Creativity in the kitchen to support the environment
An eco-friendly lifestyle is quickly moving from being trendy to being necessary. We make improvements to our lifestyle to take care of our health and prevent disease, so why not put in a bit of effort to protect the earth and prevent further influence on climate change? No matter who you are, climate change will have a negative affect on your life; and no matter where you are in life, there is something you can do to protect your home and the home of trillions of other organisms. Below is a list of how to find some kitchen/food creativity with the goal of reducing your environmental footprint. We are in this together!
First, prevent waste:
1. Meal planning – be deliberate and efficient and make life easier during the week
2. Taking stock of the pantry and fridge – check if there are garlic bulbs sprouting or potatoes getting wrinkly before stocking up again
3. Don’t cook half of a potato, head of cauliflower, or eggplant for 1 recipe if you don't have a plan for it in the near future. Cook all of it and you’ll more likely end up throwing the leftovers on a salad, in scrambled eggs, etc.
4. Don’t shop until necessary – make sure the fridge is effectively cleaned out of any perishables
5. Prioritize space in the fridge – anything that needs to be eaten earlier should stay up front. Make sure bags of spinach, half-used tomatoes, and leftovers don’t get pushed to the back
6. Buy a mix of sturdier and less sturdy veggies and fruits – a trick developed when we tried to avoid the grocery store during Covid. Veggies like cabbage and cauliflower can stick around for a week while you're plowing through the peppers. Likewise for apples vs. strawberries
7. Use it all
- there is no rule saying you can’t eat the broccoli stem or cauliflower leaves.
- If you’re freezing strawberries, freeze with the top as well (you won’t be able to taste it in the smoothie).
- Zest the lemon before utilizing the juice to get a bit more out of it. (The rinds are also great in a homemade cleaning spray or to deodorize the garbage disposal.)
- The leaves of beet greens are essentially a free salad – they are beautiful and delicious raw or cooked!
- Buying a whole chicken means using the bones to make broth. Even if the bones get thrown out all the same, you're getting another use of the animal which is respectful to the animal and nice to your wallet
If we have to get creative, have fun!
1. If there’s a big sale on more time-sensitive foods like strawberries or bananas and you buy more than usual, make sure they would freeze well for a smoothie later on.
2. In a freezer bag, collect and freeze veggie scraps of sturdier veggies like carrots, potatoes, and onions until the bag is full and ready to be used for homemade stock.
3. Pickle veggies with leftover pickle juice – bonus points for reusing the jar too!
4. Roast up and/or make a spread/dip with wilted veggies like carrots and beets, and maybe the other half of a can of beans. These are great spices to blend in: cumin, curry, sage, finely chopped rosemary
- Sometimes helpful to pick a day of the week (maybe the day before your planned grocery shop) to go through and roast as needed
- Chop and put into ice cube trays and cover with olive oil
- Blend into spreads/dips/sauces like homemade pesto, salsa, hummus
- Mix into salads
- Create a simple syrup from mint
- Dry and jar when ready
6. Make fruit-infused water with leftover parts of fruit like the pineapple core, strawberry tops, ends of the cucumber, the last few mint leaves, or a rosemary sprig
7. Combine/shake up the last bit of peanut butter in the jar with ingredients for Asian peanut sauce that is great for dipping vegetables or mixed into a meal (recipe from Food Waste Feast
When all else fails:
- Compost – look for a compost pick-up/drop-off service in your city. I keep my bags of compost in the fridge/freezer (as I have space) and there is not an ounce of smell or a drop of mess that comes from the leftover pieces of produce.
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– Samantha Marks, RD, LDN
Registered Dietitian | Email Samantha