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Root To Stem Cooking - Use It All

Here's a list of ideas to help you maximise your food.

Root To Stem Cooking - Use It All

Make the most of your food with these tricks


  1. Removing peels and seeds robs the food of nutrition
  2. Fruit peels can be used to make teas, the perfect detox drink
  3. Use your kitchen waste by using them as healthy and sumptuous meals

When our nanis and dadis were incharge of the kitchen, they 'wasted nothing', literally nothing. Every part of the plant has some nutrients, and it does take a lot of natural resources (minerals from the soil, water) for a plant to grow. Following the standard cooking procedures, we remove thick peels and seeds, chop off stems/stalk, and discard leaves, thinking that they are inedible. This is indeed a very non-earth friendly practice. We practically discard half of our buy, and end up utilizing half of our money's worth.

Sad, not only from the monetary point of view, but also the nutrients lost. Alas, so much of edible stuff ending up in trash when there are millions dying of hunger! Use-it-all cookery provides sustainable food opportunities while allowing us to add nutrition and variety in taste, flavor and texture.

In our busy lives, while we are preoccupied with careers and relationships, cooking has come to take a backseat in many an urban household. Many useful kitchen practices have got lost. Yet, the good news is that many such practices are making their way back to our kitchens as the West is embracing Root-to-stem cooking and so are our fancy restaurants. Reality cookery shows have also helped popularize this concept.

All you require is a little planning and use of some culinary creativity. For the less initiated, Google (our ultimate savior) will provide thousands of recipes, infact many use-it-all cookbooks are also being published. So I am enlisting here, a few quick ideas to maximize our food:

  • Keep the peels on; they are edible and loaded with nutrients. For example, potato skin has a lot of vitamin C, B6 (pyridoxine), minerals like potassium, manganese etc. and fibre too. With the skin on, potato wedges, fries and even 'zeera aloo' turns out crispier and tastier. Just remember to wash all your fruits and veggies thoroughly.
  • Similarly the peels of cucumber, carrot and radish are edible and are loaded with nutrients.
  • Apple skins have more quercetin (a useful flavonoid) than the apple itself. It's got a lot of fibre too. Even banana peel is edible and has a significant amount of fibre.
  • Peels of veggies like 'ghia' (bottle gourd) and ridge gourd have traditionally been used to make 'subzi'.
  • Interesting chutneys can be churned out with the peels of ridge gourd, bottle gourd, watermelon rind, apple skin, orange peel, raw banana peels, coriander stems and the stems of any other greens.
  • The woody core of cabbage and cauliflower is used to make a delicious 'dandal ki subzi'.
  • The stems of broccoli are edible too. Cut them into thin slices and throw them into sautéed veggies, chop fine and add alongside florets to make soup, shred into thin slivers and toss them into any salad. Broccoli stalks can make a great substitute for Brussels sprouts in salads.
  • All leaves are edible; beet greens and turnip greens are frequently being used now. The greens (carrot, radish, broccoli or any other) can be blanched briefly to get rid of their bitterness and used in salads, sandwiches and elsewhere.
  • The tops of carrots, radish, cucumber, the ends of beans, the woody core of cabbage etc. are all edible. The simplest way to use them is to collect them in a zip pouch and refrigerate until you have enough. Then throw them in a pan with water, garlic, salt, seasoning and simmer to make a delicious and nutritious vegetable stock.
  • The zest of citrus fruit (oranges, lemon, sweet lime etc) peels can be used in baking, cold salads or as a sweet and sour garnish for desserts.
  • Fruit peels can be used to make teas, the perfect detox drink. Apple, pomegranate and citrus peels are commonly used to make tea.

It doesn't take a lot of skill to implement most of these ideas, if you can't think of a recipe, just use the veggie peels to make a broth and the fruit peels to make detox tea. Many root-to stem recipes are available which require you to display your culinary skills too.

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So, transform your kitchen waste into sumptuous and healthy ideas and serve varied healthy meals to your family, trust me it's a very rewarding and satisfying experience. 


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