My weekday soy kefir smoothie, and ideas about reducing waste without going zero-waste

Most weekday mornings involve a smoothie for me. Notice I am reusing a pasta sauce jar as my blender cup. My blender blade fits Mason jar small mouths and this jar allows enough room for the blade to safely spin so it’s a handy way to only dirty one receptacle, as opposed to a blender jar and my cup. The only issue is the jar doesn’t have tabs that keep it in place so I just place my hand on the jar so the engine doesn’t cause the blade and jar to begin unscrewing. Being that even my $25 Oster blender whizzes my smoothie in a minute, it’s not a big deal for me. I know you’ve probably seen the Nutribullet infomercials that claim all the other blenders are bulky and take forever and go wobbling off your counter, but it’s just not true! You don’t have to get any high-end equipment to enjoy nutrient-dense smoothies, I promise!

Lately my smoothies have been soy kefir (homemade soymilk cultured using dairy kefir grains from the beforetimes), frozen banana, frozen cherry-berry blend, apples, green leaf lettuce, chia seeds, peanut powder, a few ice cubes, and a splash of diet cranberry “juice” (it’s really just cranberry-flavored water with some vitamin C added). I do think you can buy vegan kefirs these days, but I don’t think they’re easy to find, and most folks probably don’t have kefir grains so that can be subbed with any kind of plant milk, I prefer soy for its protein content. You can add something like lemon juice to brighten the flavors and add some tanginess, or instead of a milk, you can use a vegan yogurt. This is also an easy way for me to make a dent in getting at least 5 servings of fruits and veggies a day. I’ve kind of gotten burnt out on salads lately, and a lot of the time having to peel and chop all the different veggies for a good salad is more than I want to do so this has been a great way to get some leafy greens in, and to me, it’s imperceptible. I like peanut powder as a good source of protein without adding any wonky flavors to my drink. I can’t stand most vegan protein powders, either because of pea protein or the “natural” non-nutritive sweeteners they use, plus this PB2 peanut powder is affordable and I’ve seen it at every grocery store or Walmart I’ve been at, although I get mine from Amazon. From what I understand peanut powder is what’s leftover after they get the peanut oil so I imagine it’s also a good way to reduce food waste on a large scale.

And when it comes to reducing food waste and time and attention management, I find it convenient to have my produce ready to eat. I try to get my lettuce washed and put away with a paper towel in the container the day I get it. I also learned a trick about putting apple slices in salted water (1 tsp. salt to 1 cup water) for 10-15 minutes then draining, but don’t rinse, to keep them from turning brown immediately. If you want, you can give them a quick rinse just before eating but I don’t mind the very subtle salt taste. This way I have apples ready to go for smoothies and as a snack, especially handy with a kid in the house since he can never eat a whole apple.

Just like with veganism, you don’t have to go zero waste, and especially not overnight, to reduce waste, and you might get away without buying anything, like with my repurposed marinara jar. In fact, most of my pantry staples get stored in repurposed jars. You might have noticed my chia seeds are in an old salad dressing bottle. Occasionally, grains and flours can come from the store with bugs (such as weevils) already in them so I store my dried goods in glass jars to prevent losing a whole pantry of food in the event an infestation goes unnoticed. Also rodents can’t chew through glass, and despite the preconception rodents only happen in unsanitary conditions, it’s just untrue – all it takes is a tiny hole.

So to sum this up, mornings can be an opportune time to get a chunk of your daily produce in without a lot of chopping if you go the smoothie route, no expensive equipment is needed to go veganish, and consider reusing durable packaging from your groceries, like glass jars, instead of worrying about going out and spending a lot of money on specialty containers.

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