All January long, Chef Palak Patel has been sharing small, actionable ways to cut down on food waste with Well+Good's ReNew Year Plan. (Didn't know about it? That's okay—you can put her tips into practice anytime!) From giving your greens an ice bath so they last as long as possible to prioritizing buying foods that are in season, eating sustainably isn't time-consuming or hard; it just requires the desire and knowledge of how to do it.
This week, one of the steps Patel encourages everyone to take is repurposing food scraps in meals instead of tossing them down the garbage disposal (or into the trash). She likes to keep a bag in the freezer specifically for storing her food scraps in. Then, she has them on hand when she's making something that can use some veggie flavor. It's something Terri Edwards, the creator of EatPlant-Based, does too. When she has enough scraps ready to use, she likes to make a vegan food scrap stock.
"There are so many great veggie scraps to use to make stock," she says. "Some of my favorites are leek greens, cabbage cores, green onion tops, carrot tops, garlic cloves, zucchini and squash ends, broccoli stalks, celery ends, and potato pieces." So if any of these end up as leftovers on your cutting board when you're cooking, definitely save them.
Below, Edwards gives us her easy vegan stock recipe made from food scraps, but she also says you can make it your own by incorporating other spices and herbs. "For the seasonings, I really like to use a couple of bay leaves, dry Italian spice, tarragon, and a splash of either amino acids or soy sauce," she says of her go-to combo. But she advises not going too heavy-handed on the herbs and spices because this will keep the stock as versatile as possible. You can always incorporate the herbs and spices once you're actually making the dish you're using your stock for.
Edwards says she cooks with her homemade veggie scraps stock several times a week because there's so much you can use it for. "It's perfect for replacing oil when sauteing in a nonstick skillet and it also makes absolutely delicious soups," she says. "Even when I make savory foods like hummus and grits that need a splash of liquid, this homemade vegan stock recipe is my go-to rather than water." Basically anything you were planning on using water for when cooking, your stock will come in handy. Edwards' vegan stock recipe is below and you'll see for yourself just how easy it is to make. Told you eating sustainably didn't have to be hard!
Vegan stock recipe made from food scraps
1 gallon freezer bag vegetable scraps
5 quarts water
spices (Italian seasoning, tarragon, bay leaf), any spices preferred
1. Place all frozen veggie scraps in a large stockpot or crockpot with water and spices and bring to a boil.
2. Turn heat down to medium-low, cover, and let simmer for 30 to 40 minutes.
3. Allow to cool, then strain out veggie scraps in a colander and large bowl.
4. Pour into mason jars and keep in the refrigerator and/or into quart-size freezer bags to store in the freezer. You can also pour the stock into ice trays for freezing tablespoon portion sizes.
Looking to hit refresh on your healthy habits this January? Check out our full 2022 ReNew Year program for expert-led plans for better sleep, nutrition, exercise, and self-care routines.
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