I love cooking with stock.

You don’t always have to use oil in many cases. For those of you who don’t cook (like my wife), stock is the rich flavored liquid left after simmering chopped carrots, onions and celery with beef bones or chicken parts or fish bones or just vegetables.

Add a few peppercorns, a bay leaf and a tablespoon of thyme or parsley. Simmer for several hours and then strain; this leaves a pure flavored elixir that raises food to a higher level of taste.

I’m sure you have been to the grocery store and wondered why they cut up fresh beef bones and package them for sale. It is for those few purists out there like me who love good-tasting food.

Your grandmothers remember that was the best way to make soup. Yes, I know, Campbell’s has been around since 1869 making soup, but this is not about soup. It is about cooking with flavor and reducing the amount of oil for cooking.

OK, let’s start by saying I know you won’t make fresh stock. You will probably buy those boxes with liquid in them. Please read the label closely. Some have high fructose syrup, many have large amounts of salt, many are not gluten free and some have monosodium glutamate or MSG, which can cause severe allergic reactions in some folks. Side note: MSG is not allowed in public school lunches.

Try to find a product as natural as possible. Soup base comes in powder form and some like a paste. You can mix these products with water and make your own stock solution, but again check the ingredients very carefully.

Broth is technically any liquid that has had meat cooked in it. Stock, however, involves bones simmered for a long time to extract their gelatin and flavor. This will create a thick liquid and is only possible when bones are present. Roasting the bones makes for a richer, more deeply colored stock.

When stock is prepared, it is not seasoned, and it is added as an ingredient during the cooking process. Broth is seasoned and can be used as a drink or soup. The grocery stores carry broth, stock, paste, and cubes, which, by the way, is dehydrated broth with lots of other stuff. All of these products are seasoned so choose wisely.

When I make spaghetti sauce, taco meat, meat loaf, most sauces and any vegetables, I use stock to cook my ingredients, not oil. A tablespoon of oil is 120 calories and 13 grams of fat. No one uses one tablespoon to measure, so it usually ends up being 2-3 tablespoons.

Instead use stock where 1 cup is 15 calories and .05 grams fat. I tried this at home for our family of four and we collectively lost 25 pounds in one month. Roast items in the oven if you want to brown them. The proof is in the taste. Try a spoon of oil and then a spoon of stock. That is what you add to food when you cook. You decide, it’s very simple.

Oven-Roasted Root Vegetables Antipasto

Serves: 6-8

Ingredients

1 large yellow squash

1 large zucchini

1 medium red onion

2 medium tomatoes

1 bunch asparagus, stemmed

1 red bell pepper

1 medium eggplant (leave skin on)

2 large parsnips (about 8 ounces) peeled

8 garlic cloves peeled whole (bottle garlic as an option)

1 cup chicken stock

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

8 Kalamata olives, seeded sliced

1 tablespoon chopped oregano

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 350ᵒF degrees. Cut all the vegetables into 1 1/2-inch pieces. Toss all the vegetables, garlic, olives, chicken stock, oregano, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper in large bowl. Place on baking sheet or roasting pan, spreading them out to assure they don't steam while roasting. Roast the vegetables at 350ᵒF until tender and golden brown, stirring occasionally for about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove from oven.

Costa Magoulas is dean of the Mori Hosseini College of Hospitality and Culinary Management at Daytona State College. Contact him at (386) 506-3578 or costa.magoulas@daytonastate.edu.

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