I hate waste, I hate contributing to an already massive problem, and I love being creative. I bring my own bags to the farmer’s market, return the egg crates and berry baskets to the vendors, and contribute to my neighbor’s compost with egg shells and veggie scraps. However, I have a real issue with throwing food away, especially since we all know there are far too many people not getting enough. I strive to find alternative uses for the waste to keep mine to a minimum.
Recently, I’ve gotten into making a green juice every morning and if any of you juice, you know there is a large amount of waste from the fibrous leftovers of the fruits and veggies. I’ve been saving this veggie pulp and we now give it to our two pugs mixed with pumpkin and brown rice, which has resulted in them looking nice and lean. Another way I’ve been using the pulp is for veggie patties – mix it with some brown rice and black beans, add some seasonings, shape into patties and freeze to have a patty ready to go. Easy, delicious, and super nutritious!
While I try not to toot my own horn, I am pretty proud of my sustainability achievement the other day: I started off soaking almonds for a baked almond “cheese”. After letting the almonds soak for 24 hours, I set to removing their outer skins. Not a necessary step, but one I will never again skip. I set the almond skins aside to drain in a sieve wondering what other use they might have. I then proceeded to the actual “cheese” making. After blending the soaked and skinned almonds with the seasonings and water, I saved the run off that was squeezed out. Again, wondering if I could use it for something else. I put the “cheese” in the oven to bake and to be honest, had two toddlers awake from naps. So is my normal day – cooking and testing during naps, playing and painting in between. Sometimes it’s hard because I want to just keep playing in the kitchen, especially if I’m feeling extra creative; however sometimes it’s great to walk away and let the ideas come.
This was one of those days where I benefitted from taking a break. I had a meeting later that evening, so after playing with the boys for a bit, I needed to get ready for my meeting and get dinner going for the sitter before leaving. Instantly, I thought the almond water would make a great alfredo (or “cheese” sauce), especially since it had all these wonderful flavors like garlic, lemon, sauerkraut juice, and salt already in it. I checked for gluten-free pasta in the pantry, but no luck so we had to make a quick run to the market. If any of you have ever hung out with two toddlers, you know there is nothing quick about running errands; however I was able to get to the store and back and cook dinner in 30 min! It was actually pretty simple – boil the water, add the rice pasta; and in a separate saucepan I added the almond water with some frozen peas & carrots and a bit more nutritional yeast. Once the pasta was done, I drained it and stirred into the “cheese” sauce…Voila…Easy, Kid-Approved Mac & Cheese with Veggies! Since I was running out the door, I didn’t get to snap a pic, but you get the idea.
Letting the mind ponder is a great thing because in thinking about the almond skins I saved, I thought crispy “bacon” bits could work. Since they dried out overnight, most of the residual moisture had been removed. I preheated the oven, mixed some seasonings in a bowl with EVOO, and added the almond skins mixing everything together well with my hands. I spread on a parchment lined baking sheet and cooked for about 5 minutes. Loaded with fiber, these quick, easy, and delicious vegan “bacon” bits are great for adding to salads, adding to a sandwich – a la BLT, or snacking . Check out the recipes below and I hope it inspires you to get creative with your cooking “waste”.
Baked Almond Feta Cheese
- 2 cups raw almonds
- filtered water
Put almonds in a bowl and fill with enough water to completely cover almonds. Let soak on the counter for 24 hours. After soaked, slide the almond skins off and save for something else (Vegan “Bacon” bits). Drain water.
- soaked, skinned almonds
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 1/2 cups filtered water
- 1/2 cup sauerkraut “juice”
- 1 lemon juiced (about 2-3 Tbsp)
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
- 3 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast
Directions: Pre-heat oven to 325º. Blend all above ingredients until smooth. Put liquid into mesh bag over bowl (to save the liquid) and squeeze until enough liquid has been removed that the nut mixture sticks together to form a ball. Put on parchment lined baking dish and bake 30 minutes. Poke holes into it with toothpick to allow heat into damp center and cook for another 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool before eating.
Vegan “Bacon” bits
- 2 cups dried almond skins
- 1 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp chili powder
- 1 Tbsp EVOO
Directions: Pre-heat oven to 450º. Mix all ingredients together in bowl until well combined (I use my hands). Spread on baking sheet and cook for 5 minutes or until crispy. Let cool and crumble to make pieces smaller. Enjoy!