Don’t you just hate food waste? I know I do. I try to salvage every last leaf, root and peel from my produce to reuse for other dishes. I feel bad when I have to throw something out that could have been used.
Sadly, about 40% of the food produced in America is thrown away. That’s about 31 million tons of food added to landfills – or about $400 worth of food per person.1 Think about the food that you throw away each week either because it’s not eaten or because you didn’t know it could be eaten.
Before you throw away those food discards, keep reading to learn about fruit and vegetable scraps you can eat. In many cases, these discards have more health benefits than the traditional part of the vegetable or fruit we normally eat. I do recommend buying organic produce to avoid GMOs or exposure to pesticides.
10 Fruit and Vegetable Scraps You Can Eat
Just check these out…
1. Lemon peels or rinds
Surprisingly, lemon peels actually have more vitamins than lemon juice. In fact, as much as 10 times the amount of vitamin C, vitamin A, beta carotene, folate, calcium, magnesium and potassium. Lemon peels can also help to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol.2 Reuse orange, lime and grapefruit peels too.
Just grate lemon peel and add to a glass of water to enjoy every day. Or add to soups, salads, baked good, etc. You can also make candied lemon peel (this recipe looks amazing).
2. Apple peels
Don’t throw away those apple peels. Most of the fiber and antioxidants are in the peel.3 And aside from apple pie, whole apples with the peel can be used for recipes like applesauce and gluten-free apple spice bread.
3. Broccoli stems and leaves
Broccoli heads or florets are usually favored in cooking. Even grocery stores sell broccoli florets without the stems to give consumers “more for their money”. But actually the stems pack nearly the same nutritional content as the florets, and actually have more fiber. And broccoli leaves have more beta carotene than both the stems and the florets.3
Use broccoli stems and leaves the same as you would the florets. Just remember to peel the outer layer of the stem before cooking. Broccoli leaves can be used like collard greens, or if you pick them early enough (and they are tender), you can toss in a salad.4
4. Cauliflower stems and leaves
Like broccoli, cauliflower stems and leaves are edible. Cauliflower is an excellent source of B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin K – as well as antioxidants vitamin C and manganese.5 The leaves can be used like collard green – sautéed in garlic and oil or added in soups. The stems can be saved for use in a homemade bone broth or stock.
5. Onion and carrot peels
Most of us discard the outer layers of onions and carrots and use the inner layers for cooking or making salads. Save those onion and carrot peels to use as base in a homemade bone broth or stock. This is a great way to save money and use every part of your vegetables. I keep my peels in a reusable freezer-safe glass container in my freezer, and then use it when I make my homemade chicken stock.
6. Celery leaves
One of the most versatile vegetable scraps that usually end up in the trash bin are celery leaves. With a flavor similar to parsley, celery leaves can be used in salads, smoothies, soups and stews and other dishes. My favorite use is as one of my base ingredients in my homemade chicken stock. Celery leaves are high in vitamin A, while celery ribs are high in vitamins B1, B2, B6 and C, as well as folic acid, potassium, calcium and essential amino acids.6
7. Beet greens
Don’t throw away those beet greens or leaves. Use them as you would spinach, Swiss chard or collard greens. Sauté them with garlic, olive oil and salt for a yummy side dish. Beet greens provide more than two times the amount of vitamin A you need for the day – and it’s high in vitamin C, vitamin B6, magnesium, potassium, calcium and iron.7 You can do the same with carrot and turnip tops or greens.
8. Watermelon rind
Most people wouldn’t think twice about eating watermelon rind, yet that’s the arguably the best part of the watermelon. High in lycopene, beta carotene and citrulline – a phyto-nutrient that is highest in concentration in the rind rather than the flesh of the watermelon. Citrulline has been shown to relax blood vessels, much like Viagra, and may help to treat those with high blood pressure and other cardiovascular problems.8
9. Corn silk
You know those stringy bits on a fresh ear of corn? That’s called corn silk. Most people throw away corn silk along with the husk not knowing it has many health benefits. Corn silk is high in vitamin K and potassium and can be used to alleviate a wide range of health conditions, including bedwetting, urinary tract infections (UTIs), kidney stones, gout and hyperglycemia.9Corn silk can be eaten fresh, dried or steeped in a corn silk tea. Check out these other uses for corn silk.
10. Pumpkin seeds
Pumpkins get all the attention, but the seeds are packed with magnesium, zinc, copper, protein and omega-3 fats. They provide prostate health benefits to men and may help to relieve menopause symptoms for women.10 Pumpkin seed are delicious toasted in the oven with a bit of olive oil and salt. Or try this healthy Tex Mex Pumpkin Seeds recipe – which tastes just like the regular flavor Doritos (really).
What’s your favorite way to use vegetable of fruit discards?
1. Americans Throw Out 40 Percent of Their Food, Which is Terrible for the Climate, Climate Progress
2. Lemon Peels: The Cheapest Investment in Your Health?, Mind Body Green
3. What Are the Health Benefits of Apples?, Medical News Today
4. Broccoli Leaves are Edible, Garden Betty
5. 7 Health Benefits of Cauliflower, True Activist
6. The Incredible Powers of Celery Juice, Natural News
7. What Are Beet Greens Good For?, Mercola.com
8. Watermelon May Have Viagra-Effect, Science Daily
9. Uses for Corn Silk, The Nerdy Farm Wife
10. 9 Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds, Mercola.com
Photo credit: DepositPhotos.com / MonaMakela
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DISCLAIMER: The content on the blog Don’t Mess with Mama is for educational and informational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice. I am not a medical professional and the information contained on this blog should not be used to diagnose, treat or prevent any disease or health illness. Please consult with a qualified health care professional before acting on any information presented here. Any statements or claims about the possible health benefits conferred by any foods or supplements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.