From excessive packaging to tossed leftovers, cooking may sometimes feel like you’re adding more to your garbage can than your fridge. Perhaps you’re already using a reusable shopping bag and buying food with little or no packaging. Take it to the next level by using more of the food you buy. Zero waste cooking is a plant-based way of using the entire vegetable. Not only can it save you money and reduce your environmental footprint, but it can also increase the flavour of your dishes. Here are a few ways to use the whole vegetable (and fruit!).
1. VEGETABLE STOCK FROM SCRAPS
When prepping meals, save vegetable scraps to make broths out of. Have a bag or container in the freezer to save the scraps. Toss in herb stems, onion ends, carrot ends, vegetable peels, and any other vegetable that you would put into a soup (broccoli and cauliflower tend to make a funkier broth). When you’ve gathered a full large resealable bag, add scraps with cold water into a pot, let veggies simmer for 1 ½ hours and voila! You’ve made homemade broth!
2. HOMEMADE VINEGAR
Fruit peels and scraps can be used to flavour the liquid used to cook oatmeal or used in flavoured syrups or vinegars. Have a bag or container in the freezer to save them until you’re ready to use.
3. CITRUS ZEST
Before juicing citrus (hello grapefruit and oranges!), first zest the peels to keep in the freezer. Add this zest to recipes for extra bright flavour.
4. VEGETABLE STEMS
Root vegetable stems are usually thrown out, but they are quite delicious and often nutrient dense! Beet greens can be sautéed with garlic, but they are also good tossed in any recipe as a substitute for kale or spinach. You can even add them to an afternoon snack like in this smoothie:
Whole Beet Smoothie
1/4 cup beet greens
1 beet root, diced (about 1/3 cup), medium raw
1/2 cup blackberries, frozen
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 serving Chocolate Vega® One All-in-One Shake
2 tbsp coconut manna
1 cup coconut water
Preparation: Blend in a high-speed blender until smooth.
Carrot tops are also great sautéed, and you can use them in pesto instead of basil for a refreshing take on the classic sauce. Turnip and radish greens are also edible (and delicious).
5. HERB STEMS
Herbs leaves are often picked off the flavourful stems and then the stems are tossed out. The stems are actually full of the same flavour as the leaves. Add the chopped tender stems (like cilantro) into recipes calling for the herbs and save harder stems (like thyme) for broth or soups to add extra flavour naturally.