The Surprising Foods You Can (and Should) Eat the Skins From
It's time to think again before peeling skin off a kiwi or tossing out a banana peel. Eating the skin of fruits and vegetables is becoming a trendy way to reduce food waste, and some hold some great nutrients too. "You certainly CAN eat the skin or rind of many foods, but if it doesn't taste good to you, there are countless other food sources of the nutrients and countertop composting containers are even an option," says Kelly Jones, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN.
While we're used to cooking and using skins from foods like citrus fruits — such as lemons, limes, and oranges — there are many other varieties of produce that have delicious skins too. For example, kiwi skin is a source of fiber, vitamin E, and folate. "While some people may not mind eating it with the fresh kiwi itself, blending it into a smoothie makes the most sense," says Jones. You can easily chop the kiwi and keep the skin on, but also don't be afraid to take a bite into it like you would an apple.
And while edible, watermelon rinds are extremely fibrous. "I've tried pickled watermelon rind and was pleasantly surprised! The Watermelon Board also recommends using it in a stir fry," she says. Plus Jones says the rind is rich with citrulline, an amino acid which some studies have linked linked to improved blood pressure and exercise performance.
Even banana peel skins are edible, Jones says, with people boiling them in water to make banana peel tea or adding pieces to smoothies. They contain a lot of fiber though, so take it slow if you choose to incorporate banana peels into your diet.
Another food that regularly gets peeled, but shouldn't, is different varieties of potatoes. "Potato skins are a good source of selenium and iron while also providing some fiber and Vitamin C. While you'll still get those nutrients from potato flesh, the amounts are slightly greater when you eat the whole thing," she says. Whether you're baking, roasting, mashing, or slicing your potatoes, try them with the skin on next time.
Read below to see some of our best skin-on recipes that are packed with delicious flavor and nutrients:
Strawberry, Kiwi and Spinach Salad
This recipe slices the kiwis so that the brown, fiber-packed skin still stays on. This salad has sweet and tart flavors from the fruits, plus tons of nutrients from the greens. To add in healthy fats and protein, top with cheese and nuts.
Chewy Watermelon Rind Candy
These look so much like store-bought candy that you could probably trick your kids. They are made with watermelon rind, sugar, mint, and sweet basil. And if you like, you can also roll the dehydrated pieces in coarse sugar for an extra sweet coating.
Chef John's Lighter Lemon Curd
This recipe uses lemon zest to create a delicious curd that can be used for pies, desserts, and more.
A simple side dish that is great for meal prepping, these roasted vegetables pair beautifully with all types of proteins. Plus the squash and potato skins are left on, so there's no waste. Just remember to not peel off the sweet potato's skin like the recipe suggests.
Smashed Cucumber Salad
Cucumber skins are often peeled off, but they contain lots of nutrients and fiber, so it's a better idea to slice or chop the vegetable and leave them on. This recipe is an easy Asian dish to have as a side salad. Top with sesame seeds and pepper for some crunch and spice.
Spicy Orange Zest Beef
Recreate your favorite Chinese takeout at home with this recipe that features orange peel. It's a quick and easy meal that won't leave you feeling bogged down.
Baked Sweet Potato Skins
This is a sweet potato version of the classic game day appetizer of potato skins. Chorizo is put on top for a hearty texture and kick of spicy flavor.
San Diego Grilled Chicken
This recipe uses a ton of citrus peels, from lime, lemon, and orange, to create an abundance of flavors to complement the grilled chicken. It's basically a Southern California version of sweet and sour chicken that gets finished on the grill.
Watermelon Rind Preserves
You can make a great jam out of watermelon rind, for when you're tired of everyday orange marmalade or grape jelly.
No-Fry Spicy Potato Skins
Here's a great healthier version of potato skins you can pick up and nibble on. They are lower in fat because they are baked and not fried. Serve with a side of your favorite dipping sauce like ketchup, aioli, or ranch.