Pickled Watermelon Rind & Beets

A week or so ago I bought myself a HUGE watermelon from WFM and thought to myself, “how can I use the rind to this melon”.

Watermelons are in the same family as cucumbers and zucchini, so I tried to think of cooking techniques for those.

Dehydrating first came to mind then of course breading/frying followed, because anything fried can be tasty.

Finally pickles came to mind!

I’ve never pickled or fermented anything and the idea not only fascinated me but also was terrifying.

I decided to peruse the net for basic pickling recipes to guide me in the right direction.

During my search I stumbled across a recipe for pickled watermelon rind! Oh, lucky days!

The recipe was adapted by Kitchen Riffs from a David Chang recipe.

As mentioned before I do not like using refined white sugar but it was important for me to follow the recipe somewhat closely for the first attempt. So, I reduced the sugar quantity from the original.

I pickled the rinds Monday night after waiting the recommended four days, I popped off the lids and gave them a try.

Ok, I do admit that eating pickled rind from a watermelon may not sound scrumptious, and well, I cannot say it was my favorite. These freshly packed sour warheads have an intense “POW, IN YOUR FACE” flavor.

Kitchen Riff recommended using ACV instead of Chang’s rice wine vinegar, so I went along with the ACV. The ACV has a sweet element and enhances the intense flavors to an overwhelming degree.

The thing about watermelon rind is that it doesn’t have much flavor and are bitter—absorbing whatever sauce used. Less sugar and the strong, sweet flavor of ACV took over the rinds, resulting in unbalance between sweet and sour/tangy, with sour/tangy dominating the profile.

Cinnamon sticks and fresh ginger were also added to my brind which adds a layer of heat to the pickles.

There is a real sweet, tangy, sour explosion of flavors that are not for the average soul.

There was also that expected crunch from the hard rind which you’ll find from a well pickled vegetable. The crunch adds another degree of complexity to this already stimulating flavors.

This would be great with some ice cold lemonade on a hot summer day or garnish for a fun, fruity cocktail.

I’ve generated two jars and am seeking creative ways to eat these tangy morsels because summer is on it’s way out and seldom drink, but once in a while I do enjoy a classic gimlet with gin. I’ll post updates about tasty finds for pickled watermelon rind.

I ended up using some extra dressing to pickle a golden beet that wasn’t looking too good. I honestly loved the pickled beet.

The ACV wasn’t as overwhelming and still had a strong beet flavor and a slight crunch to them.

These would be great with hummus and roasted corn or in a nice green salad with some toasted walnuts. YUM!

Have you tried pickling? Do you have a favorite recipe or tricks? Let me know!

5 Easy Ways to Reduce Waste While Dining Out

Note: The best way to avoid waste while dining out is to not eat out.

Think about the last time you “ordered out”.  What did you eat?  How was it packaged?  The amount of waste used for most takeaway is often unnecessary and most of the packaging is landfill or sometimes with recyclable or compostable materials, but how often does recycling actually make it to recycling?

Disposable takeout.jpgSometimes eating out can be very wasteful.

Photo Source: istock.com | Milkos

Eating out uses valuable resources and our goal is to have zero waste.  

  1. Try planning your dining out experience to eat-in whenever possible, ESPECIALLY when they have reusable dishes.
  2. Carry a water bottle with you EVERYWHERE.  This is good for all parties, so stay hydrated, prepared, and avoid wasting a cup for only a single use.
  3. Carry reusable utensils.  Include a fork, knife, spoon, chopsticks, reusable straw, and napkin.  You’ll be impressed by how convenient this is, and who doesn’t like convenience?!
  4. Carry a collapsible container if you plan on dining in and decide to take leftovers home.
  5. REFUSE straws when you order a drink.  I do this almost by instinct with an occasional slip up that usually results in a straw.   Nothing really makes me stressed as straws. Probably because they are so wasteful and the abundance of them is maddening.

Be firm, confident, friendly, and to the point when you ask for no straw.   

If the person reacts uncomfortably, laugh it out to help ease any tension.   I never have issues refusing straws and sometimes you meet someone who is happy to hear this request.

feminist poster vintage girl

You’re probably thinking, “wow this broad wants me to carry a massive bag full of supplies for survival”…  Well, this is a fight for survival!

**Make sure to support local restaurants that have sustainable practices and support a greener planet.


Be savvy about it and ultimately prepare for what you plan on doing. 

For example:

If you will be dining at a familiar restaurant and know they have reusable plates and disposable utensils, then bring your pouch of reusable utensils.

Or, if you decide to get a massage and the host offers you a drink, just say, “Is it ok for me to use my reusable bottle?”

Regardless of your current routine, taking the steps to dine consciously will blossom into a rewarding experience.


If you are using anything disposable at home, STOP NOW. 

There are a lot of alternative products which not only help reduce waste but also helps you save some hard-earned money.


A fun game I like to play is called, “Oh, where have you gone to my lovely”.  Where I ponder about an object’s journey before landing in my possession.  This game usually ends with an interesting, whimsical, and sometimes dark revelation.  

For example:

Even a simple paper plate uses many resources.

Water to grow the tree.  Gas to cut the tree.  Gas to transport tree.  Power to process tree.  Gas to transport tree pulp.  Power to make the plate.  Packaging to wrap the plate.  Gas to transport the plate.

Did you think it would have so many steps or waste so many resources?  This doesn’t include the biodiversity harmed during the whole process.

Try this game out and take a moment to reflect on any object you have in your possession.  Focus on the object’s journey from start to ultimate end. 

Let me know what you learned and if any of it shocked you.  


Check this out: 

The clothing industry is filthy, and no I’m not talking about dirt.  This documentary that explores the impact of the global clothing industry on people and the planet.

What a Waste!

Take a moment to think about how much waste you produce in a week. Roughly, between my boyfriend and myself, we go through about one regular size garbage bag a week. Now multiply that by 52 weeks, times billions of other people. That is a lot of waste, and that doesn’t include the 2 bags of recycling that goes out each week, I’m sure other homes produce a lot more.

Does this waste just disappear never to be seen again? Where does it go?

These thoughts plague my mind.

My journey into zero waste began with instant obsession for the movement and I quickly attempted to replicate the lifestyle.

What a tremendous mistake…

Mistake #1: FOOD

At the time I wasn’t cooking much at home and had very little motivation to do so. I was militant and thought zero waste meant not buying anything with packaging, so I bought a lot of vegetables and items from the bulk section.

I made my own almond milk, ate salads, smoothies and oatmeal every day, and tried to use every bit of the produce, including eating strawberries whole, fuzzy green tops and all.

The issue here was that I had no plan of action and grew tired of eating the same thing every day, so most of the fresh produce became waste.

How hypocritical is that?

Mistake #2: HYGIENE

This issue seemed easier to transition into than food waste, but the minor adjustments to my daily routine eventually sprouted negative consequences to my well-being.

My shower routine consisted of cold water, a single bar of biodegradable soap, and would last less than 5 minutes. This was a great routine for sleepy mornings or hot days but bottom line, cold weather showers are torturous, the icy water shocked my nerves, soap didn’t completely wash out and I always felt dirty. Oh, and forget about taking a shower before bed, because that freezing rain would wake you up like it was a brand new morning.

Another attempt to reduce waste included my bathroom habits. According to the Boston Standard Company, the average American uses 50 pounds of toilet paper a year. Also stating that global toilet paper production consumes 10 million trees a year.

At first, I tried to use as little toilet paper as possible, even using 1 square for a short period of time—which was useless.

I had read about people using a system called family cloth. Family cloth is a neat concept: Up-cycling old cloth to use to wipe oneself. After continued research, sanitation and repeated use concerned me, so I never tried this system.

MISTAKE #3: JUDGEMENT

Whenever out in public no one could escape my judgment. I’d watch others drink out of Styrofoam cups with straws and then proceed to unconsciously toss everything into a garbage can.

The stress was killing me, and it was like no one cared.

Nowadays I think to myself, “no one is perfect, especially me”. Which serves as a reminder that I’ve lived a careless lifestyle in the past.

THE RESULT:

After avoiding any product that could produce waste, starving myself, feeling dirty and miserable all the time, I quickly plunged back into bad habits.

I broke down.

Depression took hold, anxiety clouded my mind, and felt pity for myself.

CONCLUSION:

Over time I restored myself and I continue the transition into a zero waste lifestyle.

If I crave food or want to buy something new and shiny, I resist the urge and after a while, the desire is gone.

When I need something, I try to buy it used, if possible. Shopping at thrift stores has actually become a fun activity. Sometimes I may not find what I need but when I do, they are often more unique than something new, I save money, and the discovery is like finding buried treasure.

When shopping for groceries, I still focus on fresh produce and bulk items but now I am not afraid to buy other items with packaging. My rule for packaging is that it should be glass, aluminum or [at least] recyclable plastic.

I only buy recyclable toilet paper now and try to be conscious of how much is used. I still take cold showers but if I am not in the mood for one, then the water becomes warm.

I’ve learned that 30 odd years of habits cannot change overnight, that changes need to be made gradually over time. The fact that I am attempting to make change is a step in the right direction and there is no reason to get upset with myself or others.

We are a product of our environment and a culture of garbage, but with each additional step forward we can make a stampede of change.

Next time you buy or throw something away, try to think about the journey of how it came to be and what will happen to that “trash”.

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Decadent (Dairy-Free) Hot Cocoa

This recipe was created to help control my sugar intake during cravings, which often controlled me.

The secret to this hot cocoa is the nutty boost of toasted sesame oil, but the all-star here is Callebaut unsweetened dark 60% chocolate.

I say less sugar the better and my tastes have adapted to enjoying the bitter essence of pure chocolate, but I still enjoy a touch of sweetness.

(SCROLL DOWN FOR RECIPE)

Why do I prefer honey?  Click here to find out. 


 

Sweet Treat (Dairy-Free) Hot Cocoa

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

CRAVING SUPPRESSOR ALERT! Creamy, chocolaty goodness—ready in minutes!


Credit: Kat Polomsky

Ingredients

      • 1/2 cup flax or hemp milk
      • 1/2 cup almond or cashew milk
      • 1/4 cup water
      • 2-3 tbsp local honey (Add more if you like sweeter)
      • 1/4 tsp toasted sesame oil
      • 1/4 cup dark chocolate, chopped (I use Callebaut unsweetened bitter chocolate)
      • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
      • 1/2 tsp sea salt
      • 1/2 tsp freshly ground cinnamon stick

     

Optional Ingredients:

  • Vegan marshmallows.  Make sure your marshmallows are vegan!  Many brands contain fish gelatin, collagen, or egg whites.  Have you ever made marshmallows at home?  Let me know how it worked out!
  • Fine toasted coconut,
  • Coconut cream
  • Finely ground protein powder.  Whisk in well with other ingredients in step 4.

Directions

1) Measure out 1/2 cup flax milk, 1/2 cup almond milk, 1/4 tsp toasted sesame oil & honey and pour into small saucepan.

2) Set range to low and add dark chocolate to saucepan and slowly whisk continuously.

3) Continue to whisk liquid until chocolate is completely melted and begins to thicken.

4) Turn off heat and add 1/4 cup water, 1/2 tsp vanilla, salt, & cinnamon and continue to whisk until blended.

5) Pour the velvety smooth treat into your favorite mug and enjoy!

Note:  Even though unsweetened dark chocolate is used, it still contains high amounts of saturated fat and consists stearic acid and palmitic acid and should be used in  moderation.

Why Honey?

First off,  I do not like processed sugar, especially if sourced from cane sugar or palm sugar.

I prefer honey because it has a lower glycemic index, has more nutrients, medicinal properties, supports allergy relief, is easier to digest, and supports population growth of bees.  Honey makes a more sustainable sugar that mixes well and has subtle flavorings depending on the flower pollen collected.

Most sugars can cause heart disease, type 2 diabetes, weight gain, and cavities.

Sugar cane is a water-intensive crop that remains in the soil all year long and impacts many environmentally sensitive regions.  Pollutes water with fertilizer and helps encourage red waves which deplete oxygen for organisms in the water.  Is a cause of deforestation in some of the world’s most threatened ecosystems.

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Many vegans do not promote the use of honey as it violates the animals’ right free from human exploitation.  Other issues include kept queens having their wings trimmed and bees harmed during routine handling of the hive.

Bees are at risk of becoming endangered, with yellow-faced bees added to the list this past year, and need our support in order to help populations thrive.

Bees and other pollinators such as flies, butterflies, and moths, transport pollen between plants to trigger fertilization of seeds.

Without this vital component of the ecosystem, we would not only lose food but oxygen.

Be sure to purchase honey from ethical beekeepers in your local area.

Your purchase of honey will help support the growth of bee populations.

Other ways to help the bee population:

Buy organic—Pesticides kill bees.  Organic produce use less harmful pesticides and natural means of pest removal.

Grow plants that help bees—Lavender, Sage, Mint, Crocus, hyacinth, borage, calendula, and wild lilac to name a few.

Sources and more information about sugar cane :

WWF – Sugar Cane

WWF – Sugar Cane Farming

Deforestation Education 

Red Tide, Sugar, and the Everglades

Is honey better for you than sugar?

Easiest Chocolate Cloud Cookies

I am in awe right now.  I have discovered a cookie recipe that takes less than 30 minutes to make, has very few ingredients, has no added sugar, and uses only 1 bowl and 1 spoon and 1 large cookie sheet.

If you are anything like me, you are a sugarholic!  Luckily whenever I get a mean craving for something chocolately sweet these cookies come to the rescue!

Let’s give these puppies a boost of star power by adding a scoop of your favorite flavorless vegan protein powder to create a delicious post-workout treat, with 12g of protein per serving (serving size 4 cookies).

Chocolate Cloud Cookies

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Credit: Kat Polomsky

Ingredients

    • 3 large mashed bananas
    • 1/2 cup almond butter (can substitute with favorite nut butter)
    • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
    • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
    • 1 tsp sea salt to garnish

Optional Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp dark chocolate chips
  • 2 tbsp toasted coconut
  • 2 tbsp favorite chopped nut

Directions

1) Preheat oven to 350°F.

2) Peel bananas and mash in medium mixing bowl.

3) Add cocoa powder, nut butter, and vanilla extract. Mix until thick dough is formed.

4) Add optional ingredients.

5) Place large dollops of the dough onto a non-stick baking pan. Cookies do not expand in the oven, so try to get all of your cookies onto one pan!

6) Place cookie sheet onto medium shelf in the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes.

7) Once firm, remove cookies from oven and set aside to cool.

8) Sprinkle with sea salt and enjoy!