Zero Waste Meals



I'm happy there's a farmer's market, a Dave's (which provides fresh produce to / reinvests in the urban community), and a Whole Foods right by work. It's such a luxury. I used to work long hours, and nowhere near any bulk shops, so I'd shop at whatever was open and buy a lot of loose produce, stocking up on bulk ingredients once a month. 

Most of my produce is homegrown or straight from small producers now, but I'm not the biggest fan of American farmer's markets. Comparing them to ones in Paris is like comparing Kylie Jenner to Meryl Streep. Still, it's nice being in America's breadbasket and having a car to get fresh maple syrup straight from trees, or forage wild berries from the side of the interstate, or pick enough peaches to last me and the local food bank all year. Before moving to Paris, I used to take two buses to go grocery shopping, which wasn't fun, but I felt good getting local apples and beans and not eating processed food.


The past few weeks were busy washing and chopping and freezing salad greens and fruits for winter. I freeze everything from juice to soup and kimchi in glass jars. It's safe! My grandma's been freezing in jars and metal containers for years with no freezer burn issues. FEMA recommends storing food in glass rather than plastic bags to prevent contamination anyway. According to Weck and Ball, the ones that have a shoulder are best for freezing, as well as jars that are wider on the bottom- just leave room at the top (below the shoulders) for expansion, and leave space between jars when storing. In all these years, I've only broken one jar, because I threw it on the ground, not because I froze it or anything.

I pack lunch and breakfast, but even though I commute by car, it's not very different from what I packed in Paris, when I had to carry food around all day. I still tote the same jars and tiffin in a cloth bag, or tied up with a napkin (no ice pack, just utensils). Breakfast is usually normal savory food, like Mung beans and kimchi, or nopales from my grandma's garden, or a homemade almond flour tortilla with avocado. I make grain free pancakes a lot too, mixing in nut butter, blueberries, or pumpkin. I mostly eat roasted veggies and salads from homegrown ingredients, with hummus or lemon, bulk almond butter, and bulk olive oil as dressing. This week I tried a Perfectly Imperfect box for the first time, so I'm eating a lot of sweet potatoes loaded with mango salsa I made from its contents, topped by homegrown beans and steamed homegrown Swiss chard. Sometimes I make smoothies, as a water alternative, never a meal replacement. I psychologically prefer sinking my teeth into things.

 

I don't buy a lot of traditional bulk ingredients- almond and coconut flour, quinoa, nutritional yeast, baking soda, and nuts are pretty much it. I make milks from almond butter, a trick Archana shared, eat homegrown beans, and use mashed fruit (normally homemade applesauce or pumpkin) as an egg replacer (oil as a butter substitute, maple syrup instead of sugar). I buy fair trade chocolate chips in paper and canned jackfruit when fresh isn't available. While traveling, I try to stock up on grain free, gluten free bulk pasta, which isn't always sold here. Otherwise I buy that in cardboard too, sparingly- I really only prepare pasta for other people. Typically dinner is just sauteed tomatoes with celery, onions, garlic, and chopped spinach or kale or beans. I pour it on zucchini or squash instead of waiting to boil noodles. Instead of rice, I use cauliflower for deconstructed bibimbap and pizza crusts.  I also like to slice eggplant, top it with tomato sauce and avocado, and bake for mini pizzas. Note: When shopping, I only bring one or two jars, for nut butter and olives or oils. The rest of my groceries go in cloth drawstring bags or netted produce bags.



I have a problem though, because no matter how much I pack for work, I'm always hungry. Like a goat, regardless of quantity, I can't stop until it's all gone, and the more I eat, the harder I am to satisfy. I'm trying to snack on whole fruit, nuts, and celery or carrot sticks with freshly ground nut butters instead of energy bars or packaged vegan snacks. I'll pack grapes or berries in my tiffin with peanut butter and veggies, and raw nuts in a cloth drawstring bag. I'm also trying to fill up on water- especially infused with homegrown cucumber and mint- to curb cravings, which is not very effective. This is gross but I've been keeping a mason jar of almond butter mixed with maple syrup at my desk and eating it with a spoon, for desperate situations (for zero waste office tips, click here).



When stressed, I crave macaroni and cheese. I've made every vegan cheese there is, but I can't make it like Daiya, so I've allowed myself one Daiya mac and cheese per month. I'm working on kicking that though. As my friend Tori points out, cashew queso is truly vegan crack, I just need to force myself through the dreaded task of making it at home. I've been making this cheesecake and fake Hail Merry tarts, and lots of vegan, grain free cookies, nut butter fudge and homemade peanut butter cups too. I even got ticketed for eating peanut butter cups in my car. I wasn't even driving! On Instagram a person asked if there was anything I missed about going zero waste, but not really. I can make most things at home or buy them in my own containers (even vegan cinammon rolls). Sriracha was hard to quit until I just started eating straight peppers and putting homemade kimchi on everything. No hot sauce will ever be hot enough for me again. 

13 comments:

  1. I make a sort of macaroni and cheese-type thing with chickpea flour. To make the sauce I mix the flour with water (add water very gradually or it goes irredeemably lumpy); soften some finely chopped onion or leek; add water to the pan, and when not quite boiling stir in the chickpea flour mix + plenty of salt and stir like mad as it thickens. I guess if you added nutritional yeast that would give it a more 'cheesy' flavour but I'm allergic to it... For the hunger at work maybe some beans or lentils? With plenty of olive oil?

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    1. Hi Nina! This sounds so good! I will have to try it. Oh that's crazy about the allergy to nutritional yeast :( I use it too much, I should cut down and just use it as a supplement. Right now I'm eating beans three times a day, lentils a few times week- I will try bringing it to work more. in France I loved lentil salads with a little lemon for lunch!

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  2. I read your post too quickly and was about to suggest mung beans for emergency hunger pangs, but now I see you eat them for breakfast. I always have a pot of mung bean soup in my fridge for breakfast, and sometimes for a snack in the afternoon. Maybe bring a little bit to work in a jar?

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    1. Sounds so good! I love mung beans with kimchi for a snack :) it's such a good dessert! I'll start keeping a stockpile in the fridge at work.

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  3. I'm always hungry, too. There's one week of reprieve post-period where my hormones must be doing something weird, because those are the only 7 days where I have no appetite; It helps with the snacking bill :) I was wondering if you might write a piece on how when/how you transitioned to your current diet (gluten-free, vegan, zero waste), since I'm actually trying to transition to a more holistic, anti-inflammatory diet (slowly giving up sugar) to improve complexion (we're all narcissists, be proud!) and overall mood. Keep writing, please!

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    1. ah I wish I had a week of no appetite ;) I think if you look on the lifestyle or beauty tabs in the categories menu, I touched on it in previous posts... I will try to write a real post on that subject soon, thank you for the idea!

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  4. Hello, I read so many blogs, but yours is my favorite :) I just wanted to comment because you said you get hungry all the time. I am not sure if this recipe fits your lifestyle but it is definitely helping me. I always have this for breakfast. http://www.feelthelean.com/flat-tummy-superfood-burcha/ jfyi. Thank you for being so inspiring!

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    1. You are so sweet! My friend Sofi told me about Loni Jane, everything she makes looks so good! And she looks so healthy. I'll try this, thank you!

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  5. Almond Butter and Maple Syrup sounds really good. I tend to not buy maple syrup because I am a sugar junkie and end up drinking shots of it straight from the bottle every time I open the refrigerator.

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  6. You might look up the sateity index. Some types of foods just don't make us feel satisfied as much as others. The sateity index ranks ratings of sateity vs. calories. For example, oatmeal and potatoes are extremely satisfying, while kale is very low. I found it helpful when dieting in coming up with small meals that left me feeling full. Might help with your perma-hunger. :)

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    1. Thank you for that advice. I always fall off the wagon when I try eating more vege than animal proteins!

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  7. Don’t you dare feel shame about eating nut butter with maple syrup. Because I do it. In gigantic quantities. It’s like maple syrup got crunchy (because I’m a crunchy and not a smooth if I’m eating nut butters by the spoon).

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