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Life in Balance: Best addition to food storage is items you process yourself

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As a young girl I learned about storing what you need for a year supply. I remember going to the store and buying needles and thread, as I wanted to make sure we could patch our clothes if times ever got hard.

I, like many people in the Utah area, have food stored under my stairs. Yes, I think I have a ton of wheat and at least a year supply of canned dried food that has to be more than 25 years old, as I bought it when I moved into my home.

I am sure that I would have to be ready to die to eat it. I even had a device to grind my wheat with an attachment that goes on my bike so that I can have fresh ground wheat while I peddle for exercise.

Now that I am in my "prime year," as Jane Fonda would say, I am not so eager to put away anything that I will not use during the year. In fact my favorite food to put away is the fresh item that I buy at the farmers market and bring home and process myself.

Farmer markets are just getting into full swing, and I am, too. This past week I bought a box of fresh beets for $15. I then roasted them in the oven. WOW were they good.

But I had far too many for me to eat before they would go bad.

I pulled a beet soup recipe out of my new book, "Tipping the Scales in you Favor," and made a big batch (12 pints) of roasted beet soup.

The following is the basic recipe that I adapted for the large batch

Beet Soup

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 small onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, whole

4 mediums to large beets cut into large chunks

2-teaspoon red vine vinegar

4 cups chicken broth

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in heavy stock pot over medium heat; add onion, garlic and beets. Add red wine vinegar. Add chicken broth and bring to boil. Let simmer over medium heat until beets are soft. Remove from heat, cool and spoon into blender or food processer until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. When ready to serve, top with a dollop of yogurt. Serve hot or chilled. Serves 4, — Guida Ponte

I got this recipe from a wonderful chef that I meet on NBC's "Today Show" years ago. The only thing that I did different is that I roasted the beets instead of boiling them.

What I have decided to do is to pick one item that I want to put away in my food storage every other week and then get it at the farmers market.

The thing I love most about this is I do not have a lot of preservative in my food. I buy high-quality food and I don't add any salt or sugar to it. Instead, I like to spice the food when I get ready to eat it; that way I can have different spice each time I prepare it.

If you're going to preserve your own foods, a great reference manual is the "Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving." There are several methods to process different vegetables and fruits, and it will give you the guideline for them.

TV personality and author Dian Thomas shares her journey of weight loss, exercise and life on the run every other Wednesday in the Deseret News and at www.DianThomas.com. Her weekly blog also runs Mondays at deseretnews.com, and she takes tour groups to China. Contact her at www.dianthomas.com/travel.htm. Email: features@desnews.com