Are you trying to reduce waste in your kitchen?
Creating a zero-waste kitchen is a great start to living waste-free. Most of our waste comes from this part of the home. Grocery shopping, storage, cleaning, the meals we create.
Start slowly by implementing new habits along the way. Remember that you don’t have to convert to a completely zero-waste lifestyle in order to make a difference for the environment.
- Create an “eat first” area in your fridge where you are most likely to see leftovers.
- Disinfect your fridge regularly. invisible mold spores can speed food spoilage.
- Store fresh herbs like parsley and cilantro in a glass of water like cut flowers.
- Store mushrooms in a paper bag in the fridge or in an open container if you like them drier.
- Keep onions and potatoes apart to keep the potatoes from sprouting.
- Separate bananas and apples from other fruit to slow ripening.
- Store oils you use infrequently (like sesame or walnut) in the fridge.
- Store leftovers in clear, glass containers so you can see what’s inside.
- Most “best by” dates refer to a food’s quality, not safety. If it smells and looks fine, don’t toss it.
- Greens like kale, spinach, or beet greens on the verge of going bad can be sautéed or steamed. It will give them new life.
- Revive wilted greens by putting them in ice water for 5-10 minutes.
- Make apple and pear sauce with soft fruit. Place peeled, cored chunks in a pot with a bit of water, then heat and mash. Add grated ginger and cinnamon.
- Use leftover herbs in salads sandwiches, as a garnish in soups, or for making pesto.
- Mix together small amounts of leftover grains that have similar cooking time.
- Periodically clean out your fridge by making a veggie stir-fry or a stew and use up all the leftovers.
- Do the same with grains and canned foods – make soups that can be frozen.
- Keep a container in the freezer for scraps of carrots, onions, celery, herbs, garlic, and when it is full, make a stock.
- If you are interested in backyard composting go to epa.gov/recycle/composting-home
- Urge your condo or apartment building to start composting.
- You can compost fruit, veggie scraps, pasta, bread, cereal, egg shells, coffee grounds, paper plates, and more.
- If you don’t take compostables out regularly, keep them in the freezer so they don’t smell.
Reducing waste is important because most of us don’t really know where our waste is going. If we don’t recycle properly, waste like plastic ends up in landfills which ends up breaking down into smaller pieces of plastic and polluting the earth. Plastic also gets blown away from landfills, ending up in waterways that lead to our oceans. It’s important to reduce our waste to help save the oceans and the entire ecosystem.
By reducing waste, especially in the kitchen, we’re ensuring that we minimize our contribution to the pollution of our planet.
Focus on more sustainable products that are made with natural materials and created with minimum impact on the environment. These zero-waste products will last longer, are compostable and create less of an impact on our ecosystem.
Low Waste Tips
- Bring reusable grocery shopping bags. You’ll prevent a lot of plastic from entering your kitchen.
- Bring reusable produce bags. I like these cotton mesh ones from Tare Market. You can store produce in your pantry with these as well which makes them more versatile and of course, more zero-waste.
- Don’t buy packaged items. Don’t buy individually wrapped food and products like snack bars, and dishwasher tablets. That’s a lot of unnecessary plastic as well as unrecyclable materials that your kitchen doesn’t need.
- Buy from bulk bins. You can fill up your own reusable bags with pasta, rice, grain, etc. There’s absolutely zero waste when you do this since you’re technically bringing the packaging. Most bulk sections have gloves you can wear to handle the scoops.
- If you don’t have access to bulk bins, buy the largest size available to reduce waste.
- Buy food in glass jars or bottles that you can reuse for storing other food or household items. Reusing glass jars is a great way to get free storage jars that you can use in your kitchen.
- Shop local. Buy from local farmer markets where food also has little to no packaging. Also, supporting your local neighborhood vendors lessens your carbon footprint.
- Don’t buy single use beverages like bottled water, soda or juice. Use reusable water bottles. I like S’well stainless steel bottles.
- Use reusable food wraps. I like these food wraps from Eco Foods. Use as a sustainable saran wrap alternative for the kitchen. Protect fruits and veggies, cover bowls, etc. like you would with saran wrap, minus the waste.
- Use silicon food storage bags. I like these from Stasher. Instead of buying disposable plastic baggies for food storage in your kitchen, invest in reusable silicone bags that can be reused over and over again.
- If you have to use sandwich bags, switch to BioBags, resealable compostable food stage bags. I reuse these by washing and hanging under my sink on this wooden drying rack from Boon Supply.
When starting a zero-waste lifestyle, start by making more conscious decisions about the kitchen products you buy by examining the packaging.
Avoid products that come packaging in plastic that is not recyclable, and skip unnecessary packaging. Don’t use paper towels to clean up spills, save the trees and just use a rag! You can also invest in reusables like Nano Towels that are eco-friendly, more absorbent and last forever.
Don’t use disposable plates and cutlery. Buy compostable plates, bowls, cutlery, etc. or simply use regular kitchen dishes and utensils. Bamboo cleaning supplies are also a more sustainable solution to plastic in the kitchen. You can get a whole set of plastic-free cleaning brushes at Net Zero Co.
Pomegranates are called a “superfruit” because of all the antioxidants they contain. The pomegranate, or Punica granatum, is a shrub that is categorized as a berry. The pomegranate fruit is about 2–5 inches in diameter. It looks kind of like an apple. Pomegranates have glossy leaves, leathery red skin and a floral crown (or calyx) at the top. The flavor and juiciness improves after several months of cool, preferably dark storage.
The inside of the fruit is filled with ruby-red arils, or seed sacs (600 of them on average) separated by thin, bitter and white membranes. The skin of the pomegranate is thick and inedible.
Pomegranates have an impressive nutrient profile. One cup of arils contains:
- Fiber: 7 grams
- Protein: 3 grams
- Vitamin C: 30% of the RDI
- Vitamin K: 36% of the RDI
- Folate: 16% of the RDI
- Potassium: 12% of the RDI
The pomegranate arils are also very sweet, with one cup containing 24 grams of sugar and 144 calories.
Pomegranates contain punicalagins and punicic acid, unique substances that are responsible for most of their health benefits. Punicalagins are extremely potent antioxidants found in pomegranate juice and peel.
They’re so powerful that pomegranate juice has been found to have three times the antioxidant activity of red wine and green tea.
Pomegranate extract and powder is typically made from the peel, due to its high antioxidant and punicalagin content.
Punicic acid, found in pomegranate seed oil, is the main fatty acid in the arils. It’s a type of conjugated linoleic acid with potent biological effects.
Test-tube studies have shown that pomegranates can reduce inflammatory activity in the digestive tract, as well as in breast cancer and colon cancer cells. Regular intake of pomegranate juice has been shown to lower blood pressure levels in as little as two weeks.
One 12-week study in people with diabetes found that 1.1 cups of pomegranate juice per day lowered the inflammatory markers CRP and interleukin-6 by 32% and 30%, respectively.
One study conducted on pomegranates proposed that its juice may help inhibit cell proliferation, invasion and promote apoptosis (cell death) in various cancer cells, particularly against prostate cancer. Preliminary evidence indicates that pomegranate juice can potentially inhibiting cancer growth and lowering the risk of death. Pomegranate extract may inhibit the reproduction of breast cancer cells, even killing some of them.
Laboratory studies suggest that pomegranate extract can block enzymes that are known to damage joints in people with osteoarthritis.
Several human studies have shown that pomegranate can have benefits against heart disease. It improves your cholesterol profile and protects LDL cholesterol from oxidative damage. Punicic acid, the main fatty acid in pomegranate, may help protect against several steps in the heart disease process.
A 4-week study in 51 people with high triglyceride levels showed that 800 mg of pomegranate seed oil per day significantly lowered triglycerides and improved the triglyceride-HDL ratio.
Another study looked at the effects of pomegranate juice in people with type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol. They noted significant reductions in LDL cholesterol. Pomegranate juice has also been shown to protect LDL cholesterol particles from oxidation, one of the key steps in the pathway towards heart disease.
Pomegranate has antibacterial and antiviral properties which may be useful against common gum diseases and yeast infections. The plant compounds in pomegranate can help fight harmful microorganisms. For example, they have been shown to combat some types of bacteria as well as the yeast Candida albicans. The anti-bacterial and anti-fungal effects may also be protective against infections and inflammation in your mouth. This includes conditions like gingivitis, periodontitis and denture stomatitis.
Some evidence shows that pomegranate may improve memory in older adults and post-surgery. In addition, studies in mice suggest that it may protect against Alzheimer’s disease.
Pomegranate is rich in dietary nitrates, which have been shown to improve exercise performance.
A study in 19 athletes running on a treadmill showed that one gram of pomegranate extract 30 minutes before exercise significantly enhanced blood flow, delaying the onset of fatigue and increasing exercise efficiency.
How to Buy
Look for fruits that are hard on the outside and feel heavy for their size; pass on any that have cracks or bruises. Rind color, which ranges from bright pink to red to brick, indicates variety, rather than ripeness. Choose the largest fruits you can find. The bigger the pomegranate, the juicier it will be.
How to Store
Whole fruits can be kept at room temperature for a week, or in the fridge for two. Or remove the seeds and seal them in an airtight container; they’ll keep for five days in the fridge or up to three months in the freezer.
How to Cook
Pomegranates are easily eaten by removing the crown with a paring knife and scoring through the tough rind. It’s also helpful to immerse the fruit in a bowl of cool water, holding it under the surface to gently break apart and separate the arils, which will fall to the bottom. The floating bits of rind and membrane can then be skimmed from the surface. (This will keep your shirt from getting red stains!)
For a fresh glass of pomegranate juice, place a few handfuls of arils into a bag and flatten them gently with a rolling pin. Pour from the bag, strain the seeds and enjoy!
Pomegranates can be added to marinades, sauces and salsas. They can be sprinkled onto squash, rice, and any sweet breakfast for a burst of tartness.
Winter Green Salad With Sugared Walnuts, Crispy Pears And Pomegranate
Terry Walters, Clean Food
- 6 cups chopped or torn bitter greens (arugula, romaine lettuce, frisee, dandelion greens or watercress)
- 2 D’Anjou pears (red or green), thinly sliced
- Seeds from 1/2 pomegranate
For the sugared walnuts:
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon walnut oil
- 1 tablespoon maple sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 cups walnuts
For the pomegranate vinaigrette:
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1/2 cup pomegranate juice
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon zesty honey mustard
- sea salt
Prepare the vinaigrette: in a medium bowl, whisk together all ingredients by hand or with handheld blender. Season to taste with salt. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Prepare the walnuts: Preheat oven to 350°F. In medium bowl, combine syrup, walnut oil, maple sugar and cinnamon. Add walnuts, toss to coat and spread on parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake until lightly browned (about 20 minutes). Remove from oven and set aside.
Assemble the salad: Place greens in salad bowl, combine with most (but not all) of the sliced pears, drizzle with pomegranate vinaigrette and toss to coat. Arrange remaining pears and sugared walnuts over salad greens, top with pomegranate seeds and serve.