Food Parts You Should Never Throw Out
If you’re throwing away these leftover parts of fresh produce, you could be missing out on key nutrients
When you carve out the core of a pineapple, don’t throw it in the garbage. “Pineapples contain bromelain, an enzyme that can reduce nasal and sinus inflammation, mitigate arthritis and muscle pain, and potentially fight cancer,” says Lauren Popeck, RD. Chop and add the core to fruit salads, slaws, chutneys, salsas, or stir-fries; blend it into smoothies; or toss it into water, tea, sangria, or even marinades to enhance flavor.
If you never thought you could eat a kiwi as you would a peach, think again. That skin is, in fact, really good for you. “Kiwi skin has more fiber than the rest of the fruit,” says
Kelly R. Jones, MS, RD. “Preserve vitamin C by not peeling kiwi before you store it, since vitamin C decreases once the fruit is exposed to oxygen.” If you don’t like the skin’s texture, add a whole kiwi to a smoothie. (Wash all rinds and skins before eating, of course, using cold water and a vegetable brush.)
When skinning an onion, hold on to those scraps, which contain a high level of quercetin, a phytonutrient that fights inflammation, reduces blood pressure, prevents arterial plaque, and keeps the heart healthy. Red onion skins contain more quercetin than white ones. “Add them along with the rest of the onion to soup, stock, or sauce, then discard before eating,” says Popeck. Most of us eat bananas without giving the peel a second thought. Here’s why that’s a mistake: “Banana peels contain tryptophan, which boosts serotonin, ‘the happiness hormone,’” says Popeck. To use the peel, go ripe. “Riper peels are softer, thinner, and tastier,” she explains. She recommends boiling them for at least ten minutes to soften. Then add to smoothies, stir-fries, or soups. Or puree and add to muffin or cake batter. For a treat, slice and bake a banana with the skin on.
Don’t just squeeze lemon over fish and toss the rind. According to Popeck, there are some great nutritional benefits hiding in there, including “more than a gram of fiber in two tablespoons of zest, nearly three times as much vitamin C in the peel than in the flesh, and other essential vitamins and minerals, such as folate, vitamin A, calcium, and potassium.” Grate the colored part of the peel and sprinkle on green beans; blend into smoothies, vinaigrettes, or marinades; or stir into yogurt, cottage cheese, or oatmeal. Orange, lime, and grapefruit zests also add flavor and nutrition with few calories.
Watermelon Rind and Seeds
The delicious red insides of watermelon make for a refreshing snack, but there are powerful nutrients in the rind and seeds as well, says Popeck: The white part of the rind “contains the amino acid citrulline, which is converted into arginine, which helps to increase blood flow, improve heart health, boost immunity, and reduce muscle fatigue.”
Add watermelon rind to smoothies; chop and add to fruit salads, salsas, chutneys, or slaws; mix into soups with potatoes and carrots; or pickle it. As for the seeds, which contain magnesium, iron, folate, and other key vitamins and minerals, toss them in olive oil and salt and roast at 350°F for 10 to 15 minutes. Then sprinkle on salads or add to trail mix.
Celery leaves are rich in magnesium, calcium, and vitamin C. “You can use them in salads, as part of vegetable stock, or as a garnish,” says Ilyse Schapiro, MS, RD.