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

Wheat-Free Breakfast Porridge

Steamy Breakfast Porridge

“Cooking cereals slowly, preferably overnight, is advantageous for several reasons. . . Phytates bind  minerals.  They are found in all grains and to a lesser extent in the non-grain alternatives.  The binding causes a high percentage of the minerals to be unavailable to the body.  When we say a cereal provides us with so much iron and calcium, that’s rather hypothetical.  The food may contain that much, but the amount our bodies can actually utilize is general much, much less.   Long, slow cooking breaks down the phytates without destroying the other nutrients.   And we have a much better chance of absorbing and utilizing those nutrients–especially if our digestive system is compromised.”

“Slow cooking makes the flavor more mellow, with a little more natural sweetness coming through.  And since you’re avoiding sweeteners, that improved flavor can be very important.” (The Yeast Connection Cookbook by William G. Crook, M.D. and Marjorie Hurt Jones, R.N.)

Basic Method:
Start with cool, room-temperature water to keep the cereal from lumping in boiling water.  Combine ingredients in slow cooker the night before.  Cook all night.  In the morning beat until creamy; divide into 2 hearty servings.  Enjoy “as is” or top with fresh fruit, dried fruit, frozen berries, and/or nut milk.  The one-quart slow cooker is ideal for cooking porridge for one to three people.  Or double the recipe and use the low setting for larger slow-cookers.
3/4 cup amaranth, 3 1/2 cups water, 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Whole seeds are best for porridge.
3/4 cup amaranth flour, 3 cups water, 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Whisk flour into the water and cook to a smooth gruel for small children or invalids.
1/2 cup buckwheat, 3 cups water, 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Grind unroasted groats to coarse meal in a blender OR use Cream of Buckwheat cereal.
1/2 cup millet, 2 cups water, 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Use whole grains of millet.
Oats, rolled
1/3 cup regular rolled oats, 1/3 cup oat bran, 2 cups water, 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Combine rolled oats and the oat bran, stir in water.  Oat bran lowers cholesterol plus produces creamier porridge.
1/2 cup whole quinoa, 2 cups water, 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Rinse whole quinoa well 3 or 4 times for best flavor.
1/3 cup whole quinoa, 2 tablespoons quinoa flour,  2 cups water, 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Rinse whole quinoa well 3 or 4 times for best flavor.  Flour version is extra creamy.
1/3 cup cereal, 2 cups water, 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Tested with Rice & Shine from health food store [Maybe cracked rice?].   Be sure to read labels.  Supermarket Cream of Rice is white and refined.
1/2 cup cereal, 1 3/4 cups water, 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Tested with Cream of Rye from health store (rolled flakes).  Flavor is pleasant and mild.
Author: Marjorie Hurt Jones, R.N.
Source: The Yeast Connection Cookbook
Cooking time and temperature may need to be adjusted.  My one-quart slow cooker over-cooked the cereal in 8 hours.  My two-quart slow cooker took the whole night and then some to cook steel-cut oats.  The first time you make this I recommend you try cooking it during the day so you can note start and stop times and setting for your specific cooker.

Steel-cut Irish Oats

4 cups water
1 cup steel-cut oats
1/2 teaspoon salt, or taste
Optional additions:
1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
1/4 to 1/2  cup  raisins, dried cranberries or dried blueberries
2 to 4 teaspoons cinnamon, optional
Mix water, oats and salt in a two-quart slower cooker.  Cook on Low overnight (test this during the daytime to determine the size and settings for your slow cooker.
Bring 4 cups water to a boil. Add 1 cup steel-cut oats and stir well. When the mixture starts to thicken slightly, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stir in optional additions.
Bring the water to a boil, add the oats and salt, stir and turn off the heat. Cover and let rest overnight.  In the morning, bring the heat up on the pot and cook over low heat, uncovered for about 10 to 12 minutes.  Add optional ingredients if desired.  To add a bit of sweetness to the oats, add a few currents to the water before boiling.
Serves 4

Add A Green Smoothie

Think of healthy eating as adding foods you can eat, not removing all the foods you love and enjoy.  Green smoothies are a great place to begin as they are quick, easy, nutritious, versatile, and they taste good.  What more could you ask for breakfast?

Begin with a little water, some ice cubes, one or two fruits–such as pears, bananas, apples–a stalk of celery, and a handful of greens, any kind–spinach, kale, lettuce, etc.  You can even add some raw oatmeal if you like.   Whip all this up in a high-speed blender.  If using a standard blender, cut ingredients into smaller pieces and maybe add more liquids.  (For example, blend hard ingredients such as celery in the liquid first, and then add softer foods cut into smaller pieces.)

If you have a hankering for ice cream, but trying to avoid dairy products, reduce liquids and add more ice.  You’ll need a high-speed blender for this.

Recipes for green smoothies abound on the Internet, and with a little trial and error you will settle on a few favorites.   Not only are smoothies healthy and taste good, but they are a godsend for anyone who has trouble chewing or swallowing, like the elderly.

Here are some of my favorites.

Melon Smoothies

Blend cantaloupe, honeydew, or watermelon.  Add a little ice if you like and a big handful of pre-washed-and-packaged baby spinach, kale, or “power greens.”  Blend and enjoy.   This is a delicious way to use up slightly over-ripe melons.

The hardest part of this recipe is cutting up the melon and disposing of the rind, which brings up composting, but that’s a topic for discussion later.

Banana Smoothies

One thing for sure is you’ll want to add bananas to your weekly shopping list.  They make a great snack, and can  be added to almost any smoothie.  Peel over-ripe bananas and freeze in plastic bags to use in smoothies.  Add them to melon smoothies along with apples or pears.

Bananas and seasonal fruits like apricots and peaches make a tasty blend.   If you have frozen peaches, use fresh bananas, or if it is peach season, use fresh peaches and frozen bananas.

Toss in greens from the garden if you have them.

Frozen Fruits

 I love fresh berries, any kind, but they spoil within a day or two, especially if harvested green and shipped long distances.  More convenient are frozen berries.  Keep bags of frozen blueberries, strawberries and mixed berries in the freezer to add to banana smoothies.  Berries taste good and good for you.

Additions of frozen or fresh seedless grapes or pineapple do a lot to “sweeten the pot.” If you have a grape-vine in your yard, pick, wash, package and freeze every last one.  No other preparation is necessary.

Now it’s time to create your own favorite blend; but don’t forget the greens!

Eat your vegetables!

Remember what your mother said?  “Eat your vegetables!”  She knew what she was talking about.   Half of your plate should be vegetables but few people in the United States eat more than one token vegetable with lunch and dinner, and that’s usually something like corn or French fries.

The problem is that we don’t give our bodies the nutrients needed to repair and maintain health.  Without these nutrients, the body has to compensate.  Eventually health declines and degenerative disease takes over.

I have been doing a lot of reading lately trying to identify several health issues.  All the sources recommend eating whole food rather than “fake” food that has been created or manufactured by man.  I know first hand that it isn’t easy to change one’s way of eating.  I am still working on it, but I would like to share some of my new-found knowledge.  As I continue to learn, I may update my posts.

What to eat:

  • All the vegetables you can get your hands on, especially greens.
  • Fruits in moderation.
  • Whole grains in moderation.
  • Legumes.
  • Healthy fats–almond oil, virgin coconut oil, flaxseed oil, olive oil.
  • Nuts and seeds.
  • Eat meat, fish, and poultry sparingly, if at all.

What to avoid:

  • Anything white–white flour, sugar, white rice.
  • Sugar–all kinds.
  • Dairy products, especially milk and cheese.
  • Processed cooking oils containing mostly omega 6 fatty acids, such as canola, peanut, sunflower, etc.  (As a culture we eat way too much omega 6 oil and not nearly enough omega 3 oil.  The ideal ratio would be 1:1, and it is actually about 15:1).
  • Soft drinks.
  • Alcohol.
  • Tobacco.
  • Caffeine.
  • Artificial sweeteners.
  • Food preservatives.

Now lest you start whining that there is nothing left to eat, let me remind you there are many cultures in the world that survive very well without any wheat, milk, or sugar.   Once you conquer sugar withdrawal (about 2 to 4 weeks), you will  begin to feel much better, and you are likely to lose weight.

Start with small changes by just adding more vegetables and eating smaller servings of starchy food.  Have fruit for dessert.  After an hour, if you are still hungry, eat more.  Never mind counting calories.

Stay tuned for more suggestions and recipes. . .

**Please feel free to add your comments and/or suggestions.**