Simply Fresh #16 by Julie Wern–Vegetable Broth

pumpkinsEasing into Fall

Fall is upon us yet we will be enjoying the last hurrah of summer with more zucchini, eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes. Tastes of fall will come in the form of late season arugula, kale and Swiss chard and the exciting appearance of pie pumpkins, spaghetti squash, and Brussels sprouts greens.

At this intersection of seasons I thought I would offer a smorgasbord post. As a nod to fall, I offer my easy method for making vegetable broth out of veggie scraps, an essential ingredient in cooler weather cooking. Following that I include a link for Brussels sprout greens, and finally new and old recipes for summer’s last stragglers.

CSA Tip—Make Vegetable Broth with Your Veggie Scraps and your Crockpot

We all want to eat less processed food, but supermarket broth is just so convenient to have on hand and making it from scratch can seem overwhelming.  While surfing the net for veggie broth recipes, I came across an ingenious and simple way to use up vegetable scraps and make broth while I sleep!

Here is what I learned from this and a few other web posts…

  • Simply save most vegetable scraps meant for the garbage or compost pile in a large re-sealable plastic baggie stored in the freezer.  Add to it as you cook.  When the baggie is full, dump it in the Crockpot and add enough water to cover.
  • Add a few peppercorns and/or a small amount of herbs (like thyme or parsley) or dried herbs tied in cheesecloth.
  • If desired, add other veggies to round out the flavor (celery, carrot, onion, tomato, turnip, and mushrooms are especially good)
  • Turn on low and cook for 6-12 hours.
  • Sieve out solids (use them now for compost), let broth cool, then portion and freeze, or use within 4 days.
  • Non-waxy and non-bitter scraps work best and can also include onion skins (great for color), garlic and garlic skin, bell pepper scraps (avoid seeds), Kohlrabi stems, stems from greens (beware of beet stems which may color the broth), zucchini and summer squash ends, tomato ends/seeds/pulp, carrot ends and peels, asparagus or green bean ends, choi stems and greens, cauliflower leaves and cores, mushroom stems, and broccoli stems.  Sparingly use strongly flavored vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage as they can overpower the taste.  Avoid waxy vegetables (cucumbers), bitter seeds and pits, and beet scraps.  Potato skins can add a starchy element, so I tend not to use them.
  • Just remember to get in the habit of washing all vegetables (even the onions) before you peel or de-stem them if you are planning to use them in the broth.   You don’t want any sand or dirt in your broth!!

I have been following this method with great results since I first discovered it.  After years of experience with this method I have learned a few other things…

  • Vegetable broth can also be made in a regular pot on the stovetop and only takes 1- 1½ hours to cook.
  • You can add bones to the broth to make your desired bone broth. Raw or cooked bones (as in leftover cooked chicken carcasses) work equally as well. I also often add chicken necks for added flavor.   For a make-your-own seafood broth, add in shrimp shells, lobster shells, and/or fish bones. For a rich beef, lamb or pork broth, roast your bones in a 350 degree oven prior to adding them to the stockpot to get a good caramelized flavor.  Bone broths should cook for 24 hours to derive the most nutrients from the bones.  Longer cooked bone broths contain gelatin derived from the bones which have significant benefits for gut and joints health.  Don’t be surprised if your cooled bone broth broth gels up.  It will “melt” upon reheating.
  • The longer the mix cooks, the more bitter the flavors can sometimes be depending upon the particular vegetable mix, so time it so that you turn on the Crockpot right before bed and sieve out the solids right when you get up in the morning.  When making bone broth, add the veggies in the last hours of cooking to avoid bitterness (add in the last 6-8 hours for crockpot or 2-4 hours for stockpot.
  • Homemade vegetable broth is flavorful enough to use as a substitute for prepared chicken broth, as long as you salt it.

This will easily become a habit.  Try it!!

Brussels Sprout Greens

Brussels Sprouts greens are the leaves from the Brussels sprouts stalk and they are edible and quite delicious.  Don’t be intimidated by them, just use them like any other hardy green like kale.  See my past post for specific on storing and cooking them (click here)

This Week’s Recipes

I thought it was time to offer a raspberry recipe before the season ends.  This is a terrific recipe because it contains no added refined sugar, is fiber and protein rich, and is super simple to make as most ingredients just get whizzed all at once in the blender.  Yet these muffins are moist, filling, and delicious.  The recipe was adapted from (Click here for original)

Gluten Free Healthy Blender Raspberry Banana Muffins            Makes 12


– 2 cups quick oats, labeled Gluten Free
– 3 large very ripe bananas
– 1/4 cup almond or sunflower butter
– 2 large large eggs, preferably pastured or organic, free range
– 1 cup Plain low fat or regular Greek yogurt
– 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, preferably aluminum free
– 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
– 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
– 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
– 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed/flax meal
– 1/4 teaspoon salt
– 1/2 cup fresh raspberries


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees℉. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with muffin liners.

2. Place all ingredients except raspberries in a blender and blend until smooth. Gently stir in raspberries (make sure to get them evenly distributed throughout the whole blender, including the very bottom). Pour batter evenly among 12 muffin cups, using a spoon to help if batter is too thick. Bake for 14-15 minutes or until tester comes out free of crumbs. Let cool 5 minutes in pan and then carefully remove to a cooling to rack to cool completely (they can also be eaten warm).


This recipe is especially delicious with poblano, shishito or padron peppers but would work with regular sweet peppers as well.

Sautéed Shredded Zucchini with Poblano or Sweet Peppers     Serves 2-3


– 2 teaspoons coconut oil or oil of choice, use more if not using a non-stick pan

– 2 med/large zucchini and/or summer squash, shredded

– 2 cloves garlic, minced

– 1 medium poblano or sweet pepper, very thinly sliced into strips

– 1/4 cup light or regular coconut milk or cream

– salt and pepper to taste


Heat oil in a non-toxic non-stick pan over medium heat until hot. Add zucchini, garlic and pepper strips and sprinkle with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until water releases from zucchini and cooks off and pepper strips become tender, about 20-30 minutes. Add coconut milk or cream and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper.


If you were lucky enough to get eggplant this week, try this yummy recipe for a last bow to the divine blend of eggplant and tomato.

Eggplant and Tomato Gratin         Serves 6


– 1 large eggplant, sliced crosswise into 1/3″ pieces

– 4 ripe tomatoes, cored and sliced into 1/3″ slices

– 1/4 cup minced Kalamata olives

– 3 large cloves garlic, minced

– 2 tablespoons mixed minced fresh herbs, thyme, rosemary, oregano, and basil

– 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided

– 3 tablespoons white wine

– 1 cup fresh whole wheat breadcrumbs

– 1 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese

– 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 9 X 13-inch casserole dish (like a Pyrex) with cooking spray. Lay alternating and overlapping slices of eggplant and tomato in three rows to completely cover bottom of dish. Slide tomato slices up so that the tops of the tomato almost cover the tops of the eggplant pieces (this is so the tomato slices will keep the eggplant moist through cooking). Sprinkle evenly with Kalamata olives, garlic, and herbs. Drizzle evenly with olive oil and wine. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake uncovered an additional 20-30 minutes to reduce liquids.
  2. In a small bowl, mix breadcrumbs, Parmesan and parsley. Once liquid in casserole has been reduced, remove from oven and sprinkle evenly with breadcrumb mixture. Return to oven and bake for a final 15-20 minutes, or until topping is golden.





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