How To Preserve Food For The Winter

landschaft-winter-001Winter is coming.  Actually, it’s kind of already here in the midwest.  If you haven’t been paying attention to the news or stepped outside, there is a huge cold front that is moving through the country bringing snow and wind and cold.  Yay…. Anyway, as the winter season settles in the harvest season winds down.  There aren’t many new crops popping up in the dead of winter and while I know that in modern grocery stores we can get any fruit or vegetable at any time of the year, the selection of in season produce is slim.  I have been trying to make a push in our household to try and eat as seasonally as possible.  There will always be a few fruit and vegetables, like bananas and sweet potatoes, that I will buy no matter the time of year, but otherwise I try to eat what’s in season.  Now, just because there isn’t a lot to choose from in the winter time, if you take a little time to plan ahead, you can eat all your summer/fall favorites through the cold months ahead.  There are many ways to preserve food, but the three that I’m going to share here are the ones that I use most often.



Most people only think of dill pickles when the hear the word pickling, but you can pretty much pickle any vegetable.  Broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, beets, asparagus, summer squash, onions, garlic….. you get the idea.  Pickling has been around for centuries and it is a fairly simple process so don’t be too intimidated.  Pickled vegetables can be used on a lot of different dishes, from placing kimchi on a burger or making a pickled beet salad, and really add a unique flavor.  On the health and nutrition side of pickled food, they provide a great source of probiotics that can help improve your digestion and gut health.  All really good things!  Check out a few of these online tutorials for pickling and get started.  Experiment with different vegetables and spices and enjoy delicious vegetables all winter long.

Sauces, Jams, and Butters 


This is my go to way to preserve fruit, especially the bounty of fruit that is available during the fall.  If you’re like me you’re probably swimming in apples and a great way to save those apples (other than making a million pies!) is to make apple butter or apple sauce.  You can pretty much use these two methods for all fruit.  You can make sauce or jam from strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, cranberries, any berry.  Fruit butters are another great way to save fruit and many can be made right in your slow cooker.  One of my favorite combos is a pumpkin/apple butter and I usually have a jar or two on hand.  I have myself have never made jam, but I have made quite a few sauces like cranberry and tomato sauce.  You can find a few good tutorials here for making big batches of jam and on Friday I’ll share a really easy way to make a big batch of applesauce, so check back for that!



This is by far the easiest method of preserving your produce and the one that I use the most.  During the fall when squash is super cheap I stock up and then freeze the extra.  I either peel and dice the squash into cubes and freeze that way or I peel, dice, steam, and puree it and freeze the puree in batches.  You can also freeze things like broccoli and cauliflower.  Cut and steam the vegetables until brightly colored and then dunk them in a bowl of ice water.  This is called blanching and it helps preserve their flavor.  Once they are relatively dry, place them in freezer safe bags or container.  When you want to use them just steam until cooked through.  I like freezing produce because it is a great way to have quick meals on hands.  I can use my purees for baking or soup or gnocchi and having vegetables on hand make an easy side dish or add nutrition to stir fry.  Plus frozen foods can last for up to three month as long as they are properly stored.

These are my favorite ways to make the bounty of produce available during the warmer months last all winter long.  There are other ways, such as canning, to preserve your food so find the method that works best for you.  If you take just a little bit of time and effort you can eat well even if the weather is frightful!


Simple Soy Marinade/Glaze

When Adam and I first started dating he was the primary cook for himself and his roommate.  He is actually a fairly decent cook, but I would have to say he had two main specialties.  One was his mostaccioli and the other was his stir fry.  While I liked that mostaccioli (pretty sure he fed my roommates a few times with that dish), I loved his stir fry.  More specifically, I loved his stir fry sauce.  It was like restaurant quality sauce.  Growing up we had stir fry, but we usually used those little packets of stir fry seasoning that you add to water and then pour over the meat and vegetables.  So I was amazed when he suggested stir fry and then started making his own stir fry sauce.  It’s the little things for me…. Anyway, one of the main ingredients in his sauce was hoisin sauce.  I don’t know if you have ever seen or used hoisin, but it isn’t the healthiest thing to be eating.  I made it my mission to make my own healthy stir fry sauce without the use of hoisin.  After many tries, I think I finally got it down in taste and texture.  While it might not taste exactly like restaurant quality stir fry sauce, it comes pretty close and you won’t have to worry about any of the ingredients!

Simple Soy Marinade/Glaze


  • 1/4 cup liquid aminos, tamari sauce or soy sauce (coconut aminos would work too)
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp chinese five spice
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp ginger, minced
  • 1 tsp tapioca starch


Mix everything except the tapioca starch together.  Add in the tapioca starch and whisk until fully incorporated and there are no clumps.


You can use this as a marinade for fish, chicken, or pork.  You can use it as a sir fry sauce, just cook your meat and vegetables and then add this sauce in at the end and cook until it has thickened up.  You could also use it as a glaze.  Just heat the sauce up in a small sauce pan over medium high heat until it thickens and then pour it over whatever you would like.  You can make this ahead of time just store it in an airtight container in the fridge.


Also, if you guys have any requests for recipes that you would like to see on the blog, let me know in the comment section!  I want to make sure that you are getting what you need/want from this blog, so please tell me.  Have a great weekend!

Coconut Cashew Sauce

I really love sauces.  They can take any meal from ho-hum to totally yum.  They are also a simple way to add healthy flavor to your dishes.  As much as I love sauce, my husband loves noodles.  Any dish that has some type of noodle or pasta is a winner with him.  So when I made this sauce and decided to use it in a stir fry AND add noodles, he was in heaven.  I’m pretty sure his exact words were, “The rest of this is just for me, right?”  While he was kind enough to share the rest of the food with me, I don’t know if he’ll let me have any more when I make it again!


Coconut Cashew Sauce


  • 1/3 cup cashew butter
  • 1/4 cup liquid aminos (soy sauce or coconut aminos would work also)
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • about 1 to 2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 1/2 tsp chinese five spice (can be found in most grocery stores in the ethnic food aisle)
  • 1/4 cup full fat canned coconut milk
  • chopped cashews, optional for garnish/texture


1.  In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients except coconut milk and chopped cashews.  Once everything is well combined add in coconut milk and stir together.

2.  Let sauce sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to let the flavors come together.  Remove from fridge and let it come to room temperature before you use.  If using, stir in the chopped cashews right before using the sauce.


Now, you don’t HAVE to let the sauce sit, but it really does help the flavor to develop.  I love the creaminess that both the cashew butter and the coconut milk add, plus I love how easy it is to make!  My husband will tell you this is amazing with noodles, but it would also work well on top of grilled chicken or pork and it tastes really good over vegetable stir fry.  So go get saucy and try this yummy coconut cashew sauce!

How To Repurpose Leftovers


I am a big believer in leftovers.  I think that they play a big role in eating good, healthy meals all week long, as well as helping keep food costs down.  I only cook for two people, but I tend to cook like there are four of us and make extras to have for lunches throughout the week.  One thing that I have noticed though is that people tend to get bored of eating the same thing over and over again.  If you get bored with having the same food, you might be more likely to switch back to your unhealthy eating habits.  Because we don’t want that, I wanted to share just a few ways that you can repurpose your leftovers and make a whole different meal with just a few minor adjustments.




This might be one of the easiest things to turn into a different meal.  Summer time is the perfect time to pull out the grill and BBQ some meat.  When you do this, make sure to throw a few extra pieces of whatever you’re making onto the grill.  Now you have some extra meat to turn into lunches or dinners for the week.

  • Shred chicken or pork and make a stir fry by adding it to some vegetables, brown rice, and soy sauce.
  • Slice up steak or chicken and add to a salad
  • Use fish to make some simple fish tacos.  Just add some salsa or corn, cilantro, and squeeze a little lime juice over everything
  • Make a chicken salad with shredded chicken, celery, avocado and mustard
  • Add any kind of meat to a frittata


If you do your meal prep over the weekend, make sure that you cook up some extra vegetables however you like.  Grill, roast, or saute them and you can use them for meals throughout the week.  Summer time also means the garden is full and your farmers market is in full swing, so you might be loaded up with extra vegetables.  Here are some ways you can repurpose your vegetables for leftovers.

  • Roasted root vegetables, like sweet potatoes or parsnips, can be added to salads or cooked grains for a simple lunch
  • Root vegetables are also really good pureed into soup or a sauce for pasta.  Add almond milk (or whatever milk you like) for an extra creamy texture
  • Grilled eggplant can be made into a simple baba ganush
  • Grilled zucchini or summer squash can be added to tomato sauce for extra texture and flavor
  • Cooked vegetables can be added to stir frys, soups, frittatas, or sandwiches
  • If you have an overabundance of cooked vegetables, you can also freeze them to be used later



Grains are a great thing to cook in big batches and then just add to meals throughout the week.

  • Grains make a really good bed for stir fry, vegetables with sauce, or cooked meat
  • Add your favorite grain to a leafy salad for a new variation
  • Leftover pasta?  Use it up by making cold pasta salad.  Toss your favorite pasta with some olive oil, seasonings, and vegetables like cherry tomatoes or avocados for a delicious summer meal
  • Try adding cooked grains to your lettuce wrap for extra texture and oomph



Fruit is also pretty abundant this time of year and you can make it into a few different meals throughout the week.

  • Use leftover fruit salad as a cereal, granola, or yogurt topper for breakfast
  • Freeze leftover fruit and use in smoothies or added to water for extra flavor
  • Make a quick toast topping by mashing up leftover berries and adding a little honey/cinnamon
  • Turn frozen leftover fruit into sorbets by blending them in a high powered blender or food processor


There are a ton of ways that you can vary your leftovers so that you don’t eat the exact same meal every single day of the week.  With just a little bit of prep work, you can have the makings of a healthy and new meal each day.  Get creative and see what you can make out of the meals in your fridge!

How To Eat More Vegetables


I can bet that you have been told that you need to eat more vegetables.  It seems to be the first thing that comes out of peoples mouths when anything remotely close to eating healthier is mentioned.  Eat more fruits and vegetables!  In all honesty, it’s good advice even if it tends to be overstated.  The problem is that the advice stops there.  We’re told to eat more vegetables but not necessarily how to do it.  A lot of people have bad associations with vegetables.  Some were forced to eat them as kids or were served mushy tasteless dishes that made them believe all vegetables taste the same, gross.  Maybe you want to eat more vegetables but you have no clue how to go about doing that.  My post today is going to focus on simple ways  to incorporate more vegetables into your meals.  It doesn’t have to be complicated, tasteless, or boring and the more that you eat vegetables the more you will come to love them as much as I do!

Roast Them Up

This is my absolute favorite way to prepare vegetables.  It’s an amazing way to add great flavor to your vegetables and it works on virtually any vegetable.  I roast everything from sweet potatoes to zucchini, cabbage and beets.  If I can slice it up and add a little olive oil to it, I can roast it.  If you have a hard time enjoying the taste of vegetables, this cooking method is for you.  Simply preheat your oven to 400-425 and prepare a baking pan with a piece of parchment paper or a Silpat.  Then take your vegetable and cut it up into bite size chunks and place them in a large bowl.  Add a few tablespoons of oil (I alternate between olive oil and coconut oil) and whatever seasonings you like (try Italian blends, curry powder, garlic, cumin, smoked paprika, or even just salt and pepper) and mix everything together.  Arrange the vegetables in a single layer on the pan and roast for 20-45 minutes depending on the vegetable you are using.  I usually rotate the pan halfway through the cooking process.  Once you start to get a nice brown edge, your vegetables are done!  You can eat them as is, add to salads, or stir fry’s.  Roasted vegetables also keep really well in the fridge and make great leftovers.

Make Soup or Stew

Soup is another easy way to get in more vegetables as well as large quantities of vegetables.  You can add vegetables to any soup you’re making and bulk it up with extra nutrition and flavor.  You could puree a variety of root vegetables, like sweet potatoes or parsnips, and after you have roasted them, add either broth or water or even almond milk to make a creamy soup.  Or you could blend up a variety of vegetables from your garden like tomatoes, cucumbers, and zucchini and make a refreshing gazpacho on a hot summer day.

Sauces and Dips

This is another favorite way to add more vegetables to my meals.  Make sauces and dips out of them!  You can make a simple homemade salsa with tomatoes, onions, garlic, and cilantro.  Or maybe you’re a guacamole fan.  Try making your own homemade spaghetti sauce and besides the tomatoes, add in zucchini and carrots.  You can even make creamy sauces with cauliflower or try a vegetable based spread like baba ghanoush.  Kids especially like dipping things in sauces and this is a really good way to get a little extra nutrition into their meal without fighting over broccoli.

Drink Them

While I think that juicing is a great thing, I am also a big fan of eating my meals.  But I know that for some people juicing their vegetables is what works best for them due to time constraints or they really can’t handle the taste of eating vegetables.  If this sounds like you, try juicing your vegetables or adding them to smoothies.  Leafy greens are very easy to add into your drinks and as long as you add some fruits like apples or pears, you don’t have to feel like you’re drinking grass.  If you have a juicer, you can juice pretty much any vegetable quickly.  I like the combination of carrots, beets, spinach, apples, and a little bit of ginger, but get creative and see what flavors you like.  Remember though, if you can, it’s better to eat your vegetables so that you can get all the fiber and nutrients that fruit and vegetables have to offer.  Sometimes, just drinking juice can leave you feeling hungrier sooner than eating those same foods would have.


I know this one sounds obvious and is probable one of the least favorite ways for people to get their vegetables in but salads don’t have to be boring or taste yucky.  There are so many ways to spruce up a salad, like adding more vegetables, dried fruits, nuts or seeds, herbs, and topping it all with homemade dressing.  Salads are a great way to get in a TON of vegetables into one meal as well as a great way to use up all the odd leftovers you have in your fridge.  Start with a base of some type of leafy green (think outside the romaine and iceberg box and try kale, arugala, collard, watercress, or spinach), and add whatever you want.  Try leftover cooked chicken or fish, roasted sweet potatoes or cauliflower, raw almonds or pistachios, dried (and unsweetened) cranberries or goji berries, add pumpkin or sunflower seeds for a little extra crunch.  And the dressing options are endless and just as simple to make.  Give salads a chance and you might just fall in love with them.

Eating more vegetables shouldn’t make you want to run screaming to your nearest bakery and shove as many donuts as you can into your mouth.  Incorporating these healthy foods into your meals is simple and only takes a little bit of effort and creativity.  So now that you know what to do, go eat your vegetables!