Is it possible to save time and money this Thanksgiving AND boost the nutrition on your plate? Yes! Fruits and veggies add color, texture, flavor, vitamins and minerals to every meal. This holiday season, remember to fill half your plate with fruits and veggies. As you are preparing your meals and side dishes follow these tips to get the most of this season’s bounty.
4 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Thanksgiving Produce
- Give Your Peeler a Rest
You have plenty of things to do this holiday season, so save time by leaving the skins on your fruits and veggies. Apples, carrots, cucumbers, beets, and potatoes do not require peeling. Many nutrients are found in or just below the skin. Whether you are roasting root vegetables or making mashed potatoes, just wash the outside of your veggies in cold water and follow the recipe. Also, think twice before throwing away the peels of lemons, limes, and oranges. Citrus peels can be pickled or candied. Or, zest citrus peels into any dish for a boost of fresh flavor!
- Eat the Greens
Did you know you can eat the green tops of root vegetables such as carrots, beets and turnips? Simply blanch the greens and sauté them with olive oil and your favorite seasoning just as you would any other leafy green. Add greens to soups, pasta, and grain dishes. The possibilities are endless! If there isn’t room for greens on your Thanksgiving table, save the leafy tops of veggies to add flavor and texture to leftovers. Green tops can be chopped into salad or added to smoothies and soups.
- Save the Seeds
The next time you prepare pumpkin, butternut squash, or acorn squash, be sure to save the seeds. Seeds from winter squash are perfect for roasting. Simply rinse the seeds with water, pat dry, toss in a bowl with olive oil until evenly coated. Season the seeds with salt or your favorite herbs and spices. Spread evenly on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes at 275°F. Cool before serving. Seeds are a perfect snack and add a crunchy texture to soups and salads. Try placing roasted seeds into a food processor to make a crispy bread-like topping for green bean casserole.
- Use the Stems
Rather than tossing out the stems from broccoli, cauliflower, and kale, use them to add flavor and nutrition to your dishes while reducing your food waste. Broccoli stems can be peeled and grated into a salad. Stalks and stems can be easily added to soups and stews. Consider using veggie parts and stems to make a homemade vegetable stock. Simply store veggie stems in the freezer until you have enough to make a stock. Add water, garlic, and herbs, simmer for one hour, and then strain.
Amanda Barnes, RD, LDN
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