S3 E6 – Minimizing Waste w/ Rachael Bryant

Welcome to The Autoimmune Wellness Podcast Season 3: Real Food on a Budget. We’re dedicating this season to discussing an aspect of natural healing that often gets left out of the conversation: affordability. We’ll be chatting with experts and peers from the AIP community about how to best balance money with your health priorities.

This season is brought to you by our title sponsor, The Nutritional Therapy Association (NTA), a holistic nutrition school that trains and certifies nutritional therapy practitioners and consultants with an emphasis on bioindividual nutrition. Learn more about them by visiting NutritionalTherapy.com, or read about our experiences going through their NTP and NTC programs in our comparison article.

Season 3 Episode 6 is not just about a clever way to maximize your food budget, but one of the biggest struggles our culture faces when it comes to sustainable food production: reducing food waste.

We are discussing how to make the most of all the ingredients we’ve talked about sourcing in the previous episodes so you can best minimize waste and reuse leftovers. Our guest is Rachael Bryant from the blog Meatified, who shares some excellent advice and personal experience around creating a low-waste kitchen. Scroll down for the full episode transcript!

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Full Transcript:

Mickey Trescott: Welcome to the Autoimmune Wellness podcast, a resource for those seeking to live well with chronic illness. I’m Mickey Trescott, a nutritional therapy practitioner living well with autoimmune disease in Oregon. I’m the author of The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook, and I’m using diet and lifestyle to best manage both Hashimoto’s and Celiac disease.

Angie Alt: And I’m Angie Alt. I’m a certified health coach and nutritional therapy consultant, also living well with autoimmune disease in Maryland. I’m the author of The Alternative Autoimmune Cookbook, and I’m using diet and lifestyle to best manage my endometriosis, lichen sclerosis, and Celiac disease.

After recovering our health by combining the best of conventional medicine with effective and natural dietary and lifestyle interventions, Mickey and I started blogging at www.AutoimmuneWellness.com, where our collective mission is seeking wellness and building community.

We also wrote a book called The Autoimmune Wellness Handbook together that serves as a do-it-yourself guidebook to living well with chronic illness.

Mickey Trescott: If you’re looking for more information about the autoimmune protocol, make sure to sign up for our newsletter at autoimmunewellness.com, so we can send you our free quick start guide. It contains printable AIP food lists, a 2-week food plan, a 90-minute batch cooking video, a mindset video, and food reintroduction guides.

This season of the podcast, real food on a budget is brought to you by our title sponsor, The Nutritional Therapy Association.

Angie Alt: A quick disclaimer: The content in this podcast is intended as general information only, and is not to be substituted for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Onto the podcast!

Topics:

1. Ways to reduce waste [4:23]
2. Food storage methods [12:52]
3. Our guest, Rachael Bryant from Meatified [22:44]
4. Reimagining leftovers [29:30]
5. Using food “scraps” [39:23]

Angie Alt: Hi everyone! Angie here. Welcome back to the Autoimmune Wellness podcast, season 3. How are you doing today, Mickey?

Mickey Trescott: I’m doing great. Cozied up here on kind of a cool day. Ready for some warmer weather in the Pacific Northwest.

Angie Alt: Oh, gosh. Me too. I feel like it’s the longest winter. Which is ridiculous, because it really hasn’t been that bad. But I’m really ready for the sun.

Mickey Trescott: Me too.

Angie Alt: Ok. Today we’re continuing our discussion related to the topic this season; real food on a budget. This episode is going to be about how to make the most out of all of the ingredients we’ve talked about sourcing in the previous episodes. It’s all about minimizing waste, and reusing leftovers.

Mickey Trescott: Yeah. So after we figured out how to get our hands on all of these really well-sourced, healthy, nutrient dense, and sometimes a little bit expensive ingredients, depending on kind of how we’ve sourced. We have to figure out how we’re going to maximize them, and use every last bit.

So, you guys. We as a culture have a really massive problem with food waste. I looked up a couple of stats, and globally we waste 1.3 trillion tons of food per year. Which, that is just insane. And it’s estimated that up to 50% of food that’s produced; that’s either meat that’s raised or produce that’s grown, or processed food that’s made, is not even eaten. So, I don’t know how that makes you guys feel, but I feel kind of disgusted by that.

Angie Alt: Yeah, it makes mew ant to cry, to be honest. Especially; my experience living in developing countries and everything and seeing this problem. In the United States we have a particularly bad problem with food waste. So much so that our government even has an initiative to try to reduce it by the year 2020, I believe. I have to check in on that and read that again.

Mickey Trescott: Yeah, I think it’s 30% by 2030.

Angie Alt: 30% by 2030. Ok. Yeah, when I reflect on all of that, it’s literally heart breaking for me. And I kind of have a little bit of a problem about it.

Mickey Trescott: Part of it is within the food system. Part of that food isn’t even being purchased. So a lot of it is wasted in the field. Maybe because of the timing of harvesting, or the market, or in the factory where they process food, or whatever. But we have a lot of angles to tackle this. And the on that we are most poised to handle is actually in our own homes, and our kitchens, and how we waste food through the course of planning and cooking our meals every day.

Angie Alt: Right. We could make a big impact. If we each did that, it would be huge!

1. Ways to reduce waste [4:23]

Mickey Trescott: Today we’re going to talk in this first segment of this episode about some ways that we can reduce waste. And so the first one; we’re going to sound like a broken record, guys. But planning. Planning is really key. Right Angie?

Angie Alt: Yep. Meal planning all the way. I know we’ve talked about it like 800 times this season, you guys. But it’s absolutely key.

Mickey Trescott: You know, meal planning; Angie’s a little more of a meal planner than I am. But I do know that when I make a meal plan, what I tend to do is take inventory of what I have and when it expires. How I can use it up before it goes bad. And then also making a list of what to buy. I’m not just wandering around the grocery store being like; oh, these Brussel sprouts look good. I have a list, and I know exactly the quantities that I need. And that first act of meal planning; it organizes all of that into a plan that I can follow. And I’m much less likely to have waste at the end of it.

Angie Alt: Yep. Really the smart way to go. And you can pay attention to what’s in your deep freeze, and what’s in your pantry before you go so that you don’t end up with doubles of things and then some of it going bad because you forgot what you had available. It’s just really the smart way to go in terms of planning.

The next step that kind of goes along with meal planning is batch cooking. Which we’ve talked about before. Mickey does a little more batch cooking than I do. We’re kind of opposite in that way. I do a little more meal planning and a little less batch cooking; she does more batch cooking and less meal planning. But this is kind of the next important step in trying to reduce waste at home.

Mickey Trescott: Yeah. When you batch cook, you’re using a larger quantity of ingredients. So I find if I make a batch of chili I might use one or two whole yellow onions, for example. Where if I’m making like a one-off meal, that’s not a big batch, I might use a quarter or half of an onion. And then that onion is sitting in my fridge.

Or, if I have a bag of carrots, I might use the whole bag of carrots in a batch cook versus a couple of carrots and then having the rest of them potentially go bad. So, through batch cooking you can make a bunch of food. And then whatever you’re not going to eat in the next few days, you can just freeze immediately. So you can really visually see; ok, all of those ingredients that I bought have been turned into meals. Which are perfectly portioned. I can visualize them in the fridge. And then whatever I’m not going to use, I can freeze either immediately or if I get a couple of days in, maybe I unexpectedly eat out and I don’t need one of those meals. Guess what? Pop it in the freezer. You know? It’s a really easy way to kind of get a handle on that whole meal situation.

Angie Alt: Right. The next topic in terms of reducing waste is how you shop, right?

Mickey Trescott: Yeah. And if you meal plan, or batch cook, or both, I think that can really inform your shopping in a way that, like I said before, avoids impulse buys. When I’m doing more meal planning, I’m definitely going right for the things I’m looking for. And I’m buying exactly what I need. So like I was talking about with the carrots; if I only need a couple of carrots for a recipe and I have all my meals planned for the week, I know that that bag of carrots, unless I’m maybe going to want to be eating carrots as a snack with some pate or something, I’m not really going to need that whole bag. So I might just go for the bulk carrots and get a couple.

Same thing with beets. I might get one beet for a chili instead of getting a whole bunch of beets. So I don’t know if you have any experiences like that, but getting exactly what you need is definitely the way to prevent waste from happening.

Angie Alt: Yeah, for sure. In fact; my husband and I always have a little bit of a disagreement here. Because if I send him out to shop, he’s the guy going out to get the bounty for the family, right, and he buys whatever. If I say, buy apples. I’ll say 4, and he’ll buy 8. {laughs}

Mickey Trescott: Just in case.

Angie Alt: Yeah, just getting the most in case. So I really pay close attention to the numbers we need, and what we can go through realistically in a week so that there’s no waste.

Mickey Trescott: Or even if there’s a trip coming up. Something that happens a lot in our household. We’ll go out of town for a few days. Which is, you know, not really long enough to have to completely clear your fridge. But it is long enough to where a lot of things don’t last for a few days. And if we do a shop a couple of days before we go out of town, I have to tell my husband; hey. We need to not buy a huge thing of bananas. {laughs} Those are not going to last. So just thinking ahead a little bit with that shopping is really important.

Angie Alt: Right. I think you had some tips, too, Mickey about fridge organization when you’re bringing home all of those groceries. How do you arrange?

Mickey Trescott: Yeah, so it can be really tempting to put all of that new, fresh stuff kind of throw it right in the front and throw it on top of what’s there. But that’s kind of how things get buried. So, even the way that you organize your fridge and the way that you put your ingredients away can affect how you use them.

Something that I do; I have a very small fridge, so I have to really maximize the way that I use the space. But I only have one drawer, and that’s where I keep all my produce. So what I’ll do is I’ll pull out the drawer, and I’ll put out anything that’s aged in there. And then I’ll put all of the brand new stuff right in the bottom, and I’ll put the stuff that’s older on top so that when I go into the fridge, I see it. And I remember; ok, I need to use those greens up. Or those mushrooms are ready to go. So everything at the top is kind of the priority. And those oldest items are kind of the most visible.

Angie Alt: Right. Super smart.

Mickey Trescott: If you guys have done some reintros, and you’re eating a little bit more of some of the packaged perishables. These might be things like eggs, or yogurt, or things that you’re going to be going through more frequently. There aren’t a lot of those things on the elimination phase. But when you reintroduce foods, that might become an option for you. A good thing is just to make sure that you rotate those.

So like when I buy eggs, I don’t want to put the new eggs on the top. Because then the eggs that are below it might not get eaten in time. So that’s another way to think about it.

Angie Alt: Yeah, I totally do that too. How about using up all the fresh ingredients before you go shopping again? How do you make sure you do this? I know how we approach it in our house. How do you do it in your house, Mickey?

Mickey Trescott: You know, we do kind of a fridge dump soup. And something actually going back to batch cooking; I always have batch cooked meals in the freezer available. So when we end up on that last meal, sometimes it’s not literally the last meal. Sometimes I can do a fridge dump soup, which is basically every vegetable or meat that’s in the fridge. I just figure out how to make a soup with that with some broth and some spices. That’s a way to use up all the perishables. And if we’re not literally going to the store that day, I can get us by one more meal with what I have in the freezer. That’s kind of how we do it, making sure all those perishables are totally eaten through.

And sometimes, it’s like a game. Sometimes it’s really fun to kind of figure out; “What can I make with a sweet potato, some broth, and some leftover chicken.” You know?

Angie Alt: Yeah. I actually kind of like that feeling. And it makes my daughter kind of crazy, but we definitely use everything, right down to the very last. My fridge is literally empty. My pantry, other than bulk stuff like maybe some cassava flour is literally empty. We use everything before we go and shop again. And if I have those weird odds and ends, yeah I love the challenge of kind of coming up with that last meal before you shop that’s all the weird stuff. That’s a good feeling to use it up.

I usually will try to make a little bit of a baked something. A little bit of a casserole type thing. Or some kind of a hash with those last bits.

2. Food storage methods [12:52].

Angie Alt: Another important part of reducing waste is storing food correctly, and I think a lot of people might not know about some of these options. And I think, especially in the US. We probably tend to throw stuff out too soon thinking that it’s gone bad. And really, if we would have taken just a little care with storing the food, it would have lasted for a long time.

Mickey Trescott: Yeah, there are lots of resources online for you guys, if you’re really curious about storing food. I think Angie and I tend to be on the less conservative side. As far as meat and leftovers and stuff, I would totally agree with Angie. I definitely let my leftovers go sometimes up to a week and it’s fine. Sometimes it needs a little refresh with maybe some new spices and add some different flavors, a sauce or something. But I have no problem eating leftovers. Which I know we’ll talk about in a little bit.

But some things that you guys can do to kind of make the food that you buy last longer; a trick that I learned with herbs. Like fresh cilantro, fresh parsley, fresh basil. The best way to keep those is actually to put them in a little glass or jar of water, kind of like you would a flower arrangement. And then cover them with a plastic bag and kind of tie it tight so they both have that water and a little humidity. It will kind of keep them alive. Because you know how quickly those herbs can go wilty and slimy. They’re so flavorful, and so important in AIP cooking, that I just like to snip a little bit to use in a recipe, and then kind of keep the rest of them alive.

Some things that you might not be aware of actually last a lot longer in the refrigerator. So, while avocados you’re going to want to keep on the counter if you’re ripening them, once they’re close to or they are ripe, they’re going to last a little bit longer in the fridge. Same thing with citrus. I always; and I don’t know if this is just because I live in the Pacific Northwest, and it’s kind of damp here. But my citrus does not last out on the counter more than a few days without going moldy. So I’ll put it in the fridge along with some other fruits, like apples. They tend to stay much more crisp and last longer in there.

And then, if you store your greens with a damp paper towel, that can keep them fresh. I don’t know; do you have any other storage tips, Angie?

Angie Alt: Yeah, you know you can store cooked ground meat, fish, and poultry for about two days. And then you need to use it. Red meat is ok up to five days. And like Mickey said, I think she and I tend to be a little less conservative here. I’ll sometimes go up to 7 days there.

Regular leftovers just already prepared meals are usually good for five days in the fridge. Covered in good containers. You can make crackers, or those kinds of foods. Which we don’t tend to eat as much on strict elimination phase AIP. But there are some recipes out there. They’ll stay better longer in airtight containers so they don’t go stale.

Mickey Trescott: Yeah. And just preventing your food from going bad in the first place, before you get a chance to eat it, that’s a part of reducing waste. Because especially; I don’t buy those clamshell packs of greens just because unless I’m hosting a dinner party and I know that I’m going to have 8 people eating a ton of salad, they just don’t keep for me more than 2 days, and they go slimy, and I end up having to throw some of it away.

So I prefer instead getting a big head of lettuce and chopping it. It’s a little more work, but I don’t have that food waste that way. So you guys just kind of have to figure out what works for you there to store things.

Angie Alt: Right. I think we kind of already touched on freezing meals and ingredients before they go bad. That’s always smart. What about eating the odd bits of vegetables. Do you have some thoughts here, Mickey?

Mickey Trescott: Well, you know, I think sometimes we have such a sterile approach to food. Especially; we’re talking organically produced food. So this recommendation definitely changes if you can’t afford organic vegetables and you’re buying some conventional, we definitely advocate for peeling in that case. But if you’re buying organic fruits and veggies, I am definitely known to eat some of the odd bits of the vegetables. So things like kiwi skins.

Now they actually have those kiwis that are actually smooth on the outside. Bit I’ve always, even the fuzzy ones. I don’t mind the way it tastes. And there’s nutrients there, and fiber. Just peeling a kiwi, you lose a lot of it there. So, that also applies to other vegetables. I don’t peel carrots. I only peel the very top of beets. So I just slice the very top off. And any of that part that’s maybe kind of muddy where it was on the surface of the soil. Sometimes it’s a little mossy or muddy there. I’ll kind of slice that part off. But anything under there, you know, I just scrub it really well. Make sure there’s no dirt there. But I don’t peel it, because that creates waste.

Same thing if you’re going to be buying some fresh bunches of farm carrots or farm beets. You can actually eat carrot tops. I actually think Sarah Ballantyne has some recipes for sautéed carrot greens. Same thing with the beet greens. They’re just like chard. They don’t save very long, so when you buy them attached to the beet. I’ll usually cook the beet, and then use the greens in the same recipe. But just making sure to kind of use all of those odd bits, and waste as little as we can. You can even go as far as using orange peels and lemon peels to preserve them and use them in other recipes and things like that.

Angie Alt: Right. I think lastly is kind of buying the “ugly” veggies or discounted meat. This is a biggie for me. I do this a lot. This produce isn’t really sold. It’s usually wasted, because it doesn’t look perfect enough. And that to me is crime number one. I literally feel like it’s criminal. So I’ll grab that stuff, and buy it on purpose. And I have, more than once, had a checker say; “Oh, these apples are bruised.” Or whatever. “Do you want to get rid of these and replace them with something nicer.” And I always say no. I want it. Because I know it’s just going to get thrown away.

And if you really are opposed to that, you can cut those little ugly bits off and use the rest of the fruit.

Mickey Trescott: Totally. And the best-case scenario, the stores will have; and I think this is becoming more common. Where they’ll separate out the ugly veggies or fruits, and have them at a discounted price. Because a lot of people aren’t going to be activists, like you are Angie, and buy ugly produce just because they want to. If they’re incentivized with a lower cost. Or if you frequent your grocer and you’re like; “Hey, if you guys end up with a bunch of ugly apples at the end of the season, I’ll buy them at a discount.” Maybe you can use a dehydrator, or make some applesauce and freeze it. Whatever. Be creative that way. That’s definitely a great way to even save money, and reduce the waste there.

Angie Alt: That’s it for the first half of this episode. You guys, we’ll be back after the break with a guest who will help us talk about even more creative and specific ways to reduce our waste. She is a maven in this area. Be right back.

Mickey Trescott: A quick word from our title sponsor this season,The Nutritional Therapy Association. Angie and I both graduated from two different NTA programs. And even though that was a while ago, we can still remember what it was like to be students. Angie, what made you go down this path in the first place?

 

Angie Alt: Well it was you, Mick. I could see that their programs had greatly expanded your knowledge base and expertise. And I was already familiar with, and aligned with, their philosophy. I was kind of sold. But then I realized that their NTC course was perfect for my virtual coaching work, I was totally in. How did you decide between the various programs?

Mickey Trescott: What really sealed the deal for me was the NTA’s focus on real food and nutrient density. So, I also found the program really affordable and convenient with the online component. Which they’ve even made a lot easier now with their fully online NTC course that doesn’t have any in-person requirements. So, Angie do you have any favorite memories from your time as a student?

Angie Alt: Oh gosh, this is really hard to narrow down. I had a fantastic, really seasoned instructor, Caroline Berringer, who was so full of information. The way she taught was very enthusiastic, and it made everything stick. And I felt like she embodied the passion I had for helping others with their health.

And it was also my classmates. I went through the program with some really smart and motivated people, and it made me want to give it my all. Mickey, how about you?

Mickey Trescott: I started my NTA training while I was still in the very early days of my recovery. And at the beginning of my 9-month program, I was definitely still having a hard time physically making it through those workshop weekends. But by the end of the program, my health had improved so much that the workshop weekends were feeling really energizing and fun for me, and not draining. Which was really cool to see that transition. And a lot of my classmates, also, noticed a big difference. So that was really fun.

If you guys thing that you might be a good fit for one of NTA’s programs, you can check out their free 7-day nutritional therapy 101 course, and more program information, at www.NutritionalTherapy.com.

3. Our guest, Rachael Bryant from Meatified [22:44]

Angie Alt: Alright, you guys. On to our interview today. We are speaking with the incredible Rachael Bryant. She is the food blogger and recipe developer behind Meatified.com, which is probably the most fun food blog name ever. She’s also the author of the AIP cookbook, Nourish. And she’s also a fantastic food photographer. If you guys aren’t following her on Instagram at Meatified, you need to do yourself a favor and go check it out.

Rachael’s childhood involved a totally different style of eating and “convenience store cooking”, but in adulthood, she took those challenges and transformed her diet and kitchen skills, all while beating back an autoimmune disease. Thanks so much, Rachael, for joining us today.

Rachael Bryant: Hi Mickey and Angie. Thank you so much for having me.

Mickey Trescott: We know that minimizing waste and creative use of leftovers is an area of expertise for you. So we are super excited to pick your brain today.

Angie Alt: Yay! Ok, so let’s jump right in, here. Rachael, let’s start from the top. How did you first get inspired to be so creative in this area of minimizing waste and reusing leftovers?

Rachael Bryant: Honestly, there are two strands to this. Growing up, my mom did not cook at all. So my only real experience of home cooking came from my grandma. She’s the sort of person who, honestly, could make a meal out of nothing. And out of a kitchen that was probably; would probably fit into my guest bathroom two or three times over. I’m not sure how she managed it. So she was this very, very creative person.

But also, growing up in England, she lived through the war and she lived through rationing. You didn’t waste anything. I grew up around that environment where food was precious. Which maybe sounds a bit strange to us now. But it was something that you didn’t take for granted, and you always had to do something with. The way that she did that, in all very practical utilitarian way. But she also did it in such a creative way, and could bring meals to the table based on the contents of a tiny little under the counter fridge and some magic in the background.

That’s really what I wanted to bring into my own kitchen. That mix of practicality, but also creativity, and also fun. She might have been making meals that were very practical, but they were never boring. They were made with love, and that came through.

But the other aspect of cooking for me, in terms of keeping my kitchen stocked, is that I actually live about an hour; at least an hour away, from the nearest grocery store. So when I go grocery shopping, I go, and I try to be prepared for about a week at a time. If I’ve forgotten something, or if I need something, I can’t just zip out and go grab it. So I’ve learned over the years to be adaptable and to be able to work with what I have.

It used to stress me out, I’ll be honest. It’s not all roses. I didn’t pop out of the cooking womb, and be like, “I can do it all, and I’m good at it straight away!” Because I wasn’t. The way I sort of make it fun is I treat it a little bit like a puzzle or a game. It’s like problem solving. I will start with what’s seasonal, or what is on sale, or what I can afford that week, and then sort of build my cart from there. I don’t necessarily go into a grocery store or into the kitchen and have this prearranged idea of what I’m going to do. Does that make sense?

Mickey Trescott: Yeah, totally. And actually, that’s something that’s a big reason why we wanted to talk to you, Rachael. Because we know that, Angie and I are more of the meal planning kind of followers. We have more plan based on what we do, and we know that you’re a little more creative, and you like to wing it on the spot. And we realize that there are people out there that like cooking that way, and don’t like adhering to kind of a rigid plan and everything. So I think that speaks to a lot.

Part of eating this way, even if you plan and you have a bunch of food leftover, or if you don’t plan. You’re going to be eating a lot of leftovers. And one of the things we’ve noticed; I don’t know if you’ve noticed this in the community. But some people who say that they don’t like leftovers, or they get sick of eating leftovers. Do you have any comments about that?

Rachael Bryant: Ok, see. I love leftovers. The reason I love leftovers, is the way I look at it, it’s a free meal. You’ve practically got a meal, right there, ready to go that you don’t have to cook. And to be honest, when you have to, like we do, make so much of what we eat from scratch. If I’ve got half a meal, or part of a meal, or a whole meal in the fridge ready to go, I am happy. I am really, really happy, you know?

But I think part of the reason some people feel; “Leftovers; ugh!” Is because they have this idea that it has to mean eating the exact same thing 14 times in a row until it’s gone. You know? They expect to be sick of it because it is repetitive. But I like to think of leftovers more as a starting point. It’s like a base that you have that you can build on. You don’t necessarily have to eat the same thing over and over.

It’s like a choose your own adventure kind of deal, except with food. Which is like two of my favorite things. You’ve got a puzzle and a creative thing over here. And you’ve got the, “I need to eat, where’s my food?” Part of it over here. So like, you know, say you’ve got a whole bunch of roast chicken leftover. And you could sit there and you could eat that roast chicken exactly as it is several times over until you probably never want to see roast chicken again. At least for a couple of weeks, right?

You don’t have to eat it that exact same way. You could shred it and add it to a soup. You could have some cauliflower rice left over, and then the chicken comes into play with that. Maybe you bring in some pesto that you’ve got in the fridge, too. Maybe you’ve got some olives lingering around in your pantry. Maybe you’ve got some lemon. By the time you’ve added a couple of different elements, you can have a completely different dish. So it doesn’t have to be the same thing over and over.

4. Reimagining leftovers [29:30]

Angie Alt: I love that! I love this idea of using leftovers as the starting point. That’s a much more creative way to think about it. I really love that. Maybe, Rachael, you could get into telling us a little bit about that. Reimagining the leftovers. I see you sharing all the time on that amazing Instagram account of yours about different sauces, and marinades, and soups, and spice mixtures that you’ve put together. Maybe you can give us some ideas about how you reimagine leftovers.

Rachael Bryant: So what I like to do; I’m a weirdo, I think, in some respects. Because I don’t like to be super planned out and super organized. It sounds kind of odd when I say it out loud. I don’t like to get into a lot of details. I don’t want to have to make out a weeks’ worth of shopping list, right down to the tiny, tiny details.

What I like to do is always have an assortment of different sauces, or spice blends, or condiments. Basically anything you can add to a meal that would sort of jazz it up without too much effort. So maybe; I have a cheese sauce recipe on my blog. Which is a terrible misnomer, because there’s not really any cheese in it. But it’s like a cheesy, creamy sauce that you can make ahead of time. You can put it in the freezer. You can keep it in the fridge. Or maybe I will have a jar of pesto. Or maybe I might make a double batch of my barbecue sauce.

And I’ve found if you’ve got a couple of different things like that in your fridge, and your freezer, then you can take a very plan base. A protein and a veggie. And then you can start to jazz it up with very little effort. So you’ve got this tool to hand; these condiments. I just call them flavor boosters. Which sounds a little pretentious, but it’s a lot easier than saying sauces, condiments, seasoning blends, oh my!

If you’ve got a couple of these things, you can make them ahead of time. But you’re not stuck in the kitchen for hours batch cooking. It takes maybe 20 minutes to make a batch of cheese sauce and some pesto. Right? So that way I’ve got some things to hand, and I’ve kind of got a plan. But I’m not completely tied down to one set meal, or one way of doing things. Does that make sense?

Mickey Trescott: Yeah. It totally makes sense. And actually, I like to kind of play in the balance in between the two. I like to have a little bit of planned stuff, and then I like to see what happens with having some sauces. A lot of times, Rachael, I’ll actually make some little pesto ice cubes or something and even put them in the freezer, so it’s even that one step easier. So I can just pull that out, throw it, and sauté it up with some leftover chicken or whatever.

Rachael Bryant: Exactly. I think there’s this thing that people assume. I think especially because we’re food bloggers. There’s maybe this assumption that I’m cooking a meal every night that has three different elements, and I’m making all of them from scratch. But really, I have a kind of unspoken, unwritten rule where probably for each meal I’m probably only cooking one thing. And then maybe the other elements of my meal are coming from leftovers or coming from things I can make simply.

So, say tonight I’m roasting chicken thighs. Right? I’m only cooking for two people, so I probably only need two or three. But I’ll probably cook myself a whole tray, or 8 or 9. So that I have leftovers. So to start off, maybe I’m cooking that chicken and that’s the one element that I’m making for this meal that I’m actually cooking right this second this evening. Then to round it out, maybe I’ve got some sweet potato in the fridge. Or some rice. Or something that you’ve reintroduced that’s going to add that carb element to the plate. Then maybe I’ll add myself a side salad. Then I’ve got a meal right there, but I’ve only really cooked one thing.

The next day, I can roll this forward. I’ve got this leftover cold chicken. So maybe what I’ll do is I will reheat that in some of my cheese sauce. I can add in maybe some sliced mushrooms and some spinach. And then I’ve got this creamy chicken casserole. But I haven’t really cooked, so much as I’ve brought other elements together. So that’s sort of my base method.

Angie Alt: I love this! It’s like; you’re kind of having the sauces and things like that ready to go to kind of jazz up things as you move forward. It’s like, your batch cooking actually includes a little bit of those things that are helping make the leftovers that much better.

Rachael Bryant: For me, it helps me avoid being bored, but it also helps me from feeling really overwhelmed. Like, oh my goodness. I have to make a meal. Meal capital M. You know? If I think of it less as something that I have to sort of conceive of all at once and it has to be this cohesive fancy thing. And if instead I think of building it as a plate, then that sort of helps me become less overwhelmed.

Again, sometimes I think people assume that I love being in the kitchen. And I’m a food blogger, sure. And I love food, definitely. But even I don’t always want to be in the kitchen. When I started cooking, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. So if you can get to a point where you are comfortable with just pulling things together and not feel like everything you make has to be perfect or have a recipe title. Or be this massively cohesive thing. I think it frees you up of a lot of emotional energy, too.

Mickey Trescott: Yeah.

Rachael Bryant: Which maybe sounds a little silly when I say “emotional energy.” But I think when you are, maybe really tired and exhausted. Maybe you’re really overwhelmed. Maybe emotionally you know your autoimmune issues are taking a toll in that respect. If you can sort of leg go a little of the weight of expectations, and be like; it is just a meal. You’re building a plate. A little bit at a time. I think that helps to not be so overwhelmed and intimidated.

Angie Alt: Yep. I totally think this is a thing. There are a lot of emotions that go into food, and preparing foods. You have some really good points there, Rachael.

Mickey Trescott: Yeah, and I think it’s important for people to realize, too, that food bloggers are not eating these perfectly curated plates of food three meals a day. That’s a big misconception. I’ve met a lot of food bloggers. And while there are people who I think have a little bit more of a visual approach, and enjoy cooking more, and are a little bit more of that kind of foodie type, most people are very utilitarian when it comes to their cooking and getting food on their plates. I’ve been really refreshed, actually, meeting a lot of people in real life and just realize that they, most of the time, eat chicken thighs and broccoli, and a carb on the side of something like I do. You know?

Angie Alt: Right.

Rachael Bryant: Definitely. I think that’s part of something; I have a little bit of internal conflict on, too. Because I do like to make pretty food photos. And for me, it’s a creative outlet for someone who, honestly I never considered myself creative at all before I started food blogging. So for me it’s like this fun thing, and I like to make these pretty food photos. But then on the other hand, sometimes I almost feel like; I don’t want to say I feel guilty. But I am aware that those very same food photos can be very intimidating.

Like if I think of where I started; I would have gone, “Psh! I can’t make food like that.” Or if I had made a recipe and it hadn’t turned out like the photo, I probably would have assumed that it was me. You know? I do find that hard to sort of balance. I don’t know. I don’t have an answer for that, really.

Mickey Trescott: You know, Rachael, I’m kind of in a similar boat. I love photography, and I think of it as kind of an art for me. But at the same time, a lot of people are unable to mentally say, “I can do this.” Unless they see something that looks good to them. And I think part of the images are inspiring to people to understanding that even though this diet has this long list of foods they can’t have.

If they see some beautiful imagery, like our books or our Instagram feeds, or anything. And they’re like; “Wow, this food looks incredibly delicious.” They might make that mental shift. Like, “Maybe I can actually do that.” And I think that’s the important role it plays, and where the line, that boundary is in then having them think I need to be eating this Instagram worthy food every single meal. That’s not realistic.

And that’s where I think sharing some more of the real life behind the scenes type stuff is important, too. But, you know, I think both are really valuable, and I wouldn’t feel bad at all about doing the great work that you do and showing people how beautiful eating this way can be. Because for some people, that is really important. That inspiration.

Rachael Bryant: It’s true, isn’t it? Because the visual is kind of significant. I think it helps for people to see that it’s not all about the list of what you can’t have. Mindset is so important. The longer I do this, the longer I’m invested in my own health. The longer I’m cooking for myself, that becomes more significant to me. It’s not about what you can’t have, it’s about what you’re choosing to do for yourself. It’s about the choices that you can make. The ways that you can work with what you do have and can have. And I think that applies to cooking, but it applies to everything, really.

5. Using food “scraps” [39:23]

Angie Alt: Right. Ok, Rachael. How about, you talk to us about using food scraps. I think that you’re very talented in this. Again, we see this reflected in your recipe creations and your food photography and the things that you’re sharing with the community. Can you tell us about how your kind of minimizing waste, and making that food budget go really far in terms of reusing food scraps?

Rachael Bryant: The main two things I probably do here when it comes to cleaning out the fridge at the end of the week. And I am a weirdo. I take a kind of strange pride in getting to the end of the week and getting that fridge right down to it’s sort of bare, empty…

Angie Alt: Mickey and I totally do too. We totally talked about this earlier. {laughs}

Rachael Bryant: It’s like it’s looking at you, and you’re feeling really good. Because it’s like; almost gone. And then you have that last challenge at the end and you’re like; ok, can I actually make another meal now, or have I pushed this too far? {laughs}

What I do to really make use of everything, two main things that I do. One, this isn’t rocket science, but making broth. My husband is now well used to the fact the freezer at any point is probably 40% bits of bones or random things that I can’t throw away or an ice cube tray of something that I could throw into vegetables or whatever later on. So broth is my key thing.

I think a lot of people have this idea. I don’t know; I think maybe it’s because a lot of recipes or methods you see online, where people teach you about how to make broth. You very often see whole chicken carcasses, or specific bones that people have gone out. Go out and buy soup bones. But obviously we’re not all doing that. I try to use up what I have.

I think my favorite way to make broth right now is with pork bones. Specifically rib bones. Whenever there’s a sale on pork ribs, I’m there. Not just because I like ribs. Because they make really, really good broth. But you don’t see people talking about pork broth. People tend to think chicken or beef.

But with broth, I’m using little bits of vegetable scraps that I will save. So say carrot tops, or the end of leeks, or the odd onion, or what have you. But I’m also making use of all of the bones from meat that we’re using to make meals throughout the week.

Mickey Trescott: I love this reusing bone conversation. I think it’s something that can’t be said enough. Because I do the exact same thing as you, Rachael. I have a bag or four at all times in the freezer.

Rachael Bryant: It’s terrible! {laughs}

Mickey Trescott: Once you realize how many bones you can save and you start saving them, it becomes like a hoarding problem.

Rachael Bryant: It is! Then I have this separate baggie. And it’s like, the separate baggie. Once I’ve made broth with you once and you’re real clean and defuzzed. Then I’m like; you’re going in the special bag to be reused.

Mickey Trescott: Yeah. And I don’t know about you, but I mix, like half and half. I mix types of bones. I don’t ever buy bones for broth. And I know part of that is because I buy whole animals, so I end up getting a bunch of bones when I get my order. But just from cooking chickens, or chicken thighs. I usually eat bone-in meat. So when people are like; you know, bones are expensive. Beef knuckle bones at Whole Foods. I’m always like; I haven’t bought bones in forever, just because I’m always reusing them. You know?

Rachael Bryant: I do the same thing. I always prioritize those bone-in meats. And often, they’re cheaper, too. Because you’re not paying for them to debone and de-skin. And you’re not paying the premium on the lean meats. Which, a lot of the time I don’t want.

Mickey Trescott: And you get all those little scraps of meat, and that connective tissue, that’s still attached to the bone that’s then going to go into your broth. So that meat is going to add flavor, and all of that connective tissue is going to add some more gelatin and collagen and everything. I can’t really see an argument for doing it any other way. It’s not only the cheapest, but I think you end up with a better tasting and nutritious broth in the end, too.

Rachael Bryant: The other thing that I do. Probably other people do it, too, but I don’t see anybody talking about it. {laughs} So maybe I have a little bit of a weird hoarding problem in this respect, too. But if I roast a chicken. Or if I’ve cooked any kind of meat, and it’s done on a pan. It’s got all those; it’s got all that fat and roasting pan juices or whatever. I will pour that off into a freezer container. I will freeze that too.

And then once I; I usually make broth in my Instant Pot. So once I’ve gone through that process, and I’ve strained it, and I’ve gotten rid of the bits and the bones and things and I’m just left with the broth that I’m going to put into jars, then what I’ll do is I’ll take some of these frozen reserved pan juices, and I’ll put those back into the mix and heat that up again.

And it does two things. One, I’m not wasting anything. Two, it adds a lot more flavor. Because you’re not just getting the bones. You’re getting that kind of more meaty depth of flavor. But also, and this is especially true, something like chicken or pork or more fatty cuts in general. Is that way you’re getting all the fat that’s sort of left behind after you’ve roasted and cooked. And that makes a really, really nice seal. Once you’ve poured off your broth, and put it in the fridge, or whatever. I end up with a really nice fat cap there, more than I would necessarily just making the straight broth. And that helps to preserve it, to keep it longer. So it’s helping to avoid waste from that perspective, too. You’re also grossing out your husband, again. But by now, he’s used to it.

Angie Alt: {laughs} Yeah. I love the fat cap thing, too. I feel like your broth keeps longer that way.

Rachael Bryant: Yep. Definitely. It really does help. People have asked me; “how long should I keep it?” And I know technically I should probably tell you like a week, but honestly in my own house, I couldn’t tell you how long some of that broth lasts. And I use it. I wouldn’t necessarily tell someone else to do it. But I do it with no shame. It lasts a long time.

Mickey Trescott: That’s so {laughs} funny, Rachael, because we were just talking earlier about this in the first section of this podcast. And we were like; you know, the government recommends a few days with leftovers, but I definitely leave things for a week, sometimes even more. Especially broth.

Rachael Bryant: Oh broth has been in my fridge for more weeks than I probably even am aware of. Don’t do what I do, but maybe think about doing what I do? {laughs}

Mickey Trescott: Exactly. Everyone’s doing their own thing. But I think a lot of people, too, are unnecessarily skeeved out by food safety, when there’s some other things that are a little more sketch than leaving something in your fridge for a couple of days too long.

Rachael Bryant: I think, too, part of that is distance from food. For a lot of people coming into AIP or just real food, just cooking in general. Maybe you’ve come from an environment like me. When I was a kid, when I was a teenager. I didn’t really start to cook for myself until I was in college. And I was ruled by the dates on packages, because I didn’t know how to differentiate any of the stuff for myself. So I probably threw away lots of perfectly fine food, because I didn’t really understand how to tell if something was still good.

The other thing that I do, in fact probably the main thing that I do that’s the mainstay of the food that I eat each day. I always make a soup. Usually it’s the weekend. Usually cleaning out the fridge with whatever I’ve got left. Very often it’s got a kind of root vegetable base. Usually because those are the things that last longest, you know. Because I have to shop for a week or so once. The way I sort of rotate through my food is I’ll eat the fresher, more delicate things first. Like lighter leaves and salads and stuff like that. Certain fruits, and then sort of as the week progresses, I’ll work my way through the more hardy stuff. The stuff that keeps longer.

So usually at the end of the week I’ve got some parsnips, or carrots. Something like that. And then I will clean out the fridge with whatever else I have left, and I will make myself a very simple pureed vegetable soup. I usually keep it very neutral in seasoning, and the reason is that soup sort of becomes the base for my next weeks’ breakfast. I know some people are probably making a face right now. “Soup for breakfast, really?”

But for me, it helps on a couple of levels. First of all, I’m not wasting anything, it helps me clean out that fridge at the end of the week. But also it gives me a really nice base in the morning for a very simple meal that I don’t have to cook; that I can just reheat. But what I like to do is start off with this base soup and then kind of jazz it up different ways throughout the week, dependent on things I have to hand. So, I don’t necessarily have to have the exact same soup each time.

And so, this kind of sums up my approach in a nutshell. It’s like; I’ve got a base level of planning, in this case the soup. And then I sort of wing it each day so that I don’t get bored.

Mickey Trescott: I love that, Rachael.

Angie Alt: I love it.

Mickey Trescott: Thanks so much for sharing in detail the way that you would work through what we call a fridge dump soup, and then use that as a base for recipes going forward in your week. That’s awesome.

Angie Alt: Yay!

Mickey Trescott: So, Rachael, will you let our listeners know just kind of what you’re up to in your work currently, and where they can find you online?

Rachael Bryant: You can find all of my recipes on my blog. It’s Meatified.com. and it’s a bit of a nonsense word. It’s sort of like a little mini in-joke. Because I used to be vegetarian. Many years ago. And when I started to eat meat again, I was joking to my husband about how I’ve meatified my diet. So it’s a little bit of a nonsense made up word. So that’s where you can find me, anyway.

On social media, you can find me on Instagram. It’s where I post more of my day-to-day things. I’m really terrible at stories, but I’m trying to get better, so that I can show more of the real meals I make, the less styled food that I eat. And you can find me on Instagram at Meatified, as well. I’m also on Facebook, but I’m really bad at keeping up with that, truth be told. But if you want to follow me there, that’s where you’ll find me.

To be honest, I’m not really working on anything special right now.

Mickey Trescott: What about your cookbook? I mean, your cookbook just came out. Again, it’s a really incredible resource. I just made the chili a couple of weeks ago. Super tasty.

Rachael Bryant: I love that recipe! Although I hated making it at the time. My husband; he’s not even Texan. Right? He’s from California. But he lived in Texas for 30 years, so he has really, very specific thoughts about chili. And that chili, and the barbecue sauce in my cookbook. He sent me back into the kitchen, I’m not even joking, about 30 times. It was ridiculous. I was beginning to curse his name, and chili, and everything barbecue.

Mickey Trescott: {laughs}

Rachael Bryant: By the time I was done. But yes. My cookbook; the original version of my cookbook is called Nourish. And it’s got a subtitle of The Paleo Healing Cookbook. And it’s a hardcover edition. This year, we actually did come up, because a lot of saying were saying, “We love your cookbook, but we don’t really love hardcover.” Or, “We want a paperback we can lay open in the kitchen a bit better or get a bit messy.” So we’ve actually just launched a paperback edition. And it’s just called The Paleo Healing Cookbook. It has the updated cover, and it’s the paperback edition. But the recipes are the same.

Mickey Trescott: Awesome. If you guys are interested in checking out Rachael’s stuff, we definitely encourage you to do that. She’s a really important part of our AIP community. We’re really grateful for her work.

Thank you again for agreeing to chat with us today, Rachael. And for everybody else, we’ll be back next week with a new episode. Take care!

Angie Alt: Bye everybody!

Angie Alt: Thanks for joining us on this episode of The Autoimmune Wellness Podcast. We’re honored to have you as a listener, and we hope that you’ve gained some useful information.

Mickey Trescott: Did you know that we have dozens of informative articles about living well with autoimmune disease, and over 250 elimination phase compliant recipes on our website, updated multiple times per week? Make sure to click on over to AutoimmuneWellness.com. Follow us on social media. And sign up for our newsletter to find out about all of this new content.

We’re either at Autoimmune Paleo, or at Autoimmune Wellness on any of these channels. You can sign up for our newsletter at the bottom of any page on our website. Don’t forget to connect with the AIP community by using the hashtag #AutoimmuneWellness.

Angie Alt: If you enjoyed the podcast, please leave us a review in iTunes, as this helps others find us. See you next time!

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About Mickey Trescott

Mickey Trescott is a cook and one of the bloggers behind Autoimmune Wellness. After recovering from her own struggle with both Celiac and Hashimoto’s disease, adrenal fatigue, and multiple vitamin deficiencies, Mickey started to write about her experience to share with others and help them realize they are not alone in their struggles. She is a certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner by the Nutritional Therapy Association, and is the author of The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook, a guide and recipe book for the autoimmune protocol, and AIP Batch Cook, a video-based batch cooking program. You also can find her on Instagram.

2 comments

  • Flossie says

    I tend to be a precise person and my Type A personality can make it take me longer than needed to prepare meals. A new habit that I’ve gotten into that has helped is that whenever I chop up vegetables I haphazardly lop off the ends of green beans, the woody parts of asparagus, ends of carrots, outer leaves of greens etc. and throw them in a ziplock that I keep in the freezer. When it’s time to make broth I have a bunch of food that might have gotten thrown away ready to throw in my crockpot. As a person who isn’t haphazard about much of anything, this is freeing, saves food, and saves me time.

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Flossie – I do the same thing! I love using those little bits to make a tasty broth. Thanks for sharing!

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