m sure they are just like mine when it comes to Mac and Cheese. If we let them, they would eat Mac & Cheese 7 days a week. I feel super guilty when I let them have it more than twice a week. Even though Kraft has removed all of its artificial coloring, there is still loads of sodium and no real nutritional value since its basically cheese and simple white carbs. So, to make myself feel a little less guilty – I have come up with a “sneaky” recipe that I hope you will enjoy!
I box Kraft Mac and Cheese
1/2 Can Chick Peas
handful of fresh spinach
1/2 – 3/4 cup almond milk
In a blender, combine chick peas, spinach and almond milk.
Prepare the Kraft noodles – place back into the sauce pan after draining.
Pour the blender mixture into the sauce pan and mix well with the noodles.
Add contents of the Kraft “cheese” packet. Stir well. let it heat/simmer for 5 minutes. If it seems dry, add little bit of almond milk – 1 TBSP at a time until desired consistency.
My 4 year old has a huge aversion to anything green, so I serve this in a green bowl so he thinks its just the bowl turning his M&C Green. I know, i know. Gullible. LOL!