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Pulp kitchen: Don’t toss those juicing leftovers in the compost

Many nutrition experts are recommending we incorporate pulp into our meals, instead of just tossing it in the green bin.

Karen Robock/The Globe and Mail

We've all seen snaps of Nicole Richie and Blake Lively strutting around L.A. with fashionable little bottles of green juice. But juicing isn't just de rigueur for celebs; juice bars have been popping up across the country and sales of at-home juicers have gone through the roof.

If you haven't hopped on the trend yet, here's what the buzz is about: "Juicing gives you an instant, concentrated surge of nutrients," says Peggy Kotsopoulos, a Canadian holistic nutritionist now based in New York. The nutrients are absorbed more quickly and completely in liquid form because they require less digesting, she says. Plus it stands to reason that you can drink more good stuff than you could ever eat. (A 12-oz glass of juice can easily pack in four leaves of kale, three celery stalks, a handful of spinach, half a cucumber and half an apple).

But even the most efficient juicing machine can't eke out every vitamin and mineral; some is left behind in the pulp. "More importantly, the pulp contains all the fibre, which is essential for blood sugar control, weight management and overall health," says Kotsopoulos. That's why many nutrition experts are recommending we incorporate some of the juicer pulp into our meals, instead of just tossing it in the green bin.

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Getting started

Carrot, cucumber and apple are prime pulp choices for beginners. The mild flavours and soft textures are easy to work with, especially in baked goods. Often they can just be swapped for their grated versions into a favourite carrot cake or zucchini loaf recipe, for example, without requiring further adjustments.

Antioxidant- and phytonutrient-packed kale is one of the most popular greens to juice and its remnants are pretty versatile. Add it to stews, pasta sauces, baked crackers, meatloaf or even bean burger patties (see recipe). The same goes for chard, collard greens and parsley.

Pulp prep

Pulp from fibrous vegetables, such as leafy greens, may need to be broken up to prevent an unappetizing stringy texture. Blend it in your food processor, or roughly chop it with a knife, before you add it to your recipe.

When you plan to use pulp in your cooking or baking, peel and core your produce before it goes down the chute. You don't want apple seeds or tough pineapple peel in your homemade breakfast bars.

If you have a high-end masticating juicer that produces very dry pulp (because it extracts as much as possible from the produce), you might actually need to rehydrate it first. "The pulp that comes out of our machines is like sawdust," says Carol Belmonte of Belmonte Raw in Toronto, a raw food catering company that specializes in juicing.

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"It sounds a bit backward but you might need to add some moisture back in before you use it."

Reserve a few tablespoons of juice, or bump up the amount of milk, oil or broth called for in the recipe to compensate.

Spice it up

If you're following the 80/20 golden rule of juicing, where you grind up mostly vegetables with just a bit of fruit for flavour, the majority of your pulp might be a bit bland, or even bitter. Adding more spices or flavoured oils in savoury dishes, or fresh berries, dried fruit or chopped nuts in baking, will help to disguise all the extra fibre.

Vegetables with naturally strong flavours or colours, such as beets, will retain both in the its pulp and carry through to your foods.

Marni Wasserman, a culinary nutritionist in Toronto, recommends using this to enhance your recipes. "I like pairing beet pulp with fresh raspberries in baking," she says. Most kids won't turn down bright pink muffins, even if they are stuffed with beet fibre.

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Store it

If you're not going to use your pulp right away, it'll keep well in a sealed container in the fridge for about 24 hours.

You can also freeze it in bags, though the colour and texture may change slightly when you thaw it.

"I like to freeze it in ice cube trays, then use it in breakfast smoothies," says Kotsopoulos. Fennel and pear pulp are one of her favourite combos. Just blend with fresh fruit, almond or rice beverage or milk for an easy morning meal.

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