5 ways to repurpose food scraps into new food

Cooking from scratch almost always means some discarded food scraps such as peels, vegetable tops and tips or stalks.  When you buy a head of broccoli, fifty percent or more is discarded most of the time since we tend to only eat the florets.  Stalks of collard greens and spring greens are another example of wasted parts.  When you buy broccoli or any other vegetables by weight, you pay for both the part you consider edible and what you discard.  If you purchased your kilo of broccoli for £1.50, discarding half of it (stalks) is like throwing away £0.75 in the bin.

If food is thrown away to landfill, it contributes to greenhouse gases and climate change.  Climate change is one of the reasons we are seeing the current extremities in weather such as droughts and flooding which in turn is affecting crop yields and availability.  With low crop yields and low availability of food crops, food prices go up.  By throwing away food, we contribute indirectly to food becoming more expensive as we are contributing to climate change.

Food prices have risen significantly and will continue to rise.  Some of the food commodities that have seen the biggest jump in price are fruits, vegetables, dairy and meat.  This is another good reason why we should look at how to get the most out of the food we buy.

The scraps that we discard, whether they are carrot leaves, fennel leaves, turnip greens, peels or seeds are loaded with beneficial nutrients.  If you bought the vegetables for their nutrients, isn’t it a pity to waste a portion of those nutrients?  For repurposing already cooked meals, check out our article here 5 ways to repurpose leftover food.

Repurposing the scraps and using them in other meals may help improve the nutritional content of the second meal and may contribute to varying your diet.  A varied diet is very important for health.  We have shared some tips and examples on how to vary your diet in this article Eat healthy through having a varied diet.

Repurpose brassica stalks into Soup

The stalks of the brassica family of vegetables are not only edible but are loaded with nutrients such as vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin A, potassium, fiber, iron and calcium.  The brassica family of vegetables is cabbage, broccoli, kale, spring greens, collard, turnip greens, mustard greens, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, etc.

The stalks of broccoli, kale, cabbage, and cauliflower can all be made into a cream soup.   The method is relatively simple.  You will need to combine the stalks with other ingredients, which is what you would normally do for any soup.

You will need the stalks, additional vegetables such as carrots (potatoes are optional) onion, garlic, butter, cream, salt and your choice of herbs and spices.  Paprika or cayenne is great if you like a bit of heat or you can add black pepper to season.

  • Clean the stalks and chop them into pieces.   For the kale stalks, you may want to chop the stalks into roughly 1-inch pieces so that you don’t end up with a stringy soup as the stalks can be quite fibrous.
  • You can add a potato or two, and some carrots.  Check how you peel your potatoes.  You may be wasting more than you need to waste.  Try washing the potatoes with the skin on ((use a kitchen brush to scrub off dirt) and then scrapping off the top think skin.  You will save a couple of grams of vegetables.  You don’t have to peel the carrots.
  • Fry some chopped onion in butter, add the peeled chopped garlic and fry for another minute or two.
  • Add the chopped vegetables including your chopped stalks.
  • Add salt and the choice of spices.  You can add herbs (I add parsley when eating as a garnish)
  • Add sufficient water to cover the vegetables. Lid and bring to a boil.  Lower heat and simmer till the vegetables are very soft.  Ensure you have enough liquid in order to make the soup.  If not, you can add a bit more water and bring to a boil.
  • Turn off the heat and leave on the side to slightly cool before blending.
  • If using a food processor, strain the liquid and put it aside.  Blend the vegetables into a puree.  Return puree to the pot, add the strained liquid.  Stir to get a uniform mix.  If using a blender (use a jug blender, rather than a stick blender), add the vegetables and some of the liquid and blend.  You can stir in the rest of the liquid.
  • Put the blended soup back on the fire, add cream and heat the soup till it starts simmering.
  • Remove from heat and the soup is ready to serve.  You can garnish with fresh herbs of your choice such as parsley.
    Soup from vegetable stalks
    Repurposed vegetable stalks soup

Repurpose stalks, leaves or peels into salads

Salads are a great way to repurpose scraps.  Stalks of broccoli or cabbage can be grated into any salad involving raw vegetables.  The resulting salad is quite filling, and you get all the additional nutrients from the stalks.   Watermelon peels can also be grated into salads.   I recently made a salad out of watermelon peel and broccoli stalks.  These were grated into a salad of broccoli florets, chopped coriander and white clover sprouts.   As with most of my meals, I don’t stick to specific recipes.  If I am preparing a salad, I am focusing on what I am getting out of it (nutrients) than the recipe.  I toss any worthwhile ingredient into my salad.  I may decide to toss in chopped fruits, blanched garden peas, raisins, olives, and diced cheese, as examples.  Similarly, if you have some cabbage or broccoli stalks, grate them into your salad. They will only add value in the form of nutrients.

Repurpose vegetable tops or greens

Carrot, courgette, pumpkin, butternut squash, leek, celery, turnip, and beet greens to name a few are all edible.  Do you sometimes buy carrots or turnips with the greens still on? Maybe you have a garden where you grow vegetables.   Instead of wasting the greens, repurpose them into cooked greens.  Carrot greens can be sauteed and served as you would any other greens.  Turnip greens have a similar taste to collard greens and can be cooked the same way you cook your collards or kale.  If growing vegetables such as courgette, pumpkin, butternut squash or cucumber, the leaves and flowers are also edible.  Chop the leaves and sauté with onions.  I tend to sauté onions, then add fresh chopped tomatoes and continue cooking till they soften and become saucy, I then add my chopped greens and cook for a couple of minutes.  This is my classic way of cooking all my greens.   Leek tops or greens can be cooked with leek stems.  The leaves are packed with nutrients.  Include them in your leek cream soup.  All these greens can also be made into pies or quiche.

Repurposing Seeds

What do you do with the seeds that you scoop out of your pumpkin or squash?  These are packed with nutrients and are great additions to salads, topping cereals or baking.  Remove seeds and clear pulp off them.  Pop them in the oven for about 5 minutes to dry them.  You can then shell them and use as when needed.

Papaya seeds are also edible.  You can eat a couple of the seeds as they are, if you are adventurous.  You can dry them up, blitz them into a powder and use them as a spice.  Dry them on your window sill or dehydrate them in your oven.  The seeds can also be used to make marinades or dressings.  I found an article with a couple of recipes using papaya seeds here https://www.wikihow.com/Eat-Papaya-Seeds.

If I cannot repurpose any of the vegetable or fruit parts, I send them to the second-best option, my composter.  I compost what I cannot repurpose and use the compost for my plants.  If you have a garden, you can grow new plants from some of the scraps such as carrot tops, celery bases, seeds, etc.

Repurpose your fruit peels into tea

Over the weekend, I prepare fruits for the following week.  I use fruits in my morning smoothies and I also have fruits for lunch sometimes.  I also squeeze lemons into a glass jar to use for the whole week.  Because of this reason, I end up with a good amount of fruit peels. I may have pineapple peel, mango peel,  the mango seed, lemon peel, clementine peel and sometimes banana peel.  I also tend to have fresh ginger fiber as I grate and squeeze the juice out.

I put the peels into a pot, add some cloves, cinnamon bark, and peppercorns, cover with water and bring to a boil.  Stir to make sure all the peels boil.  Make sure that your fruits are washed thoroughly before you use the peels for tea.   Once the tea is boiled remove from heat and leave to cool down on the side.  Strain and refrigerate and voila you have some delicious and nutritious tea.  The final destination of the repurposed peels is the compost bin.

What scraps have you repurposed from your kitchen?  Share in the comments below.


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