One more cereal

I found an old family favorite deep in my recipe box recently.  I haven’t even thought about this for a long time, but as I look at it through the eyes of a whole-food diet, I see it has real possibilities.  It’s not perfect, but healthier than most prepared cereals.

I got this granola recipe from my mother-in-law way back in the 1970’s.  She lived in Utah, and our family was living in the “mission field” (Fisher, Minnesota, a border town near Grand Forks, North Dakota), and it took a long time for good stuff like this to reach branches of the Church in other states.  The Relief Society (women’s auxiliary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) General Board in Salt Lake City distributed this recipe to Utah congregations with suggested activities for local monthly Relief Society meetings.  Try it, and see if you don’t think it is a keeper.

Relief Society Granola

  • 8 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 6 cups rolled wheat
  • 2 cups wheat germ or rice polish
  • 2 cups coconut
  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla
  • dried fruit
  • nuts

Combine rolled oats, rolled wheat, wheat germ, coconut and brown sugar.  Mix until blended.  In a large measuring cup or bowl, combine salt, honey, water, vanilla, and oil.  Add to dry ingredients and mix well.  Spread in two large, flat roasting pans and bake at 225 degrees F. about a 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally until cereal is almost dry to touch.  It will  finish drying as it cools.  Stir in dried fruit and nuts as desired.

Ileen’s revisions: I see that I have altered this recipe quite a bit over the years.  Here’s my current list of ingredients.

  • 8 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 6 cups rolled wheat if you have it, or add more rolled oats
  • 2 cups wheat germ, rice polish or oat bran
  • 2 cups unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup virgin coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup raisins, dates, dried apples or other dried fruit
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts or sliced/slivered almonds

Mix and bake as above.

I recently discovered that my Nesco American Harvest counter-top food dehydrator dries the granola very well.  I like it better than that dried in the oven.  I set the dehydrator at 145 degrees F. and let it run for about two hours or until cereal is almost dry to touch.  It will finish drying as it cools.

Yield:  about 6 quarts.


Chia Pudding

  • 1 1/4 cup almond or coconut milk
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla or cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup chia seed

Mix all ingredients except chia seed with a whisk or immersion blender.  Add chia seed and whisk immediately, so the seed doesn’t clump and stick together.   Let stand several hours or overnight in the fridge.  Mine set up in about 3 hours.  You may grind the chia seed briefly in a blender if you like.  Just be sure to grind enough seed to cover the blades of the blender.  Makes about 2 cups.

Variation :

  • 2 1/2 cups almond milk
  • 3 tablespoons agave nectar
  • 1/2 cup chia seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest

I think you could also use any liquid you like; It doesn’t have to be almond milk.  The point is to increase the amount of sticky fiber eaten to feed beneficial bacteria in the gut.    How about just plain water or even fruit juice?  Of course you would have to adjust the sweetener and other seasonings.

Makes about 4 cups

Easy Chia Drink:

Mix together 1 tbsp chia seed and 8 ounces fruit juice.




Stocking the refrigerator

If you have committed to eating healthy, nutrient-dense food, you may find yourself shopping for vegetables more often or spending more time in your vegetable garden.  It is easier to pick your produce from displays in the grocery store, but the downside is that most grocery-store fruits and vegetables are all but dead before they get to your table.  The garden option takes more time and effort, but the harvest will be healthier, tastier, and provide some physical exercise.  Farmer’s markets that sell local, in-season fruits and vegetables are another option.

It helps to survey the contents of the fridge before shopping to make sure there is a place to put the bags of produce from market.  This is also a good time to clean the fridge and take inventory so you don’t buy stuff you already have.  Stick to your list to reduce the temptation to buy more than you can eat before foods expire.  Collect almost-gone greens, herbs, potatoes with eyes, carrots that are sprouting, and anything else that still has food value, shove it all in a plastic bag for soup stock and refrigerate until you can include trimmings from fresh vegetables.

On shopping day, consider not only the perishable produce that you plan to eat in the next few days, but also try to stock the pantry and freezer with foods you use on a regular basis such as frozen fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, dry legumes, grains, etc.  If you are on a tight budget and can’t afford to buy organic, just remember that it is better to buy non-organic produce than not buy any at all!

Head to the store early in the day, so you will have time to wash and chop your haul and set the soup pot simmering before you run out of steam.  If you have enough energy, you can even prepare a vegetable soup to go with your fresh salad for supper.


Karen’s Green Soup

  • 1 lb. green beans, fresh or frozen
  • 3 small zucchini, sliced (about 6 cups chopped)
  • 2 cups sliced celery
  • 1 cup parsley, optional
  • 1 pound spinach, or other greens, or a mixture
  • onion and/or garlic, optional
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

Put all ingredients in a large pot.  Barely cover with vegetable broth.  Season to taste with anything you like and cook until tender.  Cool soup slightly and purée with an immersion blender or blend in small batches in a regular blender or food processor.

When serving, add extras like avocado, mushrooms, croutons, different spices, whatever, to give added texture or variety.  Leftover brown rice makes a hearty addition too.

Use any greens you have on hand or use frozen spinach, kale, or even lettuce.  Always keep green beans in the freezer, so when you have vegetables that need using up before they go bad, you can make a batch and freeze.  Beans from the garden that are a bit past their prime (should have been picked yesterday) are good candidates for this recipe.

The soup is smooth and creamy and freezes well; but the texture might be watery when you thaw it if too much cooking broth or water is used.

This may not be the most elegant soup you have ever made, but it could well be the most nutritious.

Let’s Make Soup!

“Never consider that you have bread enough around you to suffer your children to waste a crust or a crumb of it. If a man is worth millions of bushels of wheat and corn, he is not wealthy enough to suffer his servant girl to sweep a single kernel of it into the fire; let it be eaten by something and pass again into the earth, and thus fulfill the purpose for which it grew. . . There is not a family in this city, where there are two, three, four or five persons, but what can save enough from their table, from the waste made by the children, and what must be swept into the fire and out the door, to make pork sufficient to last them through the year, or at least all they should eat.”  Brigham Young.

Most of us would have difficulty raising a pig in the back yard today, but the principle still exists–do not throw anything away. Plan to use your leftovers. Check your fridge often and use leftovers for lunch when all the family is not home, add them to other dishes you may be preparing, puree them and feed them to your baby.

Keep containers in your refrigerator for leftover milk and vegetable cooking water. Collect the milk from the kids’ glasses at the end of the meal and save it. Even the little bits of milk in baby’s bottles and the bottom of the pitcher which is almost empty. Use this in making bread, gravy, etc. The cooking will completely sterilize it. The water vegetables are cooked in contains important vitamins and minerals. Use it to make gravy, sauces or keep a container in the freezer and use it when making soups or cooking dry beans.

Save the fat from ham and grind it to add to baked beans in place of bacon. Save all your bones and fat from roasts, steaks, even the ones from the plates, in a plastic bag in your freezer. When you have a supply, cook them down to make soup stock. Wash your vegetables before peeling, and then save the parings from potatoes, carrots, outer lettuce leaves, cabbage, celery tops, onion tops, etc. and add these to your soup pot after the bones and meat scraps are cooked. If you care to, you can even add the leftover vegetables from your children’s plates. Cook these well, then strain the liquid and throw away the bones.  Feed the vegetable scraps to the chickens, the pig, or make compost to enrich the soil in your vegetable garden.

Season and use as bouillon or any way you would use vegetable cooking water.  Use vegetable stock to cook brown rice or dry beans.  I haven’t tried it yet in bread, but I don’t know why it wouldn’t work.

Okay, for those who want a recipe to follow, here is a good one:

Basic Vegetable Stock

This stock has optimum flavor when used within 2 to 3 days.  It may be frozen for up to 3 months, but there will be some loss of flavor.  Some cooks find it convenient to freeze stock in ice cube trays.

  • 8 cups water
  • 8 cups coarsely chopped misc. vegetables.
  • 2 medium onions, coarsely chopped (include skins for a darker stock)
  • 1 to 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped (optional)
  • 3 large carrots, cut into 3 to 4 chunks
  • 4 large celery ribs, cut into 3 to 4 chunks
  • 1 to 2 parsnips, cut into 3 to 4 chunks (makes stock sweeter)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Small  bunch fresh parsley stalks
  • A few sprigs of fresh thyme or oregano
  • OR 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme or dried oregano, optional

Pressure Cooker Method:

Place water in the cooker and begin bringing to the boil as you prepare and add the remaining ingredients, except the salt.

Lock lid in place.  Bring to high pressure for 10 minutes.  Allow the pressure to come down naturally.  Otherwise, reduce pressure with a quick-release method.  Allow the stock to cool slightly.  Pour through a strainer into storage containers.  Press the vegetables against the sides of the strainer with a large spoon to extract all of the liquid.  Add salt, if desired.  Cool and refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze up to 3 months.

Stove-top Method:

Heat all ingredients to boiling in a large soup pot  Reduce heat.  Cover and simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally.  Turn off heat and allow the stock to steep (soak) on the warm burner as it cools.  Strain vegetables, as above, and pour into storage containers.

Potential Candidates for the Stockpot:

  • asparagus, broccoli and chard stalks
  • bay leaves or a few pinches of dried herbs
  • bell peppers
  • corn cobs and inner husks
  • celery, parsnip, and carrot chunks, peelings and trimmings
  • garlic (including skins)
  • onions (including skins), leek greens and roots, scallions (including root ends)
  • kale stalks (for a strong, distinctive flavor suggesting cabbage)
  • peeled sweet potatoes, apples, or pears (for a slightly sweet stock)
  • potatoes and potato skins (be sure to remove any green spots; skins will make the stock darker)
  • sprigs of parsley or other fresh herbs; parsley stems
  • tomatoes or lemon slices (for a slightly acid stock)
  • turnips (peel them to avoid bitterness)
  • wilted celery, lettuce, and watercress
  • winter squash (avoid waxed peels)
  • zucchini

Use strong vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, turnips, rutabagas) sparingly if at all.

Yield: 2 1/2 quarts

Source:  “Great Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure” by Lorna J. Sass