By Amanda Rose Newton
The start of the New Year marks the beginning of resolutions to eat healthier, more natural, local food. What better way than by the simple act of adding more vegetables into your family’s weekly rotation?
Even veggie veterans can resolve to get the most of their farmer’s market purchases while stretching their budget. Many of us (myself included) are guilty of throwing away the most nutritious part of the veggies – the stems, leaves, and skins…all of which provide additional vitamins and minerals and are easy to use in a multitude of dishes.
Below are 5 of the most commonly thrown out vegetable accessories that can add pizzazz to any dish.
Broccoli and Cauliflower Stems
The flowering crowns are the pride of these cruciferous veggies. However, the overlooked stems have more iron, calcium, and vitamin C than the showier tops. Instead of discarding them, toss them into your stew, stir fry, or scramble to add extra bulk and nutrition.
Since I found out how much punch these tiny leaves add to fresh stir frys, I seek out the stalks with the most leaves! Often simply thrown out, celery leaves have more flavor than the actual stalk with far less chew (let’s be honest, no one likes the chew).
The peppery, zesty flavor is best when added to heat for short bursts of time, towards the end of sauteing other vegetables or adding to a stew the last few minutes of cooking.
Every time you peel potatoes, you are throwing away roughly 3 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber, and a multitude of B vitamins! Whether baking or making fries, make sure you keep those flavorful “jackets” on. If you want to increase the flavor and soften the often rubbery texture, try rubbing the potatoes down with olive oil and sprinkling sea salt prior to going under the heat.
Beets, Carrots, and Radish Greens
Root vegetables are known for, well, the root! But the greens are just as tasty (sometimes arguably more so) and are a delicious addition to salads, stir fries, and juiced in smoothies.
Hosting many vitamins, including A, E, and K, they act as antioxidants that are known for attributing to glowing skin. All these greens also make the most flavorful broths, stocks, and soup bases.
NOTE: Potato and Ginger (tuber) greens should NOT be eaten!
Cucumber and Zucchini Peels
While peeled cucumbers and popular in salads or as “noodles”, most of the nutrition in these veggies resides in the peel! Vitamins such as A and K, and plenty of fiber often goes to waste when it can be consumed! When marinated with rice vinegar or citrus juice, the peels soften and can enhance the taste of the often bland veggies.
As 2020 taught us, food security is not a guarantee. By wasting less of the food you buy, you are helping reduce the amount of food wasted in your community.
Make 2021 not only the year you consume more local produce, but also the year you waste less money on groceries!
Recipe Ideas from our Farmer’s Market
by Tricia Johnson
Root vegetable tops can seem unwieldy and difficult, but actually provide tons of nutrition and flavor!
Wash them well (they can be sandy!) then use the young, small leaves for soup or frittata, and use the larger, tougher greens for pesto or save them to make stock!
Use the young greens any place you would cook with kale or spinach, or eat them raw in a salad.
For pesto, blend the greens with your favorite nuts, olive oil, and lemon juice to a nice consistency. Add cheese if you’d like!
I save a bunch of my veggie scraps, including peels and greens, in a bowl in the freezer, then toss them into a big pot with halved onions, peeled garlic and ginger, ACV, eevo, and salt and pepper. Cover with water and simmer for a couple of hours to make veggie stock. Strain out whatever hasn’t dissolved, and then freeze into big ice cream trays or leftover takeout containers to have perfectly sized homemade broth cubes the next time you make soup!