It’s being touted as the top food trend of 2018. It’ll help you unleash your creative freedom in the kitchen, and introduce you to a whole new world of delicious flavours and nutrition. It’s called root-to-stem or root-to-leaf cooking, and as an added bonus will help you stretch your culinary dollar. Wait a minute! A cooking approach that’s good for the environment, won’t cost me any more money, and makes me trendy too? Count me in!
Think about it for a second: we spend our hard-earned money on quality produce, only to throw half of it away. That has always been such a bizarre concept to me. The Natural Resources Defense Council says 40 percent of the food we buy is wasted. If that doesn’t speak to you, then maybe this will: the average American household throws away about $120 a month of uneaten food. Maybe I haven’t thrown that much away, but I am still guilty of waste, and I’m so ready to make a change.
Many other people feel the same way. All of this waste has inspired a new movement, one that Forbes and Whole Foods call a top food trend for this year. The approach isn’t new; vegans and vegetarians have long promoted it. But the rest of us seem to only be catching on now. The idea is to take the stalks, ribs, leaves, peels and the stems of your produce and find creative ways to integrate them into your meals.
You could simply save all of your veggie scraps and make a vegetable broth by boiling them in some water. You can use carrot stems for pesto, or eat the whole leek by making “Leek Greens Carbonara with Bacon and Basil”. Instead of peeling your potatoes, slice them up and roast them with the skin on for super crispy and tasty wedge fries. Puree broccoli stems in a soup or cut them into medallions and roast them for a healthy twist on chips. The possibilities are endless!
I’ve been eating “clean” for a few years now, and this week, I decided to clean my conscience too. When I think about some of the vegetables I regularly waste parts of, beets and broccoli come to mind. So, I made roasted beets with sauteed beet greens as a side to our meal one night. For the first time, I cooked the greens just like I would spinach or kale, and combined them with some leeks, garlic, salt and pepper. It was so simple, with the end result being both delicious and nutritious! The beets themselves have anticancer properties and lower blood pressure, but their leaves are a great source of fibre, protein and many antioxidants.
Another night I made a broccoli stir-fry similar to this one, where I used both the florets and the julienned stems. Who knew the stems are actually more nutritious? Gram for gram, they contain more calcium, iron, and vitamin C than the more-widely used broccoli tops.
As more of us turn to a plant-based diet, root-to-stem cooking truly is a noble idea. It’s time we all started reducing our food waste, getting as much as we can from our money and our produce. If you need some help getting started, there are more than 65 recipes featured in “Root-to-Stalk Cooking: The Art Of Using The Whole Vegetable.”
With spring finally here and summer on the way, I can’t wait to hit my local farmer’s markets for fresh fruits and vegetables. And from now on, I’ll be using it ALL, from head-to-toe. Jump on this bandwagon with me!