As we’re being encouraged to eat more fresh produce, here are some weird and wonderful ways to get the most from your vegetables and fruit.
In our eagerness to get to what we think are the best parts of fresh produce, it’s easy to ignore the parts that are not only edible, but also tasty and highly nutritious.
It’s actually quite simple to use even more of our vegetables and fruits. Which is great news, because it means we’re wasting less food, getting more goodness for our money and making it easier to eat our ‘five a day’ – recommended by the World Health Organization as the basis for a healthy diet.
So, here’s how to get every last ounce of goodness from your food, using parts you might normally just throw away.
1. Carrot tops
You don’t have to be a rabbit to enjoy the succulent green parts on top of your carrot. They taste like, well, carrot with a hit of parsley, and can be eaten raw in salads or turned into a delicious pesto or vegetable soup. Plus, they’re packed with protein, calcium and potassium – which is good for your heart, nerves and muscles – and contain six times more vitamin C than the regular orange part.
2. Broccoli stalks
The supposed poor neighbor of those pretty green florets, broccoli stalks often get thrown away, which is a shame since they’re totally edible and packed full of vitamin C, calcium and iron. And since calcium’s great for your teeth and bones, and iron helps carry oxygen round your body, they’re way better on your plate than in the garbage. Lightly sauté or strip the outside and eat raw, drizzled with a little olive oil and sea salt.
3. Cauliflower leaves
Another victim of the proximity to the florets club, cauliflower leaves are just as nutritious as cabbage, and you can treat them in the same way. This is a cauliflower ‘ingredients’ list: protein, thiamin, niacin, pantothenic acid, calcium, iron and selenium, vitamin A, vitamin C, riboflavin, vitamin B6, folate, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and manganese. That’s a healthy diet, in leaf form.
4. Pumpkin flowers
You can pretty much eat all of a pumpkin, but the delicate orange and yellow flowers are a truly tasty treat that can be added to salads or used in a stir-fry or risotto. They’re rich in calcium and phosphorous – good for your bones and teeth – vitamin C and folic acid, which helps your body to function properly at a cellular level. And, they’re really delicious.
5. Radish seed pods
We normally eat the root of the radish, but the young, green seed pods of radishes are spicy, crunchy and great in a stir-fry. And by this stage you won’t be surprised to discover they’re very good for you – rich with protein, vitamins and minerals like iron and magnesium. Oh, and magnesium helps you process protein, keeps your nerves and muscles working smoothly and regulates your blood pressure. Not bad.
6. Pea shoots
Peas are great and versatile, and their shoots are just as tasty. Which isn’t surprising because they taste like peas. Lightly cook or eat them raw. They contain a good dose of vitamin C, fiber and folate, which helps your body produce red blood cells, and repairs your DNA.
7. Turnip greens
All freshly grown turnips have little green tufts, their greens. Turnip tops really are the forgotten heroes of the vegetable world! Traditionally fed to livestock, they actually contain most of the nutrients found in turnips. We’re talking vitamins A, C and K – used to help heal wounds and promote bone health – calcium and a host of antioxidants that help prevent damage to cells and tissue. They’re mild enough for salads and have a lovely buttery taste when lightly cooked.
8. Sweet potato leaves
NOT regular potato leaves, which are toxic! Sweet potato leaves are a good match for spinach, and rich in vitamins B6, C and D, iron, magnesium, potassium and antioxidants.