Zero Waste Avocado Toast

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I’m a millennial, therefore, I love a good avocado toast. However, as I am a millennial, I am also very aware of the farming issues which are currently related to avocado production.

I’ve been in such an ethical pickle with this one that I actually considered not posting this recipe. I then reflected on the reasons why I purchased avocados, and realised that it was because they’re a very bountiful fruit at the market, which I buy in a large quantity, before it goes off to avoid food waste and this blog is all about reducing that kind of waste.

So, after a lot of pondering, I decided I would post this blog, risk feeling like a hypocrite as I am using avocados in my recipe, but also use this as a platform to share the ethical issues which surround the avocado.

As with any super-fruit such as blueberries or, pomegranates, our love for these fruits puts a huge strain on farmers and it is often a lot more profitable for them to swap to this super-fruit. Those which don’t lose out on wages, and those who do have to keep up with what could be a fickle passing trend.

Unfortunately, growing avocados in large quantities to ensure there are enough at our supermarkets and market stalls means that the Mexicans, who are typically farming these crops, have to cut down the rainforest for space, use nasty fertilisers and pesticides to grow the crop. It also takes about 272 litres to grow about 2 or 3 medium avocados!

It doesn’t just stop with the environmental issues either. As this crop is very profitable, it’s increasing trade is controlled by the Mexican drugs cartels. Whilst switching to avocados which aren’t produced in Mexico may seem like the best way to clear our conscience, it is highly likely that the same issues are happening world wide.

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My take on this information is that I will still have the occasional avocado, but that I’d prefer to get the fats and nutrients I would receive from the avocado through other fruit and vegetable sources.

If all that hasn’t put you off what is a super yummy meal, here is our avocado toast recipe. We made our own bread for this recipe, and we also wrote a guide about buying good bread if you can’t or don’t want to make your own.

Low Waste Avocado Toast

Didn’t feel right calling this one Zero Waste, given all the back issues I’ve discussed above.

Author: A Zero Waste Life
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Yield: 2 slices
Dietary information: GF (choose a GF bread), DF, vegan

Category: Breakfast, lunch, dinner- whenever you want to eat it!

EQUIPMENT

  • Knife

  • Chopping board

  • Toaster

  • Fork

  • Bowl

INGREDIENTS

  • Either one very large, two medium or three small avocados

  • Two slices of bread, which we decided to toast

  • Topping of your choice. We used half a red onion, chilli flakes and

    pistachios

  • Olive oil

    *Note: other toppings could be lemon juice, black ground pepper, sea salt, other

    nuts or seeds- it’s up to you!

If you're nowhere near a bulk shop, our friends at Plastic Free Pantry have kindly given you guys a discount code! Just type zerowastelife10 at the checkout.

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Peel and chop your avocados. Put all the seeds, skins and bad parts into the compost.

  2. Put all the yummy avocado into a bowl. Mash with your fork. Leave on the side

  3. Chop up your toppings

  4. Toast the bread, if you want

  5. Put the toast onto a plate, add the avocado and toppings and drizzle all with olive oil.

  6. Marvel at your creation

Did you make this recipe?

Please let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and share a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #azerowastelife!

 

Overnight Oats

Zero waste living has the tendency to be super duper time consuming. We go though this mini check list each time we leave the house:

  • Phone, keys, wallet (the standard trinity!)
  • Fork (or spork!)
  • Metal water bottle
  • Reusable straw
  • Tupperware box (to either carry food round in or collect compost from snacks)
  • Tote bag
  • Coffee cup
  • Snacks/meals

Meal prepping can seem like a long, boring time consuming task. But, what if meal planning could be complete in under THREE MINUTES. Thats right, three minutes! Now that would be a game changer! 

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Well, this one takes only three minutes. Yep, we timed it. Yep, we had nothing better to do. 

So, making this either the night before each time you want this, or doing a five day batch of them, you can feel super smug knowing that your breakfast:

  1. Saved you money
  2. Saved the planet from excess packaging
  3. Saved you binging on empty calories if you were to pop into McDonalds (yet again!) because you forgot your brekkie and want a sausage and egg McMuffin. (Talking of McMuffins, I should make a zero waste version of that!)

The basic recipe for this is the easiest thing ever, however, you can spruce it up anywhich way you like (we have put our favourite combos at the bottom).

The flavours seem to intensify overnight and the oats taste super creamy!

EQUIPMENT:

  • Clean jar. A cute swing top or standard jam jar will do. Heck, you could even use a jam jar that still has some jam in it to skip out the first step!
  • Um, that's it. Well except from spoons/knives to make the oats with, but we figured you'd already have them.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup of milk, of your choosing. Dairy or otherwise. If you are interested in making your own, we have a pretty badass almond milk recipe
  • 1 cup of oats. I prefer rolled oats (the bigger ones) to steel cut, as I like the texture, but just go for what you like.
  • Roughly 3 tbsp of topping. Some topping ideas are; jam, peanut butter, Nutella, fruit, honey, dried fruit. You can create your own combination of these.
  • 2 tbsp yoghurt. This is to make to oats more creamy. It works fine without but does give a lovely thickness. If you're vegan, I'd recommend mashing a banana up in the place of yoghurt and mixing it through – it gives a creamy texture too!

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Mix your oats, milk and yoghurt (or mashed banana) together in a bowl or the jam jar you're going to use. 
  2. This step is recommended if you're trying to make an Instagram worthy brekkie. Layer one of your toppings such as jam or peanut butter, along the bottom of your jar. Then put the oats on, then top it off with another topping or two!
  3. If you're not going for the likes with this breakfast, just whack it all in the jar. Give it a little shakey shake, and leave it in the fridge until you want to eat it.
  4. You can either heat this up for two minutes or eat cold.

Note: Nuts and seeds are great added to this, but tend to go a little soft overnight. I prefer not adding them until the morning.

Anna's go to combo

Anna adds honey and banana to her oats and sprinkles dried fruits on after heating it up in the morning.

Charlotte's favourite combo

Charlotte puts a layer of peanut butter along the bottom, mixes the yoghurt, milk and oats with half a tsp of cinnamon and tops the jar with some chocolate chips. Charlotte eats hers cold. 

Did you make this recipe?

Please let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and share a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #azerowastelife!

Homemade Nutella – With NO Palm Oil!

Chocolatey gooey yummy lovely goodness. Nutella.

Anna and I used to eat it from the jar during uni, before our zero waste days, so you can see why I had to recreate it pretty quick. 

I'm not going to lie and say our recipe is a 'healthy' product, but it sure is better for you and the environment than normal chocolate spreads would be.

Why? Let's take a look at the well-loved choc spread in detail...

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The sugar

Refined sugar is hard for our bodies to break down so will stay on our bodies in the form of fat and can lead to very serious consequences.

Refined sugar is likely to come from a genetically modified plant, (dependant on your country's trading regulations) meaning the farmer producing it was likely paid a poor wage and their farmland is now monoculture, not permaculture. Permaculture means crop variety, which is heaps better for the environment as it supports nature how it should be – abundant with variety!

The palm oil

I learnt about this from Cowspiracy, and it's awful.

Deforestation is happening now. Right now as I write and you guys read. According to WWF, "we’re losing 18.7 million acres of forests annually, which is equivalent to 27 soccer fields every minute."

I used to think it was something that was hidden away in geography textbooks or a phenomenon which had been wildly exaggerated – but it's not an exaggeration. 

Rainforests are being bulldozed at an alarming rate to make space for rows and rows of palm trees. These palm trees are popping up in areas where they're not native, forcing animals and plants are to lose their homes, while we're losing our beautiful rainforests.

Palm oil is added to loads of processed foods. From Nutella to canned foods, sweets, bread (yep, yuck!) as it bulks out foods, fills them with crap and allows large corporations to sell their product at a lower price, essentially because there is less of the product you thought you were buying…

The average consumer is unaware that this has been added to their product doesn't understand the impact palm oil is having on the environment. I think this is one of the awful things large corporations get away with – and it's not fair! We should know what's in our food and be able to trust that it's not being produced unsustainably.

The powdered milk

A big no-no for you vegans and those who, like my boyfriend, have a lactose intolerance. Essentially, it's just another bulk out ingredient which isn't needed. We skip milk out in our own recipe, so its edible for all – well, unless you have a nut allergy – but you probably won’t be reading this recipe if you do!

The plastic

Each Nutella container is made of;

- a glass jar

- a printed paper label

- a faux foil golden lid, which is plastic.

- a white plastic lid

- a round piece of card, which has been stuck to the inside top of the lid

Wow.

That a lot of elements to make one jar, and it will have taken a lot of resources (most of which would be unsustainable to produce) to make it.

To recycle all of that, it's going to take a heap of resources and energy too.

The nuts...? Healthy, right? 

Well, yup. Except it's listed on the ingredients list after sugar and palm oil, meaning it's in a lower quantity than the 50% of the jar which is taken up by sugar and palm oil.

The people affected by all this

So a product as seemly harmful as a chocolate spread has already caused the destruction of habitats, people to have been paid unfairly, a large amount of non-sustainable resources to be wasted and it's been pumped full of ingredients no good for our body!

Once we've consumed the product, there are multiple elements to be repurposed or recycled, all of which are taking time, energy and resources.

Ultimately, this product is affecting mine and your lives, habitats and the rest of the globe, but it's not all doom and gloom! You can still have this awesome spread in a healthier way and without the above weighing on your conscious.

Our chocolate spread has:

No sugar!

No palm oil!

Real ingredients! 

No waste!

No dairy! 

Are you enticed? Great! Here's the recipe:

Equipment:

-       Blender

-       Spatula

-       Roasting tray/silicone mat

-       Clean jar. I use a swing top Kilner style jar for my nut butters- because they have a decent seal on them and, more importantly, look SO cute. Use whatever you have on hand though!

Ingredients:

- 4 cups of nuts: blanched (skin off) if possible. If not, see the blanching steps below

Hazelnuts are the obvious choice, but I’ve tried this with peanuts too and I actually think it may be, could be, ever so slightly, better! I know that's moving away from real Nutella…

- 1 tbsp. of sweetener like honey, agave syrup, maple syrup. I used vanilla essence, and to be honest, wanted something a little sweeter

- 2 tbsp. cocoa powder

- Optional: 200g dark, fair trade chocolate. Go for about 75% cocoa content and look for a sugar-free, dairy-free option. This gives it a nice, well-rounded flavour, but will up the price slightly.

Can’t get blanched nuts? Here's a way to remove the skin.

This isn’t the only blanching method as you can boil the nuts too. Roasting works well though, as the nuts need to be roasted anyway.

1.     Preheat your oven to gas mark 4/ 200 degrees/ 350 F.

2.     Put all the nuts onto the roasting tray.

3.     Roast for 10 minutes. Check the nuts as heir skins should be starting to split.

4.     Pour the nuts onto an old, but clean tea towel. Cover them in the tea towel and let them sit for a minute.

5.     Whilst covering the nuts, roll them around inside the tea towel They'll begin to shed their skin.

6.     Any nuts that get completely naked (tee hee) can go straight into the blender, ready for the next step.

7.     You may need to repeat steps 2-6 with some of the more stubborn skins

Don’t panic if not all the skins are fully removed, it'll still taste fine. The main reason we remove the skins in our recipe is that hazelnuts have a slightly tart taste in their skins. By removing them, you will need less sweetener. If you struggle to get the skin off, just up the amount of sweetener.

Put the skins onto your compost heap… or eat them… I guess?! Though they might be a bit bland and innutritious!

When you have your naked nuts add them all to the blender.

If you had nuts which were already blanched, you will still need to roast them. Only for about 8-10 minutes on gas mark 4/ 200 degrees/ 350 F. The roasting releases their natural oils, which is the replacement in the recipe for… you guessed it… that awful palm oil!

So, however your nuts were when you got them, they should now be skin free!

Now for the rest of the recipe….

Instructions

1.     Blend or pulse all your nuts for about a minute. I start blending before I add the other ingredients, as I find it makes for an easier distribution of the ingredients.

2.     The nuts should have quite a fine texture now. Add your cocoa powder and sweetener.

3.     Optional: If you're adding the dark chocolate, melt and add it in here.

4.     Blend, blend, blend! You'll need to blend for what feels like forever. Each time you stop the blender, scrape down the sides. Blend for about a minute and repeat three or four times.

5.     Just as you're getting to the point where you think you'll never have anything which resembles a nut butter, ta-da, it will begin to release those oils!

6.     I’d blend for about two more minutes after this point, just to ensure you have a nice texture. Taste, add more of your additional ingredients as necessary.

7.     Scrape out your blender, and put the yummy nut butter into your clean jar.

Storing the nut butter

If you’re anything like us, you won’t really need to consider storage, as you will eat this in approximately 46 hours. However, some of you will have more willpower than us.

Therefore…

If you missed out the chocolate in this, you can store this in the fridge or cupboard.

If you added in the chocolate, don’t store in the fridge, or you will have a solidified chocolate lump!

So, there you have it! A waste-free, palm oil free, dairy free yummy yummy nut butter, similar to Nutella.

Let us know what you put yours on!

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Orange Infused Cleaning Spray

We rent our property and the extractor fan in our bathroom has been broken since before we moved in, which means it can be prone to mould on a regular basis. It's usually found around the window ledges, in the shower cubicle and around the sink.

White vinegar in a repurposed spray bottle is the cheapest, most eco-friendly and easiest way I have found to clean this mould. 

White vinegar is an awesome cleaner.

I use it in the kitchen, on the hob, on the surfaces and around all of our appliances. Anyone who has seen me cook knows that I can go from a relatively clean kitchen to one that is covered in crumbs in a matter of moments. White vinegar is the one product which I use to get rid of all of the mess I make.

Sounds perfect, doesn't it? There's a drawback.

It STINKS! Like next level chip shop stink. It's overpowering and is the kind of smell that hits right at the back of your throat. 

However! It's easy to infuse with various things to get rid of that awful smell – and you can use things which would otherwise go to waste. Zero waste win!

This method is really easy to customise, just by using what you have to hand.

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Equipment

  • An old, clean jar
  • Sieve or colander
  • Bowl
  • Funnel or jug (if your aim is as awful as mine when decanting liquids)
  • An old, clean spray bottle

Infused Cleaning Vinegar

Author: A Zero Waste Life
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Defuse time: 2 weeks
Total Time: 2 weeks and 5 minutes!
Yield: 1 jar full – dependent on your jar
Dietary information: Eww, don't eat this

Category: Cleaning

Ingredients

  • Roughly a cup of white vinegar, this will depend on how big your jar is and how much you're planning to infuse it with
  • Citrus peels – orange, lemon and lime all work

AND/ OR

  • Spices – cloves or star anise

AND/ OR

  • Fresh herbs like sage or rosemary

Instructions

  1. Add your peels, herbs and or spices to the jar. You want to fill it to quite near the top, but not pack it full
  2. Cover the contents of the jar in the white vinegar, filling the jar with about one cm of a gap between the vinegar and lid
  3. Screw the lid on, give it a gentle shake, and let it infuse in your cupboard for roughly 2-3 weeks
  4. Open the jar and pass the contents through a sieve or colander, catching the infused vinegar in the bowl
  5. Put the peels, herbs or spices onto your compost heap
  6. Decant the infused vinegar into the spray bottle
  7. Use as you wish. I often have a jar in my cupboard infusing, whilst I finish up the infused vinegar in the spray bottle!

Did you make this recipe?

Please let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and share a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #azerowastelife!

The 'whatever is in the cupboard' Granola

Oh, granola, we love you. Filling, yummy, delicious, granola... 

You can use granola to make cereal bars or overnight oats and it can be used to finish whatever you've got in your pantry.

Those last few hazelnuts hiding at the back, those oats that are obstructing the space of other goodness, seeds that simply taste boring on their own – whatever you want!

Plus – our granola recipe uses up the pulp from our Apple Juice recipe and the nut meal from our Almond Milk. If you have these two to hand, pull them out of the freezer the night before you want to make granola and if they were chilling in the fridge, bring them to room temperature before you start the recipe. 

Haven't made these recipes before or don't want to? Fear not! We've made some notes about possible adjustments below. 

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So, the almond pulp

It needs to be oven dried on a low heat in the oven for a little while. This is because all the water from when it was used to make it into milk is probably still lurking in it – which was fine when it was in the fridge or freezer – but will make the granola soggy. 

All those who want soggy granola raise your hand...

*No-one raises their hand*

Just as I thought.

Spread your nut meal as thin as you can onto a tray, baking sheet or cast iron pan – whatever you have that is large and flat.

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Pop it in the oven for 30 minutes on gas mark 4 and check for moisture at the end of this time. There shouldn't be any visible water, but it also should be beginning to brown, as this will come later with all the other ingredients. Extend the cooking time if necessary.

Now for the granola assembly

Equipment

  • Baking sheets or silicone mats
  • Microwave and an oven
  • One large and one smaller bowl

The 'whatever is in the cupboard' Granola

Author: A Zero Waste Life
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Yield: 1 litre
Dietary information: Vegan, Dairy Free, Gluten Free (use suitable oats) can be adapted to Sugar Free, dependant on the sweeteners
Category: Breakfast

Ingredients

  • 3 cups of oats. Old fashioned, flat oats work great for this
  • Approx. 1/2 cup of the leftover apple pulp (if you don't have this, increase the amount of sweetener you add in)
  • Approx. 1 cup of the now dried out almond meal (if you don't have this, sub for flaked or ground nuts)
  • 2tsp cinnamon
  • 2tbs maple syrup (or honey, agave syrup)
  • 1tbsp salt
  • 1 cup of mixed dried fruit
  • (Optional) 1/2 cup of mixed nuts

Instructions

  1. Combine the oats, seeds, almond meal and mixed nuts, if using, in a large bowl.
  2. Grab the smaller bowl. Mix the apple pulp with the cinnamon, 1tbsp maple syrup and salt. Once combined, zap it in the microwave for 2 minutes to combine completely.
  3. Mix the spiced apple pulp into the granola. Make sure everything is covered by the applesauce. Drizzle over the final tbsp of maple syrup.
  4. Lay the granola out on your baking sheets, pat as flat as you can. Place into a gas mark 3/170°C/300ºF oven.
  5. Check half-way through and move the granola around to make sure it is evenly browned. Extend cooking time as necessary.
  6. Allow to cool slightly and mix in the dried fruits.
  7. Pour into a large jar, and marvel at how great it feels to have baked your own granola!
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Did you make this recipe?

Please let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and share a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #azerowastelife!