Carrots are the most commonly used vegetable in my home. They are tasty, affordable, and palate approved by my eight year old son. Aside from all that, I love that I can use the entire carrot. Skin, leaves, stems…Everything! If you skin your carrot, clean, season, and roast those skins up to make root vegetable chips or toss them in a bag with the stems and other vegetable scraps to make broth. Carrot leaves are also edible, delicious, and contain high amounts of protein, vitamins and minerals. Carrot leaves can be used in place of parsley in recipes or can be added to salads and dishes for extra flavor. I also enjoy making sauces like chimicurri or pesto out of carrot leaves. Making the most of your food is also making the most of your money, all while reducing food waste.
Just last week I made a batch of pesto. The recipe is creamy and flavorful. It’s also vegan, but If you are not and would like to add cheese to your pesto, cut the amount of salt in the recipe in half and cut out the nutritional yeast. This recipe makes enough to fill an 8oz. mason jar which gave me 2 meals. One meal was pesto tossed with zucchini noodles, diced tomatoes, and a side of carrots. The other with pasta, but you can serve this pesto over potatoes, pizza, with spaghetti squash.. the options are endless.
Carrot Top Pesto
Carrot Top Pesto
Notes: I like my Pesto a prefer my on the creamy side. If you don’t, cut the pine nut measurements down to 1/4 cup.
3 garlic cloves
1/3 cup of pine nuts
Half of a lemon, juiced
2 cups of carrot leaves
1 – 2 springs of basil
1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
1/8 teaspoon red chili flakes (double if you like a little spice)
1/8 cup of nutritional yeast
1/2 cup of evoo
Toss all ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend until your desired consistency.
On the never-ending search for healthy, meat-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, and zero waste school lunches that my 8 year old will eat (this alone is a full time job) I came across a method of making pita chips with minimal ingredients and that are really tasty. Although my son does not have celiac disease or any allergies to wheat, I try to limit his gluten intake due to it causing inflammation. He has had a couple of surgeries involving his intestines and tends to still be sensitive to certain foods. So limiting is what works best for us. On this journey I have found most gluten free alternatives in our grocery store shelves are not any healthier for you. A lot of these products are not organic and have too many ingredients including corn, soy, & rice. Unfortunately, there’s a good chance if your corn and soy is not organic then it is genetically engineered. Most of these products are also high in sugar and processed vegetable oils. Now, I am not saying I don’t purchase a bag of Gluten free pasta every now and again, but read your labels. Less ingredients, is better. And always opt for organic!
Tomorrow’s lunch is nothing fancy. Just a classic cucumber, red onion, and tomato salad with a red wine vinaigrette and pita chips would be a perfect accompaniment to this dish. For these pita chips you need oat flour, non dairy milk (I prefer almond), salt, and garlic powder. We are making our own flour in this recipe so if you have a high powered blender or even a coffee grinder/mill bust it out because this method is super easier and so much cheaper.
1 cup of oats
1 1/3 cup of non dairy milk (my preference is almond)
1/8 teaspoon of garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon of salt
Feel free to add any other herbs or spices of your liking as well.
Add 1 cup of oats to your mill, grinder or blender and blend until your owns turn into a find flour consistency and add to a mixing bowl
Toss in your salt and spices to the flour
Add your non dairy milk and mix well
Once mixed well, add a heaping spoonful of your mixture to a hot pan and spread the mixture until it gets as flat as you can get it. When the pita starts to look like it is drying up on the top it is time to flip for about 2-3 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 425
When all pitas are done (this recipe will make about 4)
Cut them into triangles or squares, whatever shape makes you happy and place them onto a baking sheet
School is back in session, and my son is now a third grader. The time sure does fly! I absolutely love his school, they work towards being a zero waste school and encourage parents to pack zero waste lunches! This is great because it also encourages healthy lunches and snacks to be packed for students since most of the nutritious foods don’t come in wrappers and packages. Last year I did a decent job at packing a zero waste lunch but I did sneak in the occasional granola bar or Justin’s peanut butter packet every once in a while. Since there is always room for improvement, this year I am going to do a better job.
When my family and I visit Santa Cruz we always go to one of our favorite coffee shops in town, Verve Coffee Roasters. Along with their coffee they have the most delicious vegan & gluten free date bars there. So I am going to mimic those and add a couple of other ingredients that I know my son will enjoy. I am wrapping them in compostable parchment paper in hopes my son will fold the paper up nicely and bring back to me for reuse… but who are we kidding he is an eight year old boy. If the paper doesn’t come back for reuse at least he knows to put it in the compost at school.
This recipe is so easy and quick with just 5 ingredients and no baking involved. This recipe is vegan and gluten free, you can make them grain free/Paleo if you leave the oats out and add more cashews! Just toss those dates and apricots in your blender or food processor for about one minute just to get a little head start. Then simply add the rest of your ingredients in and blend for about another minute, maybe even less. Just make sure everything is chopped and mixed well together. Then flatten the mixture out and cut them into desired shape and sized. I cut mine into squares to make 6. Wrap them up in parchment and they are ready for healthy and eco friendly on the go snacks.
2 cups of pitted dates
1 cup diced apricots
3/4 cup oats
1 tablespoons chia seeds
Add dates and apricots to food processor blend for 30-60 seconds
Add the rest of your ingredients to the food processor blend until all ingredients are finely chopped and mixed well
Flatten, form and cut into desired shapes and sizes
Wrap in parchment paper or portion out in reusable bags and enjoy on the go