Cooking with Leftovers and Food Scraps

Apr, 19, 2021

Save money and reduce food waste by using every single part of the fruits, veggies, and some of the other foods you buy — including parts normally thrown away! Unfortunately, because we have a tendency to forget what is in our fridge or freezer, it can become food waste. And food waste accounts for half of all waste in landfills. To avoid this, here are my tricks for cooking with food scraps that otherwise would be squandered. 

Beet Greens:

Most people throw away beet greens, a very underappreciated part of the vegetable. They are as highly nutritious as kale, even more so than the beet bulb itself, and contain high amounts of antioxidants and other phytonutrients. Beet greens and stems are very tasty and mild. I like to eat them braised in olive oil with garlic and shallots, a dash of balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper. Braise them covered for 4-6 minutes, until tender. 

Stale Bread:

I would think that stale bread is one of the most commonly wasted foods because, let’s face it, who likes stale bread? Not me. Before going zero waste, I threw out lots of bread. But these days, I employ creative methods to use up every slice. Click on this link for some great and easy uses for stale bread:

Veggie Scrap Broth:

Making broth is super easy, and can be used for soups and stews. I always use leftover veggie scraps for it. I simply freeze any garlic and onion ends, peels, etc., until I have collected enough for a batch. Here is my recipe.

Apple Scrap Vinegar:

I like using apple peels and cores to create apple cider vinegar. If you use apples only occasionally, store the peels and cores in the freezer until you have gathered enough to start a batch. Here is my recipe for apple scraps vinegar.

Broccoli Stems:

Never throw away broccoli stems and leaves because they are quite edible, very mild, and highly nutritious. I always use them for my creamy broccoli soup.

Broccoli Stem Soup:

  • 2 cup broccoli stems, diced
  • 1 cup red lentils, rinsed
  • 6 cups water or vegetable broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Bring broccoli, water, salt and pepper to a boil, then reduce to a simmer until lentils and broccoli are soft. Puree in blender until creamy, and add more salt and/or pepper if needed. 

Carrot Greens:

Carrot greens have a reputation for being inedible; however, while it is true that carrot tops contain alkaloids and nitrates that some people may be sensitive to, they aren’t inherently toxic to most of us unless we eat boatloads of them. Many times these greens end up in the compost — or worse, the trash — but there’s no reason to waste these marvelous greens! Just always make sure to eat fresh and organic greens.

Carrot Greens ChimichurriUsually served with grilled meat, this green sauce from Argentina has bold and beautiful flavors. I love eating it with hot roasted vegetables or grilled tofu, or even blended with chickpeas.

Carrot Greens Soup—My kids loved this soup, which is creamy without a drop of cream! The creaminess comes from raw cashews.

  • ½ yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 2 c. carrot greens, rinsed
  • 3 c. vegetable broth
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 c. raw cashews

Place everything except the cashews into a pot and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce to low-medium heat for 15 minutes. Spoon boiled ingredients plus the cashews into a blender, and mix until creamy. Add more broth if soup is too thick. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Leftover Coffee:

First of all, congratulations if you’re brewing your own cup of joe. You’re already working on the most effortless and sustainable choice yet, especially if you’re someone who barely can stay awake as you’re making that cup of coffee. Now let’s talk about why we should use leftover coffee.

Iced coffee cubes—If, like me, you enjoy iced coffee, this is by far an easier way to make it. Pour leftover coffee into ice cube trays and freeze it. When you want iced coffee, simply pop a couple of coffee cubes into the milk of your choice. Yum!!!

Chocolate Chip Coffee Popsicles

Chocolate Cake—One of my favorite ways to use leftover coffee is to add it to cake batter. I substitute it for half the liquid called for in a recipe. 

Mocha Frosting

Tiramisu—This great Italian dessert uses cold coffee, so leftover coffee is perfect.

Chili—It might seem crazy to add coffee to chili, but it creates a very nice deep flavor.

Coffee Marinade—This recipe for marinating tofu steaks works amazingly well.

Fredrika Syren

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