VegFest Brighton March 2015

Last week I had the pleasure of going to my second VegFest event, this time in Brighton! I first went there back in September in London and did not want to miss this one! Thanks paperbagblog for the tickets 🙂

My friend and I went to what were 2 days of vegan food samples, coffee, vegan pastries and buns, VBites visits, eye-opening talks and challenging walks in the outrageous coastal wind.

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Organic September and Chinese-Style French Beans

Hello everyone, today is the first day of Autumn! 🙂

Many bloggers have been writing about feeling “Autumnal” since the end of August, but I am only starting to feel like that now, also because for the past few days it’s been quite warm here…

But, if you are feeling the chilly weather and thinking of sorting out your wardrobe and bringing out all the A/W clothing, don’t forget that it’s easy to dispose of clothes you don’t want anymore sustainably, as you can:

We’ve been having Summer vegetables that are still in season as much as possible: groovy grilled aubergines, fried&steamed broccoli, crunchy carrots, fresh chillies, grilled courgettes, cucumbers in salads, frightfully addictive French beans, garlic, lettuce, sweet mangetout, onions, organic potatoes, Spring onions, tomatoes… and yesterday I got some newly seasonal sweetcorn and butternut squash too.

Graffiti Aubergine

Pretty Graffiti Aubergine

I have been grilling vegetables until soft and caramelised to have in seasonal salads too 🙂

Grilled Organic Spring Onions, Courgettes and Aubergines

Grilled Organic Spring Onions, Courgettes and Aubergines

At the supermarket, organic vegetables have a “Celebrate Organic September” sticker on them at the moment, this is an initiative launched by the Soil Association to encourage us to make small changes  and a big difference by choosing organic products.

Just a few days ago I saw this picture on Janina’s Food (Policy) for Thought blog:

Organic Makes a Difference

Organic Makes a Difference

This is what I like to encourage when I buy organic food.

Some may think organic is “double the price, and not better than the rest anyway!” but what they forget is that organic means without pesticides which are harmful for you, for children and which pollute soil and water (and fortunately organic food is not often as much as double the price!).

I bought a few organic vegetables such as potatoes and peppers, especially because they are part of the “Dirty Dozen” fruit and vegetables which contain the most residual pesticides and chemicals in them and really worth buying organic whenever possible.

Organic, seasonal and reduced in price

Organic, seasonal and reduced up to half the price

Organic, pesticide-free peppers

Organic, pesticide-free peppers

Peppers sold individually are usually 80p or 90p, so £1.85 for 2 organic peppers wasn’t far off.

Organic Butternut Squash and UK Potatoes

Organic Butternut Squash and UK Potatoes

The organic butternut squash was £1 down from £1.49 and so the same price as non-organic ones.

The organic potatoes were £1.57 per kg, so slightly more expensive than some types of potato but not as expensive as others either.

I had those lovely organic tomatoes, together with some orange ones, for a bruschetta with our amazing fresh basil.

Organic and orange tomato bruschetta

Organic and orange tomato bruschetta

Last night we enjoyed a couple of Wild Berry Rekorderlig ciders, they are so delicious!!

Wild Berry Rekorderlig

Wild Berry Rekorderlig – vegan

My boyfriend made us some lovely corn on the cob to have with them, he simply cooked the corn a few minutes in the microwave then blistered it directly on the hob to give it a smoky flavour and an added crunch, then added chilli flakes and salt on the plate, WOW!!!

Seasonal Corn on the Cob

Seasonal Corn on the Cob

Then it was time for home-made fresh organic rosemary, garlic and chilli crisps with a balsamic vinegar and fresh garlic dip!

Home-made organic crisps

Home-made organic crisps

And today, he made a fragrant and surprisingly creamy vegan soup.

Creamy and velvety seasonal vegan soup

Creamy and velvety seasonal vegan soup

He made this soup by softening organic potatoes, carrots, French beans, an onion, garlic, garam masala and chilli for a few minutes. Then he added them to a pan with organic stock in it, cooked them through and blended them. He added more chopped garlic and peppers for added crunch and texture and garnished it with sliced organic peppers and some of our fresh parsley.

It was warming, spicy and extremely tasty, especially with all the aromas from the garam masala. I tend to prefer chunky soups but this was really lovely and look forward to having some more soon!

I hope showing you what we’ve been enjoying can inspire you, and show that it can be easy and not expensive to eat more sustainably and following the seasons, plus all of these vegetables are so healthy!

I would also like to share a very quick recipe to make French beans in about…8 minutes or so.

I first came across and tried this recipe when I was 18, so about 7 years ago, on my Italian Chinese cuisine book.

It uses few ingredients and does not involve any boiling to death.

Only using a little oil, the French beans (or dwarf beans) are quickly stir-fried, softened, made crispy by the medium-high flame and retain their refreshing crispness and crunch. The garlic and sesame oil give them an amazing taste, the soy sauce seasons them and the chilli gives them a pleasant warmth and kick.

You can make them with the honey or without, for a vegan version. I have been making them regularly with no honey and I must say I don’t miss it, the main flavour comes from the rest of the ingredients, the honey would add a bit of sticky sweetness.

These are absolutely amazing, I can’t really describe how much I adore them. Great servedwith rice and crispy tofu.

You could experiment with this quick-cooking method and add different spices too, or use other vegetables such as Brussels sprouts.

Chinese-style French beans ingredients

Chinese-style French beans ingredients

Stir-fried French Beans – serves 4

Ingredients

  • 450g French beans
  • 1 or 2 fresh chillies, chopped
  • 2tbsp peanut or vegetable oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed or finely chopped
  • 2tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2tsp honey (optional)
  • 1tsp sesame oil

-Prepare the beans by taking the tips off and cutting them in half or bite-size length;

Prepare the French beans

Prepare the French beans

-Heat the oil in a pan until very hot, add the beans and cook on a medium-high heat for 3 minutes;

-add the chillies and the garlic and cook for a minute;

-Add the soy sauce, the honey if you are using it and the sesame oil;

-Cook for another 2 minutes to let the fragrant flavours mingle and serve.

Crunchy Crispy Chinese French Beans

Crunchy Crispy Chinese French Beans

Do you buy any organic vegetables? Which ones?

Are you looking forward to Autumn?

Vegan Food on Holiday in Normandy

Hello Everyone!

I’m back from another trip, this time to Normandy, and it was lovely!

I’m still trying to be more sustainable, ethical and  healthier by having vegan food and it was the first time I attempted to do this in France, land of butter… and steak.

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Vegan Food on Holiday in Florida

Hello everyone!  🙂

As usual it’s been too long since my last post and not writing for so long has been putting me in a bad mood.

However, after a complete computer fix in exchange for looking after my mate’s fluffy pet while she’s on holiday, I can now use my laptop again 😀

I last wrote just before our holiday to Florida and since then I have been diverted, disconcerted, inspired and intrigued by many things, so I thought I’d start by telling you a bit about the holiday.

It was the first time many of us set foot in the U.S.. As mentioned in my pre-holiday post, I got some lovely vegan treats for the flight as I wanted to eat vegan food on this holiday to the U.S.

The main reason is that thanks to several newsletter subscriptions and by generally reading environment and  food-related articles, I am aware of existing U.S. laws that allow cruel and non-sustainable practices for food production.

This includes the use of toxic substances, antibiotics, animal growth enhancers, keeping pigs in tiny gestation crates where they try to survive without even being able to take one step or move in any way and, unfortunately, a lot more.

You can find out more about this topic by reading:

7 Dodgy Food Practices Banned in Europe But Just Fine Here” (here being the U.S.)

Factory Farming: Cruelty to Animals

Cruelty to Animals

It may be gruesome but it’s what goes on every day, and as consumers who drive demand we can stop this cruelty by not eating meat – or even better – any intensely farmed animal product.

 

Beach just north of Daytona on Florida's East Coast

Beach just north of Daytona on Florida’s East Coast

So I started off the holiday by having Pret a manger’s Superfood Salad at the airport, which has humous, roasted peppers, beetroot, tomatoes, cucumber, quinoa, omega seed sprinkles, salad leaves and a French dressing, it’s really tasty and healthy (and vegan too).

We had previously chosen vegan meals for me to have on the plane and honestly, they looked a lot better – and according to my boyfriend tasted better – than the ordinary meat options (which I’m afraid looked like congealed cat sick).

I had a vegetable and lentil curry and then a really nice grated carrot sweet dessert. As a snack they gave me a humous sandwich and a packet of dried fruit, my boyfriend’s mum also said my food looked nicer than theirs 🙂

For a proper U.S.-style start of the day, on our first morning we went to Golden Corral for breakfast, where you can enjoy a multitude of cold and hot dishes without limit for only $10. For the breakfast meal, they have everything from tacos to fresh omelettes and pancakes cooked as requested and also a chocolate fountain(!). You could actually have a chocolate-covered deep-fried chicken wing, if you so wished.

I asked the people behind the buffet counters if they knew which dishes were vegan but they simply replied with another answer, such as “What?” or “What does that mean?”.

However the manager was really helpful and pointed everything that didn’t contain meat or fish (their baked beans have meat in them), didn’t have eggs, cream, hadn’t been cooked in butter and so on. I ended up having fries (chips) with lots of salad, tomatoes, a taco shell and orange juice. 🙂

Being a family holiday, our first day out was at Disney World – Magic Kingdom, the original Disney theme park.

Prior to the trip I had looked up several websites to have an idea of what kind of food would be served at Disney and if there would be any vegan versions.

The best source I could find was “Eating Vegan at Disney World“, a post from Cadry’s Kitchen blog.

This post is great, full of detailed information on what’s vegan and where you can find these vegan meals. The comments on the post are also full of additional advice to eat meat-free and cruelty-free meals while at Disney.

Cinderella's Castle at Disney World Magic Kingdom

Cinderella’s Magical Castle at Disney World Magic Kingdom

One of the highlights was definitely the vegan burger I had from Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & Cafe in Frontierland in the Magic Kingdom park. The lovely man at the till showed me the ingredient list when I asked if the vegetable burger was vegan and told me the fries/chips were cooked in vegetable oil, so I actually had a lovely meal! (several other times I simply had pop corn or Mickey Mouse-shaped pretzels as the only vegan option available nearby).

You can have this lovely burger with corn on the cob, apple slices or French fries. And the great thing is that you can also help yourself to fresh lettuce, tomatoes, salsa and more at the buffet 😀

It was such an amazing meal, especially after running around all day going on Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Thunder Mountain…

Here is a very detailed review of Pecos Bill from the disneyfoodblog.

Vegan Burger dinner at Pecos Bill Disney Magic Kingdom

Vegan Burger dinner at Pecos Bill Disney Magic Kingdom

 

We had another lovely Disney meal at the Katsura Grill in Epcot, in Japan (or rather in the Japan world area in Epcot).

I had vegan sushi – it was quite funny as I once again asked the manager if there were any vegan options and he said: “Is seaweed vegan?” so there was a vegan option after all 😀

Our lunch in the Japan world in Epcot - I had vegan sushi and green tea

Our lunch in the Japan world in Epcot, Katsura Grill – I had vegan sushi and green tea

Here’s the disneyfoodblog review for this restaurant, together with lots of pictures.

 

On our first Saturday in Florida, we went out to the East coast to St. Augustine. This town is the oldest continuously occupied European-established port in the continental U.S.

Castillo de San Marcos, St. Augustin

Castillo de San Marcos, St. Augustin

We went there after first stopping at the beach for a quick swim – the beach in this post’s first photograph.

At lunch time we went to Harry’s, a New Orleans-style restaurant. Our entertaining waiter told me straight away that all of their sides (as none of the mains were remotely vegan) had meat or were cooked with butter, so I ordered fries/chips and he said I could order a plain salad too.

My boyfriend and his family had seafood, fish cakes, burgers etc. whereas my meal was rather plain in comparison, but I was happy to stick to having a vegan meal, and that salad was lovely and refreshing 😛

Vegan Lunch at Harry's - Fries and Salad

Vegan Lunch at Harry’s – Fries and Salad

 

Another night, we went out to another restaurant: Outback, a steakhouse.

Our waiter was absolutely amazing and did everything in his power to make sure I knew what I could have from the menu, he even asked the chef to make a vegan version of their fried onion dish and then I had “a bunch of vegetables with no butter”, as another waitress put it.

It was all delicious! I had never seen such a helpful waiter before – ok, tips are pretty important in U.S. restaurants so that may be why all waiters are great – but he really was exceptionally lovely.

On yet another night out, this time in Downtown Disney’s House of Blues, the waiter asked the chef if he could “veganise” the grilled vegetables flatbread and the House of Blues salad omitting the cheese, so I another lovely tasty vegan meal.

 

 

Going to Walmart was very exciting: I’ve heard a lot about this supermarket chain so it was nice to go to one!

I wish I  had more time to discover all the vegan options available, but I managed to get some Skippy chocolate & peanut butter and also found some vegan Amy’s Kitchen meals.

This brand started because Amy’s parents wanted to make both healthy and convenient food. I tried one of their best sellers, the black bean vegetable enchiladas, which were full of flavour and vegan, low in fat, cholesterol and sodium and free of dairy, lactose, soy, gluten, nut and corn.

Amy's Kitchen Vegan Black Bean Enchiladas with raw vegetables and salsa

Amy’s Kitchen Vegan Black Bean Enchiladas with raw vegetables and salsa

While at the supermarket we also stocked up on lots of fresh vegetables, which was great in such hot weather and while on holiday, when it can be pretty easy not to eat enough fruit and vegetables.

I also tried Cinnabon cereals with Vanilla Almond Breeze almond milk for breakfast. 🙂

Cinnabon Multigrain Cereal and Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Breeze

Cinnabon Multigrain Cereal and Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Breeze

Another interesting thing for me was to look at different products’ ingredient lists.

I do it regularly here in the U.K. anyway, to know if something is vegetarian, vegan or simply out of pure curiosity, and I was pretty amazed to see the sheer amount of “stuff” that is added to something as simple as bread. We bought one type of bread with a savoury topping that must have had about 25 ingredients, most of which I had never heard of before and couldn’t even pronounce.

That’s another thing I appreciate about living in the U.K., it seems like there is an effort to make food, even if processed, with less artificial flavouring and colours, additives, preservatives etc; whereas several products in the supermarket had “Made with Artificial flavours” written in bold, on the front of the packet as if it were a good thing. It’s a little confusing. Why almost advertise the fact that an already processed food contains potentially harmful chemicals?

Here are additional sources about food additived used in the United States:

Sustainable Table – Additives

Food Additives Banned Abroad but Eaten in the U.S.

 

This holiday showed me that with a little determination, you can eat following your principles and/or needs wherever you want. You can still have fun and enjoy exploring a different country and meet exciting people along the way without feeling like you’re missing out.

Upon my return to work, my colleagues said I had lost weight and looked very healthy. I felt healthy while I was there too, never bloated or too full. Next time I go I’ll try to visit some vegan restaurants too.

I only saw a fraction of Florida, let alone the United States, and I look forward to exploring new places next time.

 

What do you do to be more sustainable on holiday?

Would you change your eating habits in another country for its laws?

Seasonal Spinach: 3 Recipes

Good – sunny – morning (or at least it was morning when I started writing this)!  How are you?

It seems like Spring has finally arrived here in SW London, and as I gather from several other bloggers around the world it’s been a long winter in most places.

I read an extremely interesting article that explain how scientists link frozen Spring to dramatic Arctic sea ice loss. Please read the article if you have a minute, here is a paragraph from it: “the Arctic ice loss adds heat to the ocean and atmosphere which shifts the position of the jet stream – the high-altitude river of air that steers storm systems and governs most weather in northern hemisphere.”

It just shows once again that everything is connected and if we make some changes to our lifestyle, how much energy we use and how much we pollute, we will benefit from it as well as the planet.

~

So before taking a stroll to the park I would like to share 3 recipes which use spinach, which is in season right now in the UK. I have become really interested in trying out as many seasonal ingredients as possible and I have the Eat the Seasons page – which has a sister site in case you live in the US or Canada – always open on the phone, ready to consult.

The main reasons why eating food that is in season is more sustainable are:

  • Food that is in season needs less energy to grow
  • Less energy is used and less pollution is emitted to transport the food – think of the pollution produced by food that is flown from other countries (plus you will save this transport cost, so seasonal local food will be cheaper)
  • You support the local community – especially if you buy from farms and farmer’s markets
  • It allows you to think of nature’s cycles and be more aware of what grows in which season
  • Seasonal food is fresher, tastier and more nutritious – food that is flown from other countries can be a few weeks old before we actually get to buy it!

The vegetables that are in season in April that you can enjoy as much as possible are: broccoli, cauliflower, leeks, purple sprouting broccoli, radishes, samphire, salsify, spinach, spring onions, watercress, wild nettles and rhubarb.

But let’s think of spinach today! 🙂

And by the way spinach is part of the “dirty dozen”, the group of fruits and vegetables that are always best to be bought organic due to the high content of pesticides they retain when not organic.

Spinach is rich in Vitamin A, C, E, K, B2, B6,  magnesium, manganese, iron, calcium, potassium, folic acid, copper, zinc, omega3 fatty acids and more! It’s just amazing!!

So let’s eat it! 😀

Super Seasonal Salad – for 4

First of all a lovely super seasonal salad, super easy and quick to assemble and which includes as many seasonal ingredients as possible.

  • 100g Watercress, washed
  • 100g Fresh spinach, washed
  • 2 Large shallots
  • 3 Spring onions
  • A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
  • A drizzle of balsamic vinegar
  • Seasoning

-Peel and slice the shallots lenghways and cook in a pan with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, season and leave to caramelise on a low heat.

-Meanwhile place the watercress and spinach in a salad bowl and chop the spring onions – if you don’t like them raw because of the strong taste, gently cook them in a little olive oil to sweeten them 🙂

Serve with any dressing you like!

Spinach and Watercress Seasonal Salad

Spinach and Watercress Seasonal Salad

You can also add thinly sliced broccoli and cauliflower to it…

It’s really tasty, fresh and with interesting different textures. Nice in a sandwich too 🙂

~

The next recipe is absolutely delicious and so easy! It’s from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Veg everyday. I made the super easy version which uses tinned tomatoes rather than 4-6 fresh plum tomatoes.

Spinach with chickpeas and cumin – for 2

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp sunflower or rapeseed oil
  • 1 Small onion, sliced
  • 1 Garlic clove, chopped
  • a Pinch of chilli flakes or 1/2 red chilli, chopped
  • 1 Tsp cumin, ground
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 400g Can of chopped tomatoes
  • 150g Spinach, washed
  • 400g Tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

-Heat the oil in a pan and cook the onion until golden. Add the garlic, chilli, cumin (I crushed mine with a pestle and mortar as it was whole), lemon zest and cook for another 2 minutes.

-Add the chopped tomatoes to the pan, stir and bring to a lovely simmer (it will smell lovely!) until saucy

-Once saucy, add the spinach leaves and stir until wilted (it won’t take long at all), add the chickpeas and some salt and pepper. Cook for a few minutes to let the chickpeas heat through and season more if needed. Serve with warm flatbreads, pitta or cous cous. A delicious quick complete meal.

Spinach with Chickpeas and Cumin

Spinach with Chickpeas and Cumin

~

The next recipe is for a lovely tasty soup, I tried it after I saw it on the Keeping Healthy Getting Stylish blog.

Red lentil and spinach soup – for 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 Carrots, chopped
  • 2 Garlic cloves, chopped
  • A 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 Medium onions, chopped
  • 10 cherry tomatoes cut in half, or half a tin of chopped tomatoes
  • A pinch of chilli flakes
  • 300g Red lentils, rinsed
  • 2 Big handfuls of spinach, washed
  • Stone soup broth or 1 vegetable stock cube
  • A drizzle of olive oil

-Cook the onion, garlic and ginger in a little bit of oil until soft, then add the carrots and carry on cooking

-Add the stock or some water and stock cube – enough to cover the ingredients – and the lentils, let it all simmer until the lentils are cooked (add water if it becomes too thick)

-Add the tomatoes, chilli, seasoning and the spinach, let it wilt a few minutes and serve!

Red Lentil and Spinach Soup

Red Lentil and Spinach Soup

Enjoy!

What I love about fresh spinach is that it’s so versatile and cooks almost instantly so I sometimes just add it to a simple tomato and red onion sauce for pasta too

Spinach and red onion sauce

Spinach and red onion sauce

How do you like to eat spinach?

What do you think about eating seasonal food?

Rosie Y: Experimenting

“Anyone who’s ever told you that you couldn’t make a difference was wrong.”

This is a very important concept from J-F and B L’s blog 222 Million Tons, which is a constant help and inspiration to me.

Since starting this blog in February 2012 I know I have positively influenced some people to think more of what we do, buy, use and waste and these actions’ effects on our surroundings. From showing my mum how easy and better it is to finely chop and eat broccoli stalks rather than throwing them away – which is a small change, an easy-to-get-used-to habit – to bigger issues such as climate change.

After starting a new job in December 2012, I got to know a very interesting, stylish and overall amazing young lady, Rosie Y.

We went to a great exhibition at London’s Kensington Olympia, ART 13, and I asked her a few questions about her little experiment…

Rosie Y - @ ART 13

Meet Rosie Y

For the whole month of February you didn’t eat meat, fish or eggs. Why did you decide to do this?

Because I love eating and in China there is a saying: “民以食为天”, which is an idiom that means “Food is the God of the people”.

When I was in China I decided I would not eat meat in order to lose weight but then I gave up, I didn’t even insist for one day! This time I was determined to give it a go as I hadn’t tried a diet that limited this kind of food before: it was like an experiment to see if I could do it, it was my goal to do it.

The trigger was when my friend, Su Fei, had a vegan month in January and I was very inspired by this and wanted to do something similar. I had previously failed my attempts but Su Fei succeeded so it was time for me to try it.

How did it go?

I was very surprised not to feel any different at first. It turns out that not eating meat, fish or eggs for a month is not as difficult as I expected, but I also didn’t feel lighter or healthier as I expected. I made more of my own food for diversity.

Vegetarian and vegan choices in normal restaurants are few, even normal sandwich shops offer very few meat-free options – I have to admit that I got very tired of eating falafels! Oh, the only difference might be that I felt hungrier, or I got hungry easily; however my stomach always felt good, unlike when it sometimes feels uncomfortable, too full and I feel guilty after eating meat.

Are there any positive aspects you noticed during your meat-free experiment?

I expected it to be very hard but now I feel like I can do so much more, I am not afraid of trying new things. Su Fei suggested to upload some pictures of the food I was eating on Instagram and many people from all over the world liked them, that was very surprising and encouraging.  Before my experiment I thought that meat-free vegetarian food wouldn’t be as tasty as meat dishes but after seeing their pictures I realised that it also look and taste just as delicious.

Before this experiment I didn’t like salad. Now I really appreciate salad’s natural taste, and the same happened with Brussels sprouts and other vegetables I tried. Also, I often used to go for food that had many added condiments and sauces, now I really like simple food as well, less processed and less ready-made.

When you eat, do you think about food’s sustainability?

No, but I don’t know why I believe eating vegetarian is a good thing. At the end of the experiment on 1st March I bought fried chicken, not because I wanted it but because it was an easy and practical option. After eating it I felt unwell, my stomach felt heavy, too full, and I felt like a garbage bin for junk food. I did think that maybe I should carry on eating vegetarian.

After trying a vegetarian month, do you feel like trying and eating more vegetables and fruit?

Yes, I have a plan. I must have a whole vegetarian day before having meat or fish the next, as I feel like a vegetarian diet is good for me and also good for the planet.

Rosie Y @ ART 13

Rosie Y @ ART 13

 

Would you consider giving up meat/fish/eggs/dairy for a while to be healthier/more sustainable/ try something new?

No Waste Seasonable Vegetable Stone Soup

Before I start with my no waste soup recipe, I just wanted to say that 2013’s Fairtrade Fortnight has started (25th February – 10th March), and it is a perfect opportunity to try and be more sustainable and “Go Further” by choosing Fairtrade items 🙂 By purchasing the Fairtrade products you love you will also be supporting the farmers and workers who produce them in developing countries.

There are many ways to incorporate more sustainable Fairtrade products into your life, something for each month of the year, as I wrote in last year’s Fairtrade Goodies post.

For more information on why and how to get involved, have a look at the Fairtrade Website – did you know that rich countries waste as much food as the total annual food production of sub-Saharan Africa??

~

Last week I finally made stone soup (or home made vegetable scraps stock), and that, I’m glad to say, involves making the very most of all the vegetables you buy or grow with very little or nothing left to waste. Sustainability at its best! 😀

I first heard about using vegetables scraps, especially if organic, when my sister told me about something she heard from a programme called “Zero Waste”.

The way to make home made stock cubes at a cost of £0.00 is to keep ALL scraps such as carrots peels, courgette ends, onions’ and garlic’s outer skin, asparagus woody ends etc. and once you have enough, dehydrate them in a low oven at about 100C for about 4-5 hours (or a dehydrator if you have one of course), or lay them out on a tray for a whole hot sunny day, turning them around so they sun-dry evenly.
Once they are dry, whizz them up in small pieces in a food processor or using a pestle and mortar and then add 2x times the quantity of rock or fine sea salt.
You can put the dry mix in a jar and keep it in the fridge for months and it would be a very cute present for a food lover too.

An additional way to reduce waste is to always keep unwaxed lemons and oranges’ peels by peeling them off with a potato peeler (minding to leave the bitter pith off) as they are very rich in flavour, microelements and vitamins and use them in desserts, on vegetables, pasta or even in cocktails.
You can store them in the freezer and use them whenever needed. 🙂

This time I tried to make stone soup inspired by J-F, blogger on 222 million tons. I tried to make it even more sustainable by adding as many seasonable vegetables as possible in it: I checked the Eat the Seasons website and chose some leeks, parsnips, potatoes, swede and turnips for my soup.

February vegetables: swede, leeks, main crop potatoes, turnips, parsnips

February vegetables: swede, leeks, main crop potatoes, turnips, parsnips

I also bought some purple kale (which was half price as in season), shallots and Brussels sprouts to stock up on additional vegetables in season.

To make my stone soup I started “collecting” parts of vegetables I would normally discard -and unfortunately throw in the bin as we don’t have a garden for compost or a food waste collection service 😦 – and freezing them.

Every time I peeled or chopped some vegetables after washing them, I put the peels, skins, tips etc. in a box in the freezer (you could use a freezer bag too of course).

Precious Scraps for a Precious Broth

Precious Scraps for a Precious Broth

These quickly added up and I decided to make my stone soup by simply putting all the scraps in a big pot, covering them with water, adding some peppercorns and bringing them to a boil and then letting them simmer for about 45 minutes.

I then strained the stock and pressed the vegetables to get all the flavour and stock out,  you can use the vegetable scraps for your compost heap after that. About a litre of stock came out of the scraps and it tasted delicate, but still tasty and sweet as I had sweet potato peels in it too.

I used about half of it and I froze the rest, I added some water, herbs, my vegetables and pre-soaked pulses and made some of my usual vegan warming country soup (with added chilli sauce as I am a little obsessed): no-waste stock, vegetables in season and vegan, so pretty sustainable and very nice!

Home Made Stock Vegan Vegetable Soup

Home Made Stock Vegan Vegetable Soup

An interesting article from another blog, The Garden of Eating, lists some of the vegetables you may want to avoid using for the stock as they have very overpowering flavours such as cabbage, Brussels sprouts and artichokes.

Have you tried making your own stock?

Do you have any tips to make the most of something and waste less?