I love my job as a personal chef but it can be physically and mentally draining at times. The fast-paced nature of cooking, extreme multi-tasking, and concentration to stay present in the moment as you're on a time crunch to get to your next client is usually a fun challenge. On the other hand, it is also easy to get stressed out and not appreciate the gift and opportunities that I've been given. Lately, to keep myself in a growth mindset, I have consciously been trying to be aware of the food that I throw out throughout the day as I cook. I often go on autopilot as I prep veggies and it wasn't until I made the active decision to look at my food waste that I noticed how much there actually was.
A trend that has been getting a lot of attention in the media recently is "stem-to-root cooking," as more restaurants make the decision to utilize whole fruits and vegetables, including the skins. There are many alternatives to throwing out those watermelon rinds, fennel leaves, or grapefruit peels that not only save you money on your grocery bill but have a whole bunch of health benefits. I will be sharing specific recipes in future posts that will help you to incorporate this into your daily cooking practice. Before you know it, you'll be thinking of your own ways to maximize the use of your produce and stepping up your chef game without even realizing it.
Here are five quick ways to utilize all parts of your fruits and veggies:
1. Shave Leftover Stems for Salads. Broccoli stems can be used in place of cabbage for coleslaw and have great flavor. Make sure to peel the tough outer layer off first before using!
2. Pestos. Experiment with different greens and combos. Fennel fronds, kale stems, carrot greens. Add in different herbs, citrus juice, etc.
3. Veggie Fries & Chips. Use broccoli stems, lotus root, celeriac, etc. Cut them into uniform pieces and bake with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Make an aioli or dipping sauce while they bake and you have a healthy snack.
4. Sautéed Stems. Add beet or chard stems to garlic, onions, a splash of vinegar and whatever else is in your kitchen. Serve as a side with dinner.
5. Fresh juices. When all else fails, make some fresh-pressed juice. Ends of veggies, stems, skins, save it all! Not to mention that these are the most nutrient-dense parts of your produce.