Earth Day: 6 foods you’re throwing away that you should be cooking with, according to Max La Manna

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Twisted: Unserious food tastes seriously good.

There’s no denying the UK has a real food-waste problem. Currently, we’re throwing away a whopping 9.5 million tonnes of food every year, and the worst part is that so much of that is perfectly edible – we just don’t know it.

You see, there are a plethora of the foods that we’re only partially using, but they’ve actually got the potential to make some of our favourite meals really delicious.

There’s been a lot of buzz in recent years about every part of an animal, but what about the humble vegetable? From aquafaba (that’s chickpea water) to broccoli stalks, the list of veg we’re kicking to the curb is well and truly is endless.

So, for Earth Day, we’ve enlisted plant-based, zero-waste chef, Max La Manna to help us out.

Max La Manna dropped into Twisted to share his food-waste tips (Credit: Alamy)

After all, if anyone knows about making banging food out of produce many of us would mistakingly consider ‘waste’, it’s him.

Here are the five foods Max thinks you should stop binning, ASAP.

Potato Skins

Keep that potato peel and make crisps (Credit: Alamy)

When cooking, it’s pretty common to peel potatoes before chucking them into whatever you’re cooking, but in the process you’re wasting their super-delicious skins – and why would you wanna do that?!

“If you’re gonna throw away the potato peels, think again,” Max says. “Save those peels, give them a good wash, let them dry a bit and then you can place them into the oven and make potato crisps – easy!

“Of course, you could also just keep the peel on.” Voila, no waste.


Don’t sleep on that aquafaba (Credit: Alamy)

“In my eyes, aquafaba is liquid gold,” says Max. You might not even know what it is, so let him enlighten you:

“It is the liquid found in a can of chickpeas and that liquid is mostly poured right down the drain, when you can make perfectly edible – in fact delicious – treats using it.

“That liquid, once whisked, creates stiff peaks [which can be used in everything from] meringues to pancakes to chocolate cakes to banana breads.

“There’s nothing better.”

No eggs? No problem.

“That aquafaba will replace your egg whites,” Max explains.

Banana Peels

The humble banana peel doesn’t get enough air-time (Credit: Alamy)

“You probably weren’t thinking this,” laughs Max. “You probably just cocked your head like ‘what?!’

“Make sure they’re organic but what you can do is make curries, pulled pork banana peel sandwiches [and tacos] and so much more.

“There’s a lot that you can do with banana peels. Pickle it, just experiment.

“It’s an ingredient which is thrown away on a regular basis. Over one million banana peels are thrown away every single day in the UK, and it takes roughly 30 days for banana to be shipped from South America to the UK.

“That’s a long time for such an incredible fruit to be transported to the UK to just end up in our bins.”

Broccoli Stalks

That broccoli stalk is sweet and flavoursome (Credit: Alamy)

Broccoli stalks are another one of those ingredients we’re throwing away way too often.

“What I like to do with broccoli stalks is thinly slice or peel the outer layer – sometimes there’s a rough skin – but the inside of the broccoli stalk is soft, it’s slightly sweet sometimes and [you can do so much with it].”

Max suggests pickling it when thinly sliced, making a pesto out of the stalk or even chucking it in a salad.

“Or…get ready, broccoli stem tartare…” he suggests.

Hey, don’t knock it ’til you try it!

Carrot tops

You’re not going to bin those carrot tops, are ya? (Credit: Alamy)

You know that green top of your carrot? Yeah, don’t bin it.

“What I like to do with carrot tops is make a carrot top pesto, chimichurri sauce or even sprinkle it on top of a pizza,” Max says.

“That leafy green bit has a very earthy flavour, so that’s your replacement for parsley and basil if you don’t have any in, or even rocket.

As with all veg, he adds: “Just make sure you just give it a good rinse, [to get rid of any dirt].”

Stems of your herbs

Keep the stems of your herbs and cook with them (Credit: Alamy)

We could bet pretty confidently that most of you are chopping the ends off your herbs and just using the leaves. But guess what? You don’t need to be binning those stems.

“Another ingredient you’re probably not already using is the stems of your herbs, like parsley or mint,” Max explains. “These soft herbs have stems that are still edible and not only that they are packed with so much flavour.

“I like to chop them down, add it to a sofrito sauce, use them with some onions and carrots and celery in a stew or a soup, or I like to make pesto using the stems”.

Essentially, don’t sleep on those bad boys.

Happy cooking guys!