How to repurpose Your Food Waste

leaves-2288485_640

There is a serious waste problem not only Canada, but throughout the world.  One of the main issues is that we as consumers are huge contributors.

 

It’s a fact that most households waste an entire bag of groceries worth of food for every five bags bought. That’s a huge percentage.

 

Maybe it’s the casserole you put in the back of the fridge and forgot about, or maybe it’s half a pack of mushrooms that look kind of shrivelled and dead.

 

Even if you’re generally good with your wastage and do your best to recycle and have a compost bin, before you toss those scraps, think about how you could really get the most out of them before you chuck ‘em.

 

Here are some handy tips on how you can repurpose your waste food:

 

#1 – Don’t Throw Away The Leaves

 

For many people, whenever they buy vegetables where the leaves aren’t the star of the show (think broccoli, beets, celery or cauliflower) the go-to action is to cut them off and throw them straight out.

 

But wait!

 

The leaves are just as edible as the main part of the veggie and are like any leafy green – incredibly nutritious!

 

Cook the leaves like you would cabbage our kale. They make a great addition to soups and smoothies too!

 

 

#2 – Scraps Equals Stock

 

Potato and carrot peels, chicken bones and onion skin all make the best flavorings for stock. Believe me, you will never use a stock cube again!

 

Do you know just how nutrient rich the skins of vegetables are? Yet many of us peel them and throw them away.

 

Whether you want to make a veggie stock from peels and ends, chicken stock from bones or a mixture of the two, just throw all the scraps into a slow cooker or pot filled with water, bring it to a heavy boil and then let it simmer for around eight hours. All you have to do is strain out the solids and it’s done.

 

The best part is, as soon as the stock is made you can freeze it for months, meaning you have delicious homemade stock on hand for anything.

 

My personal favorite thing to do is to freeze stock in ice cube trays. Then you can just pop a cube or two out any time you need one. Don’t be fooled into thinking this is just a base for soups or stews, you’d be amazed how tasty a spag bol can be with a homemade stock cube thrown in.

 

#3 – Tasty Baked Skins

 

One of my favorite, easiest and cheapest treats to make is baked potato skins. Considering you would otherwise be throwing the skins away, this is a super cheap treat!

 

Potato are the best from my personal opinion, but any of your favorite veggies will work (carrot taste great too).

 

Simply ensure you wash your veggies thoroughly before you peel them. Then take the peelings, drizzle them with some olive oil, salt and pepper and maybe some chilli flakes if you’re feeling feisty, then bake until crispy.

 

I make these with a garlic mayo and small side salad and you have a great starter for a dinner party you made with scraps!

 

#4 – Pet Popsicle

 

I have two very longhaired dogs and in the summer it gets pretty hot for them. One of their favorite all time summer treats is a meaty popsicle.

 

The first time I made this, it was as a kind of birthday cake for my dog and it was not only a hit with her but all the cats in the neighbourhood!

 

In the same way you would make stock, boil meat and or chicken bones – you can throw in some veggie skins for some added nutrition but let’s face it, the meaty flavor is what they are going for – then once you strain off the bones put some in small bowls and freeze.

 

One of the things I do is throw in some dog treats or if I have any scraps of meat or liver. Once frozen you just tip them out and watch your pet go crazy!

 

Not only is it super tasty and nutritious, it’s a great cool treat on a hot day and the little treats the find inside now and again make a welcome surprise.

 

#5 – Pack Your Scraps as You Go

 

Many times you may not have enough scraps from one meal to make a stock smoothie or pesto, but the great thing is, you can save any off cuts, peels, leaves or bones and bag them and freeze them.

 

Then when you have enough, simply toss them straight in a pot of water.

 

This week’s guest blogger is Helen Sanders.helenHelen Sanders is chief editor at HealthAmbition.com. Established in 2012, Health Ambition has grown rapidly in recent years. Our goal is to provide easy-to-understand health and nutrition advice that makes a real impact. We pride ourselves on making sure our actionable advice can be followed by regular people with busy lives.

Grow Your Own Zero Waste Solutions

lavender-167794_640Our gardens can help us create Zero Waste Solutions for our households. Growing our own fruit and vegetables can reduce packaging and give our families healthy food choices, but our gardens can grow even more options to help us create Zero Waste households.

This week, Zero Waste Canada gives some planting ideas for growing in your garden or plant pots.

lufa vine
luffa vine
  • Grow your own (loofah) luffa:  Reduce plastic of microfiber usage by growing your own luffa.  Loofah sponges as often seen in the bathroom as a means of exfoliating skin are neither sea sponge nor plastic product; loofah  sponges come from the luffa plant which is an annual similar to a cucumber. The loofah sponge is actually a fibrous seed pod from the luffa plant.  Loofah/luffa sponges can be used both in the bathroom and in the kitchen for scrubbing. You can also eliminate microplastics by making your own loofah soap. By growing luffa you can reduce plastic sponges that need disposal, and you have a product that can be composted at the end of life plus the young smaller gourds are also edible.
  • Grow your own band-aid :  Instead of plastic band-aids, Wooly Lamb’s Ear, botanical name Stachys byzantina, has been used for centuries as a wound dressing on battlefields. Not only do the soft, fuzzy leaves absorb blood and help it to clot more quickly, they also contain antibacterial, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory properties. All of these factors make this plant a really great alternative to store-bought bandages. Wooly Lamb’s Ear Lamb’s Ears is a very hardy and strong-growing perennial, with thick white-wooly foliage and pink-purple flower spikes, valued as a dense, low growing, spreading bedding plant in the landscape.
  • Grow your own air freshener : Reduce chemical sprays by growing lavender. Lavender is an easy to grow perennial. Lavender has medicinal uses, culinary uses and producing a pleasant calming scent. Dried flower buds can be used scent pillows or linen in drawers. Essential oil can be made to be used for aromatheraphy, relieving headaches or making bath products. It is possible to make simple nature air fresheners sprays by using lavender essential oil instead of using toxic chemicals like acetaldehyde .
  • Grow your own tea : Growing herbs in our garden or in pots is a wonderful inexpensive way to produce your own herbal tea blends. Leaves, buds and petals of a number of different plants can be trimmed and dried or mixed together with other herbs for tea blends that last for months. When it comes to herbs, a single plant can produce quite a bit of usable parts, but you may want to plant more around your garden for aesthetic purposes. And what you don’t use fresh can easily be dried (in a dehydrator or hung) and stored for later use. Homemade teas make a most wonderful gift, too! Tea can be stored in a mason jar.
  • Grow your own spices: Growing herbs in a pot on a windowsill or in the garden gives the option for both fresh and dried seasonings.

Growing your own reduces waste, uses less plastic and means having less toxins, and is more fun.

 

 

The Mason Jar- Zero Waste Living

The Mason Jar
The Mason Jar

The Mason jar is a versatile container for Zero Waste living.

In 1858, John Landis Mason, patented a square-shouldered jar with a threaded screw-top, matching lid and rubber ring for an airtight seal. His design would revolutionize home preserving allowing food to be safely stored and used beyond the season of harvesting, but it would be after his patent expired in 1879 that competitors would market his design to the masses. While the invention would continue to bear his name, John Landis Mason would die in poverty.

By the early twentieth century, industrial advances made jar manufacturing faster and more economical. Mason jars became the container for home canning. Wartime efforts promoted   “ Victory Gardens” and preserving food by home canning but after the war years with the proliferation of supermarkets and the marketing of store bought products home canning declined.

Sales of mason jars are once again spiking up, in part, because  there is a revived interest in home canning, but also because the brand owners like Ball and Bernardin recognized that consumers were looking for eco-friendly packaging , versatile products for do it yourself projects, and healthy comfort food. Marketing strategies changed to social media and online canning demonstrations instead of traditional print ads. Pinterest and facebook help to connect to a younger market.

Many of us for health and environmental reasons are attempting to use less plastic, the Mason jar offers us an alternative container. One of the easiest places to reduce plastics is in the kitchen. Glass advocates highlight that glass containers do not leach harmful chemicals into food or drink, glass does not absorb odours or food colours, glass lasts longer, glass can be made of recycled content and can be recycled.

The Mason jar is more that a jar. The versatility of the design of the jar with the metal rim top and screw-top neck make it a container that can easily be adapted for uses beyond holding jam. The standardized design of the product allows innovators to create accessories that turn the jar into a reusable drink cups and soap dispensers.

The attractive appearance of the jar has encourages the consumer go beyond the display in the kitchen cupboard and find more uses for the containers. Mason jars can be seen as hanging lights, centre pieces for weddings, bathroom accessories as well as individual serving containers for oatmeal and salads. It is a container that can easily be repurposed.

Mason jars can be used to freeze foods. Both Kerr and Ball brands of jars have a freeze fill line marked on jars. Remember to thaw slowly and that to leave room for expansion of liquids when frozen.

Rodents and pests can get into dry goods stored in jars. Kombucha and ice tea can be brewed in Mason jars. Mason Jars have lots of uses for The Zero Waste household.

The original use of the Mason jar that allows safe, convenient preserving of food for another day is also incredibly important as we do our part to remedy food waste and food insecurity issues.

The Mason jar is a product designed for a Zero Waste lifestyle.

 More ideas on recipes and Mason jar uses

Salad in a jar
Salad in a jar

Cookie Dough in a jar

Bernardin website

 Fresh Preserving.com

Creative and decorative uses for mason jars

Freezer is a lifeline to reduce food waste

berries-919006_640In Canada, the average household wastes about 275 kilograms of food each year. Much of this waste is unnecessary. A better understanding of how to freeze foods safely could significantly help us to reduce our staggering amounts of discarded food.

Inaccurate portion sizes, confusion about safe consumption and sell-by dates, and the low cost to households of over-purchasing and wasting food are among factors blamed for our wasteful behaviour.

Our freezers can be a lifeline to rescue food and drink from being discarded.

Research published by the Food and Standards Agency in the UK identified a number of “myths” that prevent people from using their freezers to reduce food waste. Results of study showed that 43% of those interviewed think that food should only be frozen on the day of purchase to be safe; 38% incorrectly said it is dangerous to refreeze meat after it has been cooked; and 36% wrongly believe that food can become unsafe to eat while in the freezer. Their research also found that 90% of people said there are foods they would never freeze. Almost a quarter (23%) of those surveyed would never freeze meat that was cooked after defrosting, with 73% of these people said they had concerns about food poisoning.

Learning about using our freezers as an effective tool for reducing waste and preserving food will definitely expand the Zero Waste solutions we can enact at home.

The freezer is like a “time-out” for foods that may be discarded because the “use by” or “ best before dates” are approaching. Once the food if frozen it will not spoil, and then when you want to use it defrost in the fridge and use within 24 hours. It is a pretty simple lifeline to rescue food.

We can save all kinds of food in the freezer.

Here are some of the foods that can be frozen:

Eggs: eggs can be frozen but not in shell

Potatoes: cooked potatoes work best for freezing ; you can boil for 5 minutes and freeze for later. You can also freeze left-over mashed potatoes and other cooked potato dishes.

Milk: remember that as a liquid milk expands when frozen  so it is important to make sure there is space in container for milk to expand. Shake well when thawed.

Cheese : All cheeses can be frozen, but do keep in mind that freezing can affect their texture and character. This is why thawed cheeses are best used for cooking. You can freeze cheeses, in pieces of 500 g or less, for up to two months. Make sure they are carefully wrapped in plastic wrap and place them in an airtight freezer bag. As with all types of cheeses, it is important to cool before freezing, and to allow the cheese to thaw slowly in the refrigerator, which allows it to regain the humidity lost while frozen.

Bread : wrap bread snugly to reduce air space.

Flour: freezing your whole grain flours greatly slows down how quickly these flours spoil, and protects them from pest infestation.

Spices: freeze fresh herbs

Left-over meat: leftover cooked beef, pork, or chicken can be frozen. Freezing can add up to three months to the safe storage life of most types of meat.

Rice: cooked rice is better frozen than stored in fridge.

Before tossing food consider throwing it a lifeline by freezing and rescuing for use.

 

 

Zero Waste kitchen ; uses for pits, peels, stems and leaves

appetite-1238250_640When we are consuming fruits and vegetables, we often focus on the flesh of the fruit or the heads of the broccoli leaving usable parts of the produce to be discarded in the compost, but we can get even more value from the goodness of the plant.

In our Zero Waste kitchens our goal is to maximize the use of our food resources. Here are some ideas how to use pits, stems, leaves and skins.

  1. Plant it:heart-1066536_640

Pits: The almondlike seeds in pits from peaches, nectarines and apricots do a good job of carrying on the desirable traits of their parents. You can simply sprout and grow a seed from a great-tasting specimen, and you have a good chance of sinking your teeth into sweet, juicy fruit from your own tree in only three to five years. Choose pits from fully ripe fruit. Avoid seeds from early maturing varieties because their seeds may not develop enough to sprout. Locally grown varieties are more likely to prosper in your garden compared to varieties grown a thousand miles away.

Peels: Grow potatoes from peelings by planting any piece of a potato that contains at least one eye. Work the soil in a sunny garden bed to a depth of 8 inches, incorporating 3 inches of organic compost. Plant your potatoes a month before the last frost, or any time after that through September. Potatoes prefer slightly acidic soil with a pH of about 6 to 6.5.

Stalks: Regrow celery, green onions and romaine lettuce from the stalk ends. Place the bottom end of stalk in water in a glass on windowsill.  Once plant has stared regrowth you can choose to plant in a pot or in the garden.

 

  1. Cook it, eat itcarrots-1112020_640

Pits: :  For the adventurous cook use pits to flavour vinegar and sauces (warning peach, apricot and nectarines  pits contain  amygdalin, a cyanide and sugar compound that degrades into hydrogen cyanide (HCN) when metabolized so follow proven recipes. Avocado pits are also dried and ground to add to smoothies.

Peels:  Potato peelings make into tasty chips by baking them in the oven. The best part is you don not have to make them right away. You can put them in a bowl, cover them with water and refrigerate you can wait up to 3 or 4 days to bake them. Save them for movie night munchies. Banana peels also can be cooked and banana peels are packed with nutrients like vitamin A, lutein, and other antioxidants, including B vitamins, which your body needs to keep its metabolism stoked. What’s more, they have tons of soluble and insoluble fiber, even more than the fruit itself—both can slow digestion, boost feelings of fullness, and even work to lower cholesterol.

Leaves: Carrot tops are highly nutritious and can be used in salads, made into pesto or included in stews.

Stalks : Broccoli stalks make great additions to stock, salads and a variety of dishes. The stalks can be grated, chopped, puréed to add a mild flavour to dishes.

        3. Homemade beauty products: beauty-treatment-163540_640

Pits: Dry and grind apricot pits to make home-made exfoliate for soaps and facial scrubs.

Peels : Use peels to make lovely scented skin tonics and scrubs, Make  hair conditioner  by  adding the peels of several lemons to a jar, and fill almost to the top with apple cider vinegar). Allow it to sit for 1-2 weeks and strain out peels. Add about 1 tablespoon of this citrus vinegar solution to 1 cup of water, and use as a conditioning rinse after shampooing. Allow the rinse to remain on hair for a few minutes, then rinse out or just leave in.

4.Cleaning products:

Peels: Citrus peels contain oil called D-limonene which is a powerful solvent for dirt and especially grease. Citrus peels are an ingredient in homemade furniture polish and cleaners.lemon-1313650_640

We can make the most of many fruits and vegetables we consume by using all parts from stalk to skin.

 

 

 

 

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