No, I didn’t make a typo. But I did use a lot of food scraps to create a pretty tasty cracker bread. Here’s how it happened…
It began with a scheduled visit to my dentist; I was getting prepped for a crown. Bummer. And because I was told that my tooth had to be shaved down to the “dentine” layer or something like that, I was going to need to take extra care with my diet until the permanent crown could be inserted. Soft food was the way to go. So when I came home, I reached for my good ol’ Jack Lalanne Power Juicer. I figured this was the perfect opportunity to flood my system with concentrated, high-quality organic fruits and veggies.
There’s just one guilt-ridden problem with a juicer like this—the vegetable and fruit matter waste, and there’s typically a ton of it per 16-ounce glass of juice. Well, sure I could compost it, but then I’d have to enter it into the daily log on food waste that I’ve been keeping as part of Project Drawdown’s Eco Challenge that I started with many Americans on April 4. I really didn’t want to admit to tossing two packed cups of vegetable and fruit scraps away, even if “away” meant the compost pile.
So I did the next best thing—created a recipe. In this case, I happened to be juicing oranges and carrots, so I had some easy scraps to work with—think carrot muffins and orange tea bread, for example. It really wasn’t that much of a stretch to make these scrapes work. So why not up that challenge—what else could I add that was basically scrap?
The answer was my homemade vegetable stock. I make this frequently by saving up all my useable, scrubbed vegetable scrapes in the freezer and then cooking them down into a flavorful stock that gets used in soups, sauces or just as a flavorful liquid for whatever needs it. This isn’t a Green Gal original, by the way. Great chefs have been doing this for years. And you can, too. See my long-ago post on being thrifty in the kitchen.
So, I cooked up a big batch of stock and used some of it as the liquid for the cracker. To be fair, the scraps from the stock did have to go into the compost eventually, but still…recycle, reuse.
So this is the story behind the Compost Cracker. Not entirely a waste-free recipe, but darn near. We found my “cracker” made a nice rustic dinner bread. Because it is gluten-free, Heather had it as a tasty breakfast treat with butter and jam. And Donald and I took it on a hike, giving it the backpack test. It passed and offered us a stick-to-your-ribs, healthy treat that didn’t crumble and had enough spice and flavor to go it alone without messy toppings. So I send out this “Drawdown” challenge to make your own Compost Cracker! You don’t have to stick to my ingredients—maybe some shredded beets and apple? What’s in your juicer?
- One cup packed fruit and vegetable pulp from a standard juicer (Oranges, beets, ginger, carrots, apples, kale, lemons, limes are all options, in my opinion. You could even pulse citrus peels very fine in a processor to come up with the same sort of ingredient. But realize that your end result will be dependent on the type of produce and the ratio of sweet to bitter. Be creative! Be brave!)
- Three-quarters to one cup vegetable stock from scraps (I also made a compost cracker using extra juice from the juicer, which tasted quite different—sort of tangy and sweet—but very good. So if you have more juice than you need, this is an option, too.)
- One-half cup toasted and crushed walnuts
- One teaspoon whole coriander, toasted and crushed
- One-half teaspoon whole black peppercorns, toasted and crushed
- One-quarter cup flaxseeds, ground fine (using a coffee or spice grinder)
- One-quarter cup chia seeds, ground fine (using a coffee or spice grinder)
- One tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- Three eggs
- One teaspoon baking powder
- One teaspoon baking soda
- One teaspoon fine sea salt
- One cup GF oat flour
- One cup GF quinoa flour
- Sunflower seeds for topping
- Coarse sea salt (optional)
- Begin by dry toasting the coriander and black peppercorns in a cast iron skillet. Cool, crush and set aside. You can toast the walnuts the same way, either before or after the whole spices; then, cool and crush.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a small mixing bowl, combine the ground flax and chia seeds with three-quarters cup vegetable stock (or juicer liquid), vinegar and eggs. Whisk to thoroughly combine and set aside to thicken for about five minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, combine the two flours with the baking powder, baking soda, fine sea salt, crushed walnuts and crushed spices. Whisk well to combine. Add the vegetable/fruit pulp and toss well.
- Using a rubber spatula, add the liquid ingredients to the dry and stir to combine, until the dough begins to form a ball and stiffen and pulls from the side of the bowl.
- Since the compost cracker is not what I would consider a precise recipe because of the many possible variations, the dough can be a bit too wet (though it should not be super dry). If this is the case, a tablespoon or two more oat or quinoa flour should fix it. If, on the other hand, the dough is too dry to stick together, add more liquid, a tablespoon at a time from the remaining quarter-cup liquid, to get it to a workable consistency.
- Once you have a firm but tacky dough ball, turn it out onto the parchment-lined baking sheet and pat it out into about a 12-inch circle, about one inch thick. Press the sunflower seeds into the top and sprinkle with the coarse sea salt, if you wish.
- Bake 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to a baking rack so that air can circulate and excess moisture doesn’t accumulate on the bottom of the cracker. Serve warm or store for later at room temperature.
This recipe produced a chewy, dense bread. It also works well with creamy cheeses and slices of fruit or fresh berries.
No Time to Bake Should Not Mean No Way to Eat Healthy
Ok, so the weather in the Midwest has been iffy all Spring—sometimes we are not even sure if it is Spring. When the weather suddenly turns warm, we may or may not have a compost cracker at hand for the backpack, but I’m not about to waste a precious sunny minute baking when I could be hiking. You either, huh? Well, no need to go hungry on the trail or settle for junk food. Choose something quick, healthy and tasty from the New Hope Blogger Box:
For me, seaweed has always been a must-have in the kitchen. I use dried seaweed and kelp sprinkles in salad dressings, soups and baked goods. It’s a great source of vegan protein, vitamins and minerals. So when I saw a bag of gimMe Seaweed Thins in the Blogger Box, I was thrilled. These protein and fiber-rich snacks are made with gimMe’s signature premium organic seaweed that is harvested from the protected ocean waters in South Korea. Each little snack thin has a BIG crunch, salty-briny flavor and a surprise layer of almonds and tamari for added richness.
The company is pretty cool, too. gimMe Organic is a small family enterprise that has a deep sense of community outreach. In their words: “Healthy food brings people together—families, friends, communities—and has the power to change lives, especially for growing kids. We believe that a successful company has a responsibility help make the world a better place. That’s why we’ve started gimMe Healthy Kids to help improve children’s nutrition by raising awareness of seaweed as a super healthy snack and by donating our products to food banks and school lunch programs.”
While Don could appreciate the gimMe Organic’s company profile and the high quality of their product, he’s not the biggest seaweed fan. I often hide it really well in the dishes I serve him, so he tried a different trail treat: R.W. Garcia Co. Hummus and Red Bell Pepper Pulse Tortilla Chips. He gave it the thumbs up! But not just because of its great crunch and spicy flavor. Pulse Tortilla Chips are the ultimate sustainable snack made with legumes and ancient grains. They are high in protein, high in fiber, and low in fat.
At R.W. Garcia, the corn they buy that does not get processed into finished goods is recycled, either to cattle farmers or to pet food manufacturers. They use 100% of the cooking oil they buy. Nothing is wasted. They adhere to both U.S. and European Union standards and are Non-GMO project verified. As equipment is updated, replaced, or modified, they send all scrap metal to recyclers. All excess cardboard is also sent to recyclers, and they work to conserve energy wherever possible. R.W. Garcia is a member of SFTA, an organization working to drive leading environmental, social and economic practices in the organic food trade.
Finally, Don and I found common ground with Thrive Tribe Snacks. The Cacao Nib Bites that we tried were made with whole fruits, nuts, seeds, coconut and honey and contained 5 grams protein, 130 mgs potassium and 4 grams fiber. They were slightly sweet, very rich with a distinct chocolatey flavor and had a great texture, especially compared to some similar products we’ve tried in the past. Thrive Tribe Snacks are paleo-friendly, non-GMO, nutrient dense, and dairy/gluten free. Amazing.
Further, Thrive Tribe is a member of 1% For the Planet and uses Rainforest Alliance certified palm oil to ensure their sourcing is sustainable and environmentally friendly.
So there are really no excuses, are there, for maintaining healthy lifestyles that make the most of living and eating green? And, hey, I know it is not always easy; my own experience with Project Drawdown has taught me that I have a long way to go in my commitment to environmental sustainability in my own life. The point is, though, to keep going, right? And every small change, every tiny effort, every better choice contributes—that’s the whole premise behind Project Drawdown, convincing us that we have the power to end and reverse climate change.
Feeling Overly Challenged? Could It Be Eco-Anxiety?
And just to get you on the right hiking path to a greener lifestyle, Delicious Living Magazine has easy-to-follow directions for Your Best Climate-Friendly Day Ever!
Pioneering research from the American Psychological Association (APA) and the organizations Climate for Health and EcoAmerica confirms that while acute climate change disasters, such as a hurricane hitting your community, can certainly cause feelings of depression, the “gradual, long-term changes in climate can also surface a number of different emotions, including fear, anger, feelings of powerlessness or exhaustion,” the authors report. “Some people are deeply affected by feelings of loss, helplessness and frustration due to their inability to feel like they are making a difference in stopping climate change.”
But there’s hope. The APA study found that making better lifestyle choices every day mitigates eco-anxiety because you can actively be part of the climate solution. The lesson: You have the power to make a difference in climate change through small, not-a-big-deal actions from sunup to sundown. Here’s how.
And, having left you in DL’s good green hands, I will simply say Happy Earth Day 2018! There certainly is no Planet B, but there is every reason to believe we can not only stop but also reverse the threats to this precious Earth that we were given to protect… one small step at a time.