Before dumping your trash, consider whether it's worth saving. We often toss out certain foods we don't think are useful, but turns out, there might be nutrients hiding in those "wasted" parts.
What's more, beyond lose vital vitamins and minerals, you're also sacrificing some major dough (high quality produce can surely add up). And, you're missing an opportunity to get creative and experimental in the kitchen, whipping up recipes that'll taste fresh and new. No staleness, guaranteed.
Here, dietitians share their favorite discarded food parts, a.k.a., the rejects of the produce aisle.
1. Pineapple Core
Pineapple sure tastes great in a smoothie, cocktail, fruit salad, or minty salsa. Yet, we often eat the outsides and toss the core. Big mistake, says Elizabeth Shaw, MS, RDN, CLT, Nutrition Communications Consultant at Shaw's Simple Swaps, Fertility Nutrition Expert at BumpstoBaby.com, co-author of Fertility Foods.
So, instead of getting the pre-cut cubes, buy the real deal, prickly skin and all. You'll end up with way more pineapple to use and have access to the core.
Here's what to do: Simply cut off the outer skin, then cut around the core. Since it's so much harder in the center, you really can't cut through it smoothly, so it's easy to know once you've hit it, says Shaw. And, she recommends cutting around it vertically, for the best results.
Once you've got it, toss it in a pitcher of water for a refreshing, summer beverage, she says. "Plus, the core also contains higher levels of bromelain, a protein enzyme that has shown to have positive health effects with blood clotting and inflammation," as well as improving digestion, she adds.
2. Beet Greens
Getting tired of kale? Switch things up and try beet greens for a delicious, veggie side, instead.
And, they're really good for you. "Beet greens provide very high amounts of Vitamins A and K as well as riboflavin, vitamin C, and a variety of minerals like potassium and iron. All in all, they're a nutritional powerhouse," says Kelly R. Jones MS, RD, CSSD, LDN.
So, trim off those green leafy tops and save for later. When cooking, be sure to add some zest for added flavor, as beet greens can be on the bitter side, she says. "I like to sauté them with garlic and chickpeas as a side dish," Jones adds.
The same goes for Swiss chard stems, says Ilyse Schapiro MS, RD, CDN. "These contain glutamine, which can help enhance your immune system," she says. A great way to enjoy is to roast them with olive oil or use in a vegetable stock.
3. Watermelon Rinds
As if you needed more reason to love watermelon (try a watermelon feta salad or a summery cocktail), there are even more, interesting ways to eat it. "Watermelon rinds are surprisingly edible and contain plenty of fiber and the compound citrulline, which may boost nitric oxide in the body, thereby dilating blood vessels to increase blood flow," says Jones.
And, if you're athletic, you really want to get on board. "This may be advantageous to athletes to increase nutrient and oxygen delivery to the muscles," she explains.
How to eat them? You can blend rinds in a smoothie, or you can pickle them. "Watermelon rinds aren't that easy to chew though, so pickling them is a great way to enjoy them and reduce food waste," Jones recommends.
4. Kiwi Skin
That fuzzy brown skin outside the inner, green goodness of kiwi is often dismissed. Sure, it looks (and feels) kind of gross, but it's actually the most compacted area for fiber and other key nutrients, says Jones.
"Kiwi skin is very rich in vitamin C (as is the center of the kiwi). It is much higher in fiber than the rest of the fruit," explains Jones.
If you can't stomach the idea of taking a bite, as you would an apple or peach (the latter having some fuzz there!), add a whole kiwi to a smoothie, rather than peeling off the skin, she suggests.
5. Citrus Zest
Here's a surprise: citrus rinds do provide vitamin C, just like the main part of citrus you're used to eating. And, thanks to a compound called limonene that acts as an antioxidant, it's super good for your health and skin, says Jones.
What's more, "the peel contains tons of fiber and flavonoids, which have anti-inflammatory and anti cancer properties," adds Schapiro.
Zesting into fish or baked goods, or using as a garnish would be the best way to enjoy citrus rinds, Jones says. A garnish atop a salad or salmon filet makes for a light, fresh tang that's sure to bump up the flavor profile. Just grate it, and you're done, adds Schapiro. And, in baked goods, it can make for a killer quick bread, lemon or orange muffin, or scone.
6. Broccoli Stalks
Think twice before throwing your broccoli stalks in the garbage. "Broccoli stalks, just like the florets, are rich in Vitamin C, potassium and several B-vitamins," says Jones.
What more, they're actually richer in fiber than the florets. Just think: You could be throwing all that fiber down the garbage disposal.
Instead, hold on to those babies. Jones suggests shredding the stalks to make a slaw or adding them to a stir-fry. Or, you can eat them raw and dip in hummus, guacamole, or a bean dip, says Schapiro.
Want something meatier? Roast or grill them for a veggie "steak," says Schapiro.
And, if you find a broccoli in store that has leaves, grab it, says Schapiro. "You may not always see them in the store, but broccoli has leaves. These contain a good amount of vitamin A. We need vitamin A for healthy skin, bones and our immune system," she explains.
If you do get a few leaves, cook them in the mix, rather than discard.