When it comes to the power of superfoods, you may have thought you had heard it all. But here’s a new one: Eat your carrot stems & tops.
But don’t stop there. When it comes to some of your veggies, eat the leaves, the stalks, the root, the peel—just go ahead and eat the whole darn plant!
Yup, it’s a whole new level of “eat your greens.”
In most cases, when we throw out our “scraps,” we’re actually missing out on a ton of nutrients. We’re talking more nutrients than the actual veggie itself.
Pretty incredible, right? But it gets better: Eating root-to-stem isn’t just good for your health, it’s great for the environment and even better for your budget. (They weren’t kidding when they said good news comes in threes!)
Waste not, want not (nutrients, that is!)
With today’s fast-paced lifestyle, too many of us are sacrificing our health in order to keep up with our own schedules. Just under half of Americans find it challenging to be healthy, while only 3% are actually living a “healthy lifestyle,” as defined by Mayo Clinic. The root-to-stem movement has just made it incredibly easy to start eating well. Considering we’ve been throwing away the most nutrient-dense bits of our veggies for decades, eating well is as simple as using the whole vegetable (or fruit) when preparing a meal. If this idea of cooking with an entire plant is alien to you, read through these simple ways to make use of your scraps, and find out what type of nutrients you’ll be adding to your diet while you’re at it.
Ready to start benefiting from all those extra nutrients? Here are 9 common plants you can eat root-to-stem:
- Beet (tops/greens: loaded in more calcium, magnesium, and iron than the root)
- Broccoli (florets, stalks, and leaves)
- Carrot (tops/greens)
- Cauliflower (stems and leaves)
- Celery (stalks and leaves)
- Radish (tops/leaves)
- Squash (skins)
- Swiss chard (stems)
- Orange, lemon, lime (peel: the main part of the fruit that contains bioflavonoids which are amazing antioxidants)
Can you believe you’ve been throwing out all the good stuff your entire life?! Neither can we.
And speaking of waste…
With all the food waste that goes on in developed nations—with the highest wastage rates being fruit, veggies (and their scraps)—sustainable cooking is where it’s at. You may have thought you were doing your due diligence by composting the unused bits of your fruit & veg each day. But what you may not have realized is that those decomposing scraps are generating methane gas, which over a period of 5 years, releases 100 times more heat into the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. Eek!
Luckily, there’s simple remedy for this issue: Eat your scraps! If that doesn’t sound appetizing, these root-to-stem recipes may get you drooling.
Two for the price of one
The cost of produce has gone up significantly in the last few years, which can make it feel like healthy cooking is only accessible to the 1%. But no need to stock up on trending (read: expensive) superfoods! Simply stick with what you know, and get double the use out of it!
Those carrot tops can be used as a garnish or fried up in your stir fry. The dark green leaves that decorate your beautiful beets make a lovely addition to any salad. And we all know it can be tough to get the kids and—ahem—picky adults to eat their broccoli. But did you know that the stem is typically considered the best part by foodies and chefs alike? Not only is it tastier and more tender, it (surprise, surprise) has more nutrients than the florets. Check out these 7 ways to cook with broccoli stems and give your repertoire a makeover! And, guess what, you can eat the leaves too!
If you want an affordable, sustainable way to eat healthier, it may be time to join the root-to-stem movement. The great part is you don’t have to go out of your way to buy the newest superfood or pay big bucks for vitamins and supplements. Simply use what you have in your vegetable drawer—just make sure to use all of it!