Food Junk to Food Jewels

The price of food is at a record high. Climate change has affected food production, which has contributed to this rise over time. The COVID pandemic and, more recently, the war in Ukraine has caused a sharp rise in global food prices. Food prices are expected to rise further as the battle is not over, and fertilizer prices have risen steeply.

Get ready to learn Zero-Waste cooking!

It’s worth it. It also helps you cope with rising prices. It’s a simple principle: Try to waste as little food as you can when cooking or eating.

Applying the principles of Reduce, Recycle, and Reuse is all you need to do to get started on a zero-waste kitchen. This blog shows you how to give kitchen scraps, which are usually thrown out, a new lease of life by creating nutritious and delicious dishes.

Watermelon Rinds

The rind of the watermelon, consisting of the white part and the green peel, is thrown out after the red portion is consumed. Did you know this part contains a lot of fiber, as well as an essential amino acid called citrulline? It is also used for savory dishes. The white part of the rind can be ground and added to the dosa batter to make watermelon rind dosas. This can be ground with dosa dough to make watermelon dosas. If you prefer a curry with your rotis, here’s a recipe that you will love.

Watermelon Rind Sabji

Add 2 tsp oil to a hot skillet and add 1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds (methi). Add a chopped-up green chili and an inch of fresh ginger to the pan when the methi seeds start turning red. Then add 4 cups of watermelon rind. If you want to avoid a rough texture, peel the green skin off and only add the white portion. Add 1 tsp turmeric powder, half a tsp chili powder, and salt. Well, sauté. Cover with a lid and add a splash of water until the rind is tender. Add 1 tsp each of cumin powder, garam masala, and coriander powder. Stir-fry until the powders are cooked and absorbed into the watermelon pieces. Squeeze half a lime over the dish and add finely chopped coriander.

Snake Gourd Seeds and Pulp

You can raise your hand if you normally throw the white center part of the snake gourd in the garbage. Newsflash! Even the seeds of the tender snake gourds are edible. The pulp and seeds from the gourds can be combined to create a spicy and sour chutney or thogayal. This dish is popular in Tamil Nadu, and it is usually served with rice, dosas, or idlis.

Chutney is made from snake gourd pulp and seeds.

Sauté 1 cup of the tender seeds and pulp (or only the pulp if they are hard seeds) in 1 teaspoon of sesame or other cooking oil, with a little salt. Keep aside in the same pan, roast 1 tbsp channa dal and 1tsp urad dal until golden brown. Add 1 tbsp fresh coconut, if you have it available, and a marble-sized piece of tamarind. This, along with the sauteed serpent gourd pulp, should be coarsely ground. Add 1 tsp. Of jaggery, to balance the acidity, along with mustard seeds, curry leaves, and methi seeds.

Ridge Gourd Skin

Yes, I’m serious. The ridge gourd skin is used to make a delicious Andhra Pradesh delicacy called thokku pachadi. Be sure to clean the skin thoroughly. If the product is not organic, you can wash it in water and add some baking soda or vinegar. This will remove any pesticide residues. Remove the ridges from the gourd and peel it off. This part is not edible.

Ridge Gourd Skin Chutney

1. Keep aside 1 cup of ridge gourd skin that has been sauteed in 1 tsp of oil on high heat for 3-4 min. In the same pan, add 1 tsp oil and fry 3 tbsp peanuts.

3. Add 3-4 cloves of garlic, two green chilies and 1 tsp. Jeera when the peanuts start to brown.

4. After a minute, turn off the flame.

5. All of these ingredients can be ground coarsely together and flavored with lemon juice.

6. This dish can be seasoned with mustard seeds, urad lentil, asafoetida, and curry leaves sauteed on a teaspoon of oil.

Bread Loaf Ends & Crusts

What do you do with the ends of bread loaves or the crusts that are sliced off during a sandwich? Convert them to breadcrumbs instead of throwing them out. The limitations and crusts can be stored in a Ziplock bag in the refrigerator. Once the bag is full, shred them roughly by hand before pulsing them in your food processor. Voila! Breadcrumbs can be used as a coating for a cutlet or to top a baked dish. Make a healthy upma for your children.

Bread Upma

Add mustard seeds, urad dal, and peanuts to 1 tablespoon of cooking oil. Add chopped onion when the urad and peanuts turn red. Add 1 tsp each of red chili and turmeric powder. Sauté for one minute. Add the chopped capsicums, carrots, shredded, and sweet corn kernels. You can add as many vegetables as you like. Add a bit of salt to the pan. Do not add salt to the breadcrumbs as they already contain it. Add 2 cups of breadcrumbs from leftover bread to the fried bread. Mix well. Sprinkle a few drops of water, and then mix again. Reduce the flame, and cover with a lid. Let it sit for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and add some coriander and a squeezed lemon.

Lemon Peels

We squeeze and throw. Did you know you could dry them out in the sun and powder them to make a face mask? If you do not have time and prefer to use a food hack rather than a beauty one, then the following tip is for you.

Pickled lemon peels

Continue to place lemon peels into a clean glass bottle each time you use them. As the pile grows, add 1 tsp. Of salt and shake it now and again. Make sure the lemon peels have been washed but not soaked in water. Remove the seeds. In no time at all, you will have a bottle of pickled peels that can be used to make spicy lemon pickles or sweet lime murabba. This hack was shared with me by a neighbor about ten years ago. I have made 15 kilos worth of preserved lemon peels over the years.

Split Milk

You’ll be grateful to me. You’ll know when you hear strange noises while heating the milk. Separation can be caused by a change in pH or the temperature of the milk. Most of the time, it ends up in the drain. Next time you find yourself in this situation, take a deep breath and give these foods a try. If the milk is not splitting properly, add 1-2 tablespoons of lemon juice to help it along. Drain the liquid whey into a muslin towel. The whey can be removed by washing the curds in cold water. Use the curd to make paneer, or:

Cream Cheese

Add salt to the curds and pulse in a food processor until smooth. It’s that simple! Add seasonings for herb cream cheese or celery, carrots, and onion to create a vegetable cream cheese.

Gur Kalakand

Stir in 1/4 cup palm jaggery and 100 ml milk. Stir until jaggery is dissolved. Heat over a low heat. Continue stirring until the mixture comes together and thickens (about 10-15 minutes). Add pistachio slices, almonds, and 1/4 tsp cardamom. Combine well. Transfer onto a plate lubricated with ghee. When the mixture has cooled, pat it into a thick slab and then cut it into squares.

Are you excited about the future? You’ll soon discover new and unexpected ways to prevent perfectly good food from going to waste. Vegetable stocks can be made with onion peels, garlic peels, carrot stems, red pumpkins, and coriander leaves. The stock can be used as a flavoring for plans or dals or to add a kick to sambar. Some vegetables, such as cauliflower leaves, are rich in iron and can easily be turned into a dish. Peels of beetroot and potato can be turned into crispy chips, and banana peels are delicious in a curry.

Sustainability is the keyword, and there’s a worldwide push to reduce waste. This starts right in the kitchen. There are many resources on the internet that can help us reach our zero-waste goals. Even composting non-edible food parts at home can contribute to this goal. This will keep organic waste from landfills. You can reduce your spending by using compost to grow your flowers or food.

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