Anyone else a stickler for trying to reduce food waste!?
Americans waste an unfathomable amount of food. In fact, according to a Guardian report, roughly 50 percent of all produce in the United States is thrown away—some 60 million tons (or $160 billion) worth of produce annually! Wasted food is also the single biggest occupant in American landfills according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
6 CREATIVE WAYS TO SQUASH FOOD WASTE
1. Choose the ugly produce
Embrace imperfection. Don't toss ugly vegetables and look to buy them if you aren't growing your own produce. So much food is wasted due to cosmetic concerns, but with a little paring, a gnarled or twisted carrot or parsnip makes perfect, nutritious soup. Chopped salad makes use of slightly cracked or bruised tomatoes or cucumbers. Just use a sharp, small knife to cut out that bruise, small insect hole or a funny-looking stem.
2. Can, pickle, dry or freeze surplus food
Canning, pickling, drying or freezing is such a great way to use up a fruit or vegetable that you’ve bought too much of (went a little crazy apple-picking this fall? Whip up some apple butter!). As we move into autumn, plums, apples, eggplant, cucumbers and onions are all coming into season and at its nutritional peak, so watch out for them at your local farmers’ market and try one of these preserving methods!
Imagine how good (and cheap!) blueberry muffins will be in a few months, if you take the time to freeze the loads of fresh blueberries on sale now. Or think how easy dinner could be on busy weeknights this Fall if you make a pot of vegetable soup or a batch of marinara and store it in the freezer. Take a few moments to pickle your favorite vegetables, turn fruits into homemade jam, or fresh herbs into freezer-friendly pestos.
3. Compost Food Scraps
Thinking about starting a vegetable or herb garden in 2018? Although we're creeping into Winter, start now! You can easily improve your soil and prevent even more food waste by composting! Good things to compost include: vegetable peelings, fruit waste, teabags, coffee grounds, plant prunings and grass cuttings. These are fast to break down and provide important nitrogen as well as moisture. It’s also good to include things such as cardboard egg boxes, scrunched up paper and fallen leaves. These are slower to rot but provide vital fiber, carbon and also allow important air pockets to form in the mixture. Even crushed eggshells can be included to add useful minerals into your soil!
4. know when food is still safe after the 'best before' date.
Nearly 20 percent of food waste in people’s homes is caused by the confusing date labeling system. But, the dating system isn’t as clear as it seems. In general, perishable foods such as meat, poultry, eggs and dairy have dates. But those dates aren’t always about spoilage. Some dates simply inform retailers when products are at their best for freshness, taste and texture. Here are some foods that might last longer then you may think:
- Eggs are safe for three to five weeks after purchase. Keep them in the back of the fridge, where temperatures are typically coldest, rather than in the door.
- Chicken, ground meat and ground poultry will last for one to two days after purchase.
- Pre-cooked poultry should keep for three to four days.
- Fish will last one to two days in the refrigerator after purchase
- Dry pasta will last for one to two years after purchase.
- Bottled mustard has an extremely lengthy shelf life. Even when opened and stored in the refrigerator, it can last up to 1 year.
- Canned fruits and vegetables will last indefinitely. However, that rule goes out the window if they’re exposed to freezing temperatures or temperatures above 90°F. And be wary of damaged, dented or rusty packaging.
- Also, remember that if you properly freeze something in an air-tight container, it will last indefinitely.
Above all else, let common sense — and your senses —be your guide! If something smells rotten, curdles or turns a suspicious color, toss it in the trash!
5. Reinvent leftovers
One roast chicken dinner yields plenty for chicken tacos (and the bones for soup), make a great chicken chili, or a chicken salad sandwich for lunch. You can also roast tomorrow night’s veggies while the oven is still on to reduce energy costs.
The batch of greens you sautéd can top pizza one night and be part of an Asian stir-fry the next. Cooked quinoa from last nights side dish can be added into a soup, stuffed in enchiladas, or made into fried rice and veggies for another weeknight dinner.
If the cheddar for your cheeseboard has hardened, grate it now for a broccoli, brown rice and cheese soup! Equal parts leftover party wine and cider vinegar make a great base for salad dressing or cooking sauce!
6. Utilize the whole food + food scraps
“Food scraps,” like parsley or kale stems, the tough outer leaves of leeks and fennel, onion, celery, even apple or potato peels and carrot/beet greens can be gently simmered for an hour or so to produce a savory vegetarian broth. What remains can still be composted. Use the broth to cook risotto, beans, and other grains like quinoa or added to sauces for more flavor. Poultry and meat bones can also be simmered for chicken or beef stock. Both can be frozen, either in quart freezer bags or in ice cube trays.
Puree herbs or greens before they go bad. Add pureed greens with a little bit of water and freeze in ice cube trays for smoothies. Mix them with a little extra virgin olive oil and freeze in ice cube trays to easily add into sauces, soups or a stir fry!
Scoop out and save squash seeds this Fall. Toast seeds (pumpkin, acorn squash, butternut squash, etc.) while the oven is still on from roasting! Toasted seeds make the BEST snack or crunchy topping to soups or salads. They are also an excellent source of fiber, great plant based protein, rich in vitamins and minerals like vitamin A and C, folate, potassium, calcium, and iron.
Coconut Acorn Squash Bowls
Recipe By Dietitian: Taylor Johnson, RD, LDN
Recipe Type: Dinner
Dietary restrictions this recipe meets: Gluten free, Diary Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
This recipe is super creamy, flavorful and satisfying! It also uses the whole acorn squash with little to no food waste! Puree the whole squash or use the squash as your bowl to save yourself from clean up. I love scooping the sides to get whole pieces of squash mixed into the soup and topping it with toasted seeds for an extra crunch! This is the perfect soup to serve at a Friendsgivings or to snuggle up with on a Fall day.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut squash in half and hallow out squash. Season squash with 1 minced garlic clove, salt and pepper.
- Save the squash seeds, rinse and dry them with a paper towel, and set aside.
- Put squash halves, skin sides down, on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Bake squash until tender when pierced with a fork, about 40 minutes.
- While acorn squash bakes, in a large sauce plan, add remaining EVOO over medium heat. Add chopped carrots, onion, ginger and garlic and cook 4 minutes until tender.
- Once squash is done, scoop out squash flesh from 2 of the 4 squash halves. Scoop out 1/2 inch from the remaining squash halves to create a larger "bowl."
- Put squash, cooked carrots and onion mixture, coconut milk, turmeric and vegetable broth into a high speed blender. Blend until smooth. Add more broth until desired consistency. Add more salt and pepper to taste.
- Pour soup into the remaining 2 squash halves. Sprinkle with toasted seeds, sunflower seeds and sautéed kale. Reboot + Enjoy!
Toasted Acorn squash seeds:
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Scoop out acorn squash seeds and pat them dry with a paper towel.
- Season with evoo, paprika, cayenne, salt and pepper.
- Bake for 40 minutes or until golden brown.
Acorn Squash Soup Bowls:
- 2 medium acorn squash
- 4 large organic carrots, chopped
- 1 small sweet onion, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 13 ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 - 1.5 cup(s) vegetable both
- 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp turmeric
- salt and pepper to taste
- toasted acorn squash seeds for garnish (optional)
- Roasted sunflower seeds for garnish (optional)
- sautéed kale for garnish (optional)
Toasted Acorn Squash Seeds:
- Acorn squash seeds, scooped out and dried
- 1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
- Dash smoked paprika
- Dash cayenne pepper
- salt and pepper to taste
XO - ROOTS REBOOT
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