Root To Stem: 6 Ways To Use Vegetables More Sustainably

When it comes to eating sustainably, plant-based is the way to go. Indian cusine is rooted in vegetables too, and we naturally have a more eco-friendly diet than many countries but even though we make this commitment to better, healthier eating, there are still places where we can all stand to improve our habits a little further and that’s in how much food waste we generate. 

It’s almost second nature to us to chop off the leaves and stems of plants and chuck them in the bin, but the good news is that there is a whole segment of cooking devoted to making sure that doesn’t happen. Root-to-stem cooking is the vegetable spin-off of nose-to-tail cooking which became common as a more sustainable way to consume animal proteins. It encouraged people to use every part of an animal in order to reduce waste.

Root-to-stem works in the same way by encouraging people to view items that are traditionally tossed in the trash as potential ingredients and incorporate them into your recipes. Doing this is not only more nutritious for you but also safer for the planet. It’s also a great approach for people on a budget because it helps you stretch your groceries even further and gives you even more opportunities for interesting meals.

If you’re ready to go green, here are a few ideas to get you started on how to cook from root-to-stem.

Broccoli Stems

If you’ve been tossing out the woody, chunky broccoli stem in favour of the florets then you’ve been missing out on one of the best parts of the vegetable. Just trim down the hard outer layer, chop the stem into cubes and add it to the dish or spiralize it into veggie noodles.

Pumpkin Seeds

When you’re done scraping the seeds and pith out of a pumpkin slice, go ahead and wash off the seeds. When they’re dry they can be oiled, salted, seasoned and baked into delicious crunchy (and healthy) snacks. 

Potato Skins

Though in most places potato skins don’t make a huge difference to the recipe we understand that there are places you just can’t include them. In those cases, consider washing off your skins, and turning them into super flavourful potato chips by frying, baking and seasoning them.

Beetroot Greens

The entire beet plan is very much edible and they can be eaten raw or cooked. Roast off the stems and saute the greens like spinach to bring out their natural earthy flavour. Or keep the crunch intact in a fresh salad or slaw.

Carrot Tops    

More like herbs than greens, carrot tops are actually in the same family as parsley. Treat them right by turning them into a tangy chimichurri sauce or a homemade pesto to let the natural flavours shine.

Cauliflower Rice

One of the most versatile vegetables, it can be cut up into steaks and enjoyed as a meat substitute in virtually every dish. The hard stem of a cauliflower which usually gets tossed can easily be blended up to create a healthy rice substitute.