Take "Stock" in Leftovers!
Was sent an article this morning pointing out the value of onion skins, which are high in quercitin and other antioxidants so support immune function. I responded that for generations women kept a stock pot on the back burner of the woodstove, gas range, or open fire, to which they added onion skins and other parts and pieces not used in the regular meal. That stock became the basis for soups, stews, and gravies, added instead of plain water to whatever meal was being prepared. The pot would vary by season and day, but usually included the carrot tops, onion skins, cabbage cores, and animal scraps as well, all things that might otherwise be discarded, but which contain huge amounts of critical trace minerals and other nutrients. Bone broth, one of the newest food trends, was made on the same principle-take any food we have that isn't readily edible, and cook it long enough to extract any nutrition that might be left. Raw foodies and vegetarians, I know, will object, but our forbears didn't have refrigerators and most in temperate climates prized meat as a hot-burning (raises internal body temperature) protein. Soups and stews are among the most nutritious meals because they contain the water-soluble nutrients that are lost if cooking water is discarded. What did you think put all that flavor into broths?
I have done a similar thing for years with my freezer. Whatever I can't use up goes into a container in my freezer, including the liquid from canned beans, veggie scraps like the outer leaves of greens, and mushroom and asparagus stems, and leftovers too small to work into another meal. When the container is full I simmer the collection until everything is completely broken down, usually strain and discard the solid remains, and then use it as the base of a hot-pot type meal, with fresh vegetables shredded or finely chopped and stirred into the hot broth just until they are warm. That keeps them alive and crisp, providing the enzymes we can only get from raw foods while warming the belly and the soul on a cold winter's day. (Does make it hard to share the recipe...) It would also work as a good and flavorful start for cooking rice, lentils, or other legumes or grains.
Meals like that also offer opportunity to slide in lots of other medicinal foods. My kids had no idea how much spinach they ate, because I used dried, organic spinach in anything that might reasonably contain green flecks-from pizza to soups. Anything dark green and leafy supports the liver and provides iron and other trace minerals as well as bitter elements that encourage proper digestion and elimination. Orange foods like squash and sweet potatoes contain chromium for the pancreas. Garlic was proven therapeutic against measles, mumps, rubella, typhus and typhoid by US and German government studies during World War II. Parsley is high in potassium for the kidneys and celery provides sodium essential for the stomach lining (see the post on antacids and bone loss!) in a completely assimilable (unlike isolated table salt) form.
Whether you do it in one of the ways mentioned above or some other way, increase the variety of foods you eat every day. We build about 3,000,000 cells a day from the raw materials we take in as food. The wider the range of available nutrients, the healthier those cells will be. One of the first steps to a different body is taking in different fuel!