From the roots to the stems, seeds and flowers – most plants (and even animals) have many edible parts that we often overlook. For example, fish skin is one of my favorite parts of the fish. Black cod has edible skins and when you lay the fillet on the hot grill the skin will crisp-up deliciously. The crunchy, saltiness is a great contrast to the moist, flaky, mild meat. Now that the weather is warming, it’s a great time to clean your grill, stock-up on hardwood charcoal and experiment with how you like to enjoy your fish!
Why it Matters
Nature has provided us food that when eaten in its natural, intact state is pretty close to perfection. However, we have gotten into the habit of dissecting our food, for example removing the yolk and eating only the whites, or peeling our fruits and vegetables and discarding the peels. Utilizing the whole plant also prevents waste. If we add up all the food we waste we could likely feed the entire planet many times over – so learning how to appreciate, cook and eat with the whole plant brings us closer to harmony with nature as well.
The edible parts of the plant include the root, stem, leaves, flower, and seed. Each have distinct nutrition value independent of each other and combine with other parts to form a synergistic whole. Many parts of the plant that are often thrown away are actually the most nutrient dense part of the plant – such as the tops of beets, carrots, and turnips as well as the stems and flowers of broccoli. When we consume the whole plant, we are also taking in much more variety – and we know that the microbiome loves dietary diversity to thrive best.
Try some of the following tips to encourage whole plant utilization:
- Snip the tops of beets, carrots, turnips, and radishes and store separately, as they can pull moisture from the vegetable.
- Use tops to make pesto, or add them to salads, soups and stir fries.
- Snip the flowers off herbs and vegetables and sauté or use them as a garnish. They add a delicious sweetness to the dish – and look beautiful.
- Don’t throw out the broccoli stems – they are super rich in fiber and calcium. Peel, chop and add them to stir fries, or barbecue them on skewers. Due to their higher fiber content they take a little longer to cook than their sister parts – the florets 😊.
- Seeds are one of the most perfect little foods. They are rich in fiber, healthy fats and protein. Enjoy watermelon, pumpkin, pomegranate, chia, flax, sesame, sunflower, to name a few.