Delicious Ways to Reduce Food Waste

BlogHer Original Post

In this day and age, we all do our best to look out for the planet. Whether by recycling our papers, plastics, and cans, using homemade facial products or cleaning solutions, investing in bikes or organizing carpools, or refilling our (BPA free) plastic water bottles, rather than purchasing disposable ones, most of us have incorporated small, eco-conscious efforts into our daily rhythms.

Here are two things we may not think about when we try to go green (or greener): first, that going green might be as personally economical as it is socially responsible. Making cleaning supplies from apple cider vinegar and water, for example, can be tremendously thrifty as well as eco-friendly and safe.

Second, we don't often consider that one of the biggest areas in which we can reduce waste, and thereby lead greener lives, is in the realm of food and cooking. By using up more of our produce and wasting less, we cut back on wasted grocery money. In finding innovative, simple food preparation methods that allow us to use up leftovers, we can reduce money we'd otherwise spend on packaged snack foods or entrees. The upshot? Green living can begin in your kitchen, with benefits for you, your wallet, and the planet.

We've all been there: you spend a tremendous amount of money on a grocery run and a lot of fine produce, only to find that quite a lot of it goes bad before you can use it. When this happens, we're often tempted to spend less of our weekly food budget on vegetables. But given that vegetables are healthy and planet-friendly, eating less of them should be the last thing we do. Rather than letting wilted produce get you down, learn how to keep veggies fresher, longer, and learn how to take fruits and vegetables that are on the cusp of perishing, and turn them into delicious food. It's possible.

First things first: the trick to keeping produce as crisp as can be? A damp paper cloth. When you first get a produce haul home, be sure to place a damp (but not drippy) paper cloth into each produce container (be it bag or plastic). The towel will keep everything, greens included, astonishingly crunchy!

And when you do see that you have vegetables or fruits that are going bad, try one of the following five recipes, all of which allow you to put leftover or aging produce to great use.

1. One of the best things to do with vegetable odds and ends -- you know, the bits leftover from recipes we've made -- is to use them to make fresh vegetable juice. If you have a juicer, however, you know that juicing gives us delicious elixir while also spitting out a lot of "pulp" (which is just the fiber and some of the flesh of the veggies we've used). This makes for good composting, but if you're so inclined, you can also use it to make tasty (and healthy) vegetable crackers.

For example, consider the following recipe for beet, carrot, celery, and apple juice, and then consider the tasty crackers that may come of it.


Juice


Beet-Carrot-Celery-Kale-Apple Juice

  • 1 large beet, quartered
  • 3 large carrots, ends trimmed off
  • 2 large stalks celery
  • 3 large stalks of kale
  • 1 apple, cored and quartered

Juice all of the ingredients using your home juicer. Place a plastic bag in the container that collects the pulp, so that you can reuse it in the following crackers.

Lemon Thyme Juice Pulp Crackers

Makes about 24-30 crackers

  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1/2 cup flax meal, ground
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsps crushed thyme
  • 1 1/2 tightly packed cups juice pulp (any veggies you like)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • Black pepper to taste (Iím generous with it)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup water

Blend the almonds, flax, salt, and thyme into a meal in a food processor. Add the pulp, lemon, and pepper. Add water in a thin stream till the mix is easy to spread, but still a bit sticky (the amount of water you'll need will vary based on how watery the pulp is).

Turn the "dough" out onto a parchment lined baking sheet and spread it evenly. Score into cracker shapes.

Bake crackers at 300 degrees for about 30-35 minutes, checking on them often to be sure they're not burning. Use your kitchen intuition!

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