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Eat Your Food Scraps: 8 Healthy Scraps Not to Throw Out!

Updated on May 23, 2013
potato skins as appetizer
potato skins as appetizer | Source

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!


Do you eat food scraps?

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    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      DonnaCSmith - I'm so glad to read this. It makes so much sense.

      rose-the planner - so glad you enjoyed the article and thanks so much for the vote. Would you believe it has become impossible to find a watermelon with seeds here in New York City? In fact what we have now - the seedless is tasteless. I could have used this extra protein.

      Thelma Alberts - I'm glad you found the hub informative. I love my scraps - when I can find them!

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 

      5 years ago from Germany

      Great informative hub. I only know about the potato peel, the rest are new to me. I´ll try this healthy scraps now that i know, Thanks for sharing. Good night!

    • rose-the planner profile image

      rose-the planner 

      5 years ago from Toronto, Ontario-Canada

      Very interesting! Actually, I never realized the benefits of all those food scraps we tend to throw away. I actually leave the skin on the cucumbers when I make salads and I often bake potatoes with the skin on. I was surprised about the watermelon seeds and their nutritional value. Great article! Thank you for sharing. (Voted Up) -Rose

    • DonnaCSmith profile image

      Donna Campbell Smith 

      5 years ago from Central North Carolina

      I've tried all of these except the onion skins.

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      seanorjohn - so glad you enjoyed the hub! And great you have a plot and will be eating the best scraps! I like how you put that - your plot doubling - no more waste!

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      seanorjohn - so glad you enjoyed the hub! And great you have a plot and will be eating the best scraps! I like how you put that - your plot doubling - no more waste!

    • seanorjohn profile image


      5 years ago

      My vegetable plot has just doubled in size because of your hub. Will be eating the potatoes with their skins and looking forward to trying the broccoli leaves. Great info.

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Thanks KoffeeKlatch Gals - so glad you loved the information!

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Hazelton 

      5 years ago from Sunny Florida

      I put the celery tops in my soup. And I love stuffed potato skins. Didn't know that watermelon seeds wee good for you. Great article. Love the information.

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      You're welcome Kathryn Stratford. I like this whole scraps idea because it says me cash. Feels good. Thanks for writing!

    • Kathryn Stratford profile image


      5 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

      Very interesting topic and information. I do eat potatoes with the skin still on. Orange peels can be bitter, but only the fine zest does taste pretty good. I'll have to remember that next time I have an orange.

      Thanks for sharing such useful information with us.

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      You're welcome drbj! Our elders never wasted anything and we did benefit. It annoys me when I look for celery and all those leaves have been stripped off. Why?

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      5 years ago from south Florida

      Savvy folks can make a meal out of what the rest of us constantly throw out. Thanks, Bk, for the reminder about roasted watermelon seeds.

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      So true about seeds. No telling what else has been called scraps and is removed from store-bought food. Thanks for commenting! Yay!

    • Scribenet profile image


      5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thanks, I just learned something new . I love seeds...I just think of all the seeds I have wasted! No more!

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Hello Scribenet - It's interesting what children instinctively know to be healthy. I too would eat a bit of a good orange rind. And yes it is very common to roast watermelon seeds. Hope you try and like. Thanks for writing!

    • Scribenet profile image


      5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Oddly, as a child I loved to eat the rind of oranges...good to know they were healthy and often I enjoy eating into the green rind of watermelon...often eat part of the rind of cucumber as well...never tried watermelon seeds. Wonder if they could be roasted?

      Too bad I never knew about broccoli leaves because I love broccoli!

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Princessa - so glad you use the skins. Of late so many have started peeling and throwing away - but sliced thinly as you mentioned they are so less soggy - they are wonderful.

      Justsilve - thanks so much for the vote and sharing. Glad you found the information very useful!

      moonlake - it makes so much since to just grind it all up and use it. As you said - it is food! Thanks for the vote!

    • moonlake profile image


      5 years ago from America

      I use celery tops in my soups, why not their good. I love watermelon and I love the rind. I think any vegetable tops or skins you can grind up and add to foods that your cooking if you don't want to eat them whole.

      Voted up.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Very useful information. Voted up and shared.

    • Princessa profile image

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      5 years ago from France

      Very good idea. I usually prepare cucumbers with the skin on (they are less soggy) they have a nicer look and if thinly sliced or cut in very small cubes you don't even notice them. I didn't know that the skin was so good for your health.


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