Most of the time, we end up discarding parts of fresh fruits and vegetables without knowing they contain surprising health benefits.
You're Probably Tossing Out These Food Parts, But You Should Actually Be Eating Them
#1 Beet Greens
Discard the leaves from this root veggie and you’re tossing away calcium, vitamins A and C, and more iron per serving than spinach, says Martha Pascucci, R.D., of Medical Weight Loss of New York. Chop and sauté beet greens with a little garlic and olive oil for a fast, tasty side.
#2 Broccoli And Cauliflower Stems
Broccoli and cauliflower stems sometimes offer a sweeter flavor than the florets. To use them, slice the stalks and peel the tougher skin near the bottoms. Try them in your stir fry or cook the stems in boiling water with a few garlic cloves and mash for a healthy alternative to mashed potatoes.
#3 Carrot Tops
Those delicate green fronds have a whopping six times the amount of vitamin A as the orange root, says Caroline West Passerrello, R.D., spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Whir them in a food processor with a little oil, cheese, and nuts for great pesto or use them in a grain salad.
#4 Watermelon Rind
Watermelon is always a go-to snack in the summer, but the rind is usually left in the compost bin, with the white flesh intact. Citrulline, the nutrient in the white flesh is super powerful at fighting free radicals, preventing cancer and improving blood circulation. Some people even believe it to be a natural Viagra! Next time watermelon is on the table, remember to eat the white part too, or blend it up with some lime and mint for a refreshing beverage.
#5 Cucumber Skin
The dark skin of cucumbers is often peeled off and tossed out, but the it contains more nutrition than the flesh. Cucumber skin contains vitamin K, which supports proper bone health and healthy blood clotting. If using the skin, wash the cucumber really well since it is often coated in a wax to prevent bruising during travel. Add to your smoothies, salads or make it into a cool soup.
#6 Orange Peel
Most of the orange’s incredible nutrients actually lie in the peel and the pith, which is the white stringy part around the flesh. The pith contains a herperidin, which has been shown to lower cholesterol, reduce blood pressure and inflammation. The pith and peel also contain pectin, known as a fruit fibre, which helps to keep the body full while suppressing hunger. When peeling an orange to eat, remember to keep the pith layer on, and use leftover orange peel in baked goods, zested on chicken or fish and tossed into smoothies.
#7 Onion skin
Onion skin is rich in quercetin, which can help reduce blood pressure and prevent clogged arteries. Quercetin also supports a healthy immune system. It has also displayed considerable anti-inflammatory activity, restraining both the production and release of histamine and other allergic and inflammatory sources, which means it may be useful for hay fever sufferers. How to include it in your diet: Use it when cooking stocks, soups and stews for that extra flavor, then remove just before serving.
#8 Squash seeds
It is a tradition this time of year to roast the pumpkin seeds you get from your jack-o’-lantern pumpkin, so why not roast other squash seeds as well? They are absolutely delicious and, like all seeds, packed with nutrients including magnesium, potassium, iron and fiber.
To roast them, rinse the seeds, remove any pulp stuck to them and pat them dry. Toss with a little oil and sprinkle with salt, then bake in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet in a 275-degree oven for about 15 minutes, until they are lightly browned and fragrant and begin to pop. Squash seeds can be eaten (shell and all) as a snack on their own, added to salads, or used as a garnish for a stew or chili. In fact, they are a natural fit to sprinkle onto any dish in which you are using the squash flesh.
#9 Mango skins
There are nutrients in mango skins that can help protect you against skin cancer. If you don’t like the texture raw, try blending it into smoothies or else make a delicious snack by oven drying them till they’re crispy.
#10 Potato Skins
As long as your potato skins haven’t started turning green, they’re good to eat. You can save money by eating your vegetables, so try doing it with the skin on. Keep potatoes in their jackets or peel them and make a crispy snack. Deep fry or oven dry them till they’re crispy. Sprinkle with salt and pepper or spices. Yum!
#11 Leek or spring onion leaves
If you’re not already eating your leek and spring onion leaves start now! Chop them up fine and add them to your soups and stews. Spring onion leaves are also good in salads, and they add a beautiful, dark-green color to the ‘look’ of your salad too.
#12 Corn Cobs
When submerged into simmering water, corn cobs turn into a milky broth that’s an ideal base for corn chowder or any summer vegetable soup. Once you’ve stripped the cobs of their kernels, simply transfer the cobs to a pot, cover with water, and simmer until the broth tastes sweet.
#13 Apple peels
Most recipes that involve cooking apples, whether desserts, pancakes or pork dishes, call for peeling the fruit first. But keeping the skins on not only spares you a prep step, it gives a welcomed rustic texture to the dish and provides a lot more nutrition. Two-thirds of the apple’s fiber is in the peel, as is most of the fruit’s health-protective antioxidant quercetin. The same goes for potatoes, by the way: 20 percent of a potato’s nutrients are in its skin.
#14 Chard And Kale Stems
Recipes that call for melt-in-your-mouth chard leaves usually ignore the ruby-red crunchy stems, but save them to sauté on their own; they’re especially delicious prepared with Indian spices like cumin or brown mustard seeds. Or make the most of the stems’ crunch by pickling them in a brine of vinegar, sugar, and salt. The pickled stems make a tasty garnish or sandwich ingredient. Kale stems are a little harder to love because of their tougher texture. Try simmering them in a pot of water until they’re tender, then pulverize them with garlic, olive oil, and Parmesan for a bright-tasting pesto.
#15 Mushroom Stems
The tender caps of shiitakes and porcinis make for elegant main dishes—from Wild Mushroom Pappardelle with Mascarpone to Mushroom Miso Pot Pie—but the woody stems aren’t useless. You can finely chop them to make duxelles—a delicious mix of sautéed mushrooms, herbs, and onions that makes a killer topping for crostini—pickle them for sandwiches, or simmer a big batch for an earthy vegetable stock.