How often during the holidays do you heap your plate with an indulgent feast, only to have half the meal end up in the trash? How often do you purge your fridge in a cleaning spree and toss anything in your line of vision? You don’t have to throw everything away to start fresh! Try these 5 tips to repurpose the leftovers in your fridge into tasty, healthy treats.
All of us want to do our part to be a part of the world hunger solution, especially in the aftermath of natural disasters that leave people without food—but the fact remains that as a country, we throw 40 percent, or about 33 million tons of mostly edible food away. In 1980, food waste comprised 9.5 percent of municipal landfills, and by 2010 the number has escalated to 20.5. Luckily, you will find that with a little creativity, you can help to minimize food waste.
All too often we toss food because it doesn’t look as enticing or we become confused by “sell before” dates and “best before dates.” That bruised apple may not look as pretty as when you first saw its shiny skin in the grocery store, but it still contains a treasure trove of nutrients. Each time we throw away a perfectly edible green, we potentially contribute to landfill waste. In a landfill, when food waste decomposes, it generates methane gas, a greenhouse gas with over 20 times the global-warming potential of carbon dioxide. So what can we do as a nation to minimize these emissions? Follow these simple and tasty tips to get more bang for your buck and help the environment along the way.
Your kale may have lost its beautiful crisp appearance and acquired some bruises, but don’t underestimate its taste and nutrient content. Whether you have three-quarters of a head of romaine or green leaf left in the vegetable crisper, or wilted celery leaves, there is a solution. Save those greens by cooking them into a soup, stir-fry, or noodle dish. Although the idea of cooking your romaine lettuce may sound strange, you might just change your mind when cooking it with your favorite vegetables and proteins for a hearty soup to warm your belly and soul!
How many times have you wanted to trash your fruit because the skin looked slimy or dark? Fruits like apples, pears, and plums are perfectly edible once you peel the skin. Even strawberries and berries that appear a bit mushy can all be salvaged. For a delicious and naturally-sweet treat, cook the fruit into a saucy consistency and add it to some yogurt or just enjoy as a snack. Make a fruit medley of all the fruit you think is about to spoil and cook it down with some lemon zest, balsamic vinegar, and a touch of agave or honey. Viola, you’ve saved the sweetness!
Trying to get to the last sweet scrapings of your jam or nut butter can be aggravating. The great news is that the half-inch or so remaining can be used to make a delicious dressing! Just add equal parts vinegar and extra virgin olive oil, and your favorite spices. Close the lid and shake away to create a healthy dressing you can use on your favorite foods. The same can be done with your nut butter: just add some rice wine vinegar, warm water, and mint leaves for a delicious salad dressing or dip!
Stale bread may seem like its time is up, but just because you can’t use it for a sandwich doesn’t mean it can’t be consumed in other ways. Instead of trashing it, why not make some delicious bread pudding? Whether you have a hearty whole grain bread or a once-fluffy roll, you can stretch out its days to warm your belly and delight your taste buds!
After the big festive meals with friends and family, make sure you put leftover food away within a couple of hours. Figure out what you are most likely eat within a couple of days and put that in your fridge. Everything else, put it in the freezer. It’s a good idea to store your leftovers in single-sized portions, as you should only reheat once to save nutrients.
And get creative with what’s left! Last night’s mashed potatoes can become today’s potato pancakes. Leftover bones from your holiday bird make an excellent soup broth. Of course, I don’t recommend keeping any food past spoilage, but hopefully these tips will help you repurpose your leftovers into tasty dishes before there is any chance of spoilage!
And if you are really dedicated to reducing food waste, consider composting to turn waste into productive soil for your garden!
You can find plenty of healthy, tasty, and creative recipes for long and healthy living in Secrets of Longevity Cookbook, available in January 2013, a great companion book to my Secrets of Longevity: Hundreds of Ways to Live to Be 100, which is now available on Kindle.
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May you live long, live strong, and live happy!
This blog is meant to educate, but it should not be used as a substitute for personal medical advice. The reader should consult his or her physician or clinician for specific information concerning specific medical conditions. While all reasonable efforts have been made to ensure that all information presented is accurate, as research and development in the medical field is ongoing, it is possible that new findings may supersede some data presented.
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