Want to stop being part of the food waste problem and start being part of the solution? Choose more foods that allow you to use the entire thing, like these 10 root to stalk veggies! Bonus points if you grow them yourself!
Did you know that Americans waste almost half of their food every year? That’s over $150 billion worth of food that ends up in the dumpster! Considering how many people are going hungry in the United States every day, it’s awful to think about how much we’re wasting that others could be eating. I know that I am part of the problem. Our pantry is stuffed with food, yet every single night someone in my home comments that we have nothing to eat. Once a month, I clean out my fridge and freezer and end up with an entire huge garbage bag filled with stuff we forgot about, got bored with, or just plain didn’t like.
Sometime late last year, I set a new goal for myself: waste less, spend less on junk, and learn to grow my own produce. It’s the middle of winter, so growing my own food will have to wait. Plus, I am the queen of plant killing, so honestly, it’s more like “get my mom to grow more food for us.” Still, you can start spending less and wasting less right now though with these 10 root to stalk veggies!
10 Root to Stalk Veggies to Buy or Grow
Root to stalk basically means what it sounds like: you can use the entire thing.
Aside from preparing the usual parts in a variety of ways, you can use the “extra” parts to flavor soup stock. Extract from the roots is supposed to be a good hangover cure, not that I’d know. The seeds are used in Traditional Chinese Medicine as a laxative, a diuretic, and for other purposes. Make sure you talk to a doctor or consult a professional homeopathic practitioner before using in that way.
Use the stalks in your vegetable juices. Since they’re a bit bitter, mix them with a sweeter fruit or veggie. Check out these 7 ways to use those stalks!
Aside from the seeds, pretty much every part of the apple is useful. The peels and cores can be used to add more flavor to your homemade apple cider or even a pot of hot tea. You can also use them to make apple cider vinegar.
I wish the grocery store would stop chopping off those leaves, they have a lot of uses. My mom needed them for her turkey meatballs and I had such a hard time finding celery with leaves still on them. The leaves and the base of the stalks also work great in soup recipes to add a little flavor.
I can’t stand beets, to be honest, but my mom loves them. Did you know that you can use those greens that come with them in a ton of recipes. Try this beet greens pesto to start with!
6. Citrus fruits
Pretty much every citrus fruit can be used in its entirety with a little creativity. Lemon, lime, and orange peels are great for making zests. I have no idea what that means, but I see it in recipes a lot. “Zest the peel” or something like that. You can also use them to make potpourri, which is a lot easier for those of us who can’t actually cook!
Who knew that you could use every part of the pumpkin, including the outside? Not me! This post tells you how to eat every last part, including the rind (you have to pick just the right pumpkin for that). My favorite, though? Using the pumpkin rind as a bowl!
Another surprise to me, corn cobs actually have many purposes, including making corn cob jelly. Apparently, you can also make wine out of them. Hmmm, is that like moonshine? The easiest way to use them, though, is to add them to soup stocks for more flavor (so many things can be used in this way). Even the husks are useful.
While we mostly use the root in cooking, the leaves and shoots are also edible, according to this post. Grind them up and use them as a garnish in salads and what not. They’re not as boldly flavored as the root.
Another plant that we favor mostly for the root, those leaves aren’t garbage! Use them in stir fry, soups, and salads. Check out this post with 5 radish leaf recipes for more tips.
Just a word of warning: while you can use many veggies in their entirety, you should continue to chuck most fruit seeds. Apricot, cherry, apple, peaches, plums, and avocados all have dangerous seeds. You could save them to grow new fruits, I suppose, but keep them far away from your pets. This article from Garden Guides does a good job of explaining which fruit seeds are deadly and why. Also, before you toss leftover parts to your cats or dogs, check out this list of plants that are poisonous to your pets!
Can you think of any other fruits or veggies that you can eat from root to stalk? Let me know below!