Today friends, I want to talk about (surprise, surprise) waste! Not just any old waste, but my own personal wasters. I’m not perfect by any means, and am still learning every day, of ways to cut my waste output. Although it’s getting easier, and I try to make choices which are always eco-friendly, sometimes it’s super tricky. There are somethings that I had to learn how to make from scratch in an effort to go zero waste. As a vegetarian on the verge of veganism, I can’t exactly go to the butcher and get my proteins with my own containers (like my fiancé does). I find my vitamins and nutrients from plant based sources, which will often come in plastics. Today, I’m going to break down how I’ve been able to work around a few of the trickier items.
Largest on my list has always been Tofu. I use perhaps a brick, maybe 2 per week. I’ve tried to find it without packaging but failed. Although it’s recyclable, it was enough to push me towards a home-made version. I used to see it as such a huge effort for little results and convinced myself that my efforts elsewhere were enough. After a few months of purchasing it the old fashioned way, I decided to finally give it a try. Tackle a recipe I’ve never tried before and make my own tofu. It took an hour before I fell on a YouTube video that seemed simple enough for me to use; and I must say, it was completely worth it! Yes, it did take a bit of time to make a firm version, but it was so simple that anyone could do it. The taste was not even comparable to the store bought version. It was an even texture that was pleasing to the pallet with a slight hint of lemon that was left as an aftertaste. I was so happy with the results that I have no intentions of ever buying store bought again, nor is there a need!
The video I followed to make the tofu:
Next waster in my kitchen was non-dairy milks. I often drink black tea, but I have yet developed the taste of it without milk. Soy milk and rice milk have always been my first choices instead of MOO milk (which is just regular cow milk in Dawn language). Back when I first started looking for zero waste alternatives, I did attempt to make a soy milk. I think I either rushed the researching process or was too eager to get started, but I did a rookie mistake that just grossed me out. My soy milk tasted way too much like beans. So much so that I ended up scrapping the entire batch. My mistake that I later learned was that I needed to remove the skins of the beans after soaking. That’s where the majority of the flavor came from and unfortunately, I left them on for the first batch. After a few months, I got up the courage to give the milks another shot. Rice milk was amazingly easy and worked perfectly in my tea. I find the taste reminds me of old school rice crispy squares in my tea! YUMMERS! And the soy milk, after I removed the skins, which I must admit, took the longest, was epic! Nothing like the old gross beany soy milk. I even did a taste test to see which I preferred, pairing sugar and vanilla to decide the flavor I wanted. And they were all amazing!
*I kept half of the batch plain, just to use for the tofu*.
The video I used to make the soy milk:
The video I used to make the rice milk:
Another big waster I found in my kitchen was an ice cream. It’s the easiest desert, tasty and pleasing to most. When I started transitioning to vegan versions, I found that most of the options were made of coconut milk (not all, but more often than not in my experience). An addition to the wasted tubs, I really don’t like the taste of coconut. I’ll deal when I have to, but really, it’s not my fave! So I again turned to a home-made version. The simplest attempt I found was literally 2 ingredients! TWO! That’s it! All you need are frozen bananas and your favorite berries. Before freezing the bananas, peel and chop them. It really makes it quicker than peeling still frozen bananas, and your hands won’t get frostbite in the process!
So all you do is take your frozen bananas and regular fridge temperature berries (I use raspberries when they’re in season). Throw the equivalent of 1 frozen banana and about half a cup of berries into the food process or high speed blender and let it run. At first, it won’t combine well, and you’ll think I’m lying to you, but be patient! Trust me! Let them mix for a bit, and after a few minutes it will mix perfectly and it WILL get creamy! If you find the process is taking more than 5 minutes, try adding some of the berry juice. It makes it naturally sweeter and it gives more of a “soft serve” consistency. Once it’s combined, remove from the food processor or blender and pop it back into the freezer for a quick freeze. Five minutes is all you really need. Serve and enjoy! Simple, 2 ingredients, healthy, quick and Zero-Waste! The only thing you “throw away” is the banana peel in the compost!
These were the top wasters in my cooking routine. Emphasis on WERE! Now that I know how to make them (big thanks to the amazing people who post helpful YouTube videos), I won’t have to throw away anything else.
For more tips and tricks, head over and like my page on Facebook Live Waste Free. Where you’ll get daily ideas to keep you going on the Zero-Waste path.