You've heard of root-to-stalk and nose-to-tail cooking, but here's a way to limit waste that may not have crossed your mind: Use the water in a can of chickpeas. Why on earth would you want to do this?

You can use chickpea water as an egg replacement. Whipped like egg whites, it can turn into meringue. It also works as a great replacement for whole eggs in certain baked goods.

Three tablespoons of chickpea water can replace a whole egg. The substitute works best in recipes like cakes and quick breads, but it can work for cookies, too.

Things get a little more complicated when you substitute it for whipped egg whites, but if you're careful and patient, you'll churn out meringue that looks and tastes just like the real thing. We swear.

Two tablespoons of chickpea water can replace one egg white. Simply beat the brine as you would an egg white, and in a little extra time, you'll see magical results. While you may be able to whip egg whites into a desired consistency within a few minutes, whipping chickpea water requires a little extra time. Expect to whip it for at least 15 minutes.

In addition to whipping for longer, you also have to be careful with the temperature. Whether you're making meringue cookies or meringue topping, never heat the brine above 250 degrees and keep a close eye on the oven.

Skeptical? Thanks to vegan baker Goose Wohlt, who some credit with discovering the brine's meringue-like properties, there's a growing movement behind what people are calling "aquafaba." Dan Barber even used the stuff at his food scraps pop-up wast-ED.

Though it may seem like a fringe cooking hack for now, there's reason to believe it won't stay on the sidelines forever. For one, it's a vegan alternative to one of the most difficult foods to replace: eggs. And we all know vegan food is here to stay.

Second, it's a new way to combat food waste. Waste has become one of the most talked-about problems in the food world. Americans throw away about 40 percent of their food, and worldwide "about one third of food produced for human consumption every year" gets tossed.

As home cooks, we can all play a role in reducing food waste. Using up a couple of ounces of canned liquid may seem like a small matter, but the principle of using as much as you can of everything you buy will take you far. So whether you're choosing to use aquafaba for dietary reasons or to combat food waste, you'd better get on board the chickpea water train.

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