What to do with leftovers: Veggie and Ham Hash from Leftovers — Paleo, gluten-free, and fast

Voila! Delicious veggies and ham seasoned to perfection with just a hint of curry and garlic.

Voila! Delicious veggies and ham seasoned to perfection with just a hint of curry and garlic.

Today was rainy, windy, grey, and turning cold. Thunder storms hit late in the day. And it’s a Sunday. I did NOT want to go to the grocery store, yet the fridge was bare. Or so it seemed.

I started pulling out every fresh veggie and dish of leftover veggies I had — most of them had soft spots, black spots, or had been cooked days ago. I couldn’t steel myself to throw them out. So I cut off the bad, chopped up the good, and Voila! Veggie and Ham Hash from Leftovers. This stuff was fast (I cooked it and served it in 20 minutes!!), fun, and amazingly delicious!

I don’t think you have to have this exact mix of veggies and meat to do the same. But possibly a basic recipe (below) will give you some inspiration with spices, oils, and ingredients that will spur you to new culinary heights with your own sad story of leftovers.

Most of the stuff in this photo was going bad. It was up to me to save it! The solution: Veggie Hash with Ham.

Most of the stuff in this photo was going bad. It was up to me to save it! The solution: Veggie and Ham Hash from Leftovers.

Here’s what I had on hand:

3 T olive oil

1 1/2 tsp. green curry paste

1 T minced garlic

2 small onions, chopped

2 zucchini, chopped

1/2 a small jar of sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil

1 1/2 C. chopped green beans (already cooked)

1/2 small cabbage, chopped

1 tomato

1 C. chopped cauliflower

1/2 C Chicken stock

1 C sliced carrots

1/2 C diced red, green, yellow sweet peppers

1 lb. sliced, cooked ham, cut into chunks

The ham, before the fat was trimmed off. I left it in big chunks so it would create a flavor sensation. It did.

The ham, before the fat was trimmed off. I left it in big chunks so it would create a flavor sensation. It did.

Here’s what I did with it:

  1. Heated the oil, garlic, curry paste, and chopped onion until onion was nearly clear.
  2. Drained the sun-dried tomatoes and threw them in with the oil and other stuff. Stirred.
  3. Added all the other veggies and the chicken stock, stirred well, and cooked the mess, uncovered, over medium heat until the carrots were “tender to the tooth.”
  4. I threw in the chopped ham, and continued cooking everything until the ham was heated through.
  5. Then I dished it up, and served it to The Hub who said with a grin that it was the “best thing you’ve cooked all day,” which I took as a supreme compliment — even though it was the ONLY thing I’d cooked all day. Hey, a girl gathers the good vibes where she can.
A bit blurry, but you get the picture. Flavorful, rich in nutrients, and quick to fix! Plus, all that food that was headed for the compost pile in a couple of days is now feeding our bodies instead of the ground.

A bit blurry, but you get the picture. Flavorful, rich in nutrients, and quick to fix! Plus, all that food that was headed for the compost pile in a couple of days is now feeding our bodies instead of the ground.

I have to say, this stuff was great. It made enough for us to each have two bowls of it, plus there’s enough “leftover leftovers” for probably two or three more meals, so that means I’ll have a great breakfast or lunch tomorrow, and maybe the next day, too. Now that’s my kind of cooking!

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Preparing to eat consciously, 2nd installment

A Week’s Worth of Lunches in Just An Hour!

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A few weeks ago, AnnaLee posted about Preparing to Eat Consciously and gave some great tips on grocery shopping and menu planning. Jeez, I hate to have anyone show me up so easily (love you AnnaLee!) so I thought I’d share how I prepare to eat consciously and give y’all some different ideas on how to prepare for a week of eating whole foods. Please feel free to add your own ideas and comments. We love hearing from our readers!

Unlike AnnaLee, who has a young child at home, is a nurse who works for a large healthcare system, and packs lunches every day, I haven’t packed a lunch in 13 years! I have only The Hub and myself to shop and cook for and I work from home. I can have breakfast whenever I feel like it, and it’s usually leisurely — I don’t have to get breakfast for anyone else or eat it quick before I run out the door.

Whole30 or Paleo breakfasts are easy for me, supper is a relaxed affair after The Hub gets home from work, but lunches are a challenge. I don’t want to cook my lunch unless I have to, so it’s an ideal time to warm up leftovers. But I often have last night’s leftovers for breakfast because I get tired of having eggs every day.

I’ve found that my easiest lunches are a huge salad adorned with chopped apple or chopped pear, maybe some avocado, and a  portion of protein — sometimes tuna, sometimes something from last night’s supper if there are any leftovers left over, sometimes hard-boiled or deviled eggs — you get the picture.

So I prepare all my greens for the week at one time — I wash them, cut them, have them ready in the fridge. I prepare my salad dressing once a week (I love this vinaigrette) so it’s ready, and if I’m making a dressing that calls for mayonnaise, I make this Olive Oil Mayo once a week, too. I usually make the mayo anyway, just so we’ll have it for deviled eggs or lettuce wraps.

I like leaf lettuces, romaine, and spinach, and sometimes I chop up some red cabbage to go with them. But you can use any greens you like.

Two bunches of green leaf lettuces and a bunch of romaine make a lot of salad-ready greens.

Two bunches of green leaf lettuces and a bunch of romaine make a lot of salad-ready greens.

Cut the root ends off and separate the leaves into a sink filled with cold water. I also add a little Veggie Wash.

Cut the root ends off and separate the leaves into a sink filled with cold water. I also add a little Veggie Wash.

It only takes about an hour to prep the greens, and make the salad dressing and mayo. Then I’m ready for the week!

This stuff gets even the waxy coating off your fruits and veggies.

This stuff gets even the waxy coating off your fruits and veggies.

I love Veggie Wash for washing my fruits and veggies and especially for washing my greens — I put them in cold water with a bit of the Veggie Wash, swish everything around for 30 seconds, then rinse the greens in my other sink. (If you don’t rinse them well, your tongue will tingle when you eat your salad and everything will taste like soap. Not that I’ve ever experienced that personally…)

Dirt. Yuck.

Dirt. Yuck.

Clean. Yay!

Clean. Yay!

Then I get out my trusty Salad Spinner and spin the excess water off the greens. I hate watery salads that drain all the salad dressing to the bottom of the plate. It actually makes me mad. Nope. That is not for me.

I love my salad spinner. It keeps me happy.

I love my salad spinner. It keeps me happy.

Greens in the salad spinner waiting to be spun.

Greens in the salad spinner waiting to be spun.

A couple quick pulls at the lettuce tears it into manageable pieces, which get tossed into my giant white bowl with the blue lid. Anything that doesn’t fit goes into a reclosable plastic bag (make sure you squeeze all the air out of it). Then it all goes in the fridge.

Tons of greens, all ready for a week's worth of lunches and suppers. Easy peasy.

Tons of greens, all ready for a week’s worth of lunches and suppers. Easy peasy.

Voila! A week of large salads for lunches and some small salads for a couple of suppers. One hour, and I’m outta the kitchen!

Dang. I’m good.

Homemade Sauerkraut

One of the first nutritional books I purchased was Nourishing Traditions.  It contains a wealth of knowledge regarding traditional foods.  I would recommend it to anyone who wants to know more about primitive diets and how to prepare traditional  foods eaten around the world.  There is a whole chapter on fermented fruits and vegetables.  If you haven’t read up on the health benefits of fermented foods you should.  Fermented foods contain enzymes which help digestion, beneficial bacteria to promote a healthy gut, and they taste pretty darn good too!

Now, on to the sauerkraut.  Every time I write the word sauerkraut I have to make sure I spelled it correctly.  One of these days I will get it right on the first try.  Sauerkraut  is really as simple as can be to make and it is a good addition to any meal.  This morning I had some alongside leftover beef roast.

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Ingredients:

1.  1 head Cabbage

2.  1-2 T Salt

Equipment:

Large bowl

Sharp knife

2 or 3 quart size mason jars with lids

Something to pound the cabbage – I used my fists and a mason jar.  I might look into a meat tenderizing mallet.

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Directions:

1.  Cut the cabbage in half and cut out the core.

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2.  Shred the cabbage and put into large bowl.

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3.  Sprinkle salt over the shredded cabbage

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4.  Squeeze, pound, pummel, knead,  and generally punish the cabbage until it releases its water and reduces in volume.  *note, this is a good stress reliever*

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5.  Pack into mason jars and push down until the water rises to the top of the jar and covers the cabbage.

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6.  Cover tightly and place in a room temperature spot away from sunlight for about 3 days.  My house is really chilly in the winter, so I had to let mine sit in my cupboard for a few more days until it tasted “sauerkrauty” enough.

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7.  Once the cabbage has fermented to your liking, place in the fridge for storage.

Pan-fried Rutabaga and Onions (great substitute for fried white potatoes)

There are few things I like better than my mother’s fried potatoes. And whenever she makes them, I’ll eat them without a second thought. But after completing the Whole30, I don’t even have white potatoes in my house and I wouldn’t fry them up for the hub and me if I did. The glycemic index is too high and the inflammatory properties aren’t fun to deal with.

That said, I miss my white potatoes. Turnips don’t fill the gap. Neither do parsnips. So one day, out of desperation, I bought a rutabaga. It sat on the counter and eyed me with a waxy stare for a couple of weeks until I decided I had to put it out of my misery. So I stir fried it with some other veggies, and hey, it tasted a lot like a white potato! And sort of like a parsnip. And I like parsnips nearly as much as I like potatoes. Visions of fried rutabaga danced in my head (wish you could have been there!).

So here’s my recipe for some mighty tasty fried rutabaga with onions — a great side dish with meatloaf or burgers, and a wonderful option for your Meal One/breakfast veggie, whether you cook it fresh in the a.m. or warm up leftovers.

Rutabaga – decide how many you’ll need for the number of people you’re feeding. One medium rutabaga will make a good portion for one to two people. Add a few more than you think you’ll need if you want leftovers.

Sweet white onion – (optional) Again, decide how many you need. My ideal combo is as many onions as rutabagas.

Coconut Oil — one thumb size per person if you’re doing Whole30. If not, you might want to use less.

Ghee — one thumb size per person if you’re doing Whole30. If not, you might want to use less.

Salt and Pepper to taste

If you’re only frying one or two rutabagas, cooking will take about 15 mins. If your pan is really full, it will take longer.

This is a California Golden Rutabaga. It doesn't have any purple skin and is smaller than the purple ones. The hub and I like it better than the purple, but the purple are good, too.

This is a California Golden Rutabaga. It doesn’t have any purple skin and is smaller than the purple ones. The hub and I like it better than the purple, but the purple are good, too.

  1. Trim the ends off the rutabaga, set it on one end on a cutting board, and peel it from top to bottom using a downward slicing motion. It helps to curve the knife blade to follow the contour of the veggie. This gets easier with practice, but even if you’re slow, it’s a fast and easy way to get the peel off these unwieldy monsters.

    Peel it from top to bottom following the contour of the rutabaga. It gets easier and faster with practice.

    Peel it from top to bottom following the contour of the rutabaga. It gets easier and faster with practice.

    The naked truth about naked rutabaga -- they'll peel it off for anyone.

    The naked truth about rutabaga — they’ll peel it off for anyone.


  2. Slice the rutabaga into thin slices about 1/8- to 1/4-inch thick.

    Slice it really thin to cook it quickly. Thick slices take a little longer, but taste a little sweeter. Try it a couple of ways to see what you like.

    Slice it really thin to cook it quickly. Thick slices take a little longer, but taste a little sweeter. Try it a couple of ways to see what you like.

  3. Melt the coconut oil and ghee in a large frying pan over medium heat.

    I use this brand of coconut oil, but you can use whatever you like.

    I use this brand of coconut oil, but you can use whatever you like.

  4. Add the sliced rutabaga and let it fry until the bottom layer begins to brown. Keep an eye on it because it will burn. Once the browning begins, turn the slices with a spatula/turner. You’ll need to revisit this several times and turn the slices to make sure they all get cooked and browned. (If you have a really full pan, you might want to cover it to help the slices cook through a little quicker.) Adjust the heat, if needed.

    Just starting to brown. Time to turn!

    Just starting to brown. Time to turn!

  5. While the rutabaga is cooking, peel and quarter the onions. When the rutabaga looks like it’s about half done (just starting to soften), add the onions and turn the entire mixture with the turner to mix.
  6. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  7. Continue frying until the rutabaga slices are nicely browned and soft, and the onions are caramelized and brown (they’ll be so sweet and delicious!).

    Voila! Who knew a rutabaga could look this delectable? Hot, caramelized, and ready to be plated (if they don't get eaten right out of the pan).

    Voila! Who knew a rutabaga could look this delectable? Hot, caramelized, and ready to be plated (if they don’t get eaten right out of the pan).

  8. Get a fork and eat right out of the frying pan, er… no… I mean… put the pan on the table and let the family dig in!