A Day of Zero Waste: Avocado Mousse with Brown Rice + Roast Carrots

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In recent office discussions about how we’re individually striving towards being more eco-friendly, zero waste shopping/cooking definitely stood out as an area we could all improve. When you’re time poor, trying to move towards zero waste seems like far too much of a task to take on, and it’s quite easy to keep putting it off. So we set ourselves a challenge; to cook an entire day of meals without creating any waste, or at least as little as possible. We also wanted it to be affordable, align with our usual free-from’s, and not require any hard-to-find ingredients. Here’s how it went:

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Serves 2
Time: 30 minutes


  • 1 cup dried adzuki beans

  • 1 cup brown rice, uncooked

  • 2tsp Himalayan salt

  • 2tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  • 6-8 carrots

  • 2 small beetroots

  • 1 bunch spring onions

  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

  • 1/2 cup water

  • 1 onion

  • 2 cloves garlic

  • 1 Avocado

  • 1 bunch spinach leaves

  • 1 bunch coriander


  1. Soak the adzuki beans overnight, or skip this step (if you’re unorganised like us) and add them to a large pan with boiling water and 1tsp salt. Cook for about 1 hour, or until soft.

  2. Meanwhile add the brown rice to pan with boiling water, and cook until soft.

  3. Cut the carrots in half lengthways, then lengthways again, and place on a baking tray with 1 tsp olive oil and 1/2 tsp salt. Roast for 25-30 minutes at 180C. Remove and leave to cool.

  4. Grate the raw beetroot and roughly chop the spring onions. Add to a jar with the vinegar and water and shake to combine. Leave to sit in the fridge (this can be prepared beforehand).

  5. Chop the onion and garlic and add to a large frying pan with 1 tsp oil. Cook until soft. Add the rice and stir to combine.

  6. Mix the avocado with 1/2 tsp salt and mash with a fork or pop it in a blender for a smooth puree.

  7. Wash the spinach leaves and add them to both plates. Drain the adzuki beans then add these on top of the spinach, along with the rice and roast carrots. Top with the avocado mousse, pickled beetroot and coriander.

    Where did we get our ingredients?

    • The adzuki beans and brown rice came from a bulk store, and are also available online. Unfortunately all the supermarket options came in plastic.

    • The onion, garlic, carrots, beetroot avocado and spring onions were loose from Tesco, and were packaging free other than a rather annoying plastic band on the spring onions.

    • The spinach was from our local grocers (again, very fortunate for us!) but we had to get Turkish spinach rather than our usual baby spinach as the latter was still in a plastic bag, even in the grocers. The coriander was also from our grocer (hurray for loose herbs!) as supermarket options were plastic heavy.

    • Our apple cider vinegar came in a glass bottle but I’m sure we could find a refill if we searched hard enough…

    • Salt! A meal without salt is a sad meal indeed, but living the zero waste life almost meant that. After a morning googling ‘packaging free salt’ we spotted a Himalayan Salt refill jar at our local office lunch spot in Vauxhall (Italo for anyone wondering). I’m sure there’s more dotted around, but otherwise opting for a glass jar of salt is probably best.

How was the ZERO WASTE experience?

Due to our unpreparedness/lack of planning, we spent ages waiting for the beans to cook - something we definitely wouldn’t have the patience for in an evening. We cooked triple and froze portions to resolve that issue in the future though, and if you have a slow cooker, I’m sure you could throw them in before you leave for work. Other than that, savoury was definitely easier than breakfast. Grains/legumes are available if you track down a bulk store, and a lot of veggies are now available loose in supermarkets. We planned the menu based on what we knew we could get loose, but still ended up doing a dash for the grocers for certain bits (leaves/herbs) so the ease of zero waste is definitely dependent on what you have available to you and whether you have time to visit multiple stores. Equally, a box such as Abel & Cole could definitely resolve this!

What did we need in addition to the ingredients?

  1. Reusable baking sheets

Any unavoidable waste?

A plastic band on our spring onions, a sticker on our avocado and the glass bottle our ACV came in (though we’ll reuse the latter)


Price of the meal for two: approx £8
Buying vegetables loose in supermarkets is actually surprisingly cheaper, and you’re also eliminating potential food waste by not getting the 20 pack of carrots. A simple pickled beetroot is far cheaper than an £8 jar of kimchi and luckily beans and rice are pretty cheap. All in all, an accessible, well priced meal.

pollen + grace