Stems, skins, and the tops of fruits and veggies carry even more nutrients than the fruit or vegetable itself. If you’re already buying beautiful, fresh, and perhaps even local and organic produce, then why waste a quarter to a half of it? Unless you’re composting, you’re getting rid of essential veggie nutrition that could be beneficial to you.
Vegetable stems, including kale, collards, parsley, and Swiss chard, are loaded with vitamins, fiber, and nutrients because the stem is the component that is rooted in the soil. The skin of most fruits and vegetables such as apples, oranges, potatoes, squashes, and even kiwi contain antioxidants, fiber, and other health-promoting properties.
Vegetable tops, including beets, carrots, or any other vegetable that sprouts a leaf or is green, contain added vibrancy and nutrients, so be sure to hold on to them. They are useful and can be a great contribution to your diet.
Here are some different ways you can make use of leafy greens and root veggie nutrition:
- Stems make a great base to add to stir-fries. Add in broccoli and Swiss chard stems at the beginning along with your onions and celery. That way, they can soften and absorb the delicious flavor.
- Collard, kale, or parsley stems are great for the base of soup stock. Let them infuse in your water for an hour or so and then remove them from the stock. They will infuse all of their nutrients into your soup stock.
- The skins of citrus fruits contain bioflavonoids, which are amazing antioxidants. Sprinkle the zest of an orange into a cookie or muffin recipe.
- Put the stems and skins of any fruit or vegetable through your juicer, including collard, kale, broccoli, chard, carrots, beets, and apples.
- Bake your potatoes and squash with the skin on. Potato skin has potassium, iron, and vitamin C.
- Use the tops of beets and stems of Swiss chard to make a wonderful and colorful side dish. Beetroot tops are loaded with calcium, magnesium, and iron. See the recipe below for some inspiration!
Garlicky Green Stem Sautée
3 cloves of garlic
2 large bunches of whole beetroot tops and Swiss chard
1–2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Fold green leaves in half lengthwise and cut away the leaf from the inner ribs or stem.
- Chop up the stems into small pieces and set aside.
- Pile about 5–6 leaves on top of one another, and roll into a tight roll.
- Starting at the top and cutting across the leaves, slice the leaves into needle-thin strips.
- In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat.
- Add the garlic and sauté for a few seconds.
- Add the stems, season with salt and pepper, and sauté for 5 minutes or until soft.
- Add in the green leaves and cook until they are bright green and are just short of their wilting point.
Lisa Roth Collins is a registered holistic nutritionist and the marketing manager at NaturallySavvy.com, which first published this article.