How To Reduce Food Waste

No Food Waste – Let’s Bake Carrot Cashew Coconut Cake and Okara Crackers

Let’s be real: It’s always painful to see perfectly edible looking leftovers of vegetables which you just don’t really know what to do with go straight into your compost bin. Wouldn’t you have truly loved to save them from that fate?

Who’d think that the leaves of a big, perfectly ripened bundle of radish from the farmers market actually make for a much greater salad than compost? How many people you know are aware of the fact that broccoli stems aren’t only perfectly edible, but an absolute power food, too? How often have you seen people remove the leaves from turnips at the grocery store, just to save some weight and a few cents at the checkout? All the while, they have no idea that these very leaves aren’t only deliciously flavorful, but also loaded with more vitamin C and magnesium than the tubers themselves.

Believe me when I say that it’s going to feel like a literal moment of enlightenment once you realize just how tasty and nutritious a lot of the supposed bio waste actually is. You’ll be bummed to realize that you’ve wasted a lot of delicious greens throughout the years.

In Japanese Culture, there’s actually a term for regretting to have wasted something you didn’t utilize to its full potential: mottainai.

Isn’t it interesting that it’s almost impossible to fluidly translate this word into other languages? Especially in times where global warming dominates our minds and headlines.

Of course the philosophy of mottainai doesn’t only address the waste of groceries, but rather calls for treating literally everything with respect and dignity – to reduce the waste of valuable resources, use everything to its full potential and recycle things when they’re actually exhausted or broken.

So why don’t we start in the kitchen? By reaccessing the unjustly labeled kitchen waste instead of immediately throwing it out on the compost?

A little bit of creativity goes a long way, and it’s easier than you might think. Stewed, steamed and even raw leaves of many different vegetables can be made into a pesto.

Take the leaves of the carrot, for example. Simply rinse them well and purée them with garlic, roasted pine nuts and good olive oil in a mixer or food processor! A dash of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar helps balancing the intense taste of the carrot greens.

Things typically perceived as food waste, such as onion peels or asparagus shavings, still can be utilized. We like to keep these scrapings in suitable containers, throw them in the freezer and once we have a good enough amount, we simply boil them with generously salted water to make one of the easiest vegetable broths ever.

These vegetables and herbs are especially well-suited for broths

  • Onion peels
  • Carrots, ends and shavings
  • Celery, excess cuts of the stems and peels
  • Asparagus, ends and shavings
  • Parsley stems
  • Tomatoes, even the vines are very flavorful

One thing to keep in mind is to only use organically grown vegetables, so you can be sure
that the peels and greens are suitable for further processing.

These vegetables and herbs are especially well-suited for broths

Cabbage ends and trimmings

The ends and trimmings of cabbage often taste bitter when cooked for longer periods of time. Broccoli stems should be avoided altogether. The stem of a cabbage head should only be added right before your vegetable broth is fully cooked.

The Tough Ones

Even if you’re one of those people who are doing their best to get the absolute most out of their vegetables, – raw, sautéed or braised – you may still find yourself staring at the pulp of juiced fruits and vegetables, wondering if there was yet another way to utilize it.

Don’t you worry, you’re not alone! For that reason, and with the help of the Panasonic MJ-L700, we’re going to show you what you can make out of homemade Cashew Milk, carrot juice and even okara-pulp from making your own Soy milk. Spoiler: Yes, you can also make that one in a slow juicer.

It’s a lot, not to mention delicious! We’re going to be baking a juicy Carrot Cashew Coconut Cake that’s going to be a bit healthier, because we’re going to use less sugar in the dough and frosting. How about our favorite current snack for long, Friday night Netflix sessions: A crunchy Okara Cracker with flax seeds, sesame and sea salt, quickly and easily baked with the Panasonic NN-CD87 microwave when you’re feeling snacky… at least as long as you have enough okara in the fridge.

Our “No Food Waste” Carrot Cashew Coconut Cake

Even non-vegans love plant-based milk alternatives. These kinds of products have been booming in the last couple of years and most grocery stores are stocking plenty of soy- and nut-milk alternatives nowadays.

But they don’t come cheap. So wouldn’t it be great to be able to make your own, favorite cashew drink at home? Let me tell you how!

With the Panasonic MJ-L700, you can easily make your own Cashew Milk. All without the cumbersome nut milk bag, which is – let’s be honest – quite hard to handle.

Just steep some cashews in water overnight, throw them into the slow juicer and add water to have them juiced properly. Pro tip: If you want your DIY nut milk to come out extra smooth, run it through the slow juicer two or three times. The big filler of the MJ-L700 makes it easy.

And of course you’re absolutely going to be able to utilize the pulp. Mixed with maple syrup and roasted in the oven, it makes a very nice addition to your home made muesli or crunchy granola.

But today, it’s gonna help us make our Carrot Cashew Coconut Cake. Not only will we be using the pulp of the cashews, but we’re also going to utilize some carrot pulp from home made carrot juice.

Both will be mixed to a dough with spelt flour, cinnamon and rape seed oil and simply put into the Panasonic Croustina, set to the bake setting number 13 for 60 minutes. It’s that easy!

A simple frosting, made of cashews, soy quark, coconut chips and chopped almonds are the literal icing on the cake. But honestly, the Carrot Cashew Coconut Cake tastes great without it, too.

Go to the recipe

Super Crunchy “No Food Waste” Okara-Cracker

So we’ve established that making your own nut milk is easy and that there are ways to utilize its byproducts for simple and delicious recipes.

But the MJ-L700 can be used to make Soy Milk as well. Even if you’ve already found your favorite soy drink and feel like making your own DIY-alternative is going to take too much effort – let me tell you, it’s absolutely worth it to make your own Soy Milk from time to time.

Besides the fact that a lot of off the shelf products are typically full of additives and sugar, homemade Soy Milk is just perfect for cooking or – and you should definitely give that a shot – making tofu.

The byproduct of making your own Soy Milk is okara. Okara? Those are the leftovers of the soybean’s skins after you’ve blended or juiced them.

Okara is tasteless, dry and doesn’t look particularly nutritious. The soy pulp from mass produced Soy Milk and tofu often ends up in animal fodder or biogas plants.

But don’t judge a book by its cover. As a natural byproduct, okara is still full of protein, well metabolizing iron and natural fiber.

So true to the philosophy of mottainai, our okara is not gonna end up on the compost. Dried in the oven, it can be used as a bread crumb alternative for breading. In Japan and China, it’s even used as facial skin care.

Okara is actually a perfect binder and therefor ideal for (vegan) baking. It makes for great texture in cake and bread dough, but today we’re making some crunchy, high fiber Okara-Crackers with seeds.

For that, we’re mixing our soy pulp with whole spelt flour, sesame and flaxseed, some salt and a little bit of our home made Soy Milk to a firm dough. After letting it cool down in the fridge for 15 minutes, we’re flattening it nice and thin on a sheet of parchment paper. Finally, we’re going to bake the crackers in the Panasonic NN-CD87 microwave, utilizing its super convenient convection function.

After only 25 minutes, the crackers are all done and baked. Drizzle some sea salt over them while they’re still hot and let them cool down completely before you dig in, even if it’s hard to resist.

Go to the recipe

Experiment successful!

With the delicious Carrot Cake in our bellies and the anticipation for the Okara Crackers as a healthy snack for the next Netflix session, wouldn’t it be nice for all of us to embrace and add this wonderful and highly topical Japanese word to our vocabulary?

On that note. Enjoy and remember: Mottainai, ok?

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Eat This

Eat This

Nadine and Jörg are the self-proclaimed “food nerds” behind the vegan foodblog Eat This!. In addition to sharing tasty plant-based recipes with their readers, the German-based duo aims to prove once and for all that vegan food doesn’t have to be bland in flavor or appearance — it can be delicious and amazing-looking, too!

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