• meganalsford

One thing I really strive to avoid is food wastage, not only is it a waste of money but I feel it's possibly the easiest way for me to reduce my carbon footprint.


Just a quick Google search will tell you that in Australia every person wastes 300kg of food each year. To be more visual, this works out to be 1 in every 5 bags of groceries being sent to landfill. While in landfill, this food waste contributes to 5% of our green house gas emissions (Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment).



This is one of the main reasons why I like plan my grocery shops and I get a real sense of achievement when the week ends and I've not thrown out any food (food nerd alert). But even with the best of intentions and careful planning, life happens and sometimes I don't get to cook my food before it goes bad.

1 in every 5 bags of groceries end up in landfill

Fresh is obviously best and the sooner you eat your fruit and veggies, after they are harvested, the better. But after seeing some green beans in my fridge that had seen better days, I wondered just how far I could push their use by? As you can see from the image below, they were still firm, free from mould but they did have some brown marks. Does this mean I should throw them out or eat them? (I know what you're thinking, and yes I'm dealing with the big questions in life :)).





Now, just to clarify, I'm not a food scientist and this isn't my area of expertise, so please if I get this wrong, leave me a comment to correct me. However, what I did find from a little digging was that, worst case, eating decomposing fruit or veggies can lead to food poisoning which we obviously want to avoid. At the other end of the spectrum you'll just get a product that doesn't taste as good as freshly picked.


The key thing with fruit and veggies to look out for to avoid the worst case, is mould and this is because mould can produce mycotoxins that can lead to food poisoning. The thing with mould, especially mould that has really taken off is that it can penetrate deep into the food so simply cutting it off may not help. So if you see any mould, it's best to use the fruit and veg to build your compost and not to try to eat it.


Also if your fruit and veggies have started to go slimy, then it's also best to throw them out as that slime is bacteria growth.


The good news is without mould or slime, those brown spots on beans can be cut off and then they are good to go. As the beans aren't very fresh anymore it would be best to cook them and not have them as the main feature in a dish as you won't get that delicious bean taste. For these beans, I used them to cook up a Chickpea Curry and froze it all for a later date. You can try my Chickpea Curry (sans spoiling beans if you're lucky to have fresh :)).


Bottom line, don't be too hasty to discard fruit and veggies that are starting to turn but watch out for:

* Mould - put the whole thing in the compost

* Slime - you won't like it but the worms will

* Cut off any brown bits

* Always wash your fruit and veg

* Cook older produce to make the most of the lost flavour.



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  • meganalsford

Jump to recipe


If there is one food that epitomises comfort food, surely it would be lasagne. It might take a while to put together but the result is always worth the effort. Thankfully my little daughter has the same love for lasagne as I do. So after making enough lasagne to feed the army, I can portion out some slices for her and freeze them for nights when I can't be bothered to cook and I know she is guaranteed to eat it.


I love a meat based lasagne but I usually make it veggie based for a number of reasons:

  • It's an easy way for me to get the toddler to eat vegetables.

  • My partner, who would normally look disheartened by a vegetarian dinner, actually looks forward to this one. I'm always looking for ways to reduce our meat intake.

  • I can sneak in some mushrooms - I'm the only lover of mushrooms in my household.

Over the years I've played with different veggie lasagnes. Some veggie lasagnes can be a bit watery and lacking in flavour. That was until a friend told me to treat the veggie sauce as I would a bolognese. That is, simmer it low and slow until the vegetables are tender and the sauce is rich and thick. It was a game changer.





For this lasagne, I've added in some lentils to add some protein to round out the meal. They also give the sauce a nice texture. You could also add other vegetables if you like, such as baby spinach, carrot or celery. Just cut them up small and add with other vegetables.


I also add anchovies to for a bit of umami and to enhance the meaty flavour of the mushrooms. Don't worry you don't taste them in the final lasagne as they dissolve into the sauce. Trust me on this one, if anyone could detect their taste it would be my toddler - she is a super taster! If you want a truly vegetarian lasagne you can leave these out as the lasagne will taste rich.


NOTE: for the sweet potato you need to slice this as thinly as possible so that it will cook through. Use a mandolin if you have one to make this easier. See image below as a guide.



Veggie Lasagne

Makes 6 large squares - invite the whole street over, they'll be enough


Ingredients

1 large brown onion

1 zucchini

3 large mushrooms

1 small eggplant

1 red capsicum

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 bunches fresh basil

1 small sweet potato

400g can diced tomatoes

140g salt reduced tomato paste

1 red chilli (optional)

1/2 cup red wine

3 cups vegetable stock

1/3 cup red lentils

2 anchovies (optional)

Olive oil

375g fresh lasagne sheets

1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese


White Sauce

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon plain

500ml milk

1/2 head cauliflower

1 brown onion

2 cloves garlic, crushed

50g finely grated parmesan

Olive oil

1 teaspoon dijon mustard


Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180oC

  2. Peel and slice the sweet potato as thinly as possible and set aside (see note above).

  3. Remove leaves from basil and finely chop and set aside.

  4. For all other vegetables, finely dice them. You can be rough here as they will be simmered down later in the sauce.

  5. Heat olive oil over medium heat and saute onion until soft, roughly 2 minutes. Add garlic and stir until fragrant.

  6. Add all other vegetables except the sweet potato. Stir to coat in oil and keep on medium heat until the vegetables begin to soften or 10-15 minutes. The idea is to soften the veggies, not let them get too brown. If starting to brown, turn down heat.

  7. Add stock, red wine, tomato paste, tomatoes and lentils and stir to combine.

  8. Finely chop the anchovies and add to the sauce. Turn down heat and let simmer on low hear for roughly 40 minutes or until the sauce this thick and the lentils are soft.

  9. Stir through the basil and season to taste.

  10. While the sauce is simmering, make the white sauce. Cut the cauliflower into florets and boil for 10-15min until very soft. Drain and set aside.

  11. Dice the brown. Heat oil in a small sauce pan over medium heat and brown the onion and garlic until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the onion, garlic and cauliflower in a blender and blend until smooth. Set aside.

  12. Return sauce pan to the heat and melt butter. Add the flour and stir quickly for 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium low and add the milk. Whisk until the sauce becomes thick.

  13. Add the cauliflower mixture, dijon and cheese and stir until combined.

  14. When both sauces are ready. Layer your lasagne in a large greased baking dish. Start with the red sauce, pasta, sweet potato (single layer), white sauce. Keep layering until the baking dish is full. Finish on a white sauce layer and sprinkle with cheddar cheese.

  15. Cover the baking dish in foil and bake for 35 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 35 minutes or until a knife slices easily through the pasta sheets and sweet potato.

  16. Serve and enjoy.



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  • meganalsford

Updated: Jul 15, 2021


I recently came across this product on the supermarket shelves and was instantly intrigued. It's no secret that consumers are becoming more environmentally conscious and companies are responding. This is progress but it can get tricky as some companies may exploit this desire. This is called 'greenwashing' and it's where a company will use elements that give the impression of being better for the environment to gain preference without doing anything.


For example, anyone remember Coke Cola Life! Coke created a cola with less sugar, added in some Stevia (a natural sweetener) and coloured it green. Magically it appeared not only better for you but also better for the environment. Luckily us Aussies are a clever bunch and we saw straight through it and the product failed. It also eventually failed in other countries.


So is this product just another example of greenwashing? The packaging is brown, there is a lot of green and the product is called 'Greener' with images of trees and butterflies. Well yes and no. I think it's a good example of a company moving in the right direction but it might not be as green as you think and may encourage us to use clingwrap guilt free. Let me explain a bit more.


The product claims:

  • Made with 45% plant based materials

  • Made from a resource from the sugarcane industry

  • Sugarcane absorbs CO2 from air as it grows, contributing to reduction of greenhouse effect

  • Helps to reduce the demand for petroleum derived plastics

  • The box is recyclable

  • Tube is recyclable



What is plant based plastic

The plastic wrap is made from a 'sugarcane resource' and when I read this I get visions of the end result not being entirely plastic. However it is still a plastic, 100% plastic. This plastic wrap will have the same end result as other clingwraps. Either ending in landfill, waterways or somewhere else it's not meant to be forever as it won't breakdown. Or you could add it to your soft plastic collection for REDcycle, if you live in Australia, to be recycled. So if you're goal is to be plastic free - this is not the product for you.


I was concerned that being made from plant resources, this plastic wouldn't be suitable for REDcycle but I reached out them and they said that it can be recycled. So a small win.



The Problem with Sugarcane

Essentially this plastic is made from ethanol that has been produced from sugarcane, or at least 45% of it is. Other clingwraps you could then assume are made from petroleum which is a non-renewable fossil fuel which omits CO2 in it's production. Using less petroleum is of course a good thing. But is sugarcane much better?


Sugarcane is more sustainable as it grows quickly and is therefore renewable. And as the product claims, it will absorb CO2 as it grows, also a win. However, the catch is that sugarcane as a crop can also have a negative impact on the environment.


According to the WWF, the problem with sugarcane is:

  • It requires a lot of water to grow

  • Vast amounts of land have been cleared to grow it commercially to keep up with a growing demand

  • The fertilisers used to grow it have been found in the waterways including the Great Barrier Reef.

WWF do have a certification for sugarcane that is grown to protect the environment and those who grow it, called Bunsucro. I've asked Multix where they source their sugarcane and they confirmed it was from Brazil but they are unsure if it certified with BonSucro. This is a shame and a bit of a missed opportunity.


How does it perform

As for how it works, perfectly. As you can see from the image below it even held water in my glass. It has a tight cling and keeps food fresh. I only really use clingwrap to keep left over bananas and avocados fresh as I find I need something that locks out the air and my reusable containers don't offer this. Also I find beeswax wraps don't do well with liquid or moist foods. Ideally I'd not use it at all, but this is a good example of being imperfect. I just try to keep it's use to a minimum.




Verdict

As with anything eco-friendly the hierarchy is to 1. Reduce 2. Reuse 3. Recycle. So if you can avoid plastic wraps, including this one, then that is the most environmentally option.


Good alternatives to plastic wraps are re-purposed glass jars, reusable containers or bees wax wraps to keep food fresh. But if you have to resort to plastic wrap then this is a 'better' option than traditional plastic wraps.


It's a bit of a two steps forward, one step back with this product and certainly not a green light to use plastic wrap liberally. Just remember when you're finished with it add it to your REDcycle collection.


I give this product 2/5 green thumbs


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