Eat Your Food Scraps: 8 Healthy Scraps Not to Throw Out!
8 Healthy Food Scraps
You've probably heard the saying "Waste Not, Want Not" - a saying created to help us not waste so much food. Additionally, following this thrifty philosophy can also help us save money. Yet, so much of what we throw out, what is called scraps, actually have an abundance of nutrients with many healthy benefits.
Unfortunately, when we buy certain vegetables now, the markets have decided to strip the food of their leaves and tops. Thereby depriving us of the extra benefits.
Here is a list of what is often called scraps with their many healthy benefits.
1 - Cucumber Peels -
Cucumber peels are beneficial for preventing hair loss. This is because the skins contain silica - a mineral - that helps to strengthen collagen. Collagen accelerates hair growth because it supports the matrix of the hair.
Cucumbers are so easy to grow. When I was a beginner gardener they were a must.
2 - Broccoli Leaves -
Don't toss those leaves. Eating just one ounce will provide 90 percent of the daily requirement of vitamin A. Surprisingly, the florets that we eat provide only 3 percent. Cook the leaves quickly just like you would spinach. Or eat them raw in a salad.
3 - Watermelon Seeds - Unfortunately, most of the watermelons on the market today are seedless. Growing up, watermelons had those big dark brown seeds that we loved to spit out, throw at each other and sometimes chew just because the seeds were there. Turns out those seeds have nutritional benefits.
One cup of watermelon seeds has approximately 31 grams of protein. Other nutritional benefits include thiamine, niacin, folate, calcium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, zinc, manganese and copper.
When I was in China I found out this is a very popular treat. Although a cup may be high in calories (about 602) most often you eat no more than the equivalent of a handful.
Note: Watermelons are easy to grow. But if you see a bunch of squirrels poking around in your garden, just know that they are eating every single lovely little round ball. That first year I did not know to cover the hills in a wire mesh so the squirrels couldn't get to them.
4 - Watermelon Rinds - The rinds contain a compound known as citruline. This compound is believed to have antioxidant benefits that protect us from free-radical damage. Citruline also is converted into the amino acid known as arginine. Arginine has heart-healthy benefits and also helps the circulatory and immune systems.
Watermelon rinds can be prepared as preserves, relish, candy, curry, jelly, pickles, wine, jam, chutney and salsa. The rind can even be turned into a juice by using a juicer and adding a bit of honey to taste.
5 - Orange Peels -
Use the peels and get over four times the fiber as the actual fruit. The flavonoids in the peel has properties that are anti-diabetic, anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory. Some studies report that the nutrients in the peel may help reduce bad cholesterol (LDL). Grate the peel and use the zest to sprinkle on anything you want to give a bit of orange flavoring to. It works well on vegetables like asparagus.
6 - Celery Tops -
A rich source of vitamin C and beneficial anti-inflammatory properties, the tops have five times more calcium and magnesium than the stalks. But often the tops are removed when I purchase celery.
Years ago I would throw the tops in my soups. Also, enjoy the tops raw by chopping up and adding to salads or use them as a garnish.
7 - Onion Skins -
Onion skins have an abundance of quercetin (a flavonoid) which supports the immune system and can also help reduce high blood pressure and arterial plaque. This skin (that I always throw away) has been found to have more antioxidant properties than the onion it covers. Use the skins only when cooking such foods like soups and stews - but it is recommended that they only be used for flavoring - then throw out before serving the food.
8 - Potato Skins -
I think it was in the 80's that potato skins became very popular in restaurants. And we would line up for this treat. The inside of the potato is scooped out (and probably used to make french fries or mashed potatoes) and the skin would then be filled and cooked with a thin layer of remaining potato and cheese. This was considered an appetizer. (see photo)
Eating potato skins increases potassium which helps fuel your metabolism. They are also a source of iron and niacin.
How to get the skins? Boil potatoes in the skin, cut in half, then scoop out the insides to use for mashing.
The restaurants filled the skins with the remaining layer of potato covered in plenty of cheese - you can go lighter on the cheese and fill with vegetables.
Note: Potatoes are very heavily sprayed so be sure to get organic. If you grow them yourself - which I have done - you may want to try the heirlooms (see link below for more information about heirloom potatoes).
I prefer organics. They not only taste better but they have an aroma that seems to be missing from non-organic foods. Additionally, food grown in a healthy soil has a natural bacteria that actually benefits our brains (see the link below for an article about healthy gardening).
I wash/scrub my organic vegetables using sea salt.
Please share your own scrap ideas!
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