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How to Use Basil in Cooking

Basil makes for great recipes –– it is versatile and easy to grow. For those gardeners out there, it only takes about 6-weeks after planting to use herbs in cooking.  

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Basil makes for great recipes –– it is versatile and easy to grow. For those gardeners out there, it only takes about 6-weeks after planting to use herbs in cooking.

Basil On Wood

A Bit About Basil

Basil is an attractive annual, about 18 inches (450 mm) tall with light-green, fairly broad leaves. There are several species of cultivated basil, one having purple leaves, so it is also a decorative plant in your garden. Basil grows easily from seed planted after all danger of frost has passed. Pinch stems when the plant reaches 18 inches (450 mm) tall to promote bushy, compact growth. Avoid lush growth as it may reduce the flavor.

Green leaves can be picked about 6 weeks following planting. It is best to cut leaves for drying just before flowers open. However, if you can use fresh, the taste is far better, and it is also an extra vegetable to compliment a healthy diet.

Tomato Basil

Spicy-scented Leaves

Spicy-scented basil leaves are one of the most popular of all herbs used in cooking. There are two particular ways to use basil; the first, and most common, is to mix it with pine nuts and a little garlic, a splash of balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil in a blender to make Pesto. Pesto can be kept for a few days in the refrigerator. Use about 90% basil to 10% pine nuts.

Another great way to use basil is with freshly picked tomatoes, sliced, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled with chopped basil. This dish can be served alone as an appetizer or as part of a salad.

Chopping Basil

The other great thing about basil is that you should grow one basil plant between each tomato plant in your garden. The plants complement each other and the basil acts as a deterrent to many of the bugs that like tomato.

The top chef’s out there use basil with all tomato dishes, whether cooked or raw. The other thing to remember about using olive oil is that it is an omega 3 oil and very good at promoting good cholesterol.

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Add Variety to your Vegetarian or Vegan Meals

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Vegetarian Meals

Probably one of the most common thoughts a person has when they transition to vegetarianism is keeping their diet filled with a variety of fun, diverse, and nutrient-dense foods. It can sometimes feel like you’re cutting many options out since you’re no longer consuming meat, and it may seem you’re losing even more options if you’ve also decided to go vegan. With a little creativity, planning, and forethought, you might be surprised how much variety you can achieve with your new vegetarian diet – perhaps even more than your meat-eating days!

Meat Substitute

Meat Substitutes

There are some simple substitutions you can experiment with and use as substitutions in your favorite meat recipes.Tempeh, which is cultured soybeans with a chewy texture; tofu (freezing and then thawing gives tofu a meaty texture; the tofu will turn slightly off white in color); and wheat gluten or seitan (made from wheat and has the texture of meat; available in health food stores) are all great items to start with.

Milk and other dairy products can also be easily replaced with vegetarian-friendly items. Try soy milk, soy margarine, and soy yogurts, which can be found in major grocery stores and health food stores. You can also make nut milks by blending nuts with water and straining, or rice milks by blending cooked rice with water.

Beans

Beans, Beans, the Magical Fruit

A good way to introduce beans to the diet is in favorite dishes, like casseroles and chili. Because of their many health benefits, beans should be eaten often. Some great examples are chickpeas, split peas, haricot, lentils (red, green or brown), and kidney beans.

Many nuts and seeds are available both in and out of the shell, whole, halved, sliced, chopped, raw, or roasted. Cashews, peanuts, walnuts, almonds are some easy-to-find favorites. Sunflower and sesame seeds are excellent choices for spicing up salads and other vegetable dishes.

Vegetarian Pizza

All your Favorites

Don’t think that you’ll have to give up your favorite Mexican, Italian, or other favorite dishes now that you’re vegetarian. Many of them can still be enjoyed and only require slight variations. Some popular and easily convertible dishes include: pasta with tomato sauce, bean burritos, tacos, tostadas, pizza, baked potatoes, vegetable soups, whole grain bread and muffins, sandwiches, macaroni, stir-fry, all types of salad, veggie burgers with French fries, beans and rice, bagels, breakfast cereals, pancakes, and waffles just to name a few. The freezer sections of most big grocery stores carry an assortment of vegetarian convenience foods such as veggie bacon, burgers, and breakfast sausages.

Let your creativity lead the way! You’ll probably be pleasantly surprised just how much more variety your diet will have as a result.

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The Perfect Food for Camping

If you’re an avid camper, planning meals for your trip can be a fun process.

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Camping

If you’re an avid camper, planning meals for your trip can be a fun process. The last camping trip I went on, every other person there had a chef’s background. The delicious foods we consumed made the trip that much more special. When choosing what food and drinks to bring with you, there are a number of factors to consider. Camping requires adequate planning so that you have enough food for your trip.

Family Camping

Firing Up the Grill

One item you may consider bringing with you is meat. Meat is a popular camping food, as many campers like to cook outdoors and have a barbecue. When it comes to meat, you have a number of different options, including chicken, steak, hot dogs, hamburgers, and sausages. If you buy your meat ahead of time and freeze it, be sure to leave enough time for your meat to properly thaw before each of your meals. Also, be sure to keep your meat cold in a cooler filled with ice.

If you’re a vegetarian, there are plenty of meat-free alternatives that you can barbecue, such as veggie hot dogs and burgers. Yves has a great selection so that you don’t have to be excluded from delicious barbecued eats.

The Full Meal Deal

As nice as barbecued meats are, many campers like to have full meals. If that is the case with you and the rest of your camping party, you may want to think about buying a few bagged salads. Bagged salads are handy, as they are pre-made and come in a number of different flavors. You’ll want to make sure that your bagged salads are kept in a cooler and that each opened bag is sealed with a rubber band or a bag clip.

Condiments

Getting Sauced

Condiments are another item you will want to bring along on your next camping trip. There are an infinite number of condiments out there and some of the best to bring camping may include mayonnaise, salad dressing, relish, ketchup, and mustard. I would suggest buying each of these items new for your camping trip. As nice as many of those outdoor camping condiment containers are, they can be messy to fill and transport. With most condiment items, like ketchup and mustard, they are inexpensive, and it may be more convenient to just buy them new.

Bagged Almonds

Snack Attack

In addition to your meals, snacks are essential to a camping trip. It is best to go with bagged snacks, as they are often easy to transport and maintain. Full-size bags of chips, nuts or pretzels are a great choice, or you can get the individuals packs.

Drink Up

Having a large selection of drinks is crucial. Make sure that you have a lot of water, especially if the weather is forecasted to be warm and sunny. When bringing along other drinks with you, you will want to try and stick with anything bottled. Bottled drinks help ensure that nothing will get spilled or tossed away after being left out for a while.

Happy Campers

Happy Campers

The above-mentioned items are just a jumping off point in choosing your camping foods and drinks. Feel free to get creative with it, but also think about practicality. When buying food, snacks, and drinks, it is a good idea to create a list beforehand. You may also want to start buying your food, snacks, and drinks in advance, especially when you can find what you need on sale – it could save you a considerable amount of money.

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Food & Drink

Get Creative when Cooking for One

A lot of people enjoy living on their own. Not only do you have freedom, but you can get to know yourself on a deeper level. I lived on my own for nearly ten years. I loved every minute of it, except for one thing: learning how to cook for one person.

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Cooking in Kitchen

A lot of people enjoy living on their own. Not only do you have freedom, but you can get to know yourself on a deeper level. I lived on my own for nearly ten years. I loved every minute of it, except for one thing: learning how to cook for one person. I’m not much of a cook anyways, and found myself opting for take-out, which got expensive and boring in variety. I also had difficulty with buying groceries, and always ended up with too much food and there was a lot of waste. However, you don’t have to have the experience I did – anyone can make cooking for one work with a little guidance.

Society has recognized that cooking for one is a phenomenon. We are seeing more and more recipe books and Internet websites that are dedicated to the act of cooking for one.

Cooking for One

The Joy of Cooking

Cooking for one can be an exercise in creativity and trying new and exciting recipes. You can also prepare foods in advance and freeze them. It will save you more time in the long run and be cost effective. Preparing food in advance also gives you more variety instead of eating the same meal several nights in a row.

There are more and more recipes and cookbooks available about cooking for one. Just because you are cooking for yourself, there is no reason that you shouldn’t enjoy great food. Every day can be a celebration: why not treat yourself to a fabulous meal with a glass of wine when you’re hanging out at home by yourself. Bringing joy into eating is so important and cooking for one can be a fun experience.

One Pot

Cooking for One Inspo

If you want some more ideas about cooking for one, your local library will likely have various recipe tips and resources. You may never know what treasures you will stumble upon when rifling through cookbooks at the library. You might even find local resources such as cooking classes that will help you when you’re cooking on your own. If you find you don’t have time to devote to finding cookbooks at the library, there are a ton of recipes and tips online. You can discover the enjoyment of cooking for one from the comfort of your own home.

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