As an avid home cook, you probably know that cooking from scratch can produce a lot of waste. But what if it didn’t need to be that way? Many of the veggies you already eat boast edible, tasty tops that totally have a place on your plate. To get the most out of your produce, check out these edible vegetable tops (plus creative ways to use them).
Beet greens—a.k.a. the pink stems and green leaves on top of beetroot—are deliciously edible. They also contain potassium and magnesium, which are crucial for keeping your muscles and nerves in top shape, according to Trista Best, R.D., registered dietitian at Balance One Supplements. Eat them just like any other leafy green: mixed in salads, blended in smoothies, or sautéed with garlic for a simple side dish.
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The next time you cook fresh carrots, hold on to those tops. According to Bansari Acharya, R.D.N., a registered dietitian nutritionist at Food Love, “they are completely edible and loaded with vitamins.” Case in point: The Journal of Human Ecology shares that carrot greens have beta-carotene, an antioxidant that turns to vitamin A in the body. Eat raw carrot tops in a salad or sandwich, or toss them in your favorite stir-fry.
If you’re a fan of arugula, you’ll love the peppery flavor of radish leaves. What’s more, they offer vitamin C, protein, and calcium, according to 2019 research in the journal Nutrients. Most folks use radish tops to make pesto, but you can also cook them like other greens (which tames their sharp taste).
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Like radish leaves, turnip tops have a peppery bite, but they become milder once cooked. And according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the leafy tops are rich in vitamin A—a nutrient essential for healthy eyes and immunity. Add them to stews, soups, or even casseroles, suggests Acharya.
Save those celery leaves, you guys. According to Best, celery tops have a stronger taste than celery itself, so you may be missing out on a ton a flavor. A 2017 article also shares that celery leaves have antioxidants, which are key for fighting oxidative stress. Toss them in a green smoothie or use them as an herb—they kind of look like parsley, after all. You can also add celery leaves to chili, stew, or even pasta, says Best.
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