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Zero waste cuisine

Live Waste Free

Carrot Top Pesto

Hey all! I assume since you’re here reading this blog, you’re either: a good friend of mine who’s doing me a solid by proof-reading before publishing, my mom (who has always been my number 1 super fan) or you are genuinely intrigued by the phrase ‘Carrot Top Pesto’. Regardless of the reason, welcome! I’m happy to have you!

As some of you may know (and have followed), I attempted my very first Urban Garden this summer. With this garden came many challenges and much effort. It also allowed for immense growth, on my part and that of the veggies 😉

With my garden, I was introduced to a new form of Zero Waste revolving around my own personal food chain. I like to consider myself pretty creative and gutsy in the kitchen; always taking into consideration that I need to make sure that whatever I don’t use, I need to at least compost afterwards. Well now, I’m on a whole other level of being aware that most of what I’d just toss into the compost can be used up. Not just used up, but used in a way that’s incredibly yummy and nutritious. By experiencing first hand what it takes to make vegetables grow, I am way more reluctant to just toss out whatever does not appeal to me. Now, the cores and peels of the veggies now get frozen until I’m ready to make a broth and the leafy tops to oddly shaped carrots got used up in a way I never thought of. I cannot take full credit. I did see someone in one of the many Zero Waste groups on Facebook discussing what they could do with their tops. Someone on there mentioned a pesto and I swear, it was a eureka moment for me. Of course! Why not?! So simple and huge bonus points go out because I frickin’ love pesto! So thank you, random person on a post that I saw that one time, in that group surrounding ZW. Thank you for this idea because I now can use up the tops of my carrots in an excellent way!

If you’ve read any of my recipe posts before, you’ve caught on that I try not to use exact measurements. Alter the quantities based off of what tastes good to you. I also go based from how much I actually have lying around. I won’t go out of my way to leave ¼ teaspoon of garlic powder in my jar because the recipe only calls for 2 tsp. You bet I’m tossing it all in there and starting fresh the next time I shop! With this in mind, please enjoy my version of a carrot top pesto!!



  • ½ cup of whole salted almonds (they can be crushed almonds of you prefer-it’ll all get chopped in the end)
  • 1 bunch of carrot tops-approximately a cup and a half packed
  • ½ cup olive oil (maybe ¾ cup if you find the mixture too thick)
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 5-6 fresh basil leaves
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of onion powder


Cut the carrots from the stems. Put them aside, because they won’t be used in this sauce.

Wash the carrot tops under cold water. Coming from the garden, they were understandably full of dirt. Do your best to get out all the residue. Once you’re confident that you’re in the clear of crud, pat the stems dry.

You’ll need to grab out your food processor (or use some serious knife skills-which I sadly do not have). Start by pulsing your almonds finely, into tiny chunks. To the nut chunks, add in the stems, basil and oil. Pulse everything together until it makes a green smear against the walls of the food processor. To the smear, add in the rest of the ingredients. Pulse the processor until everything is well incorporated. As stated before, add more oil if you find that the mixture is too thick. Taste as you go. If you prefer it saltier, add more salt. If you want it more ‘basilly’, add another couple of leaves.

Boom. That’s it! Add the sauce to your favorite recipes. I eat it often on cold pasta salad and it’s fantastic!

It’s also noteworthy that leftover sauce freezes quite well. I put the extra in my ice cube tray and once they were frozen, added them to one large Tupperware. I take out the cubes as needed. Enjoy!

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!



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:


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


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

1 tsp. sea salt


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.


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!

Live Waste Free

ZW Vegan Chili

On today’s menu: Dawn’s Homemade Zero Waste-Vegan Chili. I’ll be the first to admit, it’s a long name, but who has time to come up with clever names when you’re cooking a bad ass meal like this one! Not to brag or anything, but my dad once described it as “Woah man, this is the S***!” So, take away from that what you will ;).

Now, I love making chili because of the simplicity. It can be dressed up or kept bare and still be absolutely DELISH! It’s possibly one of the easiest Zero Waste meals that you can make. It stores well, keeps for a long time in the fridge or even longer in the freezer and is the perfect, late night meal (for those of us hustling to the wee hours of the morning).

To make this recipe ZW, buy all your goods in bulk with your own jars (spices, beans, olive oil) and hit up a farmer’s market or even the regular grocery store for the veggies. Buy them loose with no plastic bags and be sure to wash them when you get home. For freshest ingredients, I prefer the farmer’s market for sure!

Meal Prep time: 30 minutes of prep-not including the reconstitution of the beans.

Cook time: 1 hour (again, not including the beans-that will soon be explained).



¾ cup red kidney beans

¾ cup black turtle beans

12 tomatoes, whole

1 medium onion

1 tbs of olive oil

3 cloves of garlic

2 medium red peppers

1.5 cups of Veggie broth (I use my home made version)

1 tbsp sea salt

2 tsp Black pepper

1 tbsp Cumin

1 tsp Chili powder

1 tsp Cayenne

1/8 tsp Crushed red pepper flakes *if you’re not a fan of too much spice, omit this*


Optional to serve with:

Corn chips (bought in bulk)

Sliced avocados

Chopped green onions

Nutritional yeast (or grated cheese for non-vegans)




I buy my beans dried and in bulk with my own jars. You’re going to need to start by reconstituting them. You can soak them overnight and then cook them until tender if you’d like, but I aim myself towards the “instant” way. It’s not literally instant but it is the faster way. Rinse off the beans in a colander, put them in a pot and cover them with water. The ratio is about 2:1-water to beans but keep an eye on them. Add more water if you need. Cover the beans and put on high until they boil. Once the boiling starts, drop the temperature to low (1-2) and leave them to cook for around 2 hours. This is the faster version since you’re not having them soak overnight, but you can really do it whichever way you prefer.

I don’t include this in the cooking time since it only takes 2 minutes of work.
From here on out, you basically just let the beans do their thing.tomatoes

Next up are the tomatoes. I buy them fresh and whole and work with them from here. Cut them into quarters, de-seed and core them. The seeds and cores go directly into the compost, unless you maybe have some chickens, I hear they like this as a snack :P. Once all of your tomatoes are ready, keep them aside for later use.

Heat the olive oil in a deep pot, dice the onion and slice the garlic. Add to the hot pot. Cover and cook them on medium until the onions are translucent, stirring frequently. Roughly chop the red peppers and add to the onions, let cook for another 3 minutes. To this, add your prepped tomatoes, veggie broth and sea salt. Cover and let simmer on low-medium heat for 20 minutes, or until super tender.

When you have reached your desired tenderness (not falling apart, but you can put a fork in the flesh and remove it with ease), remove from heat, but keep in the pot. You’re going to use a submersion blender to blend the veggies until they’re smooth. If you don’t have a submersion blender, use a regular one and just work in batches. Be careful while handling the hot veggies and broth, I’ve gotten splashed a number of times and it’s hot! Like, wicked hot!

Before you’re fully finished blending, stir a fork through it to insure that all the large chunks are out. After your little smoothness check, you add all your beans and the spices. Start with the quantities above for your spices and alter them to your personal preference.  Let the chili simmer on low-medium heat, partially uncovered for about 30-40 minutes to really blend the flavors and to cook off any excess water. Don’t forget to stir the chili every few minutes to avoid burning.

Serve straight or prettied up with sliced avocados, corn chips and nutritional yeast (shredded cheese for non-vegans).

Hope you enjoy this recipe! For other recipes like this, or general tips and tricks for living a Zero Waste lifestyle, check out my website Also