Ham, Kale And White Bean Soup

Whenever I make a spiral ham I always save the bone. If you don’t want to use it right away it can be placed in a freezer bag and frozen for up to 6 months. What can you do with a ham bone? Well, when you cook it in the crockpot it makes the best ham broth for soup. It’s super easy to do. Simply take the bone that’s left over after removing much of the meat from it and put it in your crockpot. Add a quart or more of water. Enough to cover the bone. Add in a quartered onion, a stick or two of celery and a carrot. Cook on low for at least 8 hours. Or on high for 6 hours. Once it’s done remove the bone and strain out the broth. Any meat that is on the bone can be picked off and added to the soup.

What kind of soup can you make with your ham broth? Well how about this Ham, Kale and White Bean Soup?

Ham, Kale and White Bean Soup

ham kale bean soup

Ham, Kale And White Bean Soup
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Soup is a great way to use up any leftover vegetables that may be lurking around in your refrigerator. I made a quick search in mine and found ¼ of a head of cabbage that needed to be used up. I also found about ½ cup of string beans. See what you have on hand to add to the soup pot.
Ingredients
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried garlic OR 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 8 oz frozen, chopped kale OR ½ bunch of fresh kale (remove stems and chop)
  • 8 oz frozen, sliced zucchini OR 1 fresh zucchini, diced
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and diced ( I used 2 red potatoes and left the skin on)
  • 15 oz can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed OR 1½ cups cooked beans
  • 2 to 3 cups of diced ham
  • 6 cups of broth (I used ham broth from cooking the ham with some added veggie broth base)
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. In a large pot add the onion and garlic (if using fresh) along with a drizzle of olive oil. Cook until the onion has softened a bit.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients: kale, zucchini, potatoes, beans, ham, broth, red and black pepper. Carefully add salt to taste since the ham contains a good amount of salt in it.
  3. Add any other veggies you might have on hand. In my case I included thinly sliced cabbage and a small amount of string beans.
  4. Cook over medium heat until the potatoes have softened.
  5. Adjust pepper and salt to taste and serve.

Have you ever tried making ham broth in the crockpot? What’s your favorite recipe to use it in. Leave a comment and a link to your favorite recipe below.

How To Render Beef Fat or Tallow

I’m sure that many WLSers might be wondering what in the world would I be doing posting about rendering (cleaning) your own beef fat. Aren’t we suppose to be cutting out all possible sources of fat in our diets because it’s bad? Isn’t beef fat really bad for you because it’s saturated fat? What the heck is saturated fat anyways? Which fats are saturated? Is your head going to explode yet from all these questions?

A nice discussion of fats will make a great blog post. For now however, I’m simply posting about rendering or cleaning your own beef fat. Why in the world would you do that? Well there are several reasons. The best darn french fries in the world (this is my opinion) are fried in beef fat. I would highly suggest that you don’t eat french fries on a regular basis but, if you do eat them once in a while, then they taste incredible cooked in beef fat. Just saying.

Tallow or even lard (pork fat) also makes the best darn pie or pastry crust in the world! Again, eating pies or pastry is not suggested as a daily thing. But, if your having a treat, I can’t think of anything better than my grandmother’s homemade French meat pies with homemade crusts that were made with either beef or pork fat. Her apple pies rocked as well.

Beef fat, or tallow, also makes great homemade soap. Which is exactly what a friend of mine wanted to make with a rather large amount of beef fat that she had received when she purchased a side of organic beef. If your shelling out that kind of cash I say use every bit of the animal. So, with many pounds of beef fat on hand, she asked if it could be made into soap. Why yes it can! I’ve made many batches of soap myself in the past and, call me crazy, I’ve actually rendered my own tallow as well. I actually saved the pictures from making a batch and wondered how in the world I would make it into a blog post. Now I know. So here’s the oddball of all blog posts on a WLS nutrition blog……How to render your own beef fat or tallow.

At the local farmers market I decided to ask the pasture feed beef vendor if he happened to sell the beef fat along with the cuts of meat he had to offer. I didn’t expect him to actually have any on hand. He surprised me however by pulling out an 8 lb chunk from the freezer:

Yes I know it’s not pretty but what can you do about it.

To render your own fat start by taking your piece of beef fat and cutting it up into pieces about 1 1/2 to 2 inches in size. If I had a meat grinder or a food processor I would have ground it up even smaller. But I don’t so I had to cut it with a knife. Once your done toss the chunks into a large pot.

I think it took about 2 hours for it to get to this point. From this translucent point it didn’t take much longer for the fat to completely melt. I ended up with a pot full of golden liquid. There was a small amount of debris at the bottom of the pot. This material seems to be the fine membrane that was holding the fat together. I know you don’t really want to know that but that’s basically what it is. I used a slotted spoon and scooped out most of it. In the end there was still smaller pieces that the spoon could not get out so I strained the liquid through a brand new nylon. You could also use cheesecloth if you had some available. Using a nylon was easy. I simply stretched it over another pan and poured the liquid through it. Here’s what was removed:

All that was left behind was a beautiful, golden oil:

 

I covered the pot and allowed it to sit at room temperature over night so it would cool down. The liquid oil solidified and turned creamy white. All that was left was to gently ( so I didn’t scratch the pot)  run a butter knife through the pot to break the fat into smaller pieces. I lifted each piece out and wrapped it in plastic wrap. I packaged the pieces up so they were small enough to use within a reasonable amount of time. From 8 lbs of fat I got 5.5 lbs of rendered fat. Several sites I consulted said you may have liquid beneath the solid fat. If so, simply remove the solid fat and discard whatever is left. I did not have anything beneath the solid fat.  I cut that amount up into 8 equal pieces.

Each piece was wrapped in plastic wrap, labeled and put in the freezer until I needed them for french fry or crust making. For my friend, who plans on making soap, she will weigh out the fat and the weight will be used to determine how much lye is needed. But full discussion on soapmaking will have to be saved for another time.

How about you? Have you ever rendered tallow or used it for some type of cooking or craftmaking purpose? Why not leave a comment below and tell us about it.

Cilantro and Lime Chickpea Salad

When I was first going to try this recipe I wasn’t sure if I should actually use two cans of chickpeas. I’m the only one in the house who will eat them so I didn’t want to end up with a big batch of something I didn’t like. I’m so glad that I used both because I’ve been eating this almost daily. The combination of the cilantro and lime dressing tastes great with the chickpeas. This is easily converted into a higher protein meal for us WLS folks by simply adding shredded chicken. Shrimp would probably also taste great!

Cilantro and Lime Chickpea Salad

cilantro chickpeas

Cilantro and Lime Chickpea Salad
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Add some diced or shredded chicken to make this dish higher in protein. Shrimp would also taste great.
Ingredients
  • 2 cans (15 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • ½ a package of fresh spinach (about 4 to 6 ounces), finely chopped
  • ½ small red onion, finely diced
  • juice of 4 limes
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, strip leaves from stem and finely chop
  • 1 tablespoon sugar or Splenda
  • 2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • ½ tablespoon chili powder
  • ⅓ to ½ cup of olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Chop the spinach finely with knife and place in a bowl.
  2. Add the onion and chickpeas to the spinach.
  3. In another bowl combine the lime juice, chopped cilantro, sugar/Splenda, mustard, garlic and chili powder. Blend well. Slowly whisk in olive oil for about 45 seconds. Whisk long enough for the mixture to combine into a dressing.
  4. Pour dressing over chickpea mixture and stir to combine.
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste

You can place this salad in the refrigerator to allow the flavors to combine or eat it right away.

Cheaters Grilled Sweet Potatoes

I had previously posted a link to a recipe on pinterest for Grilled Sweet Potatoes. I love sweet potatoes. Grilling them would probably make them even better because they would have that delicious smokey flavor. With two sweet potatoes sitting around I really wanted to make this recipe except I didn’t want to fire up the grill. While I could have simply baked them I decided to use a secret ingredient to make cheaters grilled sweet potatoes – Liquid Smoke!

Wright’s is one of my favorite brands of liquid smoke. You can usually find liquid smoke in the same grocery store section that has spices, gravy mixes or Kitchen Bouquet Browning Liquid. The great thing about liquid smoke is it adds that great grilled taste to food without actually grilling it. Next time your using your crockpot to make chicken add a teaspoon or two and you’ll end up with delicious “grilled” chicken.

CHEATERS GRILLED SWEET POTATOES

Smokey Sweet Potatoes

Sadly I whipped this recipe together without measuring the spices. I did however measure the liquid smoke and ultimately used two teaspoons for two large sweet potatoes. For spices try adding salt, pepper and cumin. The combination is delicious with the smokey flavor.

Start by peeling and then dicing up the sweet potatoes. Drizzle with a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Add spices and liquid smoke. Stir well and place in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Bake at 400 F for 20 minutes and then stir/flip the potatoes. Continue to cook for another 20 minutes or until soft.

Have you tried using liquid smoke before? What’s your favorite way to use it?

Your Weight Matters Live Streaming Educational Sessions Schedule

It looks like there will be several live streaming educational sessions during this year’s Your Weight Matters National Convention. Michelle Vicari who is an Obesity Action Coalition Board Member sent out an email with some information about these sessions:

“As most of you are aware the 2nd Annual Your Weight Matters National Convention is taking place August 15 – 18 in Phoenix, AZ. We know that many of you have already been promoting the Convention to your followers, and we can’t tell you how much we appreciate your help and commitment to making a difference in the cause of obesity. The Obesity Action Coalition (OAC) wants to make sure that everyone who would benefit from the access to valuable tools and resources to help them in their journey with health can do so. In an effort to reach those that are unable to attend the Convention, we will be live- streaming a few of the educational sessions.

Here is the link to access all of the live-streamed educational sessions: http://www.ywmconvention.com/ywm2013-live-stream/

During the Teaming-Up to Tackle Obesity event, those who can’t attend will also be able to ask questions during the Q&A using http://www.twitter.com/obesityaction and our official #YWM2013 hashtag.”

Check out the educational sessions that they will be offering through live streaming:

LivestreamScheduleGraphic_forweb

They all sound pretty interesting. I’m hoping to catch a few of them. Remember that the times listed are Pacific Standard Time, which means that for those of us on the East Coast, we would have to add 3 hours to the times listed. The 7:30 pm class would then start at 10:30pm. the 9:30 am class would start at 12:30pm and so on.

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