Oddbox and Food Waste

Who are Oddbox?

Oddbox is the first social enterprise in London to deliver wonky fruits and veggies to home and offices. Oddbox provides a variety of plant based produce – a delicious box of rainbow goodness.

In the U.K. alone, thirty percent of fresh produce goes to waste due to very strict specifications the supermarkets demand. It baffles and saddens me that so much food goes to waste but also delights me that Oddbox are doing something amazing to prevent this. Their delicious misshapen plant goodness is sourced from farms from Lincolnshire to Kent – with seasonal produce selected when possible.

Additionally, Oddbox captures certain surplus and imported fruit, depending on availability. Some retailers over order or with sudden gluts in the market – lots of decent produce goes to waste.

I was keen to find out why the fruits and veggies are considered odd. Apparently it is the shape, colour or sizes of them which supermarkets won’t accept. This I presume is due to consumer demand for the “perfect” looking produce. Come on everyone – let’s grab that double whammy mushroom, that curly courgette and those giant carrots!

What fun did I have with Oddbox?

So much fun! Oddbox offer some recipe suggestions to match the produce delivered. I didn’t follow the recipes exactly but used two of them as a base which is always a help. I struggle to follow recipes but tend to use them as a guide based on what other ingredients I’ve got in the house. They also add a nice touch by telling the story of the food, why it is considered odd and was therefore saved.

The stand out for us in the box was the cavallo nero. I’d never eaten this before and loved its texture, much softer compared to its curly kaled cousin which can be quite jagged I find. We got so many meals out of this black kale and even baby Arthur got to try it out straight up.

What did I make?

Mediterranean soup with Cavallo Nero

This was one of the recipes provided – it was so good and not something I would usually make. We had leftovers the next day and the flavours had intensified!

Squash soup

This is always a winner for us, using the funny looking squash and giant carrots – I made this with fresh turmeric and ginger making it really warming and grounding.

Porridge topped with fruit

Featuring Oddbox pear and plum – the best start to the day. I even shared Arthur’s first pear and plum with him – it was such a lovely memory as he now loves pear!

Smoothie

Just apples, oranges, cinnamon, ice and water – this was so refreshing. We actually had lots of oranges and clementines to use up. It was like a slushy!

Some other great food created from Oddbox which I didn’t manage to capture:

  • Gram flour omelette – using the black kale, mini onions and pepper
  • Pasta with black kale and broccoli
  • Buddha bowl – with the big carrots, little potatoes and other goodness

What else about Oddbox?

Buying from Oddbox means you are reducing plastic waste often produced by supermarkets. So you are doubling up on saving food/plastic waste. Win win! You’ll also be supporting local growers. Oddbox donate ten percent of their produce to local charities.

The boxes are customisable based on your needs – from small, medium, large to fruit only boxes. Oddbox currently deliver around south London, however have a waiting list for people further afield for when they do eventually expand.

For vegans, it would be wise to request for your box not to be packaged with sheeps wool. This is used to keep produce fresh for further distances. Oddbox apologised for this and offer a service to take it back.

ORDER NOW

Oddbox are offering a whole 50% off your first box. Just use the code ODDELICOUS50 to avail of their offer.

Tips to reduce food waste

⁃ Store potatoes in a dark, cool space away from bananas and onions. This will prevent them sprouting.

⁃ Remove any plastic packaging on your produce before storing as this promotes the ripening process. Removing packaging also allows you to mentally clock exactly what you have to use up. It removes any preconceptions of use by dates additionally which are usually massively inaccurate with some produce.

⁃ Storing veggies loosely in the fridge can prolong shelf life, but ensure they are not too crammed together so they can breath

⁃ Store your bananas separately from other fresh produce. Bananas ripen other produce as it emits a gas called ethylene. This could cause spoilage in other fruits and veggies. However, if your bananas are too green, storing them in a bag can be handy to get them ripe and spotty quickly! If you have too many ripe bananas, make banana bread of freeze them for smoothies, nice cream or mylkshakes

– Made too much porridge in the morning? Why not keep it to make a no food waste banana bread or pancakes

– Freeze your veggie scraps in a container until you have enough to make veggie stock or pho. So satisfying!

– Make a smoothie – if you have fruit which needs to be used, blending it with ice and water can be a delicious way to save waste.

– Did you know you can freeze food in jars? Just leave enough space for it to expand slightly. This reduces the need for using plastic which is known to seep into our foods. Also getting more use out of those sweet jars. Great if you’ve made too much hummus or curry. Even if it’s only a little bit – soup, chilli, curry – you can use this as a base for your next one and intensify the flavours.

– And finally, use what you have at home – improvise new meals. Getting creative can save you buying once off obscure ingredients that some recipes call for and can be expensive. More often than not, we are fortunate enough to have plenty in our cupboards.

Have you got any tips or creative ways for reducing food waste? I’d love to know!

Disclaimer: Oddbox kindly offered me this box of fresh produce in return for an honest review. I would totally order from them myself. I support small businesses and think they are rocking it in saving food waste.

No Food Waste Banana Bread

Vegan Banana Bread

I’ve shared a recipe for vegan banana bread previously using the leftover almond meal from making almond milk.

My recipes for things tend to vary constantly – making use of what ingredients I have at the time. So decided to share this winner which has been a favourite these last few weeks.

My other half sometimes laughs that I never make the same dinner twice as I struggle so bad to follow recipes. We now have a “list” of meals he favourites to remind us of what was really good!

I must admit I sometimes make too much food, so constantly getting creative with how to use leftovers. One dish I sometimes make too much of is porridge in the mornings. There might be a little scoop leftover or a whole bowl, depending on how hungry we are. I know I could avoid this by simply measuring stuff but I am the worst for this. I usually go by what I see and what the texture looks like.

So what better way to use up that extra porridge than making banana bread? Simply keep it in the fridge for up to a couple of days until your ready to whip up the loaf.

This vegan banana bread checks two no food waste boxes by using up those spotty bananas that give it an amazing taste. Also using up the porridge that may otherwise have gone in the compost gives it a lovely moist texture. However – I’m sure there are other uses for leftover porridge – like pancakes, cookies etc which I’m yet to trial.

  • Gooey
  • Tasty
  • “Really nice” – Brad LOL
  • ” It’s just like cake!” – Brad’s friend LOL
  • Reducing food waste

Ingredients

  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1 cup cooked porridge
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup oat milk
  • 3 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 1 cup self raising flour
  • 1/2 cup spelt flour
  • 1 heaped tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped figs

Method

1) preheat oven to 190c. Add 1 tbsp of chia seeds to half a cup of oat milk and leave to absorb in the fridge for 10 minutes.

2) sort out your wet stuff – mash 2 bananas and mix with 1 cup porridge or whatever your working with. Melt 3 tbsp coconut oil and stir in. Add a drop of vanilla essence. Add your chia mix. Stir well.

3) for the dry stuff- In a large bowl, sift 1 cup self raising and half a cup of spelt flour with 1 heaped tsp baking powder. Add a sprinkle of cinnamon. Add some brown sugar, amount depending on your preferred sweetness. If you’re adding chocolate at the end you can always cut back on sugar completely.

4) add wet stuff to dry stuff and give it a good stir. Add what further additions you would like – be it chocolate chunks, chopped figs or dates, walnuts, raisins.

5) add mixture to a loaf tin. If your feeling fancy, thinly slice some more bananas and top the loaf. This is my favourite new addition to our banana bread recently as it goes really gooey.

6) bake for 45 minutes or so – checking with a clean knife through the middle to check if it’s cooked through. Cooking times will vary depending on your oven.

7) enjoy with a hot cup of tea and try not to eat all of it!

One other thing I’ve added before is the chunky lumps of almond butter that are difficult to spread!

Made in Hackney


I had the opportunity to attend a raw dessert making masterclass at Made in Hackney, Stoke Newington. I learnt how to make lots of delicious, beautiful raw chocolates, raw tarts and petit fours. Sounds fancy, and delicious right?

But first, before I chat about the day let me tell you a little about Made In Hackney.

Made in Hackney is an eco-community based kitchen set up with locals at heart. It is a non-profit organisation, offering free and pay by donation food growing and healthy cooking classes to a diverse community, particularly inclusive of vulnerable and marginalised groups.

Not only does Made in Hackney equip people with healthy eating knowledge and skills to benefit ones self and the environment, a sense of social inclusion is promoted. London, despite being a great city, has high levels of social isolation which can lead to physical and mental health problems. Coming from a background in mental health, I could totally appreciate the importance of having a community.

I loved hearing the story of a recently widowed gentleman who’s wife had cooked for him his whole life. Although he attended to learn how to make himself eggs and bacon, he kept returning to the classes as they made a difference to him, despite it being plant based cooking!

Made in Hackney also maintains an ethos of sustainability, with the foods used in classes being 100% plant based, primarily locally farmed, organic and seasonal.

Additionally, they provide training and volunteer experience – helping people into longer term employment by providing a space to enhance ethical food entrepreneurship. This whole model, if replicated, would bring innumerable benefits to local communities across the country.

Made in Hackney promotes a real sense of empowerment whilst having a positive impact on the community. It left a great impression on me and left me feeling quite inspired. I could really resonate with it’s ethos and core values. And that was in addition to what I learnt at the cooking class.

✨ The Masterclass ✨

The whole day was informative yet informal. I attended the “Food For All” health food shop at 11:45, where Made in Hackney is located on the bottom floor. I had the chance to buy some treats in the health food store before commencing class at 12:00.
There was a group of around 7 learners, 2 volunteers and the wonderful instructor, Natural Chef Ceri Jones. Ceri’s approach was relaxed, warm and engaging – ready to answer any questions the group had.

Following introductions, we talked through the pantry essentials for raw dessert making, alongside the process behind it and useful equipment. We had the opportunity to observe demonstrations then built on the basics of making raw chocolates to the more skilled cheesecakes and tarts. All ingredients may I mention are supplied by the kitchen.

I loved breaking for lunch half way through with the group – enjoying some (ok lots) of home made hummus and a big plate of roasted veggie buckwheat tabbouleh with rocket salad and balsamic glaze – all freshly prepared by Ceri. It was great to chat to the others about their passions for plant-based living, permaculture, sustainability and natural cooking.

We also had the opportunity to find out more about Made in Hackney’s journey. I’ve included founder Sarah Bentley’s recent TEDx talk at the bottom of this page about how she built this organisation.

Getting back to the kitchen afterwards – we learned how to make pretty garnishes from fruit and other ingredients. Garnishing is always my favourite part of making food.

Another memorable moment of the day was at the end when all the desserts were cooled and ready to be eaten. Rather than tucking right in – we each took a piece of chocolate and tasted it mindfully with our eyes closed, allowing us to appreciate it’s texture and flavour.

Overall, the masterclass was a truly immersive experience. We all had the chance to put our own individual style to each dish. We finished up at 16:30 – and thanks to the volunteers, we didnt have to wash up. I managed to make the journey home without eating all of my take home treats. I felt the need to share them with the other half and not be a complete greedy guts!

What we made:

  • Basic Raw Chocolate – little raw chocolate buttons, various shapes and after eights, dehydrated blood arranged dipped in choc.
  • Chocolate orange mousse in chocolate cups
  • Avocado Lime Cheesecake
  • Individual Lemon Tarts
  • Apricot and ginger bliss balls.


So by attending a masterclass at Made in Hackney, not only have you got a day jam packed with learning and delicious food, you are also contributing to this vital work they do with the community. It’s a win win. Remember you can book this experience through visit.org

Watch founder, Sarah Bentley’s TEDx talk here.

Also check out Ceri’s Natural Kitchen Adventure website for more raw food, seasonal and plant based recipes – although not entirely plant based – Ceri does provide some good recipes.