Reducing Waste When It Comes To Nutrition
Being kind isn't just about being kind to one another, it's also about looking after the planet. After our #ThoughtfulFriday campaign, we wanted to spread the kindness further by looking at ways to become more environmentally friendly. We spoke to nutritionist and health coach, Pandora from ROOTED London about how you can reduce your waste when it comes to nutrition.
Our food supply today is way more than we actually need to survive; It’s about twice the necessary amount per person. The modern world of Instagram avo-on-toast and buddha bowls has also caused us to be overly obsessed with the aesthetics of our meals and how perfect and colourful they are. While this is great as an incentive to up our veggie intake and eat a rainbow diet, it can have an impact on our food waste at home, and a dis-interest in humble, wholesome foods like the potato or English squash.
Here are some tips on how to minimise your food waste and home and maximise your nutrition at the same time.
Grow your own food
Whether it’s an array of herbs, a chilli plant, a couple of tomatoes or a fully fledged allotment in your garden, this connection with your food and sense of achievement in growing it with your own hands will really help avoid waste and utilise the ingredients.
Treat using up ingredients like a game. When you have a random selection of food left in the fridge, ‘fridge sweep’ and try to use everything up and be inventive in your dishes. You might learn something unexpected! This is also a great way to improve your confidence with cooking.
Treat your meals like a social calendar. Not only is this useful for reducing food waste and sticking to what’s on your shopping list, physically seeing what you are eating on a daily, weekly, monthly basis often results in a healthier and more varied diet. It’s also useful for figuring out new ways to use an ingredient - how many different meals can you cook from the same staples?
Use your intuition
Treat use by dates as a guideline, rather than solid fact. Not so long ago there was no such thing as use by stickers! Use your intuition - does it smell bad, has it shrivelled up or does it look a funny colour? Be inquisitive. If the answer is no, chances are it’s ok.
Eat it all
Utilise everything that you buy by using the entire body of the food. ‘Nose to tail’ style, as favoured by the amazing Fergus Henderson, chef and owner of St. John restaurant. This doesn’t just apply to meat and fish though - try to avoid throwing out bits of vegetables that are actually edible! Tomato tops make great salsa, you can freeze broccoli and cauliflower stems for soups and literally ANY type of vegetable can be made into a delicious vegetable stock. Freeze them in bags to have on hand - kale stems, carrot tops, cabbage and cauliflower cores, you name it. Pop them all in a pot with hot water, plenty of garlic and simmer for an hour. Strain and voila!
Boil your Bones, twice!
We’ve all heard of bone broth and as a nutritionist, it’s my got-to dish to treat a plethora of ailments! But what many don't realise is that you can boil your bones twice. I boil my chicken bones and then add more vegetables and herbs and some kombu, a Japanese seaweed full of nutrients and minerals, and boil it again. Find my ultimate bone broth recipe here.
Freeze your herbs
If you buy a whole bag of fresh herbs for one dish, freeze the rest in ice cubes and use for stocks, sauces and soups. This works a treat if you grow your own herbs too - the crop of the summer months will last you all throughout winter. Make sure to label them well as once frozen, they can often look the same!
When in doubt, pickle it
Pickles are ridiculously delicious - with crackers, in a sandwich, as a garnish, on a cheese board, on a bed of noodles. They are also ridiculously easy to make at home and incredibly good for your gut! Make a jar of seasonal pickles with whatever vegetable you’ve got lying around. Quickly ready in just a day or two, a small jar will keep around a month or so, by which point they’ll have been eaten up anyway. A basic recipe is to pack the jar with sliced vegetables, just one or mixed. Mix 200ml vinegar (rice, white or cider - they all work!) and add a tablespoon of both salt and sugar. Pop in whatever spices you like or have handy – coriander, mustard seeds, bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, cumin or chilli are all good. Give the vegetable a really good massage - you want to get everything dissolved and the veg nice and wet. Lay something heavy (I use ceramic baking beans, similar to what you’d use to blind bake a flan or pastry) over the top and then place some muslin cloth over the top along with an elastic band. Leave in a cool dry place for up to 10 days, at which point you can start to test the flavour. It should be sour but not fizzy. When you have the desired taste, cover with the airtight jar cover and place in the fridge. This can be eaten for around 30 days.