In our eagerness to get to what we think are the best parts of fresh produce, it’s easy to ignore the parts that are not only edible, but also tasty and highly nutritious.
It’s actually quite simple to use even more of our vegetables and fruits, which is great news, because it means we’re wasting less food, getting more goodness for our money, and making it easier to eat our ‘five a day’ (recommended by the World Health Organization) as the basis for a healthy diet.
So, as we continue our mission of promoting awareness about how to make veggies go further, we’ve got a few ways to get every last ounce of goodness from your food using the parts most people typically throw away.
1. carrot tops
You don’t have to be a rabbit to enjoy the succulent green parts on top of your carrot. They taste just like carrot with a hint of parsley. The best part? They can be eaten raw in salads or turned into a delicious pesto or vegetable soup. Plus, they’re packed with protein, calcium, and potassium — which is good for your heart, nerves, and muscles — and they contain more vitamin C than the regular orange part.
2. Broccoli stalks
The supposed poor neighbor of those pretty green florets, broccoli stalks often get thrown away. This is, of course, disappointing because they’re totally edible and packed with a ton of vitamin C, calcium, and iron. And, since calcium’s great for your teeth and bones, and iron helps carry oxygen around your body, broccoli stalks are much better served on your plate than in your garbage. Lightly sauté and drizzle with a little olive oil and sea salt, or strip the outside of them and eat raw. Either way, you can’t go wrong with broccoli stalks.
3. Cauliflower leaves
Another victim of the proximity to the florets club, cauliflower leaves are just as nutritious as cabbage — and you can treat them in the same exact way. There’s a laundry list of things that cauliflower leaves are rich in, including protein, thiamin, niacin, pantothenic acid, calcium, iron and selenium, vitamin A, vitamin C, riboflavin, vitamin B6, folate, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and manganese.
4. Pumpkin flowers
Did you know that you can pretty much eat all of a pumpkin? Well, if you didn’t, now you do. However, the delicate orange and yellow flowers are truly a tasty treat that can be added to salads or used in a stir-fry or risotto. They’re rich in calcium and phosphorous — good for your bones and teeth — vitamin C and folic acid, which helps your body to function properly at a cellular level. And, they’re really delicious.
5. Radish seed pods
We normally eat the root of the radish, but the young, green seed pods of radishes are spicy, crunchy, and perfect for a stir-fry. Like most parts of most veggies, radish seed pods are very good for you, as they’re rich with protein, vitamins, and minerals like iron and magnesium. Oh, and magnesium helps you process protein, keeps your nerves and muscles working smoothly, and regulates your blood pressure. Not bad for just a small part of a humble, unassuming veggie.
6. Pea shoots
Peas are delicious and versatile — and their shoots are just as tasty. This isn’t entirely surprising considering they taste just like peas. Lightly cook shoots or eat them raw, and you’ll be giving yourself a good dose of vitamin C, fiber, and folate, which helps your body produce red blood cells and helps repair your DNA.
7. Turnip greens
In a lot of ways, turnip tops are the forgotten heroes of the vegetable world. Traditionally fed to livestock, turnip tufts (their greens) actually contain most of the nutrients found in turnips. We’re talking vitamins A, C, and K — used to help heal wounds and promote bone health — in addition to calcium and a host of antioxidants that help prevent damage to cells and tissue. Sounds good, right? Lightly cook these green tufts and try them in a variety of salads for a lovely buttery taste.
8. Sweet potato leaves
Don’t worry, we’re not talking regular potato leaves here. (Those are toxic!) Sweet potato leaves, on the other hand, are a good match for spinach, and they’re rich in vitamins B6, C and D, iron, magnesium, potassium, and antioxidants. Start throwing them in your salads or smoothies, and you’ll be doing your part in reducing veggie waste.