Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Convenience Foods?

Let's face it there are days, even weeks, that are so busy you don't have time to cook everything from scratch. What are you going to do? How are you going to continue to eat whole foods and have food quickly?

One of my go-to quick meals is rotisserie chicken. I love that it is already cooked and a whole food. I'm fortunate enough to have two major health food stores in easy driving distance. Both of these stores sell rotisserie chicken. Both of them use free range, hormone free chicken. I can feel good about purchasing this. I am also thrilled they are about the same price, and often less than, purchasing a raw chicken that I must cook up. Many of the local grocery stores have them too.

What can you do with one of these chickens? There is the obvious. Cut it up and eat it with veggies. What if you don't want to cook veggies? Salad bar! Fresh veggies only though; don't go for any of the prepared salads whose ingredients may be questionable. Those salads will add hidden sugars and fats you likely don't want. Stick with the fresh raw veggies and a small amount of dressing on the side. I've been known to purchase frozen veggies to go with the chicken. They heat up fast. They are not fresh but they are better than nothing on a day when you are really not interested in the kitchen.

For a two-adult household  a whole chicken provides at least three meals. The breasts are one meal, and then the leg/thigh portions another. Then pull the remaining meat off the bones and make a chicken salad. It might only be enough for one depending on the size of the appetite. I see the chicken salad as a "bonus meal". Now, don't throw the bones away. Freeze them in a zipper plastic bag! When I have collected 2 or 3 of these I'll make a rich flavorful broth.The way I prepare this delicious chicken broth pulls the nutrients out of the chicken bones and puts them into the broth, and it makes my home smell like love is cookin' in the kitchen. My "Bone Soup" is a healthy tonic, and I can use it for a variety of recipes. Sometimes I have a cup of this basic stock to warm my belly; sometimes I just freeze it into small containers for future use. Other times I use it as the base for a hearty veggie soup. I love knowing I'm adding in extra nutrition, and I also love that I'm able to be so thrifty with all these meals from one affordable purchase!

Bone Soup 

bones left from 2-3 chickens
1 bunch parsley
1 onion coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic peeled and crushed

Put all ingredients in a large soup stock pot and cover with water. Simmer for 10-12 hours. As the bones soften, they release their calcium. Strain the broth (keeping any bits of meat is optional, after 10 to 12 hours the small amount of meat is flavorless). Use this rich broth as you would any other stock.

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