Stalks, Stems & Skins – Chasing Crusoe.

Stalks, stems and skins – embracing fruit and vegetables in their entirety in an attempt to help reduce the global food waste epidemic.

Food waste is a colossal worldwide problem. Globally, millions of tonnes of food waste enters landfills every year, resulting in detrimental effects to our environment. According to data from Love Food Hate Waste New Zealand, New Zealanders alone contribute 150,000 tonnes annually to this growing worldwide problem.

It appears that the problems we are facing globally, are overwhelming and that perhaps, our own personal every day decisions could not even come close to having a positive effect or even making a slight difference.

But one simple way in which we could make a start is in our homes…to utilise the parts of vegetables and fruits that we tend to discard. Even if you couldn’t manage to achieve all of this, try beginning with one or two changes and it may not be merely bearable, but also surprisingly pleasant!

Oftentimes, a lot of the taste, texture and nutrients are higher in the parts of vegetables and fruits that we have become accustomed to discarding…


We all know how difficult it is to sometimes time the ripening of avocados. Perfect one day, not so much the next! If you have some browning, soft avocados, they are great frozen, to use in smoothies.

Beetroot leaves.

Oftentimes we use the actual beetroot and discard the leaves. The leaves are also edible and can be used in salads or as a pretty garnish. They can also be cooked and used in recipes as a substitute for silver beet or added to bolognese sauce.

Broad bean greens.

Not only are the beans edible, but also the leaves and tips of the plant. All of these can be added to salads as young plants.

Broccoli stems.

About 70% of a broccoli plant is actually comprised of the stems and leaves, both of which are edible. They can be steamed alongside broccoli florets, sliced and fried in butter with garlic, grated into meals to nutritionally bulk them out, or cut and roasted with a batch of roast veges.

Carrot leaves.

Carrot leaves can be slightly bitter but are edible and nutritious. They could be used in salads, for juicing or in a delicious homemade pesto. They would be perfect to freeze for use in preparing a delicious homemade vegetable stock.

Carrot, Kumara, Parsnip & Potato Skins.

Each of these root vegetables simply need a scrub to remove any excess dirt and they are good to prep and delicious with their skin on, any way that you would usually enjoy them. Mashed, roasted or made into chips/wedges…

Cauliflower stems and leaves.

Cauliflower stems can be grated to bulk out casseroles further or grated to use as a healthy change from rice or the like. The stems can be sliced and enjoyed with florets in cauliflower cheese. Simply slice them and fry with butter and garlic. The stems and leaves can be added to roast veges. The leaves can also be added to salads.

Celery leaves.

So much of celery is wasted as we tend to eat the sticks and discard the leaves, but the leaves are edible also. Put them into a salad, use as a pretty garnish or add to juices.

Citrus peels.

Citrus peels can be grated to use the zest in baking, pasta or salads. They are perfect in making homemade teas. There are many household uses for citrus peels from cleaners, deodorisers, polishers through to providing scent in homemade soaps and makeup. Citrus peels can also be used as deterrents for some pests.

Green tomatoes.

Green tomatoes are great to use in chutneys and relishes. Recently I tried something adventurous, which to my surprise was delicious. Read more here:

Imperfect food.

We are accustomed to choosing the most aesthetically pleasing produce, however oftentimes, produce is absolutely fine with its’ imperfections. It may have just developed into a slightly odd shape. It could have developed nudged up against a branch and have a mark. But these imperfect fruits and vegetables are still entirely edible and just as nutritious. We need to welcome initiatives such as TheΒ Odd Bunch so that this food doesn’t end up as waste.

Kale stalks.

The stalks of kale are often discarded but are also full of goodness. They are enjoyable roasted in with an array of roast vegetables… tossed in olive oil & salt, they crisp up resembling a chip texture. You could also make entire batches of kale chips using kale and stalks – simply toss gently in olive oil and bake for approximately 1/2 hr at 140Β°C until crispy. Kale stalks could be thinly sliced and fried with garlic and butter. Young kale leaves, stem and all, are great in salads. If you have family members that are a little cautious, they could also be chopped and disguised in bolognese sauces, to provide even more great hidden nutrients.

Over ripe fruit.

If neglected fruit is looking overripe, put it into the freezer, to use in future smoothies or juices, baking or crumbles.


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