This may be one of the easiest kitchen tricks I’ve learned in the last few years. I haven’t bought any stock since I figured this out. It saves money, but more importantly, this stock tastes MUCH better than anything you can buy.
Step 1: As you peel, chop, and otherwise use any vegetables for recipes or salads, save all the pieces you would normally throw away.
The vegetables that help the most with umami (and make your stock great) are the classic mirepox (carrots, celery and onion), garlic bits, and mushrooms. There are a few vegetables you should avoid using for stock. Some vegetables will make the stock bitter or impart a strong, very specific taste that may not work in some recipes (e.g eggplant, turnips, cilantro, ginger). If you happen to be someone who buys Parmesan cheese with a rind, those rinds are wonderful in stocks. If you use fresh herbs when you cook, make sure you throw the stems in the stock.
Step 2: Keep a big ziplock bag in the freezer and toss the washed bits you saved into the bag. When you drain beans, tomatoes or other vegetables from cans, put the juice in the bag, too.
Step 3: When the bag is full, put the frozen vegetable bits in a big pot with water to cover them, bring to a boil and then simmer for about an hour.
If you have an Instant Pot, you can make stock in less time. I don’t add salt while making the stock because it lets me season the dishes I make to taste.
Step 4: Freeze the stock you don’t use in a day or two.
I usually freeze my stock in 1-2 cup plastic containers. Alternatively, use freezer bags if you want to take up less space in your freezer (Push the air out of the bags and lay them flat on a cookie sheet to freeze). Another trick is to freeze the stock in ice cube trays or muffin tins and then put the frozen stock in freezer bags.
In addition to recipes, use this stock instead of water when you make rice or grains. Thaw your stock in the refrigerator (if you remember) or in the microwave (if you don’t).
We eat a mainly plant based diet, so I only make vegetable stock. If you eat meat, you can save the bits from the meat or fish you cook – or ask your butcher for stock worthy bones and add them to the vegetables to make great chicken, beef or seafood stock. If you want perfect chicken or beef stock, you may have a bit more work to do… 🙂
It is hard to eat well when you are a medstudent, resident or busy doc (also true for busy people not in medicine The key to eating well if you are busy is planning.. but it takes time. As I’ve written before, here are the basic steps that you need to follow to eat well if you are “too busy to cook”.
- Use a calendar to organize which days you need to have dinner ready
- Find the recipes you want to cook
- Fill in the calendar with what you will take to work for lunch and your planned dinners.
- Make a shopping list.
- Shop once, then follow your plan
To follow these steps, I’ve used the internet to find recipes, Evernote to map out the week, and Grocery IQ for the shopping list. I’ve gotten pretty efficient, but it’s still takes a non-trivial amount of time… and who has that kind of time, right?
And then I read Jane Friedman’s post “My Must-Have Digital Media Tools: 2018 Edition” and I saw this…
Here’s the bottom line… this app is “expensive” ($25). But I promise, even if you are medical student without much money, it will be the best $25 you’ll spend this year.
Here’s why – this app takes the five steps listed above and puts them all into one place. It not only makes it easy to choose recipes, plan your week and shop, it almost makes it fun. Here’s how:
Use a calendar to organize which days you need to have dinner ready.
Start on the “meals” tab and put notes in for your week. If you share cooking with a significant other or roommates, you can share the account with them so everyone is (literally) on the same page.
Click on the browser tab to find new recipes. As you gather recipes in the app, it becomes your own personal “cookbook” which is searchable by category, name, or ingredients.
This was the first moment I knew I was really hooked. All you do is drag and drop the recipes you want into the appropriate day. Wow.
This is when I was completely sold. When you pull up the recipes you’ve chosen, there is a little “hat” icon at the top:
Because this app is on your computer and your phone, just take your phone with you to the grocery store. As you pick up the item, click the box next to it and move on to the next item. If you are sharing the app with your significant other or roommates, anyone can add to the grocery list or unclick things they have bought.
Here’s the official website for Paprika: https://www.paprikaapp.com/. Enjoy your healthy eating!!!! Try this plan (instead of the bagels, pizza, peanut butter and other “free” foods in the hospital) for a week or two. I promise you’ll feel better, learn better and have more energy to take good care of your patients.
Today I have the incredible joy of talking to the medical students on our rotation. No agenda, just a conversation that they requested for some “advice”. They just started their surgery rotation last week and it’s their first rotation. First rotation, beginner’s mind, unbridled enthusiasm… it is so wonderful!. I decided I would come up with what I wish someone had told me at the beginning of my rotations…
Be mindful, deliberate and excited about learning.
This is probably the most important piece of advice I can give. Clinical rotations are often a whirlwind of work and you can be swept away without realizing it. Residents can ignore you, people can be cranky, patients can be difficult… and in the midst of all this, you are expected to learn to be a doctor. You have to stay in charge of that mission, no matter what is happening around you.
Take a little time to reflect on why you are doing this and what kind of person/doctor you want to become. When times get tough (and they will) hold on to it. If it helps you, come up with a slogan to repeat, keep on a piece of paper in your wallet or on your wrist
Learn about the practice of mindfulness. Mindfulness has been shown to be effective in decreasing stress and may help to prevent burnout. It’s not hard to learn, but it’s hard to master … which is the point of a “practice”. (e.g. the practice of medicine)
Learn to keep a “beginner’s mind”. When I was a student on core medicine I had a senior resident that showed me what beginner’s mind looks like. It was 2am and I was tired. We were seeing a gentleman at the VA hospital for his diabetes, hypertension and some electrolyte abnormalities. I presented the patient to the resident and then we went to see him together. He had a rash, which I thought was so insignificant that I didn’t even include it in my presentation. But, instead of scolding me, this resident got excited. Yes, you read that correctly, 2am and excited about a rash – because he didn’t know what it was. (This next part will date me, but it’s a great example to make us grateful for the access we have to information now). He called security and had them open the library. We spent a wonderful hour looking through books – like a treasure hunt when we were little kids – until we found the rash in one of the books. We were laughing, excited and couldn’t wait to get back to start the appropriate therapy.
Understand what you are going to learn (the big picture)
On every rotation, you will be given a list of learning objectives. By all means, know them, study the things listed and make sure you know them (they will be on the test). BUT… please realize that diseases don’t stay conveniently siloed in a single specialty so this is not learning “surgery”, it’s learning about how surgeons approach a specific disease you will see elsewhere, too. You also need to know that what is listed as learning objectives today may well be obsolete tomorrow (if they aren’t already).
You have chosen a career that ethically demands life-long learning. That means that one of the most important skills to learn is how to develop a system of learning that you can use in medical school, residency and later in practice.
Develop a system for lifelong learning now
Learning is iterative. You will learn broad concepts on each rotation along with a “fly over” of the entire terrain of the specialty You will need the information you learn on your surgery rotation on your medicine rotation when you are consulted on a patient with an ischemic leg who needs surgical treatment, or on your pediatrics rotation when your patient with a pneumonia develops an empyema. If you choose surgery at your career, you will read and learn the same topics throughout your residency (and after) but with increasing depth.
The practical points on how to develop a system to learn during your rotation are here: How to Ace the NBME Shelf Exams: How to Ace the NBME Shelf Exams, In-Training Exams and Your Boards, but the key points are summarized below:
- Remember it’s school.
- Make a list of all the topics in the textbook.
- Breathe deeply. You are not going to read every page in the textbook in addition to your assigned reading.
- Create a schedule to SKIM every chapter
- TAKE NOTES. All the time.
- Figure out how to store your notes so you can find them in the future
- Go through your daily notes in the evening and then store them in your system
- Review, review, review
Take care of yourself.
Pay attention to ergonomics, diet, exercise and sleep. Most importantly, take care of yourself emotionally and spiritually. You can’t learn or serve others if your tank is empty. Come up with what is important for you and make a list. Seriously. Make a list of what you find helps you stay on track and then check it off every day. Look at it before you go to bed. Celebrate the things you did and don’t be hard on yourself for the ones you didn’t get to.
Don’t forget to take a “Sabbath” every week. True time off is critical for recovery from this stressful work.
If it gets too hard, seek help. It’s a sign of strength, not weakness, and most (if not all) of the people around you have been there.
We have the most amazing job on earth. When the administrative issues or political conflicts get to you (and they will), just remember – you get to take care of another human life with the goal of relieving their suffering. What could be more important than that?
What’s the best gift for a medical student or resident (or any really busy person)?
Seriously, anything that frees up time for them is the best present you can give them. If it supports their health or decreases stress, it’s even better!
Here are my top ten choices for best presents for medical students and residents – or any really busy person:
- A service or person to help clean their home. Once a month? Once a week? Any time they don’t have to vacuum or clean the bathrooms is a true gift.
- An Instapot. I’ve long been a fan of pressure cookers, but the Instapot takes it to the next level. This is my new favorite kitchen tool and it’s high on my list because it both saves time and increases healthy food consumption!
- A subscription to Headspace. This might seem counter-intuitive since it adds a 10 minute task to their day… but there are data (and lots of testimony) that a daily mediation practice “expands time” by decreasing stress.
- If they live close enough to walk or bike to school/work, think about something that might help them combine that commute with getting some exercise. How old is their bicycle? How about panniers to store gear on a bike? Would a great backpack help if they are likely to walk? How about a gift certificate to a bicycle shop?
- A gift certificate for Whole Foods or any place near them that has good, healthy prepared food.
- Cookbooks with quick but healthy recipes like Thug Kitchen or Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Fast.
- A Roomba vacuum cleaner. Plus, they may go viral with a cat on a Roomba video if they have a feline roommate.
- A gift certificate to have their car washed and vacuumed every few months.
- If they are a coffee drinker who spends time stopping at Starbucks, think about a really good coffee maker. I prefer Nespresso because the pods are recyclable (and the coffee is delicious).
- Your time. Can you cook some meals once a month and put them in their freezer?. Do laundry? Bake cookies and mail them? Get their car washed? Make an elaborate certificate with something you could do for them and wrap it as a present.
Bell Peppers, also known as green peppers, red peppers, sweet peppers, and capsicumis, are relatively large in size. According to Epicurious, the bell-shaped pepper is green and slightly bitter in its immature state. As it matures, it turns bright red and becomes sweeter. You can also find yellow, orange, white, pink, and even purple varieties. Bell Peppers have a high water content and, despite the name, they are not spicy. Peak season runs from July through September but you can find bell peppers year round at your local grocery store.
There are several ways to prepare a bell pepper, depending on how you’d like to eat or cook it. Either way, you will likely want to remove the seeds.
Once you have cut the bell pepper, you have a lot of options for how to eat or cook them. LiveStrong.com has some suggestions:
Stir Fry/Saute’– heat a small amount of oil in a heavy skillet and add smaller bell pepper pieces. Cook for 8-10 mins. on medium heat, stirring occasionally so they cook evenly. Consider adding other vegetables or a sauce for more flavor. This website says that a Saute’ allows for the best concentrated nutrient retention.
Grilling– use whole peppers or large pepper pieces. You can make kabobs by skewering the peppers with with various meats and other vegetables. Brush on a light coating of oil and season with salt and pepper before you place the peppers on the grill.
Roasting- this gives peppers a smoky flavor and works well in salsas or other dishes, as well as on their own. In an oven, brush the peppers with a light coat of oil and broil them, turning to crisp evenly. See the above link for charring instructions.
Steaming– often used to prepare bell peppers for stuffing or a side dish. Preparing to stuff? Cut out the stem and seeds. Steam the peppers upright for approx. 4 minutes in a steaming basket. Then stuff the peppers with a filling and bake them according the recipe. The filling typically includes rice, chopped vegetables, seasonings and cheese.
Raw– add to salad or cut into strips or petals and enjoy with hummus or a veggie dip.
Trivia about Bell Peppers
- Peppers have between 2 and 5 lobes. Bell peppers with 3 lobes are generally considered to be better when cooked whereas the 4 lobed peppers are usually quite a bit sweeter, with many more seeds than their counterpart.
- Peppers do not have a “gender”, as some websites suggest
- Peppers are actually fruits! Why? Simply because they are produced from a flowering plant and contain seeds, though, most people think of them as vegetables.
- Bell peppers can be eaten at any stage of development. Vitamin C, carotenoid content and the flavor of bell peppers tends to increase while the pepper is reaching its optimal ripeness.
- The sweeter the bell pepper, the more calories it has. This means, red peppers have the highest number of calories.
- Bell peppers are an excellent source of vitamin C. They have 117 milligrams per cup, which is more than twice the amount of vitamin C found in a typical orange!
- One serving of this colorful fruit will provide you with plenty of Vitamins K, C, A, E, and B6, potassium, and a generous amount of dietary fiber.
This is a wonderful guest post from Joanna Theilmann, MSW, published originally on 1000vegetables.org. If you are interested in contributing a guest post, please feel free to contact me!
I just got back from vacation and had the pleasure of attending a session where Shawn Brisby, the demo chef for Canyon Ranch in Tucson, gave us a great piece of advice …
“Have you ever gotten raspberries home and within a day they are mush with white stuff on them?”
He had my attention.
“The problem is that home chefs don’t keep their refrigerator cold enough. They should be set at 40 degrees.”
So I’ve been experimenting and … it works! (not that I doubted you, Shawn :-).
Step 1. Decide what you are going to eat for the week.
This planning is essential. It takes me 20-30 (very enjoyable) minutes to find recipes in a magazine (Clean Eating and Cooking Light are my favorites), one of my cookbooks or on line. Here’s what we’re cooking this week:
And, for breakfast for the week…
Step 2. Make a shopping list and go shopping.
Step 3:. Prep all the food for the week
This is what makes it work in terms of efficiency. For the rest of the week, when you get home, everything will be washed, cut up and ready to throw in the pan. I timed myself and it took 1 hr 22 minutes to turn the pile of veggies you see above into this:
An hour and a half is nothing compared to the time it takes when you get home late and really don’t want to do it. Turn on some music, chop while you are watching some football.. it is a great return on investment to insure you eat well!
Other helpful hints
- Get some fun containers. These are the ones I bought, but any food quality containers will work.
- Wash the other produce, cut everything up for all the recipes, spin dry them and put them in your 40 degree refrigerator. (If you don’t own one, get a lettuce spinner.)
- Wash the fruit and dry it before you put it in the refrigerator.
One other tip…. Make stock! I throw all the vegetable bits (peels, seeds, etc) into a pot with water and make vegetable stock while I’m working. In addition to using this stock for any soup we decide to make, we use it instead of water for rice or pasta to increase the flavor.
I wish someone had taught me this when I started medical school. Seriously, I would have loved it… Let me walk you through what I did today to prepare for my week, and I think you will understand.
So, first… it’s summer… In Houston.
The weather makes a difference in how this unfolds, since I’m talking about cooking… i.e. (usually) adding heat.
So here’s what I did today..
- I spent about 20 minutes looking through what is my current favorite cookbook for three recipes that a) I liked b) were easy and c) were summer appropriate.
2. I entered all the ingredients I needed into GroceryIQ, … plus stone fruit (that is so ripe and delicious right now), a watermelon (because it’s summer and I love them), bread and ingredients for sandwiches for lunch.
(how can you not love a cookbook that says “Heat a big glug of olive oil in a skillet”?)
3. I went to the grocery store and bought everything on the list. When you have a list, it’s really fast, so you make up the time you spent looking up the recipes and making the list. Also, you are much less likely to buy more than you need (which leads to interesting microbiology experiments in your refrigerator) or things you really don’t need (i.e. junk food).
4. I took a nap. (I was on call Friday, up all night, so I’m still catching up). Plus, Sunday naps are amazing… so don’t think you EVER have to justify them!
5. I spent about 20 minutes preparing the ingredients for Joshua McFadden’s recipe for the tuna melt “casserole” and for one of my summer favorites, ratatouille. Every time I make ratatouille, I think of Maryvonne, Monique and Maddy, my French “mothers” who taught me this recipe when I lived in France as an undergraduate.
6. Here’s where the Houston weather comes in. To minimize stove top and oven time, I roasted the squash for the tuna melt and the vegetables for the ratatouille at the same time – while they were cooking, I sautéed the onions and garlic for the ratatouille and added the tomatoes (canned). (In case you were wondering, the sweet potato is for snacks or something else TBD.)
So, we’ll have the tuna melt tonight, with some store made coleslaw (Brussel sprout and kale), and there is enough for the same meal another night, or lunches if we choose. The ratatouille can be sides to our sandwiches, or can be another meal with a protein (we are mostly “pescetarian” so probably fish… but you can choose what you want). Ratatouille is also delicious cold on it’s own or with cottage cheese, or you can add it to broth with chicken meat and make a great soup/stew.Bottom line… maybe an hour today for a week’s worth of amazing food… which is what I wish I’d been taught when I started medical school.
p.s. Since you were wondering… The other two recipes for this week are cooked seafood salad with fennel, radish basil and crème fraiche (p115) and crunchy mixed bean salad with celery, tarragon and soft boiled eggs (p260).
p.p.s Do not get intimidated if you don’t know how to cook. YOU CAN LEARN. (and you should). Find someone to help you.
Starting medical school is one of the most exciting moments in a physicians career… but it can be a little daunting! This talk is one I gave recently to the college students in the Baylor College of Medicine Summer Surgery Program. In addition to talking about how medical school is different from college, I also included my top 10 tips for successfully making this important transition.
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The “clean slate” of a new year almost always leads us to think of resolutions … things we could change to make our lives better. This is a great time for reflection to realize what you have accomplished, where you’d like to be in a year, and what changes you need to arrive at that goal. I just finished reading Making Habits, Breaking Habits: Why We Do Things, Why We Don’t, and How to Make Any Change Stick by Jeremy Dean which provided some useful ideas about making resolutions.
Know why you want to make the change
“There has to be an ultimate goal that is really worth achieving or the habit will be almost impossible to ingrain.” Jeremy Dean
Let’s take one example – losing weight. It’s fine to say you want to lose weight… but why? Wanting to fit into your clothes is not a trivial reason, but will it really motivate you when it gets tough as much as these?
- Being able to “walk the walk” when you talk to patients about losing weight
- Reduction in your risk for diabetes, heart disease, cancer and a variety of other health problems
- More energy, better mood, less pain…
What’s important is that you find reasons that resonate for you. Do a little research and write down why you want to make the change. Plan to review this, and revise it when needed, on a regular basis.
Make the resolution then make a plan.
To continue the losing weight example, what are the specific new habits you want to develop? Are they “SMART” changes? (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-Based). For example…
- I will eat 8 servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
- I will set the alarm clock 15 minutes early to do push-ups, crunches and squats before I go to the hospital.
- I will plan my meals and shop once a week so I can take healthy food with me to work.
- I will schedule my workouts every weekend so I can attend at least two spin classes a week.
- I will cook one healthy dish on the weekend that I can eat for at least 4 meals during the week
Develop the “what if” plan.
The next step is to imagine all the things that might derail you and write down a specific plan for each of them. This will be an ongoing process… as you come up with new excuses to not follow through with your new habit, add it to the list.
Back to the example of losing weight….
- If I forget to bring fruit/veggies with me to work, I will go to the cafeteria or lounge to get at least 2 servings to eat at work.
- If I walk by MacDonald’s and feel drawn in by the smell of the fries, I will remember that I’m trying to set a good example for my patients
- If I hit snooze on my alarm clock, I will move it across the room.
- If I think I’m too tired to go shopping for the week, I will remember that this is the key to having healthy food at work.
“Making healthy habits should be a voyage of discovery.” Jeremy Dean
Self-monitoring is critically important to maintaining a new habit. It doesn’t matter if you use an app like My Fitness Pal, a calendar, a spreadsheet or a system like the Bullet Journal… stay accountable by keeping track.
As the habit becomes engrained, change it a little to keep it interesting.
Working out with exactly the same routine quickly becomes boring. It’s one of the reasons people love group classes like spin classes – the instructors are always changing the routine. Be mindful and creative… but stay out of ruts!
“Making or breaking a habit is really just the start. To develop a truly fulfilling and satisfying happy habit, it’s about more than just repetition and maintenance; it’s about finding ways to continually adjust and tweak habits to keep them new; to avoid mind wandering and the less pleasurable emotional states that accompany it. There is great enjoyment to be had in these small changes to routines. When life is the same every day, it gets boring.” Jeremy Deans
Looking for inspiration? Here’s a list of New Year’s Resolutions for medical students, residents and busy docs. Pick 1 or 2 and start working on your plan, your what-ifs and how you will monitor them!
- Learn to meditate and spend at least 10 minutes every day meditating with HeadSpace. (Here’s the TED talk that introduced me to this great app.)
- Eat fruits and veggies with every meal.
- Walk 10,000 steps per day.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevators.
- Learn the names of all the people you work with… the guy who mops the floor, the clerk at the desk, the person who works in the blood bank.
- Write down three things you are grateful for every night before you go to bed.
- Log all cases (if this applies to you) the same day and finish medical records within 24 hours.
- Use a system like the Bullet Journal or Remember The Milk to become more organized and never miss a deadline (including the birthdays of your family and friends)
- Cook your own meals at home (take a class if you need to).
- Be on time to conferences, rounding, meetings, classes, etc.
- Spend at least half a day a week “unplugged” and use it to play.
- Keep a journal to remember the important events of the day, vent about things that upset you, and make plans for the future.
- Read something that is not medical every day.
- Stop eating fast food.
- Drink less alcohol or stop all together.
- Get at least 7 hours of sleep any night you are not on call. (and have a plan post call to sleep more)
- Cut out all added sugar.
- Drink more water.
- Keep your house neater… or at least a part of your house!
- Stop texting while driving.
- Learn about motivational interviewing to help your patients.
- Read a major textbook in your field in one year.
- Learn something new from every patient you see
- Try a new way to exercise every month
- Set your intention for the day every morning.
- Eat breakfast every morning.
- Set limits on checking email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media sites.
- Practice mindfulness.
- Plan your meals for the week on the weekend to make sure you have great food on call and at work.
- If you have to sit a lot at work, come up with a plan to not be so sedentary.