Stems, skins, and tops - often regarded as useless - are chock full of nutrients and vitamins beneficial to your health.
When your mum used to say to you “Eat all your veggies!” it was for a good reason. Vegetables are a must that should be included your diet to keep you feeling healthy and fabulous. Not only are vegetables rich in fiber, minerals and vitamins, but for those wanting to look as good as they feel, vegetables are low in calories, excellent energy sources, and help maintain a healthy weight.
That’s why it pains me when I often hear that people throw out the stems, tops and skins of their fruits and veggies. You may not realize it, but they usually carry more nutrients than the fruit or vegetable themselves. If you’re going out of your way already to buy beautiful, fresh, or even local and organic produce, then why waste the most nutritious parts? Unless you are composting – you’re getting rid of essential nutrients that could be benefiting you.
Most stems, skins, and even leafy tops to fruits and veggies are loaded with fiber and nutrients. Since the stem is the component that’s rooted in the soil, it contains more substantial vitamins and nutrients. For vegetables such as kale, collards, parsley and swiss chard – don’t get rid of those precious stems!
Then there’s the tops. This is for vegetables like beets, carrots, or any other vegetable that sprouts a leaf or anything green. This is indicating that the vegetable is full of vibrancy and nutrients, so don’t just cut them off and toss them into the garbage. They’re very useful and can be a great contribution to your diet.
The skin of most fruits and vegetables such as apples, oranges, potatoes, squashes and even kiwi, contain antioxidants, fiber and other health promoting properties.
What can you do with your leftover stems, tops, and skins?
Depending on the type of fruit or vegetable – whether it’s a leafy green or root veggie – there are different uses for them.
Uses and benefits for your stems, tops, and skins
- Stems make a great the base to a stir-fry. Add in broccoli and swiss chard stems at the beginning along with your onions and celery. That way they can soften and absorb lots of flavour.
- Stems make are great for the base for a soup stock (collard stems, kale stems, parsley stems). Let them infuse in your water for an hour or so and then remove. They will leach all of their nutrients into your soup stock.
- The skins from citrus fruits contain bioflavonoids, which are amazing antioxidants. Use the zest of an orange into a cookie, muffin or yogurt.
- Put the stems and skins of any fruit and vegetable through your juicer. From collards, kale, broccoli and chard to carrots, beets and apples.
- Bake your potatoes and squash with the skins on. Potatoes skins have potassium, iron, and vitamin C.
- Use the tops of beets and stems of swiss chard to make a wonderful and colourful side dish. Beetroot tops are loaded with calcium, magnesium and iron.
Garlicky Green Stem Sautee
3 cloves of garlic
2 large bunches of whole beet root tops and swiss chard
1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
How you make it!
- 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.