You’re making dinner and preparing the veg, let’s say cauliflower and broccoli. Without even thinking about it, you tear or chop off the cauliflower leaves and throw them in the bin, then you chop off the leaves and stalks of your broccoli and throw them in the bin or if your times limited, you buy the florets pre-cut and bagged, and these can be a bit pricey! Does that sound about right?
Just one question…why?
When you throw away the leaves, peels and stalks you are actually throwing away some fabulous tasty, healthy and nutritious super-food! In some cases, the parts we discard are even more nutritious than the parts we include in our meal!
For example; beet greens have more than 8 times the nutritional content of beet roots, and the most nutrient-dense part of a potato is the skin and just below it, laden with vitamin C, fibre and iron, and yet we peel them and throw all that goodness away!
If you are lucky enough to be living the ‘good life’ and growing our own food, you will have a greater appreciation for the way that foods grow and the different stages it goes through before it reaches your plate. But, why go to all that time and trouble and then waste half of it? It doesn’t make sense!
But, the most obvious benefit of root to stem eating is to our environment by reducing the amount of food waste going into our landfills. This is a very sensible approach we can all take, making root to stem eating a win-win for everyone.
However; while most plant parts are edible, some aren’t so it’s worth doing a bit of research before using any parts that you have not heard of being used.
Here are 7 Plants You Should Never Eat Root-To-Stem that you should throw in the bin.
So, let’s see what you can definitely eat;
Throw Nothing Away!
Cauliflower Leaves: are a good source of fibre and vitamin C with a fair amount of vitamin A, folate, calcium, and potassium and selenium. If you are using a cauliflower recipe like soup or stews, you can toss the leaves in for extra flavour. You can also add them to sautéed dishes and salads or roast them. To roast, simply, wash and dry the leaves carefully, then place in a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and a touch of seasoning. Coat the leaves thoroughly and spread them on a baking tray. Pop in the oven at 400°F for about 20 minutes till they are dark and crispy. This makes a delicious nutritious side dish. The stems can be added to soups and stews.
Celery Leaves: are high in vitamin A and have a mild celery taste. Prepare them as you would do any herb. They are perfect to use in salads, smoothies, soups, stews, stir-fries (at the end of cooking) and pasta sauce. You can also use as a garnish.
Broccoli Leaves and Stalks: Broccoli is one of the most nutritious vegetables around, and that includes the leaves. The leaves have even higher amounts of beta carotene than the florets, as well as vitamin A and phytonutrients that aren’t found in the stems or florets. Both the leaves and the stalks can be added to stir-fries and hearty salads.
Beet Greens and Stems: Beet greens are high in vitamins A, C & B6, magnesium, potassium, calcium and iron. Add raw to salads or sauté them in a bit of olive oil or balsamic vinegar and seasoning for a delicious side dish. Beet greens are also delicious added to an omelette or scrambles eggs. The beet stems are high in fibre and minerals and contain pigments called betalains, a powerful source of antioxidants, reducing inflammation and preventing heart disease. Sauté with olive oil, lemon juice and a touch of garlic or use in soups and stews.
Carrot Peel and Tops: Many of carrots nutrients are found in the skin and just below it, so really it’s healthier to eat carrots unpeeled. However, the taste would be earthier and will not look as appealing as the bright orange, tender and sweet peeled versions. Use the peel in homemade bone broth or stock. Carrots tops are bursting with vitamins A and C, as well as iron, calcium and fibre and can taste a little bitter. They can be eaten raw in salads, added to homemade pesto or sautéed with other greens.
Turnip Greens: contain more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants than the root. Prepare and enjoy them the same way you would any other leafy greens like kale or spinach. Sauté turnip greens with olive oil, lemon, a little garlic and seasoning to bring out their robust taste.
Lemon Peel: actually have more vitamins than the juice so it would be a shame not to use it. Rinse the lemon and then grate the peel to use in vinaigrette, baked goods, pasta dishes and ice-cream. The trick is to add at the last minute to get the zests full flavour.
Orange Peel: many people automatically throw away the peel but it is actually packed with vitamin C, as well as riboflavin, thiamine, niacin, vitamin A, and vitamin B-6. Adds a sweet and tangy taste to meat marinades or baked goods. Candied orange peels are a wonderful delicacy that are easy to prepare and are especially popular at Christmas.
So, if you want to make sure you get the most nutrients possible out of your vegetables and fruits, not waste your money and help the environment, then it’s simple… don’t throw away the parts of the plant you normally would because they are bursting with healthy nutrients.
With a little culinary ingenuity you can use every piece of your fresh produce or, if you have zero imagination then have a look at these clever and tasty roots to stem recipes by Tesco that will help you love your greens even more.