Five Food Scraps You’re Tossing—But Should Be Eating

Sometimes it feels like we spend far more time preparing and cleaning up meals than we do actually enjoying them. With so much to do and so little time, it can be easy to find ourselves eating unhealthy fast food or heating up a frozen meal (which we’ve all been guilty of). But your good health shouldn’t come at the cost of saving time.

Now it may sound too good to be true, but there’s actually a much better way to eat conveniently and healthfully. In fact, what if you could prepare two completely different meals from the same fresh produce? What if the second meal was equally, if not more nutritious than the first? 

Well today is your lucky day—here are five nutritious food scraps you’ve been tossing during meal prep (that you should be repurposing for other dishes):
1.    Watermelon Rinds

Watermelon rinds are best known for holding the sweet and juicy flesh of a fruit that has been a staple of backyard cookouts for years. Once we munch down on the good stuff, the rinds usually end up the trash can or thrown into the woods for nature to take its course. Unfortunately, when we toss the rinds we are ridding ourselves of the most nutrient-rich and beneficial part of the entire watermelon.

Watermelon rinds are actually one of the richest natural sources of citrulline, an amino acid that helps with artery dilation and blood pressure. Next time you’ve gnawed your slice of watermelon down to the rind, find a way to incorporate the leftovers into your next meal by pickling, mashing them into preserves or even dicing them into your favorite coleslaw recipe as a healthy alternative to cabbage.   
  
2.    Carrot Tops

No—we aren’t talking about the comedian. Carrots are touted for their rich vitamin A content, a nutrient that helps support immune function, vision and even reproductive health. However if you’re looking to load up on vitamin A, you’d be better off eating the leafy carrot tops—which contain nearly six times the amount of vitamin A as the crunchy, orange root.

Try adding them to your next salad or drop them in a food processor with a bit of oil, cheese and nuts to create a delicious and nutritious pesto.    

3.    Cucumber Skins

Next time you add cucumbers to your favorite salad, be sure to leave the skin on. Cucumber skin contains significantly more nutrients than the flesh it covers—and is especially rich in vitamin K, which supports blood clotting and bone health. If you absolutely must remove the skin from the cucumbers in your salad, hold onto the skins and blend them into your next smoothie or cold soup.  

4.    Orange Peels

The two most commonly discarded parts of the orange—the pith and the peel—are also the most nutritious. The pith, which is the white stringy part between the peel and the flesh, contains a phytonutrient known as hesperidin. Hesperidin is known to lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol levels and fight inflammation. 

The peel is rich in hesperidin as well, and is also a great source of fiber. Try keeping the pith on when you peel and eat oranges, and grate the orange peel into a zest for your favorite baked goods or meat entrees.

5.    Beet Greens

The leafy tops to this popular root vegetable are extremely rich in vitamins and nutrients. Sporting more iron per serving than spinach, beet greens are also a great source of calcium, zinc and vitamins A and C. You can substitute beet greens for other leafy vegetables in your favorite dish, or sauté them with garlic and olive oil for a delicious and healthy side.

Struggling to maintain a healthy diet?

For more ideas on how to maintain a healthy diet, GMC’s Nutrition & Weight Management experts can provide the resources you need to make better food choices. With knowledgeable dietitians who can customize a nutrition plan to meet your unique needs, you’ll enjoy all the great benefits that a healthy diet can provide. Start feeling your best today by setting up a nutrition consultation.

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