Four out of five people in my house eat strawberries daily. So imagine my shock and awe when I read that the leaves I spend so much time carefully cutting off are not only edible—they’re good for you?!
It got me thinking of what else I may be unknowingly tossing that could be beneficial, either for my health, my beauty regimen, or even our arsenal of kid-friendly fun (the “arsenal” being a large kitchen cupboard whose craft and crayon contents spill all over the floor every time we try to open it). Turns out, I could be doing a lot more—and tossing a lot less.
The biggest “duh” in my strawberry sitch is that I use them most to make smoothies anyway, so tossing them in, leaves and all, makes no discernable difference in taste and texture. What I will get is added vitamin C, iron, and calcium, plus digestive benefits. Another fun way to use those tops is as a fancy drink garnish. Just cut the top portion of the strawberry, make a sideways snip, and press into the rim of your homemade frozé or strawberry lemonade glass.
Chip off the old block
As a proud Italian and Parmesan cheese lover, I’ve known for years that the rind is considered a delicacy. But I’m lazy in the kitchen, so I used that information to assure myself that if I accidentally ate some, nothing terrible would happen. What I should be doing—and will one day soon, I promise—is use the rind with a mixture of herbs, onion, garlic, water, and white wine to cook a savory Parmesan brodo (broth), which in turn makes a fantastic base for soups, simmered vegetables, risotto, and more.
I have never been able to figure out how to properly use “zest” in a recipe, even with the special tool. But if you are more culinary skilled than I, using orange, lemon, and grapefruit skins in such a way is already a no-brainer. What you might NOT know is you can seal a citrus peel with brown sugar to prevent it from getting hard and clumpy. And bring lemon peels to a boil with water to remove mineral deposits from a tea kettle. My favorite new find is filling fruit peels with sea salt and herbs to make instant (and very pretty) natural air fresheners.
Beyond the many, many other cleaning uses, fruit peels are a great addition to your beauty routine: try potato peels over puffy eyes, or use the fleshy part of avocado or banana skins as an exfoliant-moisturizer.
Garden of eatin’
Because I’m a sucker for “cute and unnecessary sh**,” says my husband, I recently spent $20 on a lovely purple Mason garden-in-a-jar project to enjoy with my daughter. Our sprouts got moldy, I tried to kill the mold with too-much apple cider vinegar…yada yada yada…now we have this empty purple Mason jar. What I should have done, and will do now (for free) is try one of the seven million growing projects you can find online using food scraps like pineapple crowns, avocado pits, celery, scallions, and bok choy.
Change of art
Save those melon and pumpkin seeds for food-borne crafts. Try simple seed mosaics or DIY seed “pins” that will stand out on your jacket or purse. Show kids there’s more to “food coloring” than those little tubes in the pantry: use onion skins, coffee grounds, tea bags, and celery leaves for a rainbow assortment of fabric dyeing projects.