Don’t just squeeze lemon over fish and toss out the rind. According to Lauren Popeck RD, LD/N of Orlando Health Physician Group, there’s some great use for lemon rind when it comes to garnishing dishes and kicking up the flavor. What’s more, there are some great nutritional benefits hiding in the zest, as well. “You can expect three grams of fiber in two tablespoons of zest, five times more vitamin C in the peel than flesh, and other essential vitamins and minerals, including riboflavin, thiamin, niacin, folate, vitamin B6, vitamin B5, vitamin A, calcium, iron, potassium, zinc, and magnesium,” says Popeck. Her favorite uses for zest: blend into vinaigrette or marinade, toss a piece of peel into smoothies, grate and sprinkle on green beans, blend into yogurt or cottage cheese, stir into oatmeal, cereal, or muffin batter, or add to coffee or tea. Don’t stop with lemons: Use oranges, limes, and even grapefruit for some acidity and flavor with no added calories.
Most of us eat the banana without giving the soft, mushy peel a second thought. Here’s why that’s a mistake: “Bananas contain tryptophan, which boosts serotonin ‘the happiness hormone’ to help with mood regulation and nerve impulses,” says Popeck. A few creative ways to use the peel: First off, go ripe. “Riper peels are softer, thinner, and tastier,” says Popeck. Cook or boil for at least 10 minutes to soften. You can add to smoothies, stir-fries, or soups. Or, you can puree and add to muffin or cake batter. And, for a treat, simply slice and bake a banana with the skin on, she suggests.
Watermelon rind and seeds
You’re probably used to eat the heads of broccoli, but don’t forget about those stalks, says Popeck. “The stalk contains sulforaphane, a phytochemical antioxidant that has anti-inflammatory properties, protects cells from DNA damage, inactivates carcinogens, and inhibits tumor blood vessel formation,” she says. Here’s some cooking inspiration: Peel, slice, or shred stalks, and eat raw on salads or with dip. If raw veggies aren’t your thing, you can cook them, too. Steam, roast, or sauté them, she says. Add to soup or puree them to add to sauce, pesto, hummus, or baby food.