According to the National Zero Waste Council’s research on household food waste, almost 2.2 million tonnes of edible food is wasted each year here in Canada. That’s pretty freakin’ crazy!
So we reached out to our Earth’s Own Plant Project winner and zero-waste queen Marissa, from Eat the Dishes, to get some of her clever ways you can combat food waste at home & get the full nutritional value (and money’s worth) out of your fruits and vegetables!
Reuse Yo’ Citrus Peels
Citrus Extract Powder
Squeezed all the juice outta your lemons, limes, oranges or grapefruit? Zest the peel and then leave them to dry on a flat, clean surface (such as a baking pan or towel). Put the dried skins in a food processor or spice grinder and grind them into a powder. Store your zesty powder in a clean jar in your cupboard. This citrus extract is great for baking and flavouring sauces. Or, my personal fav, massaged into a delish kale salad!
The laziest way to add a zip of flavour to your regular ‘ol sugar? Throw your leftover citrus peels in a jar with yo’ sugar to make a legit flavoured sugar. The oil from the citrus will infuse into your sugar, making it perfect for sprinkling onto sugar cookies, oatmeal, or a cuppa tea! Don’t want to waste that vanilla bean casing? Repeat the same process for vanilla sugar.
Infused Oil or Vinegar
You know those fancy infused oils or vinegars you’d pay a bajillion dollars for at specialty stores? Well, save your money with this delish do-it-yo’self tip! Use a mortar + pestle to mash your citrus peels gently, or you can break down them peels with a rolling pin. Then, add them to your favourite oil or vinegar. Let it infuse for a minimum of two weeks before making some legit dressings.
Don’t Waste Them Vegetable Ends Or Scraps
Homemade vegetable stock is ridiculously simple and customizable. Save your vegetable peels and herb stems in a container in the freezer. When the container is full, add its contents into a pot with water, enough to fully submerge scraps, and boil for a couple of hours. Strain and use within 5 days to make soups, to flavour recipes, or to cook pasta in. Wanna save it for later? Just cool and freeze!
Regrow your Vegetables
You can actually regrow a lot of the vegetable scraps you’ve been throwing away. Yup, you can get a whole new delish plant from the scraps of your old one! Simply place the roots / stem ends into an open jar or shallow dish with a little water. Here’s a starter list of just some of the vegetables you can regrow:
- Green onions
- Carrot Greens
- Romaine Lettuce
Herb Stems For The Win
For soft stems, like parsley or cilantro, don’t stop chopping at the leaves! Most of the flavor and nutrition is found in the stems so go ahead and use the whole herb! If you don’t like the texture of the stems, consider turning them into a paste for curries, soups, a tofu marinade, or a flavourful addition to salad dressing.
Hard stems like rosemary or thyme can be a great addition to a vegetable stock. Or they make incredibly flavourful BBQ skewers. Just soak ‘em for 30min in some water so they don’t, you know, catch fire. Then skewer away with some tofu, veggies, or other plant-based yummy goodness.
Boost Yo’ Smoothie
Strawberry Tops & Carrot Tops
Just hear me out on this one! I know we’re taught to cut off strawberry tops and carrot tops, and that after that they’re only as good as compost. But strawberry leaves are high in Vitamin C, Iron, and Calcium. They also contain tannins, which helps with digestion, nausea, and stomach cramps.
And carrot tops? They are just as nutritious as their roots! Full of Vitamins A, B6, C and K, folate, potassium and thiamine.
They’re easy to add into a salad or, if you want to get sneaky with it, just blend ‘em in your smoothies! You’ll barely notice they’re there and receive a super hit of nutrient goodness.
Rock Yo’ Recipes
Cauliflower Stalks, Broccoli Stalks & Leaves.
Using broccoli or cauliflower florets in a dish or recipe? Why stop there! Chop up the whole shebang, including the stalks and leaves! Broccoli stalks have heaps of fibre while broccoli leaves are highest in cell-protecting antioxidants, Vitamins E and K, and Calcium.
And cauliflower stalks are just as nutritious as the florets. Which makes legit sense, as all the plant’s nutrients have to travel through the stalks to get to the florets in the first place.
Add them into a stir fry, casserole, or roast ‘em up in the oven for a crunchy treat!
An A-Peeling Use For Potato Peels.
At Home Potato Chips
Turn your potato peels into a healthier version of potato chips. Preheat your oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with a reusable silicone baking liner or nonstick foil. Toss the peels of two medium-large potatoes with enough olive oil to lightly coat the peels. Sprinkle with sea salt and any other seasoning you please (psst… I like to add a sprinkle of rosemary). Place on the baking sheet in a single layer and bake for approximately 18-20 minutes! Viola, low-waste potato chips!
And this is the just beginning! There are endless ways you can reduce your waste by using delish “scraps”. Let us know your fav way to eat the scraps by tagging us on Instagram @earthsowncanada. Now, if you’ll excuse us… this blog has made us pretty darn hungry…