Tuesday, January 6, 2015

10 Foods You're Eating All Wrong

I am sorry to say, but you might be guilty. Don't feel bad. I was guilty too. Guilty of incorrectly eating numerous fruits and vegetables. Robbing myself of important vitamins and minerals, not to mention throwing my money away.

You may have heard about eating root-to-stem. It is already a hot topic in 2015 and I'm sure, with how food conscious people are getting, will create more buzz as the year goes on.

Eating root-to-stem means eating the entire plant, from the leafy top to stringy root. After reading up on some articles lately, I realized that I have been eating a bunch of fruits and veggies wrong my whole life!

Thanks to our modernized society, many of us do. We are so use to buying canned and frozen produce, and we don't really know what the natural, whole plant even looks like. Or even if it's all safe to eat. And once we do see the whole plant, we only eat and cook with the parts we are use to. 

So, when it comes to preparing these fresh fruits and veggies, we usually only end up using about half of the plant and deem the rest as trash. But when we do this, we are throwing out valuable nutrients (and our hard-earned cash!)

Here are 10 foods you are probably eating wrong, and how to eat them stem-to-root!

1. Watermelon
What You're Not Eating: The Rind
The rind of the watermelon in undoubtedly the most neglected part of the fruit (but not as bothersome as those pesky seeds!) As a kid, I ate my watermelon slice until I got to the "icky green part." But this "icky" part actually contains more Vitamin C and Vitamin B6. It also contains an antioxidant known as citrulline (which the pink part does not.) Citrulline is an antioxidant that scientists are beginning to discover may prevent excess acclamation of fat in our fat tissues!! Not so icky anymore, is it?
How To Eat It: You can peel the skin and chop up the rind. The rind is light and crisp, similar to a cucumber. It can be added to salads for some crunch or eaten on its own. There are even ways to pickle it.

2. Strawberries
What You Are Not Eating: The Leaves
For years whenever I ate strawberries, I was left with a pile of green stems that ended up in the trash. I had no idea that I was throwing away vitamins and minerals like iron, Vitamin C, and calcium! Strawberry leaves are also said to be good for your stomach, helping with bloating, nausea, cramps, and diarrhea.
How To Eat It: Strawberries are always a main ingredient in my smoothies, so I just throw the berry in whole. Chocolate covered strawberries are also a delicious way to enjoy the whole fruit. I've also read that the leaves can be brewed into tea.

3. Carrots
What You Are Not Eating: The Leaves
O.K., you may not be eating the leaves because when was the last time you bought carrots that had them still attached? Unless it was at a farmers market, probably never! Nonetheless, if you ever find yourself cooking with a whole carrot, remember that those leaves can add a great flavor profile to your dish! Plus, they are full of Vitamin A, B6, C, K, and folate!
How To Eat It: Due to their bitterness and herbaceous properties, they are great chopped up and used as a herb in salads and soups. You can also saute them or add them to a rice or quinoa pilaf!

4. Turnips
What You Are Not Eating: The Greens
Turnips greens make a regular appearance on The Food Network (which is always on in my apartment.) It is also my understanding that they are quite a staple in southern cooking. They are incredibly high in Vitamin A, one cup of these green beauties giving you 220% of you daily value! It also gives you about 60% of your daily value of Vitamin C.
How To Eat It: Turnip greens can be sauteed and served on the side of your dish. They are also great in soups!

5. Broccoli
What You Are Not Eating: The Stalk
Once again, in our prepackaged society we are use to just consuming the florets of the broccoli. I know in the past when I have purchased fresh broccoli from the store, I have just disregarded the stalk, or "trunk," of the vegetable. I didn't realize I was then missing out on additional Vitamin A, potassium, magnesium, and iron! Also 100g of the stalk can give you an additional 3g of protein!
How To Eat It: The stalk can be used to make a vegetable broth. Or it can be grated into a slaw. The stalk does have a tough outer skin, however, that you will want to peel off.

6. Cauliflower 
What You Are Not Eating: The Leaves
We are very dismissive of the greens that are attached to our favorite vegetables, and the leaves of the cauliflower are certainly no exception! The leaves give you an extra punch of Vitamin C and folate!
How To Eat It: Fan of kale chips? Try using cauliflower leaves instead! They can also be sauteed or added to soups.

7. Potatoes
What You Are Not Eating: The Skin
I usually skip any step in a recipe that calls for peeling a potato. Eatright.org also explains that the skin of the potato actually has more nutrients than the rest of the potato! And these crazy recipes want me to just dump them down the drain!? The skin give you additional Vitamin B, Vitamin C, potassium, calcium, and iron.
How To Eat It: Whenever I boil potatoes to make mashed potatoes, I simply leave the skins on and cube it. Then I mash the potatoes with the skins intact. Or if I bake the potato, I eat the skin as well as the inside flesh.

8. Celery
What You Are Not Eating: The Leaves
Even since I was a kid, I always chopped off the top leaves of the celery stalk. But, I recently discovered that these celery leaves are precious, flavorful gifts! The leaves are also full of Vitamin E, calcium, and iodine.
How To Eat It: Chop up the leaves and add them to soups or salads!

9. Beets
What You Are Not Eating: The Greens
My boyfriend has recently turned me on to beets (his pickled beets are delicious!) However I never knew that the beet greens would be equally as delicious! They are also a great source of Vitamin A Vitamin C, calcium, and fiber.
How To Eat It: These can be chopped up and used as greens in a salad. They can also be sauteed in olive oil for a heart warming side.

10. Radish
What You Are Not Eating: The Greens
Similar to beets, the greens of a radish are also often discarded. And the greens actually contain more Vitamin C, calcium, and protein than the root!
How To Eat Them: These can be chopped into a salad for an extra zing of flavor. There are also some who add it to their morning smoothie!

Interested in more ideas for eating the whole fruit or vegetable? Check out Root to Stalk Cooking by Tara Duggan.

Do you have any tips for eating root-to-stem?

PS: I have been featured on Fam2Me's blog talking about why I like to eat seasonally (and you should too!)

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