I am a huge fan of bulk food preparation and it probably stems from running my own business single handed cooking for 100 + customers every lunchtime in a pub I was landlady of, and then later preparing cooked breakfast, lunch and high tea for 120 children and 20 staff in a boarding school. Meals that have to be ready at a specific time of day for that many, requires planning and preparation in advance, particularly of vegetables.
Since vegetables lose a great deal of nutrients the moment you cut into them, and then even more if they are left uncooked for more than a few hours, it meant an early start each day. I did have an industrial water peeler for potatoes and carrots etc, and two staff to help prep for meals, but it still was time consuming. However, blanching and freezing vegetables as soon as they are peeled and cut, does preserve most of the nutrients and cuts down the cooking time.
Now that there are only two of us to cook for, I still like to prep vegetables in bulk two or three times a week and they stay fresh in the fridge for at least three days.
David, my husband, has an extra boost in the evenings with a bowl of mixed vegetable soup, jazzed up with a little protein left over from our main meal and sometimes a spoonful of rice.
My favourite pieces of kitchen equipment are my two slow cookers, one large and one medium. Today I am sharing my recipe for the weekly pot of vegetable casserole, soup and sauce base which produces 8 portions of nutrient dense and tasty main meals or suppers. Adding extras such as beans makes this a great meal for vegetarians and is usually a hit with children who might be reluctant to eat vegetables prepared in other ways.
It is also a great dish for those who might be recovering from an illness or surgery or for an elderly person who has lost their appetite. It can be blitzed to make a smooth soup and you can add some whole milk to make it creamy in texture. It will lose none of its nutrients and it will be easily absorbed by the body.
One of the major benefits of using a slow cooker is that you lose none of the nutrients during the cooking process as it is all retained in the mixture.
Before I give you the recipe… a reminder of the essential nutrients we should be including in our daily diet to maintain an effective immune system, strong teeth and bones, efficient digestive system and a brain firing on all cylinders. You can find each of these nutrients described in more detail in a series from 2020 and linked to from this comprehensive shopping list that provides all the nutrients you need in a weekly shop: Smorgasbord Health Weekly Grocery Shopping List.
- Vitamins and anti-oxidants – A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9 (Folate) B12, C, D, E, K,
- Minerals – Calcium, chloride, chromium, copper, iodine, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, sodium, zinc.
- Amino Acids – L-Arginine, L-Tryptophan, L-Glutamine
- Essential Fatty Acids – Omega-3 (Linolenic Acid), Omega-6 (Linoleic Acid)
- Bioflavonoids – phytochemicals that enhance the action of Vitamin C.
- Very strong anti-oxidants such as Nasunin and Chlorogenic acid
Ingredients and some of their essential nutrients in a recipe that packs a punch.
- 150ml Olive Oil – Omega 9 Fatty Acid and Vitamin E
- Two large Onions and 2 cloves crushed Garlic – Folate, B1, B6 Vitamin C, biotin, manganese, copper, chromium, quercitin, potassium, phosphorus.
- Three handfuls of fresh Spinach – Vitamin K, Vitamins A, Folate, B1, B2, B6, C, E, calcium and potassium.
- Four sticks of Celery – High in anti-oxidants and fibre, vitamin K, folate, vitamin A, vitamin C and potassium,
- Four large Parsnips – Fibre – vitamin B6 – vitamin C, vitamin K – folate – vitamin E – magnesium: thiamine – phosphorus – zinc
- Three medium Leeks – Vitamin A folate, vitamin B6, and vitamin C. vitamin K – calcium, iron magnesium, manganese, potassium , selenium and zinc.
- Four large Carrots – Vitamin A (retinol), beta-carotene (turned into vitamin A in the body), other carotenoids, B vitamins, vitamin C and minerals calcium and potassium.
- One large Butternut Squash – vitamin A, vitamin B1, B3, B6, folate, vitamin C, vitamin E, magnesium, manganese, potassium:
- Six large tomatoes skinned and blitzed in a blender. beta-carotene (vitamin A) , vitamins C and E, B vitamins and vitamin K, calcium and magnesium.
- Handful of fresh Basil leaves: polyphenolic flavonoids like orientin and vicenin. vitamin-A, vitamin K, copper, magnesium, manganese and potassium.
- 600ml of vegetable stock made from organic cubes available from Health Food Shops or sometimes in supermarkets.
- Added extra to make a more substantial meal with an added boost of nutrients
- One can of organic mixed beans (usually in health food section or health food shop and no added ingredients – vitamin B1, copper, folate, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and tryptophan.
- Any fresh vegetables you have that need using up such as red peppers, spring onions, mushrooms etc.. All will add their own nutrients to the feast.
Simply dice or chop all the vegetables, add the stock, cover ( I put a tea towel on top of the cover as well to retain the heat) and cook on high for two hours and then on low for another hour. Check to make sure the root vegetables which tend to be fibrous are fully cooked and tender.
- I portion out into freezer containers or you can store portions in the fridge for up to three days.
- It can be used as a base for main meals by adding in cooked protein to the portions as needed.Great for pasta or rice dishes.
- Or as suppers as a rich soup (dilute the mixture which is quite thick) with a dollop of live yogurt and chopped chives to make it creamier served with some sliced homemade bread.
©Just Food for Health 1998 – 2021
I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-three years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines, radio programmes and posts here on Smorgasbord.
If you would like to browse my health books and fiction you can find them here: My books and reviews 2021
Thanks for visiting today and as always I value your feedback.. next time some soups that taste good and do you good….thanks Sally.