In honor of Earth Day (4/21), I wanted to see how I could reduce food waste in my own kitchen. That’s how I came up with this broccoli stem recipe, where I utilized parts of a vegetable that most people wouldn’t normally eat. Instead of using up the more popular broccoli florets, this no-waste recipe uses the leftover stems and makes a tasty stir-fry. It’s one small, delicious way to avoid food waste at home.
As you wrap your mind around eating the broccoli stalk, here’s something you may not know: tossing out broccoli stems in the compost is like throwing away money and an extra serving of tasty, healthy vegetables. Food waste has long-reaching environmental impacts, like excessive agricultural runoff from farming and spoiled food occupying landfills. So let’s save those broccoli stalks and continue to find yummy ways to utilize these underappreciated stems!
WHY WE LOVE THIS RECIPE
- Packed with nutritious vegetables. The broccoli stem contains just as many nutrients as the florets. In fact, it contains vitamins A and C, potassium, iron, magnesium, zinc, fiber, and folate. Carrots are a good source of several vitamins and minerals, especially biotin, potassium, and vitamins A (from beta carotene), K1, and B6.
- Quick to make. Because it’s so easy to throw together, it’s the perfect last-minute weeknight side dish or as part of the main dish.
- Low in carbs. Both broccoli stems and carrots are high in fiber and low in carbs, making this dish a great food option for those trying to lose some weight.
- Money-saver. Not only does this recipe help you to reduce food waste, but you can also end up saving some money on your grocery bill by having to buy fewer veggies.
Here are the ingredients you'll need to make this broccoli stem stir-fry:
- Broccoli stems
- Coconut aminos
- Maple syrup
- Sea salt
- Broccoli stems: They’re completely delicious—like the florets, but more mild and sweet, almost like kohlrabi.
- Carrots: The natural sweetness of the carrots is a perfect complement to the rest of the ingredients.
- Coconut aminos: A dark brown sauce made from coconut sap with a savory and sweet flavor. It’s similar to soy sauce and makes a great gluten- and soy-free alternative in Asian cooking.
- Maple syrup: Adds more sweetness to the stir-fry.
- Lemons: Fresh lemon juice brightens the dish.
STEP 1: PREP THE BROCCOLI STEMS
First, cut off the stems from the florets and slice the base off the stalks.
Next, use a potato peeler or a sharp knife to remove the tough, outer layer, revealing a much softer core underneath.
Slice the peeled stems into rounds. Set aside.
STEP 2: CUT THE CARROTS
Use a vegetable peeler to slice off the carrot skins. Alternatively, give the vegetables a good scrub under running water so that you don’t have to peel them.
Next, trim off the tops and bottoms and then cut the carrots into diagonal chunks, about ½ inch thick.
With the flat side down on the chopping board, cut each chunk into ⅛ inch slices. Set aside.
STEP 3: COOK THE STIR-FRY
Heat up a skillet over medium-high heat.
Next, add the broth and let it heat up.
Add the carrots and some coconut aminos. Cook for about 1 minute, stirring occasionally.
Add the broccoli stems to the pan and give everything a good stir. Next, add the remaining coconut aminos and continue stirring.
Add the sliced scallions, maple syrup, and lemon juice. Stir until the seasonings are well distributed.
Cover with a lid and let the mixture cook for around 2 minutes or until the veggies reach your desired tenderness. Add a splash of broth or coconut aminos to prevent the food from sticking to the pan.
Remove from heat and serve.
- Serving suggestions. Enjoy your broccoli stem stir-fry with cooked brown rice and your favorite protein for a complete meal.
- How to store. Leftovers should be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated for up to one week.
- Use a spiralizer. Try your hand at making a lo mein-inspired recipe by transforming broccoli stems into tender noodles using a spiralizer.
- Save the scraps. In order to truly reduce food waste in this recipe, save the outer layers cut from the stems to make a homemade veggie broth.
- Switch it up with cauliflower. Save the broccoli, save the cauliflower. This recipe works just as well with cauliflower stems.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is the main cause of food waste?
Food is lost or wasted for a variety of reasons: bad weather, processing problems, overproduction, and unstable markets cause food loss long before it arrives in a grocery store. In addition, overbuying, poor planning, and confusion over labels and safety contribute to food waste at stores and in homes.
Why is food waste a problem?
Food waste is a problem because it costs Americans billions of dollars in lost revenue and puts a tax on natural and human resources. Additionally, when food waste is added to landfills, it harms the environment by contributing to global warming and climate change due to the production of the greenhouse gas methane.
What are 5 ways to reduce food waste?
Here are 5 ways to reduce food waste at home:
1. Make a meal plan. Getting into the habit of planning your meals is a sure-fire way to avoid unintended food waste.
2. Check your pantry before you go shopping. Take an extra minute to double-check what you already have in the kitchen before heading to the store. This will help to avoid accidental double-ups and might give you ideas for what you could buy to help use existing ingredients up.
3. Write a shopping list. And stick to it!
4. Try composting. Prepare a compost bin or heap where you can get rid of decayable kitchen waste and use it to fertilize your garden.
5. Keep a log of spoiled foods. Writing down the types of foods that go bad can help you identify the foods that you can cut back on. For example, if you find yourself throwing out many oranges as they go bad, the solution might be to buy fewer oranges to avoid this spoilage.
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Zero-Waste Broccoli Stem Stir-Fry
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
Broccoli stems and carrots cooked with scallions in a simple, homemade stir-fry sauce.
2 cups carrots, sliced into rounds or “lozenges” (I refer to this as the ribbon cut in my video)
2 cups peeled broccoli stems, sliced
½ cup scallions, sliced
¼ cup broth
2 tablespoons coconut aminos
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon maple syrup
Sea salt to taste
1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the broth and heat it briefly.
2. Add the carrots and a few drops of the coconut aminos. Cook and stir for a minute or two. Add the broccoli stems. Cook and stir for another minute or two.
3. Add the remaining coconut aminos, scallions, maple syrup, and lemon juice. Cook and stir for a minute. Cover and cook for a few more minutes. Continue cooking to your desired tenderness. Depending on how long you cook this, you may need to add a splash of water or more coconut aminos to prevent the vegetables from sticking to the pan. If needed, adjust seasoning to taste by adding a little more seasoning.
IF YOU LIKED THIS RECIPE…
- First, try my vegan fried rice recipe that goes well with this broccoli stem stir-fry.
- Also, if you like stir fries, you would enjoy my pumpfu stir fry recipe.
- Finally, try my deceptively healthy lemon pudding parfaits recipe for dessert. It’s a super-easy citrusy treat.
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