Category Archives: Homemade Staples

Vegan Gravy

I have this recipe posted at the bottom of a couple of other recipes that call for gravy, but I didn’t have it on it’s own…until now. This makes about 2 cups and is great in Chicken Broccoli Casserole, with Hawaiin Haystacks, and many other things.


In a medium saucepan, warm the oil over medium heat(You can olive or avocado oil, or butter). Stir in garlic and saute one minute. Add the flour and whisk. Whisk in broth, milk, dried onion and salt. Stir over medium to medium-hi heat for about 5 minutes until thickened. img_5367This recipe makes a little over 2 cups of gravy.

Gravy (vegan)
*makes 2 cups

4 Tbsp avocado oil (butter or olive oil work too)
2 tsp minced garlic
5 T whole white wheat flour (or any flour including gluten-free)
2 c vegetable broth
1/2 c unsweetened almond milk
2 tsp dried minced onion
1 1/2 tsp sea salt

In a saucepan, warm the oil over medium heat. Stir in garlic and saute one minute. Add the flour and whisk. Whisk in broth, milk, dried onion and salt. Stir over medium to medium-hi heat for about 5 minutes until thickened. Makes about 2 cups.


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Apple Cider Vinaigrette

Salad dressings are one of those things that I always have around, because I eat salad daily, but I don’t like to buy them because 1) they’re expensive and 2) there are so many added unnecessary and unhealthy ingredients(though Newman’s Own does a pretty good job with some of their salad dressings). Making a salad dressing is simple, fast and inexpensive so homemade dressings have become a staple in our house.

Apple cider vinegar has some pretty amazing health benefits, but I am not one of those people that can just drink a tablespoon or a watered down glass, straight up. This is a fabulous way to get some apple cider vinegar into your body! I love this dressing on any of the green salads I make. The one pictured below has romaine lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes and sunflower seeds. And you can totally do this recipe with or without the maple syrup; I would try it first without and then if you feel like it’s too bitter, add the syrup.  I like it both ways though my kids prefer it with syrup.

Apple Cider Vinaigrette
*makes 1/2 c

1/3 c extra virgin olive oil
1/4 c apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp garlic, minced
1 Tbsp white or yellow onion, minced
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 Tbsp pure maple syrup

Combine all ingredients in a glass jar with a lid and shake vigorously until emulsified. Pairs beautifully with any green salad. Can be stored in the fridge for up to 1 week.

*if oil solidifies, microwave for a few seconds until melted

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Ranch Dressing

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My kiddos and I are doing a health challenge for six weeks. A friend told me about one that was online and I joined that, and got put on a team, and then the three oldest decided they wanted to do one too. So I edited the spreadsheet so that the goals were a better fit for children (ie “drink half your body weight in ounces of water” instead of ‘drink 100 oz”;  and ‘sleep 9-11 hours’ instead of, ‘sleep 7+ hours’) and they passed them out to a couple of close friends and started on their challenge!  There are two ‘free choice’ spots where they fill in their own healthy habit they want to work on, plus they can choose their own meal plan (but no soda or alcohol is allowed ever, even on your free day). My 11  and 8 year old daughters chose to not have sugar  as part of their meal plan. They are at an advantage living in our home where we have very few things in the home that have sugar in them, but I have not been able to find a ranch dressing without sugar(Newman’s Own is better than most, but the ranch still has some sugar) and they love ranch with carrots and on salads, so I’ve kept it around. I came across a vegan, sugar-free ranch dressing in Kimberly Snyders book and we gave it a try and it’s a winner.

Pictured below, I have plain greek yogurt which is not vegan, but the recipe actually calls for a coconut or almond yogurt, so if you are vegan you’d make that change.

Here are the ingredients: sea salt, nutritional yeast, pine nuts, plain yogurt, apple cider vinegar, minced garlic, onion, parsley and dill.

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In case you’ve never heard of nutritional yeast before, here is some info about it: Whole Foods sells nutritional yeast in their bulk section, and also in a can like the one pictured below. You should be able to find it in most health food stores. Our local health food store sells it in a canister near the protein powders and vitamin supplement area. Nutritional yeast is grown in vats of molasses, nutrients, and water. Once the yeast is mature, it gets poured out onto a conveyor belt and goes through a drying process that breaks it down into little flakes. Nutritional yeast contains a full spectrum of essential amino acids and is a good source of protein. It has a cheesy, nutty flavor and is vegan so it’s often used as a substitute for vegans, with recipes containing cheese;  I like to sprinkle it on pasta, popcorn, salads, roasted veggies etc.

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Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth.

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Serve immediately.

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 You can refrigerate  it for about 3-5 days. Just give it a stir before serving. We love to eat this over salad and as a veggie dip. 2016-02-02 12.25.18


Ranch Dressing– adapted from Kimberly Snyder’s cook book
*Makes about 1 cup

2/3 c plain yogurt (can use coconut or almond yogurt if vegan)
1/3 c pine nuts
1/4 c nutritional yeast
2 Tbsp white or yellow onion, sliced
2 tsp raw apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp minced garlic (1 clove)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp dried dill
1 Tbsp fresh parsley (or 1/2 tsp dried)

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Serve immediately. Can refrigerate up to 3-5 days.


Filed under Homemade Staples, Salads, Snacks/Sides/Appetizers, vegan

Homemade Slow Cooker Chicken Stock

I like to buy the Costco Rotisserie chickens on occasion (which are hormone free). When I do, rather than throwing the carcass away once we’ve pulled off all the meat, just before bed I’ll stick the carcass in our slow cooker, add in some veggies, spices and water, and cook it on low, overnight. When we wake up in the morning, the house smells amazing and now we have several quarts of home made chicken stock!

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I know in the picture below, I’ve chopped up the celery pretty fine, but I never do that any more. There’s no need. It’s just for the flavor and you end up dumping the cooked veggies. So instead, using my end, I break the celery stalks into thirds and toss them in.

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These are the spices I use, but feel free to take some liberties here and add spices you love that would go well with the others, or you can leave some out that you don’t have on hand.

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Once the veggies and spices are in, I fill up the slow cooker with cool water, leaving about 1/2-1 inch headspace at the top. Put the lid on and let it cook on low overnight or 8-10 hours.

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Once it’s done, turn off the heat and use a soup ladle to pass the stock through a fine sieve to remove all the solids. You can put the sieve right over your jars and ladle it straight in there or you can ladle it into a larger container first, like my large glass measuring dish, and then pour it into the jars. Either way it gets pretty messy so I usually do my ladling work over a rimmed baking sheet.

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The stock is amazingly flavorful and will go well in all your soups. I also use it in my enchilada sauce and when I’m making brown rice. It will keep well in the fridge for a couple of weeks, or you can freeze it for several months.

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Homemade Slow Cooker Chicken Stock-
*makes about 16 c

Carcass from a small chicken (I use the Costco Rotisserie chicken carcass)
1 white or yellow onion, peeled and thickly sliced
2 celery stalks, cut in thirds
10 baby carrots
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp dried bay leaves
1 tsp Thyme
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp apple cider vinegar or vinegar
1/4 tsp turmeric

Place chicken carcass in large slow cooker. Add all other ingredients. Fill the slow cooker with water, leaving about a 1/2 inch head space at top. Cover and cook on low overnight or start in the morning on low and cook for 8-10 hours. When done, turn off heat and ladle the stock through a fine sieve to remove all the solids. Store in glass quart/pint jars. Refrigerate for two weeks or freeze for several months(I like to freeze mine in quart freezer bags because my glass jars always break in the freezer). Can dilute stock with water when using in recipes or use as is.

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Homemade Whole Wheat Bread Crumbs

I have a couple of family favorite recipes that call for bread crumbs. Have you ever looked at the ingredient label for bread crumbs? There’s a whole bunch of extra added things that we really shouldn’t be putting into our bodies, and I always prefer whole wheat to white, so we like to make our own. This has become a staple in our house. You can make bread crumbs using your favorite whole wheat bread and I love that it uses up my end pieces!

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You don’t have to use end pieces, but I always do because my family doesn’t enjoy eating the end pieces in sandwiches and I don’t want them to go to waste. So I save my end pieces by freezing them either in their bag or a freezer ziploc bag, or if I already have some frozen end pieces in the freezer, I’ll just add more to it.

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Once I have 8+ pieces, I’ll pull them out of the freezer, put them on a cookie sheet and bake them in an oven preheated to 300 degrees for about 30-40 minutes until they’re dry and crispy but not burnt.

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Once they’re ready, I break them apart into fourths or smaller and stick them in my blender. I pulse the blender until they break up into smaller pieces.

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Sometimes a big piece will get in the way and trap the others from falling down toward the blade. When that happens, I just open up the lid, break some of the larger pieces down to smaller pieces, replace the lid and pulse again.

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After you pulse it multiple times and the bread is no longer getting trapped, hold down the pulse button and allow it to blend until you have crumbs, about 20 seconds.

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8-10 slices will make about 2 cups of whole wheat bread crumbs.

Whatever you don’t use within in the next several days, feel free to freeze them in a tupperware to be used another day. And you don’t need to let them thaw, just pull them out of the freezer and use.

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Homemade Whole Wheat Bread Crumbs
*makes about 2 cups

8-10 slices whole wheat bread ends, frozen

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Place bread ends on a baking sheet, not overlapping, and bake for 30-40 minutes until the bread looks toasted (dry and browning). Break bread into fourths and place in high power blender or food processor and pulse about 10 times, until the bread has begun to break up and then hold down the pulse button until it’s all crumbs, and there aren’t any more chunks, about 20 seconds. Ready to use immediately in recipes, or you can store in pantry for several weeks or in freezer for up to a couple of months. We love to use bread crumbs on our chicken fingers (chicken nuggets/strips).

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