Listed below are recent posts across all of CalRecyle's blogs.

  • Food Waste Prevention Recipe: Soy Marinated Crispy Tofu Bowl with Garlic Kale and Brown Rice


    Last week we celebrated California’s first annual Food Waste Prevention Week. As CalRecycle’s Executive Fellow and a former restaurant cook, I have been sharing strategies and ideas to reduce food waste at home!

    Check out my last blog if you missed out on my tips for successful meal planning. Food Waste Prevention Week may be officially over, but there’s every reason for all of us to adopt food waste prevention as a lifestyle!

    I’m sharing one of my favorite recipes that I prepare for lunches during the workweek.

    I’m not vegan, but I do enjoy the tofu in this recipe. Searing the tofu is a little more labor-intensive than simply baking it in the oven, but the tofu’s brown edges resulting in the marinade caramelizing in the pan is worth the tradeoff. 

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    You can maximize your time by doing several steps at once, so make sure to read the whole recipe through before embarking on your delicious adventure!

    Soy Marinated Crispy Tofu Bowl with Garlic Kale and Brown Rice

    Adapted from Budget Bytes

    Serves 4

    For the Tofu:

    1 14 oz. Block Extra Firm Tofu
    2 tablespoons Soy Sauce
    2 tablespoons Chili Garlic Sauce (or Sirach Sauce)
    1 tablespoon Ginger, grated finely
    1 tablespoon Brown Sugar
    1 tablespoon Vegetable Oil

    For the Rice:

    2 Cups Brown Rice
    1 teaspoon Toasted Sesame Oil (Optional) 

    For the Kale:

    2 cloves Garlic
    1 bunch Kale
    1 teaspoon Vegetable Oil

    Instructions:

    1.    Begin by pressing the tofu for up to 30 minutes in order to remove excess moisture. Wrap the tofu in a clean dishcloth or napkin, and place it between two dinner plates with something heavy on top, such as a can of beans or a pot filled with water.

    You don’t want to place anything too heavy that could smash the tofu. We just want to make sure the excess water is squeezed out.

    Draining the tofu of excess liquid encourages crispy browning of the surface when we cook it later on.

    2.    While the tofu is pressing, prepare the rice according to the package directions. Make sure to include salt! Once the rice is done cooking, fluff it with a fork and gently stir in the toasted sesame oil.

    3.    While the rice is cooking, assemble the marinade. In a small bowl, stir together the soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, brown sugar and oil. Grate ginger directly into the marinade using the smallest side of a box grater or a microplate. Stir together and set aside.

    4.    At this point, the Tofu should be done draining. Cut the block in half lengthwise, then cut those halves in quarters. Place the tofu in a shallow dish and pour the marinade over it. Allow the tofu to marinate for a minimum of 20 minutes, flipping the tofu over once to allow even absorption.

    5.    When the tofu is marinating, prepare the kale. First, gently tear the kale into 1- to 2-inch pieces. I don’t mind kale stems but if you do, remove them. Rinse well in a colander. Mince the garlic and sauté with oil in a large pot over medium heat until softened. Add the rinsed kale to the pot and sauté until the kale is softened to your taste. I personally prefer kale with a little tooth to it, about 5 minutes.

    6.    Next, the tofu should be done marinating and ready to be cooked. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat, add about 1 tsp of oil to the pan to prevent sticking.  Working in batches, sear the tofu on both sides until browned.

    7.    To assemble your meal prep, divide into 4 containers. Add about ½ to ¾ cup of rice to each container, then divide the tofu and kale among the containers. Meals should be stored in the fridge for up to a week.

    8.    Pack the container with your things on your way to work in the morning and enjoy your healthy, waste-free meal. Don’t forget to pack your metal fork and cloth napkin!

    Interested in other ways to reduce food waste?  Check out savethefood.com, the Public Health Alliance of Southern California’s Resource Library, and CalRecycle’s Resource Directory.

    Posted on In the Loop by Allegra Curiel on Mar 12, 2018

  • Fall in Love with Your Freezer

    CalRecycle is celebrating California Food Waste Prevention Week to raise public awareness about the economic, environmental, and social impacts of unused food.

    One great way to divert food from the waste stream is to save it for later. Consider your freezer. Make a double batch of sauces, stews, beans, and casseroles, and save the rest in the freezer for a future weeknight dinner with zero cooking.

    My freezer is one of my most-used kitchen appliances. One of my favorite food waste strategies is what we call in my house “the Scrap Bag.” The Scrap Bag lives in my freezer and is full of, you guessed it—food scraps! Any time I peel a carrot, slice an onion, or cut the edges off a bell pepper, the leftover scraps are diverted from the garbage and go into the Scrap Bag. I put any kind of vegetable scraps or chicken bones (depending if you’re vegetarian/vegan) in the Scrap Bag and keep it in the freezer. Once the Scrap Bag is full, I empty the contents into a large stock pot, fill it with water and simmer over low heat for about an hour. Once the time is up, I simply strain the contents through a colander in the sink and save the liquid. The leftover vegetable scraps go into the compost and now I have stock—tasty stock that was free to make and that gave my food scraps a second life! The stock can be saved in the freezer and used to make soups and sauces. I also like to cook my rice, beans, or quinoa in it to add extra flavor. 

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    Here are some of the other ways I utilize my freezer to prevent food waste:

    • I’m not a big sandwich eater, but I enjoy sliced bread now and again. I keep the bread in the freezer and defrost a slice or two when I get a craving.
    • Beans freeze beautifully. Dried beans are cheap! I cook a double batch in my crock pot and freeze half to store in the freezer for an easy meal.
    • Soups hold up well when they’re stored in containers in the freezer. I like to freeze small individual servings for a quick meal on demand.
    • I buy meat in bulk, divide it into single portions and defrost as I need them. I find meats are often cheaper to buy in bulk and are often sold with less packaging.
    • Fruits like berries are simple to freeze. Simply place them on a cookie sheet, freeze them overnight, and transfer them to an empty container to store in the freezer. I love having frozen berries on hand for smoothies in the morning.
    • Butter freezes well and is easy to defrost when I get the baking itch. It’s often cheaper to buy in bulk.

    I hope these tips are as useful to you. To learn more about preventing food waste, please visit Save The Food. Interested in other ways to reduce food waste? Check out the Public Health Alliance of Southern California’s Resource Library and CalRecycle’s Resource Directory.

    Posted on In the Loop by Allegra Curiel on Mar 8, 2018

  • Food Waste Prevention Tip: Plan Healthy Meals

    CalRecycle has partnered with the Public Health Alliance of Southern California and other state agencies to celebrate March 5-9, 2018, as California’s first Food Waste Prevention Week. As CalRecycle’s Executive Fellow and a former restaurant cook, I plan to use this week to share some of my own ideas and strategies to reduce food waste at home.

    Meal planning is basically just organizing to prepare a meal. With my restaurant background, I have an insider’s perspective to the process. Meal planning makes cooking efficient and effective, and it prevents food waste. Food waste can negatively impact a restaurant’s economic viability, which is why successful chefs maximize the products they use.

    The lifecycle of prepared food doesn’t have to end after one meal! Planning meals that build upon each other minimizes food waste and creates more appetizing leftovers. Leftover roast chicken for dinner can be served with salads, baked into enchiladas, or made into soup. The chicken bones and leftover vegetable peelings can be made into stock, which can then be made into soups or sauces. With a little planning and creativity, an inexpensive roast chicken can be made into three or four different meals. 

    Next time you go out to eat, check out the restaurant’s soup of the day. A little restaurant insider knowledge for you: The soup of the day is where the leftovers from last night end up. Instead of throwing food away, smart chefs maximize their profits and sell as much product as possible. Repurposing food can be both efficient and delicious!

    The same principals of creative reuse can be applied by the home cook. Planning your meals for the week can help you avoid eating out, saving you money, enabling you to eat healthier meals, and avoiding food waste. I find meal planning also saves me time during the work week. The last thing I want to do when I get home is figure out what to eat for dinner.

    I’m going to walk you through the meal planning process with the steps below.

    If you’re new to meal planning, start small.

    Planning and preparing your lunches for the work week is a great place to start. Investing a few hours on a Sunday afternoon yields a week’s worth of healthy, affordable, and delicious lunches. Bringing my lunch to work has not only saved me a tremendous amount of money, but also prevented packaging waste like plastic bags, utensils, and Styrofoam containers.

    Make a plan

    When I conceptualize meals, I follow a simple formula that is easy to get creative with. I always prepare meals that include some type of grain or starch, some kind of vegetable, and a protein. This basic meal formula is easy to replicate and interchange with different ingredients based on my mood or craving. For example, later this week I’m going to share with you my recipe to prepare Soy Marinated Crispy Tofu Bowls with Garlic Kale and Brown Rice.

    Survey your supplies and cook components of your meals

    When planning my meals, I also consider what kind of product I have already prepared on hand. Creating dishes around what you already have uses up your supplies, saving you money and preventing food waste. Cooked grains like rice or quinoa keep well in the fridge and are simple enough to be used throughout the week without you getting tired of the flavors.

    Make friends with your freezer!

    The best way to divert food waste from the waste stream is to save it for later. Consider your freezer. Make a double batch of sauces, stews, beans, and casseroles, and save the extra in the freezer for a future weeknight dinner with zero cooking. I love using the freezer for food storage, and I’m going to share more of my favorite freezer ideas later this week.

    Make a shopping list

    Grocery shopping is a crucial component to successful meal planning. Yet another benefit of meal planning is that you save money at the grocery store by only shopping for exactly what you need. Try to plan multiple meals during the week that utilize the same ingredients to prevent that ingredient from expiring and becoming food waste. I also consult my grocery store’s circular ad and consider what is on sale when meal planning. I build my meals around deals.

    There you have it! One important thing to keep in mind is that meal planning is personal—some of the tips I discussed may not work for you. Think of these ideas as a starting point. Once you start meal planning, it becomes second nature. There’s no right or wrong way to meal plan, as long as it’s efficient for you and minimizes food waste.

    Later this week I’ll share my recipe for Soy Marinated Crispy Tofu Bowls with Garlic Kale and Brown Rice. Stay tuned for more resources, tips, and ideas.  To learn more, please visit Save The Food. Interested in other ways to reduce food waste? Check out the Public Health Alliance of Southern California’s Resource Library and CalRecycle’s Resource Directory.

     

     
    Posted on In the Loop by Allegra Curiel on Mar 5, 2018