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  • Writer's pictureSanah Alban

Edible Food Scraps You're Probably Tossing Out & How To Use Them!

This week I shared a recipe for a watermelon rind curry which got me thinking about other fruit and vegetable scraps that I'm throwing out which are perfectly edible! It's a win win, less food waste and these edible parts are often packed with nutrients too!

Watermelon Rind

Don't throw out the rind when you have watermelons this season. The rinds are edible, sweet and refreshing and can be pickled, cooked or eaten raw.

watermelon rind, food scraps, edible, vegetable scraps, fruit peel

Nutritional Benefits

  • Source of citrulline (an amino acid that helps relax and dilate arteries which is good for blood pressure.

  • Source of Vitamin C and B6 (keeps your immune system high)

  • Source of fiber

  • Source of potassium, magnesium and other important nutrients

How to use it

  • Mix into soups with other veggies

  • Alternative to cucumber or jicama, so use in fruit salads, salsas, chutneys, savory salads, slaws, gazpacho and smoothies.

  • Watermelon rind curry

  • Watermelon rind pickle

  • Candied watermelon rinds

Preparation Tips

  • Remember to use the white flesh under the green skin

  • Go for organic when you can

Chickpea Water / Aquafaba

Aquafaba is the liquid from cooking beans or legumes. You can get it by using the liquid from canned chickpeas or beans, or made at home by straining the liquid after cooking dried beans. It has a similar consistency to raw egg whites with structurally similar proteins and starches, making it a great egg substitution, so don't throw out the liquid when draining your chickpeas!

Photo credit: World of Vegan

Nutritional benefits

  • Great egg alternative for vegans or people with an egg allergy

  • Some of the nutrients from the chickpeas get transferred into the water like B vitamins, folate, iron, phosphorus and healthy fats like linoleic and oleic acids,

How to use it

Chickpea water can be used in recipes that call for egg whites like meringues, mousse, macarons and marshmallows.

Broccoli Stem

Although the stem is tougher than the florets, it has a lovely sweet flavor and many uses in the kitchen.

Photo Credit: Sassy Kitchen

Nutritional benefits

Broccoli stems are packed with beta carotene, antioxidants, folate and fiber.

How to use it

  • Finely slice and add to raw salads, stir-fry, green smoothies, soup or coleslaw

  • Steam, roast or sauté

  • Slice into chips and serve raw with a dip

  • Puree the stalks and add to sauce, pesto, hummus or baby food. I normally add it to palak/saag for a creamy sweet flavor!

  • Boil and mash as an alternative to mashed potatoes.

Preparation Tips

  • Peel the tough outer layer

  • When cooking the whole broccoli, finely slice the stems as they are tough and will take longer to cook than broccoli florets

Carrot Tops

The leafy tops of carrots can be used like a herb with its bitter carrot, celery and parsley like flavor.

Nutritional benefits

  • Packed with potassium, magnesium, calcium and vitamin K

  • Carrot tops have six times the amount of vitamin A as the orange root

  • High fiber

How to use it

  • Blend into pesto, hummus or green smoothies

  • Add to salads, grain salads, salsas and chutneys

  • Add to stir fries

  • Sauté with garlic and chilli

  • Add to soups

  • Use as a cocktail garnish

  • Boil the carrot tops for soup stock

Pineapple Core

Although the core of a pineapple is hard, less sweet and less juicy than the rest of the fruit, the core of the pineapple can be used for all sorts of foods and have many vitamins and minerals in them, so don't throw it out when cutting up your fruit!

Nutritional benefits

  • Rich source of fiber

  • Has a higher concentration of bromelain compared to the fruit (proteolytic enzyme with anticoagulant properties, anti- inflammatory properties and aids healing of wounds, bruises and other skin infections. It also improves heart health and helps thinning of the mucus in conditions like asthma)

  • Great source of vitamin C, boosting immunity

  • Rich source of manganese and promotes bone strength and controls cholesterol level

How to use it

  • Chop and add to fruit salad. slaw, chutney or salsa

  • Blend into smoothies

  • Cut into cubes and freeze for later

  • Add to water, tea and sangria for extra flavor

  • Add to stir fries

  • Eat the core along with the fruit but slice it thin

  • Add it when preparing pineapple juice

Herb Stems

There is no need to discard the stems for soft stemmed herbs like parsley and coriander as they contain both the flavor and nutrition of the herbs.

How to use it

  • Use the tender stems of herbs like parsley, coriander and mint alongside the leaves

  • Soft stems can be blended into salsa, pesto or herb butter

  • Use the soft stems instead of the leaves if the leaves are looking wilted

  • Woody stems like thyme and rosemary are great for flavoring stocks and soups

  • You can use woody stems as grilling skewers if they're long enough - they'll infuse the grilled food with their flavor! Make sure to soak the stems in water for 30 mins before using so they don't catch fire on the grill.

Beet Greens

Beetroot stalks and leaves are edible, raw or cooked. They can be used in place of leafy greens like spinach, swiss chard or kale, but have a slightly sweeter flavor.

Nutritional benefits

  • Contains calcium and magnesium

  • Vitamin A, C and K

  • More iron per serving than spinach

  • Includes a phytonutrient that can benefit eyesight

How to use it

  • Add to stir fries, curries and soups

  • Add raw to salads

  • Chop and sauté as a side

  • Make a beet salad with the root and greens

Vegetable peels and ends

A great way not to waste vegetable peels and ends is to collect them in a container in a freezer whenever you're preparing vegetables, then use the peels and ends to make your own vegetable broth. Note that it's best to do this with the peels and ends of organic vegetables as the pesticides are highest in the peels for non-organic vegetables, so compost those instead. Also, avoid using any scraps which are moldy or covered in dirt. Avoid using the brown papery skins of onions as they can make the broth bitter. Be aware that beet skins and ends will turn your broth pink or purple. Avoid using scraps from the brassica vegetable family as they tend to take over the flavor of the broth e.g. cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, turnip etc.

Use your food scraps!

There are so many more examples of edible/usable parts of fruits and veggies we discard that I haven't included in this list so research on your own and check out this list too for more examples!

Let me know what food scraps you normally use at home in the comments :)

Much love to you all and happy cooking x

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