Grab a kiwi and put down that vegetable peeler! This delicious fruit of New Zealand origin has sweet-tart green flesh with edible seeds hiding under an intimidating, fuzzy brown coat. People armed with vegetable peelers strip most kiwis, as many believe the skin is inedible. In fact, the skin is completely edible and quite nutritious. Leave the skin on and enjoy the benefits of triple the fiber and higher amounts of vitamin C than a naked kiwi.
The kiwi is not alone in its mission to be consumed with its peel intact. There are plenty of choices – just be sure you select organic produce whenever possible. Here are our choices for fruits and vegetables with edible peels:
- The purple skin of eggplant contains abundant amounts of phytonutrients called anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are powerful antioxidants that neutralize free radicals looking to do damage in the body. Due to its toughness, it is best to cut the eggplant into small pieces or thinly slices before cooking. Try this recipe for Farm Share Ratatouille from Maria Adams, MS, MPH, RDN, one of our meal plan contributors.
- Reach for your vegetable brush instead of your peeler. Aesthetically, a peeled carrot might be more appealing, but there is no reason to remove the skin of most well-washed root vegetables. We don’t buy claims that “all the nutrition is in the peel” – this is simply not true. The fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins permeate the flesh. If the slight bitterness of the peel is off-putting to you, reserve unpeeled carrots for cooked dishes like soups and stews or roast the carrots. Cooking tempers the bitterness and brings out the sweetness of this vitamin A superhero. Try Roasted Carrots with Tahini Dressing as a delicious side dish.
- If purchasing your cucumbers from a grocery store instead of a farm market, give them a thorough washing with fruit and vegetable soap. A wax coating is often applied to preserve freshness in grocery stores. The deep green skin contains beta-carotene, vitamin K, and fiber, as well as silica, a compound that helps build collagen that is important for hair, skin, and bone health. English cucumbers have thinner skins and will be less bitter. We love using skin-on English cucumbers in our Favorite Gazpacho .
- The zest of citrus fruits is very aromatic and imparts a citrus flavor without the sourness of the flesh. Add lemon zest to soups or orange zest to dressings as we do here with this meal plan favorite – Roasted Asparagus Quinoa Salad .
- Citrulline is an amino acid found in large amounts in the white part of the rind that may help promote blood flow and improve circulation. So eat through the sweet, juicy flesh right down to the tough outer skin or try this simple pickled watermelon rind recipe from Bon Appétit that includes ginger – perfect combination: Pickled Watermelon Rind .