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beans

Live Waste Free

One Mean Bean Salad

You guys! I made possibly the best bean salad I’ve made in forever! It’s beautiful, delicious, vegan and fully Zero Waste! I decided to go the vegan route on this one because it was going to be my potluck dish for an event my vegan friend hosted. I figured, she’s being so generous and hosting this event at her place, the least I could do was make a dish that she could also enjoy. So I got at it and added all kinds of goodness. The best part, I already had everything on hand and took maybe 15 minutes to prep.

Side note: My beans were already prepped and in the freezer, so it took a simple rinse to unfreeze them and into the salad they went. You can find how I did it here.

Ingredients:

Salad-

1 cup of cooked red beans

1 cup of cooked chickpeas

1 cup of cooked black beans

1 red bell pepper diced

1 yellow bell pepper diced

2 cucumbers diced (you can peel them if you don’t care of the skin)

1 small head of broccoli (about a cup worth) cut into small chunks

1 large carrot, peeled and diced

Dressing-

½ cup of extra virgin olive oil

½ lemon, juiced

½ teaspoon of garlic powder

½ teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of dried parsley

Dash of dried basil

Directions:

Wash and chop all veggies. Toss them all into a large bowl.

Add all dressing ingredients into a bowl and mix. I added mine to a mason jar, sealed it up and shook it like crazy. You can play with the dressing to adjust it to fit your tastes better. I took what was closest to me in my spice drawer and took a chance. It was a good thing I did because it turned out to be a win!

Add half the dressing to the salad mix and store the rest for later. It’ll save for a few weeks in the fridge. Mix the dressing and the veggies together and voila!

You now have a super fresh, simple and delicious dish for any time. I’ve also made this for week lunches and picnics. It’s just lovely.

If you wish to add a non vegan twist, feel free to throw some feta or bocconcini cheese into the mix. Whatever you can find at the fromagerie (cheese store) without packaging. This salad is great both ways! So the next time you’re looking for a protein packed salad and are tight on time, keep this recipe in mind. Bon Apetite!

 

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.

 

Or follow me on Instagram @livewastefree for random pics and funnies!

 

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Urban Gardening – How a Zero Waster grew a few beans -Pt. 2-

Welcome back! Last time, I had shared a bunch about how I started an urban garden, and ya know, have a new appreciation for farmers and love my green beans that I have a bunch of. Today, is all about my challenges. There’s been so many bumps in this road that it’s comparable to Montreal’s infamous pothole problem.

I want to start by saying that despite the difficult periods, I am loving this new hobby. I’ve really come around to the idea of spending a bit more free time on it. After all, it’s a hobby! Hobbies are activities you enjoy and do in your free time! For me to think that I wouldn’t want to spend too much time on it was silly and misguided. The fact that I get yummy food out of it is a gigantic bonus.

Before I started, I had no idea how much/how often I should be watering my plants. I still really don’t. I kind of go with whether or not they look dry, if we’ve had a lot of rain recently or if the leaves have started becoming yellow or brown. I was trying to water them about everyday which was super time consuming, but fully necessary when it was hot. I saw a way online that then altered my watering game for good! Basically, I now use a self-watering system using glass bottles. I had a stash of old clean glass bottles from a sparkly juice that I love. I filled them up with water and dug a small hole into the side of the pot beside the plants stalks. This allows for the roots to drink up the water whenever they need. This has made my watering go from every day to about every 3 to 4 days. I can now go away for a weekend without having them wilt or worry that they’ll die. I do still water the plants manually using a small hose and a bucket, but the self-watering system has really cut down my need.

On the watering front came another challenge that I did not anticipate. Being on the second floor, I did not realize the impact of the weight on the structure of the balcony. Originally, I had all my buckets lined up against my railing, it was super cute and would have been very easy to maintain the way I had it. Within 24 hours, my landlord came out and was like “Hey, sooo, you need to move your plants. The balcony has no support in the middle (between my apartment and the neighbors) and the gallery is starting to droop.” I never even realized that it would be so heavy, but thinking it over, between the dirt and the water, I understood. I had to move just under half the buckets to my front gallery to even out the weight. I also moved the remainder from the railing, to right beside the brick wall where the gallery met the outside of the apartment. It all worked out in the end, but it was  a bit stressful, I thought that after all the work I had put into it, he was going to ask me to get rid of them. I would have cried!

A small something I noticed was the importance of LABELLING YOUR SPROUTS! My goodness! With all the excitement I faced (Yes, excitement! I loved the beginning stages!) I totally forgot to label what I was growing. When everything started to really grow, I was all. ‘Hmmm, I wonder what you are!’ There’s still a few that I’m questioning. Eventually they show and you can figure it out, but it would remove A LOT of the guess work that I had. For example, I thought I was growing broccoli, turns out its peas! The peas had these tiny flowers budding and it reminded me of the tops of broccoli! After they all budded, the peas started growing and I’m all… UMM you’re not broccoli! IMPOSTER! It’s turned into quite a big inside joke and I smile every time I look at them. J But yeah, for the future, label what you’re growing!

Some more trouble I had was at the beginning stages in keeping it 100% Zero Waste. Aside from the packages from the seeds that you read about in part 1 of this blog, I had no clue where to get dirt that did not come in a plastic bag. I still don’t. *If you know how to get plastic free dirt in the city please feel free to email me. I’d love to know!* I had bought the largest bags of dirt that I could find, in hopes that it would be a smaller amount of plastic instead of buying a whole bunch of small bags. It really bothered me at the beginning. If I had a downstairs apartment or my own yard it could have been different. But that’s not the case and I did the best job I thought I could at the time. I did decide however that next year, I’ll attempt to re-add some nutrients to this soil (using fertilizer and compost) in an effort to reuse the dirt.

 

I’ve found that I really need to weight the good from the bag with this project.

 

BAD GOOD
Plastic bags for the dirt Attempt to reuse the product for years to come. Which will eliminate MORE waste from packaging.
Plastic buckets to hold the plants
Seeds from packaging
Glass bottles to water the plants.

 

Saved from recycling plant and made them into a multiuse tool, instead of an almost single use item.

 

I know it may seem like I’m making excuses, but the reality was that this was not a fully Zero Waste project and I am content with the progress that I’ve made.  Now I get the most local vegetables I could possibly ask for. They are organic and fresh and steps away from my kitchen. All these things make me incredibly happy. Legit, I make supper, run outside and grab some beans (and now, cucumbers!), give them a quick rinse and throw them into my supper! It’s amazing! Did I also mention how tasty the veggies are! Because they are! I’ve also grown so many beans that I bring them to suppers as small gifts. People tend to like small gifts and I like that it was an easy gesture to make someone happy.

Those are my challenges to date. Be sure to come back and read part 3 of this blog once more veggies start to show. I can’t wait to share some awesome Urban Garden based recipes with all of you! YUM!

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.

Or follow me on Instagram @livewastefree for random pics and funnies!

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Urban Gardening – How a Zero Waster grew a few beans -Pt. 1-

Happy Summer everyone! I want to take a minute to talk about a new passion project of mine: Urban Gardening. I live in Montreal, in a busy borough on the second floor of a duplex. I do not have a front or back yard or even access to an outdoor space larger than 100 square feet. This has been problematic in the search of new hobbies to do from home. A friend of mine lives on a farmette (not quite big enough to call a farm, but larger than the typical yard of a house) and her and her husband have this AMAZING garden that I love to visit. I always thought I’d do a good job with one. So I figured, why not. I should try it! I set out in search for ideas to make a garden happen, even if I don’t have the typical amount of space or any experience (like, none at all!).

First thing I did was choose the veggies I wanted to grow. My challenge was to find an organic variety of seeds with no packaging. Unfortunately, only one of those two requirements worked. I was not able to find anything without a package, but the way I’m seeing it, at the end of the growing season, I’ll attempt to learn how to save some seeds and reuse them the following year. So the minimal packaging that was bought for the first batch this year will be unnecessary for the next several to come. I call that a win!

Sprouting the seeds of the different plants was so neat. It may sound naive, but I never realized how different each seed can look. Some were so teeny and others were massive and had different colors. It was an interesting part of the gardening process for sure! To start the sprouts, I had repurposed a couple of old egg cartons to hold the seedlings. Keeping in mind that I’ve never done this before, you can imagine how excited I was when they first started growing. Then, we had some unfortunate weather and I wasn’t able to put the sprouted veggies outside with a fear of the frost cutting their growth. I was quickly overwhelmed with the now indoor jungle that was growing. I had not anticipated how quickly and how much space was actually needed. It felt like it had taken over my kitchen in the matter of weeks. It was a good thing that the weather eventually warmed up and I was able to move on to the next part of the plan.

With my sprouts well underway, I was now in search of pots to transfer them into. Not wanting to buy new plastic pots for this project, or wanting to hunt down and pay the price for ceramic planting pots, I needed to figure out what I would use. Through one of the Zero Waste Groups on Facebook, someone had posted photos of their plants/veggies in repurposed buckets and I thought it was an amazing solution! I sent requests out to local restaurants and requested family and friends to check through their stuff for any old buckets that they weren’t using. My aunt messaged me back saying that she had a ‘few buckets’ for me that were on her property, not doing anything. By ‘a few buckets’ I mean, there was now a plethora of buckets at my disposal! SWEET! Thanks to my aunt’s one small gesture of gifting me her old buckets, I was able to make an entire garden on my balcony!

The 2 stacks of buckets were older and caked in mud and moss. I think they were outside for a long while, but I legit didn’t care since I was able to now start! So I cleaned the buckets and I took a drill to add drainage holes to the bottom. I was really worried I’d kill the plants right off the bat and I obviously didn’t want that to happen the first time I watered them. Once all the holes were drilled, I brought the operation outside and started adding the dirt to the buckets. Imagine, I was covered in dirt, the kitchen was a mess with buckets, towels and power tools and I had the biggest goofy smile plastered across my face. I was so incredibly giddy when I was able to start planting my baby plants (that by this point were at least adolescents)!

I had lined all my new pots along the edge of my balcony and hoped for the best. I had wished it would be easy and that it wouldn’t take too much of my spare time. I had hoped that the harvests would be bountiful and that I’d have enough to share with friends and family. None of that has happened yet. I know, I know, I need to be patient… but I’m not that patient a person and this is killing me. So far, we’ve had so many beans. Delicious and sweet green beans – the best I’ve ever eaten really. And I’ve found a few things to turn my urban garden into a lazy gardener’s paradise without killing those suckers, but it has in no way been easy or effortless. I think growing my own food has given me a new appreciation for all the farmers out there who feed the masses. So much effort goes into it that they really need to be acknowledged more. THANK YOU FARMERS for feeding me these past 28 years. You are all wonderful and I appreciate your effort and will still continue to support your business!

So that’s it for now on the state of my urban garden and my journey as a newbie gardener. I have not yet lost hope that the bounty will be large enough to share and honestly, I’ve kind of began loving it. I’m sitting here now in the dark, on my gallery with my computer on my lap and my garden to my left. It’s something I never thought I’d have nor enjoy. Yet here we are.

Be sure to pop in to read part 2 of this blog post in what will most likely be an ongoing throughout the summer.  See how the garden is doing and I’ll be outlining all of my challenges thus far. And trust me, there’s been plenty!

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.

Or follow me on Instagram @livewastefree for random pics and funnies!

 

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Easy Peasy Bean Prep

Living a Zero Waste lifestyle does not mean you need to spend all of your free time working on food. At the beginning of this journey, I was always in the kitchen. I didn’t complain too much, since I genuinely enjoyed it, however, now I have other projects to work on and I want to spend the minimum amount of time in the kitchen. Along the way, I’ve learned and even developed a few tricks to help cut down the time needed to live a Zero Waste lifestyle.

Today, we work on dried goods. Re-hydrating beans (and chickpeas) and storing them so they’re as easy to use as the canned variety in less than 13 minutes of hands on work.red beans

First, rinse off the dry beans in a colander and add to the pot. Avoid the idea of measuring your beans; since it’s not a recipe, you don’t need to worry about exact numbers. Also, the more you make in the moment, the more time you’ll save! The more beans you add, the more water you’ll need. Leave at least 2-3 inches of water above the beans. They WILL bloat and soak up all of that water. Add a pinch of salt and cover the pot with a lid. Bring to a boil on high heat. Once the beans come to a rolling boil, drop the heat to a minimum. I leave it on 2 for close to 2 hours. Test the beans once every 30 minutes or so, just to make sure they do not overcook. Let them just do their thing and go on about your day.

Total HANDS ON time: 5 minutes including checking for the texture

Once they’re fully cooked, remove from heat. Strain and rinse the beans in a colander. Let them sit in the strainer until all the excess water drips off. While they’re dripping, line a baking tray (or 2 depending on how many beans you’ve made) with parchment paper. I use a compostable one, so after I’ve used it to it’s fullest, I can add it to the compost bin. After they’ve full dripped, lay them in a single layer on the baking sheets and let them cool fully. Leave them out of the way so you can go on with your day.

Total HANDS ON time: 3 minutesblack beans

When they’ve cooled down to a room temperature (should take about an hour or less), pop them in the freezer as is and let them freeze fully overnight.

Total HANDS ON time: maximum 2 minutes if you include checking their temperature

The next day, break up the beans with your hands and add them to jars. Put them back into the freezer.

Total HANDS ON time: 3 minutes

That’s it! You’re finished! Although it was overnight, you only spent about 13minutes of actual work on them. Now that they’re completely hydrated and ready, you can use them for last minute meals whenever you want. Also, it removes any guesswork for measuring dry beans and attempting to figure out the conversion to the measurement of plumped beans. I always struggled with that; but since I’ve started this process, I never have to guess anymore! Also, since they’re prepped and on hand in the freezer, it’s just like having canned beans at hand. Except without the plastic lined tin and questionable preservatives. Now go on, bring your jars and buy the dried beans for a fraction of the cost and work it out so they’re better than canned! Enjoy!

 

 

Live Waste Free

Zero Waste Shepherd’s Pie

 

It’s that time again! FOOD!

In our house, I try to make a few large meals a week to help with meal prep. I love the concept; it makes bringing lunches to work/school super easy and gives us more free time during the week. One of the large options I made this week was a vegan shepherd’s pie! Growing up, it was a staple in our house. My mom didn’t care much for cooking, but when she made us shepherd’s pie, it was on! She nailed it every time and until I became vegetarian, I followed her way of cooking it, always. Over the last few years, I’ve changed the recipe over and over to adapt to my new lifestyle, and the newest adaptation would be to make it Zero Waste of course! Oh and dare I say that my recipe now competes with hers on the delicious scale! Legit!

I must say before you get started, this recipe, if you don’t take the time saving options (which still requires prep) can become a long process. That being said, it is STILL worth it! You’ll find the time saving options throughout the recipe in asterisks.

Ingredients per layer:

TOP:

2 cups of sweet potato (approximately 1 large one and 2 small-that’s what we used)

¼ cup veggie broth

salt to taste

pepper to taste

MIDDLE:

6 ears of corn (approximately 1 ½ cups of corn)

1 tsp. sea salt

BOTTOM:

2 cups of re-hydrated red kidney beans

1 large sweet onion

¾ cup Veggie Broth

¾ cup roasted sunflower seeds

Olive oil (1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons

1 tablespoon of white all-purpose flour

1 ½ teaspoons of herbes de provence

½ teaspoon dried basil

½ teaspoon dried thyme

½ teaspoon of sea salt (+pinch

 

Directions per layer:

 

*Rehydrate beans (approximately 2 hours of boiling) or keep a jar of pre-hydrated beans. I tend to batch cook a lot and this saves me time! I cook all the beans I have in advance, freeze then on a sheet pan in the freezer and store in a jar. I’ll freeze them on a baking sheet so that they separate easier. You’ll be able to take out the quantity you need, thaw them and use them like canned beans.

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Bottom layer

Heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil in large pan. Dice sweet onion, add to heated oil add a pinch of sea salt. Cook covered on low for approximately 15 minutes. Try to avoid stirring as much as you can fight it. I find the slight caramellization is better when it’s just left alone.

Once the onions are translucent and slightly browned, push them to one side of the pan. Using 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of white all-purpose flour, make a rue in the same pan as the onions.  Let the rue cook for about 3 minutes and mix with onions. Add in beans, ¾ cup of veggie broth, 1.5 teaspoons of herbes de provence, ½ teaspoon dried basil, ½ teaspoon dried thyme and ½ teaspoon of sea salt.  Let the mixture cook on medium low heat until the veggie broth is absorbed enough. It should look like s bit of gravy is still left in the pan. This will keep the mixture moist while baking the entire dish together.

 

Middle layer

*To save time, again, batch cook corn with the following instructions and freeze on a baking sheet. To freeze, follow the earlier instructions for the rehydrated beans. This way you’ll have frozen corn that didn’t touch plastic or a can and it will be easy for everyday meals.

Boil corn in salted water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium, let cook for 15 minutes. Once the corncobs are fork tender (can insert and remove the fork easily without friction) they are ready. Remove cobs and let cool. Once fully cooled, cut off the corn. Leave nude (no seasoning-they’re sweet enough).

 

Top layer

In same water that you boiled the corn, add the peeled and cubed sweet potatoes. This saves water and adds an extra flavour to the potatoes. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium until the potatoes are fork tender. Remove from water and set aside in a bowl. Mash them immediately with ¼ cup veggie broth, pinch of salt and pepper to taste. No butter, oil or milk needed I promise! These are going to be just as fluffy.

 

Layer these in order, from bottom to top in a 9X9 baking dish. Smooth out each layer before adding the next. Put the dish in a preheated 350-degree oven for 15 minutes. Your food is already cooked, it’s really just to let the layers marry together and to make sure the corn is heated properly. Finish off with a quick 5 minute broil and you’re done! This shepherd’s pie should feed 6-8 people and is so delicious!

*Using the time savers really helps take this meal above and beyond. The first time I made it without them, it was about 2 hours. That’s way too long in my opinion to be cooking hands on.

This meal is hearty, delicious and full of nutrients. The best part about this meal is knowing that there is no negative output headed to the landfill because of it. Everything was bought in bulk with my own jars or as a loose veggie. No plastic, no cans, just real food the way it was intended to be. I hope you enjoy!