Veggie parts I never ate until I went zero waste

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Food waste is a huge issue in Australia. Over five million tonnes of food ends up in landfill each year, enough to fill 9,000 Olympic sized swimming pools.[1]

In our homes, 35% of the average household bin is food waste.[2] Not only is that a huge waste of resources (think of the water, energy and fuel that it takes to get that food to you in the first place), but once the food enters landfills, it rots and gives off methane gas, which contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.

Before I get to the veggie parts I now consume in order to cut back on our household food waste, here’s a quick list of things you can do to reduce your own food waste at home.

  • Write a weekly meal plan and shopping list.

  • Check your pantry and fridge before you go shopping to avoid buying something you may already have languishing at the back of the pantry/fridge.

  • Be sure to store food correctly to prevent spoilage.

  • Compost your food scraps or use a worm bin, click here for more info.

  • Make sure all leftovers are eaten. Either take them to work for lunch the next day or freeze them for another time.

  • Slice loaves of bread as you buy them and pop them in the freezer so they don’t go stale.

And now to the veggies…

Pumpkin skins

Prior to living a zero waste lifestyle, I was rather unadventurous when it came to nutrition. Sure, I made sure I ate plenty of fruits and vegetables, but I usually stuck to my favourites, instead of trying to incorporate new and varied ones into my diet.

As it’s now important for my toddler to try out as many fruits and veggies as possible, in every colour of the rainbow, I’ve started to add these into my own (and my husband’s) diet too.

We used to just stick to the old faithful butternut pumpkin, but now we incorporate kent, Queensland blue or golden nugget pumpkins into our weekly menu.

I also used to just chop off the skins of the pumpkins and discard them, but now I roast them in the oven with a bit of oil and salt and pepper, and the skins are delicious.

It’s best to use kent pumpkins if you’re going to eat the skin as butternut pumpkin skins can be a little tough.

Broccoli stems

Who among you chops off the broccoli florets and discards the stems? I certainly used to. Who knew the stems were just as edible?!

They may not be as aesthetically pleasing as the florets but broccoli stems pack a hearty nutritional punch. The stems contain 2.98 grams of protein, 48 milligrams of calcium, .88 milligrams of iron, 25 milligrams of magnesium, 325 milligrams of potassium, 27 milligrams of sodium and 400 IU of vitamin A.

Usually I just chop the stems into smaller pieces and roast them, or I’ll add them to stir fries, soups and homemade stock. I’ll also blitz them up in the blender to make “broccoli rice”.

Avocado seeds

Okay, yes, avocados are technically a fruit, but I had to include them as most people are unaware the seeds are edible.

We all know our weekly smashed avo fix delivers plenty of heart-friendly fats, beta-carotene and potassium, but the hardy seeds are actually the most nutritious part of an avocado.

I wash and dry the seeds and let them sit overnight, before grating them onto toast, in my morning bircher muesli or into a smoothie.