How To Upcycle Your Pantry Staples


Let’s welcome Kara Lydon, RD, LDN as one of our new members of the Kitchen Council! Kara is a nationally recognized and award-winning registered dietitian nutritionist, certified intuitive eating counselor, yoga teacher, and the owner of Kara Lydon Nutrition. Kara believes that the key to authentic health and wellbeing is to celebrate food and our bodies, a positive philosophy that she actively practices and instills through the kitchen, yoga studio, working one-on-one with clients, on her food and healthy living blog, The Foodie Dietitian, and in her e-book, Nourish Your Namaste: How Nutrition and Yoga Can Support Digestion, Immunity, Energy and Relaxation. Her blog features delicious, nourishing seasonal recipes and simple strategies for a well-nourished life, and has been featured in countless national online publications. IG: @karalydonrd

Have you heard of the term upcycled food before? Named a top food trend for 2021 by Food Network Magazine and Whole Foods, it refers to taking otherwise wasted food and creating something new and nutritious out of it to help prevent food waste. For example, using the byproduct of tofu production, okara, to make into a flour that can then be used in baking.

You don’t have to be a food manufacturer to upcycle your foods though! Upcycling is all about using food that would otherwise be thrown out to create something new. Maybe you have kitchen staples that you struggle to use up before they go bad. Or, you’re in a rut and need new ideas for how to use pantry staples, and preventing food waste is an added bonus!

Given their versatility, apples and pears are two pantry staples you can easily upcycle before you toss them! Here are a few ideas for how to create healthful meals and snacks using two of my favorite fruits:


  • Make homemade applesauce in the slow cooker for a delicious, nourishing snack.
  • Slow cook apples past the point of apple sauce and you’ve got a delicious apple butter you can spread on toast or make peanut butter and apple butter sandwiches with.
  • Roast (or microwave) apple chunks to add as a topping to oatmeal for breakfast.
  • Grate apples into a muffin mix for an incredibly moist muffin you can have as part of your breakfast.
  • Add apples to a hearty fall/winter soup or stew or even a roast for dinner.


  • Slice for a salad topping and pair with blue cheese, walnuts, and balsamic vinaigrette for a delicious sweet and savory combo.
  • Throw pear into a smoothie for a snack or breakfast – combine with complementary ingredients like banana, spinach, ginger, and vanilla.
  • For a satisfying snack, top sliced pears with protein-packed ricotta or cottage cheese on whole-grain toast.
  • Slice pears thinly and dehydrate in the oven or throw them in the air fryer for crunchy pear chips.
  • Make a flatbread for dinner with arugula, pear, and gorgonzola.

And if it’s recipes you’re after to kickstart your upcycling inspiration, try on these three for size, which utilizes common pantry staples like cheese, tortillas, yogurt, oats, eggs, apples, and pears.

Apple Cinnamon Baked Oats is easy to prepare in just a few minutes in the blender before baking it in the oven. It’s subtly sweet, infused with warm, comforting spices, and with the texture of cake, it’s very, very satisfying for breakfast, especially when paired with warm cinnamon apples and yogurt on top.

Apple Folded Quesadillas are a fun new way to eat a sandwich. You can think of it as a cross between a quesadilla and a panini – it’s crispy, crunchy, and you can fill it with whatever toppings you have at home. I’ve shared two of my favorite pairings – turkey and brie and bacon and cheddar, both folded with sweet crunchy apples and spicy, tangy Dijon mustard. And then we throw in some veggies for good measure J.

Last but not least, we utilize yogurt in a delicious Spiced Pear Parfait. Warm, sautéed and spiced pears are studded in between layers of vanilla yogurt and crunchy spiced granola. The granola is a great way to use up any oats, spices, nuts and seeds you have at home. Plus, it makes a big batch and keeps well for up to a month! This parfait makes for the perfect breakfast or snack.

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