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How much food do you throw away each week? Think about the leftovers, the spoiled produce or the beet greens you tossed. We can probably agree that we have all played a small part in contributing to the 54 billion pounds of food that is wasted in American homes each year. Wasting food is often the result of unrealistic meal planning, over-purchasing, and lack of knowledge on how to utilize the produce we purchase. It’s critical that we continue to move the needle towards sustainability.

While produce is incredibly versatile, knowing how to make use of it all can be overwhelming. An easy first step is to make a conscious plan for your produce purchases as you map out meals for the week. For example, when buying radishes for a salad, plan to use the radish greens for a dinner side dish or pizza topping by simply sautéing with olive oil and garlic. Making better decisions with what we purchase will not only help save from waste but also save our food budgets.

Now, in honor of the second anniversary of Have A Plant®, let us challenge ourselves to enjoy all parts of plants and move towards producing zero waste in the kitchen. Many of our favorite fruits and veggies are safe to enjoy from top to bottom, so let’s explore some new and innovative ways to use them.

Broccoli & Cauliflower Stems

While florets typically take center stage, the stems of these veggies can be delicious and tender, too! Try spiralizing the stems into a “noodle” or simply chop and add to your favorite stir-fry dish. You can also add the stems to soups, shred them for a crunchy addition to coleslaw, or puree them into cream-based soups.

Beet Greens

These leafy greens are sweet and mild. They can be steamed, sautéed, or even eaten raw in salads. For an easy side, simply sauté the greens and stems with a bit of olive oil until silky and tender. These greens also make a stellar base for pesto in a weeknight pasta dish.

Strawberry Tops

The stems, leaves, and flesh are all edible parts of this sweet fruit. While the stems and leaves may not be the most flavorful, they still provide some health benefits. Next time you whip up a smoothie, make prep even easier by just throwing the whole berry in. You can also use the cut tops to make refreshing infused water or vinegar.

Kale Ribs

A kale salad hits the spot for a quick lunch, but the ribs can be tough and chewy. However, with a little TLC, they can become the star of the show. Experiment with charring them on the grill, roasting in the oven like kale chips, pickling with your favorite veggies, or simply sauté until tender and translucent for an earthy side dish.

Keep in mind that not all food scraps are edible, but that doesn’t mean they can’t serve a purpose. Turn your citrus peels into homemade cleaners or save pineapple core and steep for an infused tea or vinegar. Whether you’re serving up inventive recipes or repurposing scraps into household staples, let’s enjoy all the beauty that produce has to offer.

Looking for more inspiration on how to enjoy all parts of plants? Check out these apple skin churro chips https://fruitsandveggies.org/recipes/apple-skin-chips-churro-chips/ and many other great recipes at fruitsandveggies.org.

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