Thursday, August 28, 2014

Vegetables . . . Part 2 of 3

Storage, Preparation, and Cooking!
  • Most fresh vegetables should be stored in the fridge. Exceptions are winter squash, potatoes, onions, and garlic, which should be stored in a dry area at room temperature.
    • Tip: Green leafy vegetables, such as lettuce and spinach, will stay fresh longer when stored away from tomatoes, bananas, apples, and melons.
  • Store frozen vegetables in the freezer. If they thaw, use them as soon as possible. Do not refreeze after thawing or cooking. 
  • Store canned vegetables on a shelf. If you use only part of a can, store the remainder in the fridge in a Tupperware container, NOT in the opened can. Bulging cans should be discarded, as this can be a sign of bacterial growth.
  • To get vegetables ready for cooking: remove stems and other undesirable parts of the vegetables. Cut into uniform pieces to facilitate uniform cooking. 
  • Vegetables most often store vitamins just under their skin, so peel them thinly, if at all. For example, you can make mashed potatoes with the skins left on. Wash them thoroughly and prepare as usual. This helps to retain vitamins and is delicious!
  • Vegetables can also lose vitamins when cut and then exposed to air or liquids. Use minimal liquids when preparing and limit air exposure by serving as soon after preparation as possible. 
Fresh Vegetables: Any cooking method can be applied to fresh vegetables.
Frozen Vegetables: Many frozen vegetables are available to steam in the microwave right inside their packaging. These are so fast and so easy! Frozen vegetables can also be steamed in a pot on the stove.
Canned Vegetables: Simply warm in a pan and you are ready to go! You can also warm canned vegetables in the microwave. Just be sure to transfer to a microwave safe container! 

  • Vegetables are done when they have reached a desired tenderness but still retain a bright color. 
  • Add vegetables according to cooking times. This will help avoid overcooking of vegetables with shorter cooking times. Remember that most vegetables can be eaten raw, so under-cooking is less of a concern. 
  • Search on the internet for recipes, ideas, general cooking times and temperatures.
  • Steaming: Place a half inch to an inch of water in the bottom of a pot. Bring water to a boil. Add either fresh or frozen vegetables. Put a lid on the pot, turn the heat down to medium, and let the steam cook the vegetables. Check them often because vegetables cook quickly with steam and overcooking is common. 
  • Boiling: Boiling vegetables can be useful, but vitamins may be leached into the liquid, so use sparingly. Boil enough liquid to cover desired amount of vegetables. Water alone can be used, but things like stock can be added to enhance flavor. Once the water is boiling, add the vegetables. When done, remove vegetables with a slotted spoon or drain using a colander. 
  • Grilling: Large or medium sized vegetables can be cut into thin, broad pieces and placed directly on the grill to cook. Small vegetables, such as cherry tomatoes or pearl onions can be put on skewers for ease. If the skewers are wood or bamboo, soak them in cold water for 15 - 25 minutes prior to use to avoid burning.Vegetables may be seasoned to taste, or marinated before going on the grill. Vegetables are done when they are slightly browned, some charring is normal
  • Broiling: Broiling is used to cook soft vegetables, such as tomatoes, that would not do as well on the grill. You can also use broiling to crisp already cooked vegetables, or melt cheese onto them. Simply cut the tomato, or other vegetable into slices, season, and stick in the oven on the broil setting. There is no need to preheat the oven when broiling. Be sure to watch closely. Broilers cook very quickly and your vegetables could easily burn.
  • Roasting/Baking: Baking vegetables is a great way to bring out their natural sweetness while preserving nutritional value. Prepare vegetables as desired, leave whole or chop into uniform pieces. Place a small amount of oil in the bottom of a 9x13 pan or other casserole dish. Brush a bit more oil on top of the vegetables and season as desired. Bake at about 350 F until done.  
  • Sauteing: Cover the bottom of a frying pan or wok with cooking oil. Heat the oil and keep it hot throughout cooking but don’t let it smoke. Add desired spices and flavors. Add vegetables with high water content, such as tomatoes, last. Toss vegetables intermittently
Next time: Incorporating vegetables into meals, and lots of recipes!

Textbook: On Cooking—A Textbook of Culinary Fundamentals 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Vegetables! . . . Part 1 of 3

What do you think of when you read or hear the word vegetables?
Does an image of a fuzzy TV screen come to mind?

If you answered yes to any of the above, you’re not alone. I am writing this three-part post to help you do a 180-degree turn with vegetables. I want you to feel excited about vegetables, grow to like them, and know how to prepare them and incorporate them into meals. I have found that vegetables can be refreshing and delicious if I let them. 

Why eat vegetables?
Vegetables are composed of about 80% water, some carbohydrates, and small amounts of protein and fat. They are low in calories and high in vitamins and minerals, which our bodies need to function properly. These include (but are not limited to) fiber, potassium, folate, vitamin C, and vitamin A. Vegetables may reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, some cancers, obesity, type 2 diabetes, formation of kidney stones, and bone loss. Adults should consume 2-3 cups of vegetables each day.

With all of these health benefits available at our finger tips we should take advantage of them!

Don’t stress! Eating some vegetables is better than eating none! Start small and work your way toward 2-3 cups a day. Also, eating vegetables with a little butter on top is better than not eating them at all!

So many types!

Our Heavenly Father has blessed us with such a variety of vegetables. Just as we marvel at the beauty and variety of flowers, we should marvel at the variety of vegetables He has provided for us. We can get bored with vegetables when we get stuck in vegetable ruts, eating the same three over and over again. I hope this list of all sorts of vegetables will spark ideas and excitement.

Acorn squash, artichoke, asparagus, avocado, bean sprouts, beets, bell peppers, black-eyed peas (no, not the band), bok choy, broccoli, brussel sprouts, butternut squash, cabbage, carrots, cassava, cauliflower, celery, chives, collard greens, corn, cucumber, edamame, eggplant, endive, fennel, garlic, green beans, Hubbard squash, iceberg lettuce, kale, leek, lima beans, mesclun, mushrooms, mustard greens, okra, olives, onion, peas, plantains, potatoes, pumpkin, radish, Rhubarb, romaine lettuce, sweet potato, spaghetti squash, spinach, taro, tomatillo, tomato, turnip, turnip greens, water chestnuts, watercress, wax beans, yam, zucchini

That’s fifty-eight, and this is by no means a comprehensive list! Amazing!
Don’t be afraid! If you don’t know what it is, Google it. Most of them aren't as scary as they sound.

You can get started with this easy recipe:

Broiled Tomato
1 large tomato
2 tsp. sugar
1 T. melted butter
1 T. fresh parsley, chopped

Remove the top of the tomato where the stem previously entered. Cut tomato in half. Sprinkle sugar on each half. Place on a cookie sheet and broil in the oven until tender. Remove. Drizzle with butter and garnish with parsley. Enjoy!

Next time: Storage, preparation, cooking methods.

By Breanne Vance
WSR Nutrition Consultant

On Cooking: A Textbook of Culinary Fundamentals. By Sarah R. Labensky, Alan M. Hause, Priscilla A. Martel
My brain :) 
Images retrieved from:

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

When Things Don't Work Out

About three years ago I wrote an important journal entry. I had just finished my freshman year at BYU, and certain things were not turning out as I had hoped or expected. Instead of moving on, I let myself stay hung up on those things, convinced that my unmet expectations were right and that somehow things could be set straight again.

I was wrong. I learned the hard way that wallowing in things outside of my control is pointless—it only breeds unhappiness and prolongs heartbreak, ultimately stunting the growth and progress that overcoming challenges brings. I wrote this journal entry in a time of self-doubt. But in doing so I found peace and began to learn a valuable lesson: things don't work out for a reason, and often they pave the way for something better. But in that moment—and in all difficult moments—I could not possibly fathom a better circumstance than what I'd convinced myself was best. But since then I have learned to apply this principle to my life, even when it seems hopeless. I have faith that things will work out in the way that is best for me and that things will get better if I muster the confidence to move forward and adjust my expectations when necessary. And since then, I am able to look back and understand how much I have grown when things don't work out, and how those seemingly unimaginable better things have always come my way.

I have referred back to that journal entry several times since I wrote it and I am amazed at how much my faith, strength, sense of self, and perspective continue to flourish because of those realizations. Here is an excerpt:

"Despite my inherent faith that everything is ultimately for the best, when things don't turn out as hoped or expected, it's frustrating. It's disappointing. It's confusing. But what's the point of letting the bad stick around and taint the good that inevitably still exists and is to come? Human nature demands that satisfaction is a product of things working out according to our efforts and expectations. Divine nature, however, is truly in our favor—it demands that certain things shatter our narrow, temporal perspectives in pursuit of what we really deserve.

Things are inevitable, but we do learn from them and ultimately move far past the unsavory parts. The lingering sting will fade in the wake of better things for which we are now better prepared. In the meantime, my willingness to let my confidence and faith in rightness will smother out that itching feeling of wrongness

And the best part? Looking forward to the moment of finding out how things—good, bad, and everything in between—really are for the best. Because isn't that moment inevitable, too?"

In retrospect I can see obviously why those things that plagued me as a freshman didn't work out as planned. I have learned through experience to never let my faith and confidence—in myself, in the future, and in God—be weakened by my limited perspective and things outside my control. I have learned that hard things are transformative and beautiful. I have learned the importance of disappointment and being forced outside my comfort zone. Even though I still can't explain everything that happens, I know that at some point, I will understand the greater purpose of all things. And I know that, with the help of my ever-growing faith and confidence, I can always press forward until then.

by Emily Snow
WSR Designer

Quote is from "When Good Plans Don't Work Out" by Stephanie J. Burns (July 2012 Ensign)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Overcoming Barriers . . . (Last of Three Parts)


Any guesses about what’s been found to be the top contributor to happiness? 
                                                                                                                                                              Fame and fortune? Nope.
Captivating looks? No.
Going on a Caribbean cruise? Guess again!
Autonomy??? YESSSS!!! 
As reported by The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, all those other possibilities were second to autonomy! Wow! Autonomy. This has a lot to do with recognizing what we have control over, recognizing what our strengths are, and recognizing our ability to control our destiny.

A University of Michigan nationwide survey raved about autonomy as well, saying that the fifteen percent of Americans who declared they felt "in control of their lives" in the survey also professed they had "extraordinarily positive feelings of happiness!"

So here we are at the next step in the right direction for overcoming barriers and hindrances, and that is to realize what we have control over and what our strengths are. When we figure that out—whoa! Break out into a happy dance! We really do have the ability to control our own destiny through our effort, knowledge, skill, and the choices we make about these. We also need to recognize that we can’t gain this knowledge and skill without challenge. Sometimes we freeze in fear when confronted with challenges and the chance to grow. But remember, it’s through trials and challenging experiences that we learn and develop new capabilities. And as a result, we gain greater autonomy and power over our own lives. 

Kari Archibald, professor of Recreation Management at BYU-I, stated that “Tough personal effort and resilience is not required in a trouble-free life. It is only through the winters, the droughts, the devastating wildfires, and the loss of our nesting places [AKA: It is only through the trials and challenges.] that we can become mature and complete, like our Heavenly Father. As has been oft quoted, ‘For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things.’” (Italics added.)

There you have it—a resilient person who is able to overcome obstacles recognizes her/his strengths and autonomy, uses them, and chooses to see the opportunity for growth through challenges.

Yale psychologist Judith Rodin conducted an experiment among depressed nursing-home patients. She encouraged them to exert more control in their lives by persuading them to make some small but essential changes in their environments. To instigate this, Rodin made sure patients were asked to decide for themselves if they would like the channel changed on the TV, if they would like the air conditioning off or on, if they would like the furniture in their room arranged differently, or if they would like to choose among different foods for breakfast. Rodin even motivated these nursing home residents to request changes in various nursing home policies—which they later received. The result? A whopping ninety-three percent of them became more active, happy, and alert!

So don’t freeze in fear when you’re confronted with a challenge that seems beyond your abilities!  Focus on what you CAN control and exert yourself! Unhappy people leave decisions to others when they are actually capable of making the decisions themselves. They leave their time unfilled, uncommitted—open to whatever. They sleep in late, lie around, watch too much TV. Don’t do that! Jump in with vigor! Proclaim your autonomy!! And GROW!!!

Pam Smith, M.Ed.

WSR Office Mgr.
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