Kolkata: Indians, from times immemorial have adhered to the ideology of ‘zero waste cooking’. This concept may be new to the western world, but it is an age old practice in our country. Whether it’s using Neem flowers to make rasam or making a curry out of banana peel, we have always utilised each part of the produce to our full advantage. The result is not just a delicious dish, but one that is rich in nutrition as well.
As times went by, fruits and vegetables laden with chemicals, wax and pesticides began to enter the markets. Although this was done to keep the freshness of the produce intact, it became detrimental to people’s health and well-being. To ensure that families are eating safe, parents all over the country began to peel vegetables and fruits, so their children ate fresh and germ free produce.
This has led to a loss of valuable nutrition that was within our grasp. Many parents are trying to find alternative ways to ensure that their kids are able to eat the goodness that is easily available.
Hiral Bhulani, a mother of twin girls aged 6, says, “I come from Kutch, Gujarat where fresh produce is frugal. So, since the time we were young, I have always seen my mother utilise all parts of the vegetables and fruits to ensure we get enough and more nourishment. After moving to Bangalore, I have seen an abundance of produce, but I am constantly worried about the pesticides and germs. With the recent introduction of natural vegetable and fruit washes like Nimwash, my mind is at peace and I know I can re-create all of my mother’s recipes to ensure that my children eat healthy and nutritious food.”
With vegetable and fruit washes hitting the market, it is time we go back to our kitchen counters and save those peels and rinds. Below are some interesting dishes which can be made by upcycling your veggies, fruits and what was otherwise considered, ‘waste’:
Make yummy and healthy vegetable chips by mixing vegetable peels like potato, beetroot and carrot with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper, garlic powder. Place the peels on a baking sheet in a single layer and bake at 400 F. (204 C.) until the peels are crispy and brown. Check the peels at six minutes to see if they are done; if not, cook an additional 2-4 minutes. Potato, beetroot and carrot skins are a powerhouse of vitamin C and act as a potent antioxidant agent, they also contain B-complex vitamin and calcium which plays an integral part of a healthy defense system and enhances the immune activity.
Apple and orange peels could be used in making marmalades, jams or jelly or the peels can be added to your tea. Just boil the peels with your green tea to enhance the flavor. Apple peels are loaded with Vitamin A & C which helps our body in healing wounds faster. Compounds in apple peel have the ability to kill cancer cells and protect the body from liver, colon and breast cancer. While oranges are known to be rich in antioxidants and provide protection against cell damage, their peels are equally important. Although they may not look appetizing, it is extremely beneficial in boosting metabolism, lowering blood pressure and improving the overall appearance of the skin.
Drumstick leaves or Moringa leaves can be cleaned by a natural vegetable and fruit wash like Nimwash. Cook the leaves in water with tomatoes, onions, turmeric powder, pepper powder alongside salt and pepper. Post which, strain the water and your soup is ready! Rich in vitamins, minerals and amino acids, the leaves are known to fight inflammation and have anti-oxidant properties amongst other benefits.
While utilizing ridge gourd to make curries, save the peel to make delicious chutneys that can be eaten with almost anything. The skin of this gourd is fibrous and aids digestion.
Don’t throw away those pumpkin seeds after you have used the pumpkin in soups or sambhar. Clean the seeds and then let them dry out in the sun. Dry roast them in a pan for about 3-5 minutes and store them. Sprinkle them on salads and smoothies for that extra crunch. Pumpkin seeds are a good source of Zinc and helps in building immunity. Keeping these tips in mind, make the most of your kitchen scraps for a healthier and happier life.