Carrot Top Pesto

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.

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.

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. Toss all ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend until your desired consistency.
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Never Purchase Broth Again!

It is not too good to be true, I promise! My family loves soup, in fact, I could probably eat soup everyday, so this hack has really helped me in many ways… Saves me money, I have broth made from fresh organic ingredients with no preservatives and helps food waste and reduces trash. Making broth from scraps

All you need is a gallon sized freezer bag, preferably reusable. I got mine from Blue Avocado or a Tupperware you are willing to keep in your freezer to reuse will work just fine as well. Next, your vegetable scraps, stems and ends! Yup, that is it. Every time you are in the kitchen prepping your dinner take out your freezer bag and add your carrot peels, celery ends, onion and garlic skins, and herb stems to it then, put your bag back in the freezer until it is full. When you’re all full it is time to add soup to your weekly meal plan. Add the contents of your bag to a stock pot with about 10 cups of water with some salt & pepper maybe a bay leaf and a sprinkle of turmeric. Simmer for about an hour and let cool, strain out you vegetable scraps and you will have enough broth for a big pot of soup and then some! Leftover broth is good in the fridge for about a week, or you can choose to freeze your broth as well for future recipes, if you do this remember to leave room in your container for the broth to expand when it reaches its freezing point. Also, I may have only listed a couple vegetables to add to your freezer bag, those were just examples, don’t limit yourself! You can also add things like mushroom stems/ends or even insides of peppers, fennel tops. Really anything you think will maximize the flavor of your broth.

Making broth from scraps
Made a big pot of soup and still have this left over for the week.

Side note: This life saver hack is not my own. This is a tip I got from my Thug Kitchen  cookbook years back, and I feel it needs to be shared. If you are looking to introduce more plant based recipes into your diet this cook book is awesome and hilarious. The amount of money I saved on not having to purchase broth paid for the book in about 2 months (like I said we like soup)

Supplies

  • Reusable gallon sized freezer bag

Ingredients

  • Vegetable scraps
  • A teaspoon of Salt and Pepper
  • A bay leaf, a sprinkle turmeric and/or garlic powder if you have it

Instructions

  1. Collect enough vegetable ends, peels, stems to fill a gallon bag
  2. Add to stock pot with 10 cups of water
  3. Add salt and pepper, bay leaf, turmeric
  4. Simmer for about an hour
  5. Strain
  6. Make some soup

The Delivery Service That Helps Fight Food Waste

Back in April, my son and I were enjoying the Oakland Earth festival when we were approached by the sweetest young lady. She began to tell me all about Imperfect Produce, who they are and what they do. I was immediately hooked and ready to sign up!

Imperfect Produce is on a mission to find a home for the 1 in 5 fruits and vegetables that are deemed too ugly to be sold in grocery stores. This helps the consumer because they are able to sell the produce at a discounted cost because these fruits and veggies have been shunned from grocery store shelves due to size or discoloration. This also helps the local farmers sell their products and helps with food waste. The best part, you do not even have to step foot in a store for your food. Imperfect Produce delivers the food to you!

Imperfect Produce
Bunches of broccoli stalks are so tasty and nutritious! Something you do not find in the store often or at all…

Here’s how it works.  After signing up, they email you at the beginning of each week with a link to customize your box/order.  Log into your account and you can begin choosing your product, it’s that simple!  The offerings that week will be detailed with where it is from, if it’s organic or conventional, why it is imperfect, and how much it costs. You have complete control over what will be delivered to you. Now, If you are the adventurous type, you are more than welcome to let them chose what will be in your box so you are surprised when your delivery comes!  Also, you can sign up for weekly or bi weekly deliveries and it’s easy to skip a delivery if needed. Lastly, in your first box, along with your fresh food you also receive some storing tips. Knowing that the average sized family of four throws out nearly $1,600 worth of produce annually, I think we can all use some storing tips! All boxes after that come with a fun recipe.

Imperfect Produce
There is nothing imperfect about this produce!

No, I do not work for Imperfect Produce, I just love their mission! Americans are leading the world in food waste and we need more businesses out there looking to make a change!! Unfortunately, this particular company only covers the LA and Bay Area but I am sure if you search hard enough in your area you can find something like this.  A lot of times we just don’t think to look for, it but green businesses are out there! If you are in the Los Angeles or Bay Area and this is something you might want click on the referral link to get a $10 credit

https://www.imperfectproduce.com/register.php?referral=80212

 

How To Use Your Left Over Almond Pulp

On Monday we made the most delicious almond milk but had all that leftover pulp.  So, let’s use it! Optimizing your food fights waste and gives you the most bang for your buck. Hopefully your pulp drained any leftover liquid because we are going to dry it out to make almond meal! This literally takes zero effort but it does take some time so I would plan to do this when you know you will be home for a bit. Once your almond meal is dried, it will last up to 9 months. The left over pulp should make about 1 cup of almond meal. Store this in a larger airtight container this way you have room to add to it as you continue to make your milk. Almond meal is very versatile and can be used as breading, for pancakes, or baking and is gluten free and paleo.

 

All you need to do is set your oven at the lowest temperature, spread your pulp out on a cookie sheet and pop it in the oven. The lowest my oven goes is 170, at this temperature it takes about 3 hours to dry out the almond pulp. I usually mix it up half way through then forget about it again but that is not a mandatory step in the drying process. Once your pulp is all dry, transfer to a food processor or blender and run on low for about 15 seconds just to break up and larger clumps. Lastly, store it away until you are all ready to use for something delicious!

How to make Almond meal from your left over pulp
How to make Almond meal from your left over pulp

Ingredients

•1 cup almond pulp

Instructions

  1. Set oven to lowest temperature
  2. Spread almond pulp onto cookie sheet
  3. Bake for 3 hours
  4. Once pulp has dried, blend for 15 seconds to break up bigger chunks
  5. Transfer to airtight container

Preservative Free Almond Milk

IMG_2666

Once you get a taste of this fresh, homemade almond milk, there’s no turning back. I remember the first time I took a sip of pure almond milk, I was blown away by the flavor and thick creamy texture. I had just realized that’s what almond milk is supposed to taste like. I couldn’t believe the difference in flavor and body between homemade and store bought. Plus, It’s just 3 ingredients.  Almonds, salt and water!

Preservative Free Almond Milk

Since this recipe is preservative free, it is good to keep note of the date your milk is made, the shelf life is 5 days and it makes about 4 cups. If you think you will not use 4 cups in 5 days then half the recipe so you don’t have spoiled nut milk on your hands. Nut milk does not require refrigeration, so feel free to pack it with you on your next picnic or for work/school lunches. Almond milk is low in calories, carbs, and sugars (if left unsweetened) and high in healthy fats. If you prefer vanilla or sweetened almond milk then play around with the recipe a bit. You can add a couple drops of vanilla extract or maple syrup before you blend.

As far as cost, I always purchase my nuts in bulk because they are cheaper and if you bring your own bag there is no package or plastic bag waste. Your milk will now be zero waste! My organic almonds are $8.99lb, each pound is about 3 cups of almonds. This puts the cost at $2.99 for 4 cups of fresh almond milk plus, I get to save my pulp, dehydrate it and make my own almond meal

Had I known how easy it was to make almond milk I would have been doing it a lot sooner! Just a couple simple steps.  So simple you can do them in your sleep… No really, you can just soak the almonds when you are sleeping! Take 1 cup of almonds and soak them in a bowl of water over night (or for about 8 hours). In the morning, strain, rinse, and place the almonds in a blender with 4 cups of filtered water and a pinch of salt. **If you will be enjoying your milk right away chill your water beforehand** Blend your almonds, water and salt for 45-60 seconds, then strain your milk with either a nut milk bag or fine strainer such as a chinois. I have tried both and personally think the chinois is more efficient. If using a nut milk bag you have to get a little dirty and use your hands to squeeze all of milk out of the bag and then clean the bag afterwards. With a fine mesh strainer, all  you do is run the milk through and let it sit and strain over a bowl for a couple of minutes. When you’re ready, transfer your milk into an airtight container or grab yourself a cookie to dip in your almond milk!

Ingredients

•1 cup almonds
•4 cups filtered water
•Pinch of salt

**optional for sweetened or flavored

•1/8 teaspoon vanilla
•2 teaspoons of maple syrup

Instructions

  1. Soak almonds in bowl of water for 8 hours
  2. Strain and rinse almonds
  3. Blend almonds with 4 cups of water for 45-60 seconds
  4. Strain almond milk with nut milk bag or fine mesh strainer
  5. Transfer milk to airtight container

Makes 4 cups of milk. Use within 5 days

Spice Up Your Life!

I am always looking for new ways to be environmentally friendly, produce less waste, and save money, In doing so, I am always making new discovieries but my most recent, bulk spices!  Why has it taken me so long to discover this? This is such a simple money saver! The average cost of organic spices is around $3.99 a jar. Just the past two weeks when my spices ran out I have been washing, and saving my jars for grocery day. The first thing I did when I got to Whole Foods was go to customer service where they are always so kind. I had all my spice and mason jars weighed right there and it only took a minute. They just add a little piece of tape to your jar and write how much it weighs on it so when you check out, the cashier knows how much weight to deduct and you’re only paying for the weight of the contents your jar. Here is a list of spices I have purchased bulk lately with their weight and prices.

Can your old spice jars save you money?
Can your old spice jars save you money?
  • Pink Himalayan salt – 9.6oz – $1.19
  • Organic fine ground pepper – 3.8oz – $5.04
  • Organic Cumin – 1.45oz – $1.53
  • Organic Garlic Powder – 2.72oz – $2.55
  • Organic Paprika – 1.92oz – $1.80
  • Crushed Red Chili Flakes – 1.28oz – $0.76

Can your old spice jars save you money?

Although these weights vary, so do the pre-filled spice jars in the grocery store. I found  most of my pre-filled jars state that they contain about 1.2-1.9 oz of product. It’s hard to visualize weight but they all filled up a typical 3 oz capacity spice jar with the exception of salt and pepper which filled up smaller mason jars that hold about 12oz. I have since used some of these spices so some are fuller than others.

I am so excited I no longer have to toss out my spice jars! No more plastic tops and sea salt containers rotting in the landfill, No more wasted labeling, and I get to save a few bucks and you do too!

Naturally Soften Your Laundry

I know what you’re thinking, back to back laundry posts? Well, I promised you all I would post my fabric softener recipe when I shared my 2 ingredient laundry detergent recipe last Friday. If you have not checked that one out now is your chance! They are so simple you can make both all in one day. This recipe includes 3 common household ingredients you probably already have laying around. 2 cups of epsom salt, 1/2 cup baking soda, and 20 drops of essential oil of your choice. I am going with lavender essential oil to match with the bar soap I used in my detergent. Just mix the ingredients all together and store away until laundry day. When that day comes, toss in 1 tbsp per medium size load.

Naturally Soften Your Clothes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups epsom salt
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 25 drops of essential oil of your choice

***Just a quick disclaimer if you are just making the switch from commercial detergents to natural or homemade detergents. Your clothes WILL definitely come out fresh, clean, and soft but the scent will not be as strong as detergents you may be used to purchasing in stores. This is a good thing I swear!! You always want to avoid synthetic fragrances, they contain phthalates. Phthalates are hormone disrupters, may cause headaches, asthma-like symptoms and are really toxic to aquatic organisms. Fragranced products can also release volatile organic compounds in to the air. VOCs are known for being hazardous air pollutants. Who even wants to walk around smelling like a green apple or spring air anyway???

Naturally Soften Your Laundry

2 Ingredient DIY laundry detergent

DIY 2 ingredient laundry detergent

Ever wonder how many toxic chemicals are hiding in your laundry detergent? Is it laundry day? Well, I got you covered with this non-toxic two ingredient laundry detergent recipe. My dear friend Dayna shared this recipe with me a couple years back and I am so thankful for it. This laundry soap works great! It’s all natural, cost efficient, and packagings for both products are recyclable so. For this recipe you will need one bar of Dr. Bronner’s castile hemp soap of your choice, (I go between lavender and peppermint) and one box of Arm and Hammer Washing Soda. Some additional items you will need —besides your ingredients— is a grater, scoop, and a container that will hold about 6-7 cups. This recipe is only two easy steps that will set you back just five minutes of your day.

I have worked out the cost I paid pre-tax and based this on medium sized loads. The total of this non-toxic all natural laundry detergent comes out to $5.64 for 80 tablespoons. This will last me 40 loads at about .14 cents per load.

I also have a fabric softener recipe as well if you are interested.  The specific reason I keep the detergent and the softener separate rather than tossing all the ingredients into one big container is because if you have a dishwasher the laundry detergent we just made can double as dishwasher detergent by using just 1 tablespoon.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups of Arm & Hammer washing soda
  • 1 bar of Dr. Bronner’s castile soap

Instructions

  1. Scoop 4 cups of washing soda into your container.
  2. Finely grate the entire bar of Dr. Bronner’s.
  3. Mix the two together and start a load of laundry!

For a medium size load of laundry I use about 2 tablespoons. So if you have a small or larger load just add or subtract a tablespoon.

** This is a conscious consumer side note:

Dr. Bronner’s brand is one of my favorites for so many reasons. Throughout the years they have stayed true to their brand and costumers, making good quality products with integrity. Their soaps are organic, non-gmo, vegan, kosher, not tested on animals, and fair trade! The company as a whole treats the earth with such respect by being involved in soil enrichment, tree planting, and organic farming projects. Also, the facility is in the process of installing solar panels to reduce energy consumption.  They only use recycled materials to make their plastic bottles for liquid soaps and are well on their way to reaching their goal of reducing waste to one dumpster a month. I truly support all of their efforts!

Are You Still Brushing With Plastic?

Are You Still Brushing with Plastic?

Over one billion toothbrushes are thrown away each year, this is enough to circle the earth 4 four times! These toothbrushes end up either overflowing our landfills or polluting our waterways while destructively impacting our ecosystem. Not to mention the greenhouse gases that are produced while making these plastic handles and nylon bristles that take an average 450 years to completely decompose.

Simply switching from plastic to bamboo will help our environment immensely! This purchase can be the start of your journey into a zero waste life. If the phrase “zero waste” sounds like a little too much of a commitment for you, it could just be the start of a more environmentally friendly lifestyle. Many of us, including myself until a couple of years ago, are blind to how the products we use on a day-to-day basis affects our environment and our health. By making the switch you will be reducing your exposure to toxic chemicals like BPA, PVC, and Phthalate. These are just some of the ingredients found in the typical plastic toothbrush.

There have been a good amount of bamboo toothbrush companies popping up within the last couple of years. Bamboo is the quickest growing plant on earth and has natural antimicrobial properties, so there is no need to treat this plant with toxic pesticides or fertilizers. It is a pretty awesome, sustainable choice! Bamboo handles are 100% biodegradable but unfortunately sometimes the bristles are not. With that being said, I always recommend reading up on the company before purchasing.  For example, Humble Brush does not state what their bristles are made from but the packaging is made from 100% recycled materials and each purchase goes towards the Humble Smile Foundation which helps fund sustainable projects for children in need of oral care. Brush with Bamboo is a company that uses plant based bristles and compostable packaging along with their bamboo handle and is a certified green business. This company seems to be the most promising choice for bamboo.

We really have a good amount of eco-friendly options here so breaking up with your plastic toothbrush wont be too hard!

Broccoli Slaw with Creamy Peanut Dressing

 

 On a past blog post I talked about a couple different ways to use your broccoli stalks, broccoli slaw tossed in a peanut dressing is probably my favorite! This recipe is simple, yet fresh and flavorful. You can plate the slaw over some quinoa and make a full meal out of it, or bring it to a summer barbecue as a side. The dressing can easily be made paleo with one simple swap by substituting the peanut butter for almond butter. Keep in mind most recipes can be changed to your liking.

 Ingredients

Slaw

  • 1/2 head of cabbage shredded,  4 to 5 cups depending on size
  • 4 broccoli stalks, 3 cups of match sticks
  • 2 carrots 1 1/2 cups of match sticks
  • 1/2 cup of diced green onion

Dressing

  • 1/2 cup of peanut or almond butter
  • 1/3- 1/2 water
  • 1/2 tsp diced or grated garlic
  • 1/2 tsp grated ginger
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 lime wedge for juice

Instructions

  1.  Using my food processor attachment I was able to create match sticks with my 4 leftover broccoli stalks and 2 carrots, I flipped my attachment over to shred 1/2 a head of green cabbage. I also had some green onions that were recently regrown so I sliced up about 1/2 cup and placed all ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Using a separate mixing bowl for the dressing, stir in a 1/2 cup of peanut butter, 1/3 cup of water, 1/2 tsp garlic, 1/2 tsp ginger, 2 tbsp of rice vinegar, 2 tbsp of soy sauce, coconut or liquid aminos, 2 tbsp of maple syrup, squeeze a lime wedge and sprinkle in some salt and pepper. Now, it is time to whisk your wet ingredients together. When making seed or nut dressings the sauce can thicken up while whisking if there is not enough liquid, if this happens, slowly add a tad bit more water to help give it that thinner yet creamy consistency you are looking for.
  3. When the dressing is ready, pour over your slaw and toss together. Garnish with sesame seeds or cilantro if you have some and enjoy.