Yes you can have your pumpkin and eat it too - how to make this autumn staple an integral part of your zero waste journey
Can I say that strangely this is one of my favourite seasons?
Changes in the air, in the colours and the season of my favourite food: pumpkin!!
I am so glad that pumpkin is locally grown where I live, so I have access to all different types and qualities. I love the ones that I can get at Franken fruit , and they come in all shape and sizes - from the most traditional orange ones, to those with the dark green skin to butternut types and so on.. and you can get mini ones that are perfect for single life...
But by the time you skinned the pumpkin and removed all the seeds you are often left over with a lot less to cook than you imagined lugging that heavy thing all the way home in your bike aaand a lot of waste.
So, how to make the most of your recent purchase ?
Of course by actually using the ‘scraps’ instead of throwing them to waste.
I have to say, since I get my produce locally and from a chemical free farm I do cook the skin. I wash it off of all the dirt and then just leave it attached in my recipes. It goes soft and adds some extra fibres to the meal!
If you don’t feel like it , keep the skin and reuse it to add some bulk and texture in soups. Or if you really don’t want to be directly eating skin then you can always use it for broth making.
At a last resort, instead of putting in the bin you can use it to add some great nutrition to your garden.
Pumpkin seeds coming inside of your pumpkin are exactly the same to those sold in those very expensive plastic packets!
Yes the ones that are sold for the most part have been shelled, and have to say the shelling process does not look so appealing and sounds like an enormous waste of time ...
But wait, in foreign food shops pumpkin seeds come with all of the shell! And .. turns out is very edible and also contains some yummy extra fibres that most people on a western diet are lacking!
You can then proceed to eat them raw (delicious by the way - I like to add a little bit of chilli powder and it makes for a perfect aperitivo to snack on while you are waiting for your pumpkin to cook ). If you are not eating them immediately then I would recommend to rinse them from the pulp and dry them. They are perfect to keep for a few days (I keep them in the fridge but maybe you can also keep them out) and eat as a snack!
Raw seeds have the advantage of keeping some of their nutrient intact but if you want a tastier snack or maybe you have guests, try roast them. Two ways of doing them, usual one in the oven or a simpler one: Add a little bit of oil on a shallow pan, proceed to shallow fry them moving the pan in a circular motion often to turn them around. Add seasoning of your choice , again chilli flakes are top on my list. You can add them as a topping to soup as well!
Something I have not yet tried but really want to experiment with (help and advice appreciated in comments section please! or get in contact), is to mill them and produce my own seed powder to add in more soups and smoothies. I will update you on the results ;)
Enjoy your pumpkin season with all of its health benefits (no pumpkin spiced latte don’t count, sorry ) and make it as efficient as possible so it can be guilt free :)
Let's be honest: it has happened to even the most advanced zero wasters to have to shop at a supermarket at some point or another.
Whatever the reason: busy week, finished too late for the organic or farm store opening times, away during the weekly farmers market, emergency shop..
If this is you, whether just once in a while or more often, firstly take a deep breath and forgive yourself. These things happen!
Then you can consider making your shop the more zero waste friendly as possible following some simple steps, and if you have more I would love to hear them
With all these, recent and not, talks on plastic pollution and reducing plastic, some of you dear readers may be convinced to start your zero waste journey.
While i want to assure you that it is a personal journey filled with daily discoveries, and not an overnight switch, I want to share with you part of my journey and a few key ‘ingredients’ of my daily attempts as a zero waster.
For some inspiration you can also find my Pinterest board, albeit not recently updated...
Step 1 - make your own
Whenever you can, make your own. Of what you ask? Of everything! From bringing a pack lunch, to making your own shampoo/deodorant/toothpaste.. basically everything that you would normally buy in a package - you can probably make a diy version
Step 2 - bring your own...
...mug/cup, cutlery, lunchbox, water bottle.. you get the gist!
Step 3 - use it till the end
Let’s say you slipped on point one and two, or maybe are just at the first arm with this zero waste thing, and you have packaged things in your house. Or maybe food that comes in containers. Whatever it is - use it until there is absolutely nothing left. This means opening up containers and rasping up the insides. You will be surprised! Do that with toothpaste for example and you will be surprised but you may get one or even two more days out of it. I do it often for yogurt which I get in big tetrapak containers, and I get a whole extra portion out of it! All left over on the sides and at the bottom..
Step 4 - find it another purpose
Jars can be reused to keep food over and over again, but can also be used for a nice candle or other decoration. Use your fantasy, and if you need inspiration head over to Pinterest or other similar sites and you will get plenty of ideas!
Step 5 - think twice about your scraps
Scrap parts, whether it is bones from your Sunday roast, the head of a fish or maybe that hard part of the cauliflower or the zest of the orange.. you can definitely use it in some alternative recipe! Make some broths, enhance flavour of jam..get creative in the kitchen!
Step 6 - ditch the use by date mentality
Lastly (at least for this post) use your sight and your smell instead of the sell by or use by date of your food. They tend to be way too conservative and more often than not the food will still be good! If you have been buying away from supermarkets and avoided buying in packages chances are your food doesn’t even have one of those dates printed so you will have to use those senses, but if you happen to have a carton of milk - just smell before throwing it away. Still good? Great! Seems a little off? Why not make some yogurt or cottage cheese?
As Italy welcomes in 2018, it prepares to see a ban on plastic bags for loose fruit and vegetables (abundant in shops and supermarkets as less of them come pre packaged) - sounds great, in theory, however bags will not entirely disappear but will be replaced by bioplastic bags.
Firstly some explanation: What is bioplastic?
Bioplastics are plastics derived from renewable biomass sources, such as vegetable fats and oils, corn starch, or microbiota. Bioplastics are usually derived from sugar derivatives, including starch, cellulose, lactic acid... Be careful though, as not all 'biodegradable plastic' is actually bioplastic. Some biodegradable plastics are contain additives that cause them to decay more rapidly in the presence of light and oxygen (moisture and heat help too). Unlike bioplastics, biodegradable plastics are made of normal (petrochemical) plastics and don't always break down into harmless substances. So make sure to understand what type are you using before composting etc..
And guess who is one of the biggest producers of bioplastic bags?
If you thought Italy well you thought right! Novamont is one of the biggest bioplastic bags producers and they are an Italian company.. now you may see that the Italian ban may not simply have come out of environmental concerns but out of more intricate hidden interests. Italy already banned plastic shopping bags in favour of biodegradable bags back in 2011, perhaps out of the same hidden interests?
But, you say, motive doesn't matter if it reduces plastic pollution and the plastic ocean problem... and I would agree, if it actually solved it.
But is bioplastic as environmentally friendly as it claims to be?
Now, the problem is that this so called biodegrable plastic might not necessarily biodegrade fast enough in water and may be a threat particularly for seabed habitats such as important sea grass meadows which are not only biodiversity hotspots but also important carbon sinks to help us deal with climate change....More detailed info on bioplastics can be found here
In conclusion, I believe that a deeper understanding of degradation and chemical decomposition is needed to fully understand the effects of bioplastic, and choosing the right materials with the minimal impacts on the long term.
So while a step away from plastic is welcome, we should be careful about its replacement - perhaps is time to think of reusables rather than simply replacing. Let's replace our single uses approaches instead...
Spoilers alert: if you have not seen the latest episode of blue planet and you are waiting for it then you may want to skip this. If, on the other hand, you have been touched by the ending then this is for you!
Plastic, it's everywhere. Anything we buy in stores has plastic one way or another, whether the product itself contains it (hey it's found in anything from your toothpaste to your clothes!) or is at least packaged with it. Moreover, it has multiple ways of ending into the environment: from the classic 'thrown on the ground', to more hidden 'windswept'. From transport (apparently 4 containers are lost every day at sea) to its end, plastic creates a problem.
Yes, we can do beach cleans, and yes we can pick up rubbish everytime we are out walking the dog but the problem is a lot bigger than that.
First of all, plastic and ocean plastic in particular is not just what we see washed out on beaches (which can already be a lot depending on where you are!) but it also is a great presence in the higher seas, being trapped in the conveyor belt of currents, and, as we have seen with the bath-ducks in yesterday's episode, can be transported in many directions as well as just remaining trapped in ocean gyres...
more than that, we have the visible plastic, but also invisible (unless you have a good microscope) one known as microplastic which can be as detrimental. And lastly all plastic degrades and leaves pollutants behind. These are persistent organic pollutants, which can act alone or in combination with other pollutants already present in the environment, with disastrous consequences..
These are in fact known to be endocrine disruptors, affecting reproduction and they are also fat soluble, which means they get passed up the food chain and can end up in mammalian milk thus affecting future generations of the ocean giants as we have seen in blue planet. And can you think of another fish-eating mammalian? One that inhabits land? Yes you are right: us! Our plastic will end up back to us...
This has the potential to affect our reproduction, not just causing infertility (in men as well as women!) but also affecting fetal development, and impacting their hormones which will have negative consequences for generations to come...
Surely, we shouldn't stop our good small everyday actions , including trying to go as zero waste as possible and reduce packaging. But we should ask for more from our governments and higher institutions, we should make demands, if not only to keep our planet healthy for the future generations, but to keep them healthy too!
Countless times I have been told that cooking healthy and sustainably is only for the wealthy,
that is too expensive to follow the sustainable life,
that people have family so how can they afford to eat well ?
Today’s recipe is not only yummy and full of goodness, it’s also zero waste and sustainable as well as being very very cheap (about €2.50 everything included for one very large portion or two smaller ones).
Ok, I am telling you in advance is not really suitable for the faint of heart and it’s not super quick
( it does require a little preparation).
Firstly, you will have to go find yourself a local fishmonger – ‘fishmonger?’ I hear you scream ‘but everyone knows that fish is expensive, how can this be a fish-based recipe?’.
Simple! We are using "scraps"
So, here goes the second task: ask them for some scrap parts. I got myself a nice fish head (full of meaty parts as well!) for a whole €0.50!!!
I added to it a couple of crab claws as they are very tasty, but see what takes your fancy. Some molluscs would make a nice addition.
Now, onto the preparation. To divide the meat from the bones I firstly gave the head a quick boil. It stayed intact, and took it out (keep the water though!!) and divided the good meat from the bones.
I kept the bones (more on this in a minute).
Then added the meat and other good parts from the head to the water, together with the crab claws, a can of peeled plum tomatoes, a shallot and a hint of chilli. Back on to cooking and it’s done!
With the bones that I previously kept – they are still full of goodness, so why not make some fish stock for later-on in the week? Just add water and boil for as long as you can (the longer the better but be wary of losing too much water) – then sieve the bones out and done! Freeze or refrigerate and you have some nutrient dense stock to add to your next meal!
We have all heard that plastic is damaging our environments, and that for a sustainable way of living we should reduce or even better stop using plastic produces, especially the disposable kind.. During the plastic challenge back in June, however, I have learned some hard truths, one of them being that it is actually very very very hard, if not impossible, to go completely plastic free! Even by having a reusable water bottle, reusable coffee cup, taking lunch into work and mostly shopping at markets or from local vendors instead of supermarket - some plastic items always ends up in my house.
I always do my best to recycle, however: how do you know your recycling actually gets recycled? (trusting the council? maybe we should but we all hear stories that instil some doubts).
The best way to ensure recycling is... DO IT YOURSELF! And doesn't have to be boring or ugly - somethings can be recycled into beautiful ideas..
So I will present you some of my latest Pinterest finds that I'd love to get started on, and invite you to do the same
Plastic bags baskets
You can find how-to here
Plastic bottles baskets
Instructions on the Frugal Crafter
Self-watering seeding pots
If the drawing isn't self-explanatory enough you can find this simple yet pretty useful idea on here
Now, these are just some of my plans for some diy recycling, especially since shortly I should be moving into a new apartment which will be in need of some decorations...
If you want to find more, pinterest is a great source of inspirations, for example if you have a garden/open space you can find ideas for bird feeders such as this one, or if you are feeling artsy and are good with these kind of DIY projects you can try out these pretty lotus flower candles. As I said, there is plenty out there for everyone, so go on and challenge yourself! And let me know how you get on!!! :D
When in foreign lands, they say, you have to try the local foods..
And so here I am, ready to try my first weird and local cuisine (although I actually found out it's actually a German thing... neighbour enough!): Tongue ham!
What attracted me to it, it's the idea of eating a part of an animal that isn't commonly used.
Why do I believe is important to do that?
(1) Respect for the animal we killed
We need to remember where our food comes from. As a reformed vegetarian I still try my best to carefully consider and remember that the meat under my knife comes indeed from something that we killed. So, let's not throw the 'least liked' parts in the bin
(2) Combact food waste
In a similar manner as the respect for the animal, too much food gets wasted on this planet. It's time to stop, so let's use everything we can! This includes all organs and blood. Sorry for the grim aspect to this post (shouldn't be grim though, that's the point!)
(3) Can be healthy
Now, I don't know if my tongue ham with his processed nature (hey, everyone can have a day off..) is entirely healthy. However some 'less-liked' animal parts can be extremely nutritious. Kidneys, Liver, Tongue can be rich in essential vitamins and nutrients.
Not only healthy, but less-liked parts can also be cheaper, which means even in lean times you can be healthy and keep up your protein intake!
(5) Spark your creativity
Using less common ingredients should spark your kitchen creativity! What best than invent something new? And perhaps surprise family and friends? Go on... challenge yourself!
And remember to keep those bones and unedible by themselves parts (such as cartilage) to make nutritious stocks and broths for other recipes!
So... to summarise, in order to help the planet, contribute to less food waste, respect the animals, save some cash and spark your creativity: eat something unusual! (high grim factor preferred)
Disclaimer: some posts may contain affiliate links. At no extra costs to you, buying through the link will help me in this blogging journey!