There are many parts of fruits and veggies that are edible and yet folks have been unknowingly throwing them in the garbage or onto the compost pile!
For example, many people are familiar with using the peels of veggies (such as carrots, potatoes, and parsnips) to make stock, but did you know that orange and lemon peels can be used to make candy? And did you know that avocado pits are not only edible but are a good source of antioxidants? Or how about that pineapple cores can be used in juices and smoothies for their proteolytic enzyme, bromelain?
Read on, ladies and gents, and see which of these “waste” items you might consider using in your future recipes.
9 Ways to Eat Commonly Wasted Kitchen Scraps – Seeds, Stems, Peels & More
#1 – Beet & Carrot Tops
Instead of heaping these onto the compost pile, you can easily add these “greens” to your juicer instead. Yes, you’ll want to be adding in the actual beets and carrots as well, because by themselves the tops can be slightly bitter.
Simply juice the carrots with the carrot tops to make carrot juice, or juice the beet tops with the beets to make beet juice. You can also combine an equal amount of beets and carrots (plus tops) or do 2 parts carrot to 1 part beet. Or, you can make any combination of fresh veggie and fruit juices to enjoy!
#2 – Watermelon Rinds
Yes, it’s true, you can juice watermelon rind! You can juice the rind with the flesh to make pure watermelon juice – and you’d never know there was a “green” in there! You can also juice the rind with other fruits, but to follow good food combining rules, you should juice the watermelon rind with other melons. Here’s a refreshing and simple recipe to try:
Energize Me Honeydew Recipe
• 2-3 cups cubed watermelon rind
• 1 honeydew melon, seeds and peel removed
Instructions: Juice the watermelon rind. Add the juice to a blender and blend in the honeydew. Serve and enjoy!
Variation: Try this with other types of melons, such as Crenshaw, Santa Claus, and cantaloupe.
#3 – Papaya Seeds
You either hate or love capers. In other words, they are an acquired taste. If you’ve ever had a hankering to try them or just want to give this a try, here’s an interesting experiment: cover papaya seeds with apple cider vinegar and let them soak for 8-12 hours. Drain the seeds, rinse if desired, and eat as is, or sprinkle over pasta, rice, meat, fish, or veggies.
The taste? Kinda like capers. You can also add the papaya seeds and the apple cider vinegar to soups and stews where you probably won’t even notice the taste. Papaya seeds have antioxidant properties and are also anti-parasitic. Feel free to explore using other marinades with your faux “capers.”
#4 – Pineapple Core and Top
While we can all agree that the core of a pineapple is rather unpalatable, but it can easily be juiced with the rest of the pineapple, including the leaves! Yes, really! The core contains bromelain, an important digestive enzyme that helps to digest protein, while the leaves are high in antioxidants.
While some folks choose to add the core to smoothies, you can get a start on your pineapple adventures with this simple green juice recipe:
Ravish Me Pineapple Recipe
• 1/2 bunch lettuce
• 1 handful chopped kale leaves (or 2-3 large leaves)
• 1 pineapple, including core and top/leaves
Instructions: Juice all ingredients in a juicer. Alternatively, you can use a blender: add ingredients to a blender with 2-3 cups water, then strain through a nut milk bag. Note that using a blender does not crush the cell walls of the greens/pineapple as a juicer does.
#5 – Juice or Veggie Pulp
Many recipes abound on the internet using the pulp leftover after making juice. The most common idea is to use carrot pulp as you would shredded carrots in a carrot muffin or bread recipe. But even pulp from leafy greens, veggies, and fruits can be used in various recipes, such as to make veggie burgers and salsas.
Since juice pulp is essentially insoluble fiber, you can use it to add fiber to smoothies, soups, stews, or in bread and cracker recipes. The standard amount is 1/2 cup of juice pulp in most recipes that serve 4 people. Nope, the kids or even picky eaters won’t even notice it is there!
Here’s a recipe to get you going with this idea. Note: Just remember that while you can juice beet and carrot tops and watermelon rind, they aren’t edible to use as juice pulp in recipes:
Veggie Pulp Burgers Recipe
• 2 1/2 -3 cups pulp from carrot juice or veggie juice (can include kale, lettuce, chard, dandelion, and other greens)
• 100 g sun-dried tomatoes, soaked with enough water to cover 8 hours or overnight
• 1 cup each buckwheat and brown rice flour
• 1 cup sunflower seeds, soaked overnight & well drained
• 1/8 cup black fungus mushrooms, soaked in 1 1/2 cups water OR 1/2 pkg button mushrooms
• 2-3 Tbsp Herbs de Provence
• 1-2 Tbsp Herbamare Aromatic Sea Salt, or to taste
• 1 Tbsp chia seeds, ground in coffee mill
Instructions: In a food processor, blend the sun-dried tomatoes with the soaking water until smooth. Pour into a bowl. Blend the sunflower seeds with the mushrooms using a bit of water for consistency in the food processor to create a coarse texture. Add to the bowl with the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Form into patties and fry with coconut oil on medium-high heat about 5-7 minutes on each side.
Serve on buns with all the trimmings!
Note: This recipe makes a lot of burgers. You can leave the dough in the fridge for a few days or you can freeze the pre-formed patties. I’d recommend using a piece of parchment paper in between the patties to avoid them sticking together.
Note: Black fungus mushrooms are sold in Asian markets. Feel free to use any kind of mushroom you like. You can also vary this recipe by using your favorite curry or Thai spice. Using a blend of paprika and cumin is also nice.
#6 – Nut Pulp
Have you ever made your own nut milk? It’s very easy to do and it beats buying the ones sold in the health food stores — which always have added thickeners and sugar. The simple recipe is 1 cup nuts or seeds (you can soak these overnight to release their enzyme inhibitors) to 2 cups water. To make a thinner milk, you can use 3 cups water. You can use this milk as is or add in cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, vanilla, chocolate and/or a sweetener to taste. Use immediately and store the rest in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Ok, now what to do with that leftover nut pulp? Cookies! Yes, there are many recipes on the internet for making sweet treats with the leftover pulp. Taste varies depending upon the type of nut or seed used, of course. Try this yummy no-bake recipe using almond pulp that is both gluten- and refined sugar-free.
Almond Love Joy Pulp Cookies Recipe
• 2 1/2 cups almond pulp
• 1 Tbsp ground flax
• 3 Tbsp almond milk
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 2-4 Tbsp glycerin or honey, or more, to taste
• 1/4 tsp Celtic sea salt (optional)
• 3 medjool dates, pitted
Instructions: Add all ingredients to a food processor (except dates) to make a dough that sticks together. Cut each date into 4 pieces and roll each piece in the palm of your hand to form a ball. Take 2 Tbsp of dough, roll in your hand, then flatten. Add a piece of date to the center, then fold dough over date to cover. Repeat with rest of ingredients.
Note: You can refrigerate the nut pulp for several days before using, or freeze the pulp in the freezer (defrost before using in recipes). If you own a dehydrator, you can also dry the pulp in the dehydrator, grind to a fine powder in a high-speed blender and use in recipes as you would flour. Store the flour in a glass container.
#7 – Stems
Dill, Parsley & Coriander
So you’ve grown tons of your own herbs, congrats to you! But now that you’ve chopped off those yummy leaves, what else to do with those stems besides adding them to the compost pile? Answer: juice them! Or turn them into a smoothie! Yes, you can easily juice both leaf and stem or even add some types of stems (like parsley) to your favorite green smoothie recipes.
Another idea and perhaps more interesting as well is to use them to add taste to your soups and stews, or when boiling veggies or potatoes. Simply add the stems – fresh, dried, or frozen – to the water with whatever it is you are cooking. You can fold the stems to fit in the pot or chop them into large pieces. When your dish is ready, simply remove the stems. Now these “spent” stems can be thrown onto the compost pile!
Here’s an easy and hydrating smoothie recipe you can try for those last hot and humid summer days:
Tomato ‘n’ Parsley Refresher Recipe
• 1 handful romaine lettuce
• 1 small bunch parsley, stems and leaves
• 3 tomatoes
• 1-2 sticks celery
• Water, for consistency
Instructions: Blend all ingredients in a high-speed blender. Serve immediately.
#8 – Citrus Peels
Lemon, Lime, Orange, Nectarine & Tangerine
Many have read about using lemon or lime zest in a muffin or cake recipe. How to? Simply grate the colored part of the peel (not the pith) and let air dry on newspaper or parchment-lined cookie sheets for several days until dry. Alternatively, you can use a dehydrator.
Once dried, use a high-speed blender or coffee mill to grind the peels into a fine powder. Store in a cool dry place with your other herbs and spices and use as directed in recipes.
A second way to use orange or tangerine peels once they are dried is to turn them into a tea. This is often used in Chinese medicine to help with digestive issues, such as distention, bloating, food stagnation, and stomach ache. To make chen pi tea: use 3-10g of dried peel in 4 cups water. Place in a glass or ceramic pot and let come to a boil, then simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes. Drink this after meals to help with digestion, 1-3 cups a day.
A final and much more interesting idea is to make orange peel candy. Sure, you can try this recipe using nectarine, tangerine, clementine, lemon, or lime. Hope you like chocolate:
Orange Peel Chocolatey Candy Recipe
• 2 cups julienned orange peels (try to remove pith from peels as best you can before slicing)
• 4 cups water
• 1 cup coconut sugar
• 2/3 cup chocolate chips or 1-2 bars of your favorite chocolate bar, or more as needed
Instructions: As peels are bitter, place peels in water and let come to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes. Discard water and repeat this process 2 more times. Now place peels with the 4 cups water and 1 cup coconut sugar. Let come to a boil, then simmer, uncovered for 1 hour. Drain and place the pieces in an ice bath to cool, then remove excess water with a paper towel or tea towel.
Meanwhile, melt the chocolate gently in a double boiler. Dip each piece of orange peel into the chocolate (tongs or even tweezers can help with this task if you like), and place on parchment-lined cookie sheets. Place in the freezer or fridge to set, 15-30 minutes. Store the pieces in a glass container in the fridge.
Variation #1: for a sugar-reduced recipe, try using 1/4-1/2 cup coconut sugar or honey instead. Use a sugar-free chocolate for dipping.
Variation #2: You can choose to dip just half of each peel, leaving one part uncovered and one part covered in chocolate. The contrast of the orange (or yellow for lemon) against the brown makes for some nice “eye” candy. Do keep this idea to use when Halloween rolls around!
#9 – Avocado Pits
Life will definitely not be “the pits” after you start adding avocado pits to your morning smoothie! Avocado pits are antimicrobial, anti fungal and anthelmintic.
They are high in soluble fiber and are an excellent source of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. They do contain tannin’s and are bitter by themselves, but once blended with greens and fruits, you’ll be reaping the benefits without noticing the taste.
5-4-3-2 Peachy Love Recipe
• 5 peaches, pitted
• 4 oranges, peeled & seeded
• 3 pears, seeded
• 2 handfuls chopped kale (3-5 leaves)
• 1/2-1 avocado pit
• 1/2 -1 avocado (optional)
• Water, for consistency
Instructions: Blend all ingredients in a high-speed blender. Serve immediately.
Note: If using a regular ol’ blender, you’ll have to place the pit in a bag and smash it open with a hammer. You can then use the seeds in your smoothie.
Note: Instead of peeling and seeding the oranges, you can use a manual juicer to juice the oranges. Simply add this juice to the rest of the ingredients in the blender.
Now that you’ve had a taste of these bits and parts of fruits and veggies that are often thrown out, perhaps you’ll be seeing the world anew, with keener and more inquisitive eyes. What other food adventures await in your future?
To get you started, here are a few other commonly wasted tidbits for you to nibble on:
• Celery leaves are juiceable, as are radish leaves
• Crabapples are juiceable (minus seeds) and can be made into a jelly
• Wild strawberry leaves are both edible, juiceable and can be dried to make a tea for diarrhea
• Watermelon seeds can be dried and boiled to make a diuretic tea
• Oyster shells can be dried, crushed, placed in a tea bag and used in soups and stews to add calcium and minerals (remove tea bag once soup/stew is done). Note: Avoid if you’re allergic to shellfish.
Cat Asoka Void-Wilson has been dubbed the green-thumbed barefoot princess. Her background is in psychology, meditation, naturopathy, Chinese medicine, needle-less acupuncture (acupressure), vegan cuisine, and fitness. When she’s not writing, you can find her working out or tending to her balcony garden. You can follow her foraging adventures, get free gluten-free & sugar-free recipes or some cat-spiration at her website gowildbefree.com.