The backbone of a healthy diet is plenty of colorful fruits and veggies. When you “eat the rainbow,” you’re giving your body the vitamins, minerals and nutrients it needs to thrive.
Unfortunately, that healthy diet also usually means that your trash can is full of colorful fruit and veggie scraps, too.
Some food waste is unavoidable, of course. But the truth is most of us are throwing away far more food than we need to.
In fact, many of those fruit and veggie “scraps” are full of flavor, nutrition and major health benefits.
Quit trashing good food with six food waste tips
Today I’m going to show you how you can stop food waste in its tracks and make the most out of the fruits and veggies you’re buying or growing.
Following are six healthy foods you should stop stop tossing in the trash starting today.
1. The greens:
Many of the veggies we eat—such as carrots, beets, cauliflower and broccoli—have leaves attached when we bring them home. And most folks chop those greens off, and move onto the vegetable itself.
But that’s a shame because those leafy greens are brimming with nutrients and flavor. They’re terrific on sandwiches and in salads or stir fries. Beet greens, for example, can be used anywhere you’d normally use spinach.
And these overlooked leafy greens don’t just add layers of flavor to your salads, smoothies, and sandwiches. They will supercharge your meal’s nutritional value, too. They’re loaded with vitamins and minerals which belong in your body, not in your trash.
2. Celery leaves:
Have you ever thought about how much we chop off the celery stalk before we use it? It’s the perfect example of unnecessary food waste. We end up dropping over half of the plant into the garbage. But we don’t have too.
The next time you add some celery to a dish, wash and chop the leaves too. They will elevate your meal to the next level, adding even more intense celery flavor to your dish.
3. Citrus rind:
Hopefully you’re already eating your apple peels. After all, more than half an apple’s nutrients are in the peel. In fact, a study out of the University of Wisconsin found that there are enough antioxidants packed into apple peel they can help fight cancer. Just make sure you always buy organic.
But it’s not just apple peels you should be saving from the trash bin. Citrus rind, or zest, is packed with flavor and health benefits as well. Studies have linked citrus peel—such as lemon, orange, and grapefruit—to lower rates of different cancers, including prostate cancer and skin cancer.
Grate well-washed, organic citrus peel into whatever dish, drink, or recipe needs an extra punch of bright, fruity flavor.
4. Banana peels:
You know the routine. Peel the banana, slice it into your smoothie and throw out the peel. But maybe it’s time to mix it up.
Now you’re going to have to bear with me here. Because your first reaction will probably be, “No way!” But I promise you’ll change your mind once you try it.
Wash your whole, unpeeled, organic banana. Pop off ONLY the stem and drop the rest directly into your blender. Yes, I do mean the whole thing. Really.
The peel contains nutrients that can help protect your eyes, heart and mood. Plus there are a bunch of anti-aging antioxidants and enough fiber to keep your digestive tract humming along happily.
And if you’re worried about the flavor, don’t be. Eaten alone the peel would be a bit bitter and chewy. But as long as you have a high powered blender (think Vitamix or Ninja), the peel will blend smoothly and won’t have any negative effect on the flavor of your favorite smoothie. And bonus, you’ll feel good about cutting back on food waste.
5. Herb stems:
Fresh herbs give a depth to your dishes that’s hard to beat. So why toss more than half of that flavor into the trash? All the taste (and health benefits) you’re getting from the leaves is right there in the stem as well.
With “soft” herbs such as parsley and cilantro there’s no need to even spend time destemming. Give the whole thing a fine chop for a burst of flavor that will take your meals to the next level.
Thicker or tougher stems—such as those you find on sage, thyme, rosemary and basil—are full of flavor too. After removing the leaves, you can save them to use in other projects such as making soup stock or infusing oils and vinegars with an extra pop of flavor.
6. Onion and garlic skins:
It shocks most folks when I suggest they stop trashing their onion and garlic skins before they get the most out of them. But trust me; those skins are bursting with flavor and nutrients.
The next time you use some fresh onions or garlic (which is nearly every single night at my house) don’t just pitch the skins. Remove the outer layer that was in contact with dirt and freeze the rest in an airtight container.
Then whenever you’re making any kind of broth toss some into the pot. After about 15 minutes, you can strain them out again and your stock will retain all of their delicious fragrance and flavor. (Hint: you can do the same thing with shrimp peels for an intense seafood flavor.)
Research has revealed onions and garlic (and their skins) can help fight inflammation, support heart health and contribute to healthy blood sugar.
Once you make these easy changes a part of your regular routine you will be stunned by how much you’ve managed to cut back on food waste. More flavor, more nutrition and less waste. Sign me up! How about you?