Article written by Sara Silva, founder of the No Footprint Nomads.

Zero Waste Kitchen

3 Parts of Food You Can Enjoy Today

Taking advantage of all parts of food may sound strange but it is something that is done naturally in some cultures and in times of scarcity. Currently, access to food is easy and the illusion of abundance leads to waste.

In the kitchen, we peel fruits and vegetables, remove seeds, and eliminate stems and leaves without knowing that we are throwing out the most nutritious and tasty parts of food. For example, the banana peel is rich in vitamin C and the leaves of the carrot are champions of calcium levels. The place for these “badly loved” portions is not in the bin but on our plate.

For me, the contact with a more conscious and economical way of cooking took place in Brazil. In 2015, when I finished a backpacking trip through Latin America, I settled in São Paulo. The city had several urban gardens and there was talk of PANCs – Non-Conventional Food Plants.

In Portugal, Alexandra Azevedo, author of books like Ervas Silvestres Comestíveis and the Youtube channel Natureza Comestível, talks about the collection of national plants. With a world population forecast at 9 billion by 2050, the only solution seems to be to produce more. In contrast, of food is not consumed. What if we made the most of what we have available?

The Integral Use of Food is a concept of using all edible parts of food. When I heard about a woman who taught favela residents how to prepare affordable meals with peels and vegetable stalks, I immediately took a course on the subject.

The advantages of Integral Use are numerous. When making dishes with these unconventional parts you are:

• Preparing more nutritious meals;

• To reduce the waste you produce;

• To reduce carbon dioxide emissions;

• Saving money by preparing more quantity;

• To vary what you eat.

Here are 3 links to easy and delicious recipes to start preparing dishes with unconventional parts of the plants. Some of these links take you to sites with more recipes. Select the simplest ones to cook or the foods you consume most often.

1. Sauteed beet leaves (p. 24)

In the leaves of many tubers is where the highest concentration of vitamins and minerals is found, as is the case of edible beet leaves. When you buy, separate the leaves from the tuber, wash, dry and store tightly closed in a plastic bag, so they save more time. They can also be eaten raw in salads or in green juice (which turns red in this case).

2. Pumpkin skin chips

Like many other vegetables and legumes, the pumpkin contains edible seeds and peel. The seeds, when dried and roasted in the oven, are a rich snack, a source of vitamin E, and stimulate the elimination of liquids (diuretics). The peel is rich in fiber and is super tasty in this chip recipe.

3. Banana peel brigadeiros (p. 36)

Eating the banana peel is a common practice in Asian countries. The peel is not as sweet as the pulp but it is a great source of potassium that helps in muscle and fiber health. It is also rich in tryptophan, an amino acid that is a precursor to serotonin, a substance produced by the brain that is responsible for balancing mood.

Enjoying the edible parts of food is a smart way to eat and live in society. Become an explorer of flavours and textures and help preserve the natural resources of our shared home.

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