Tasty Dishes with Extra Health A-Peel
Spare sore hands from the pain of peeling and boost the nutrient value of your fruits and vegetables by leaving edible skins on.
Many peels are rich sources of nutrients and antioxidants, says Heidi Turner, a registered dietitian and medical nutrition therapist at the Seattle Arthritis Clinic. Good choices for arthritis are fruits and vegetables with high-fiber peels, like carrots and sweet potatoes, and those with red- and purple-pigmented peels, such as red apples and eggplants, which have high concentrations of antioxidants and phytonutrients, including anthocyanin.
“Phytonutrients and antioxidants help to support healthy immune response, and fiber feeds beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract,” she says.
Simply scrub off dirt and pesticide residue with water and a brush, and try these tasty ways to enjoy produce – skins and all – courtesy of registered dietitians and sisters Lyssie Lakatos and Tammy Lakatos Shames, also known as The Nutrition Twins.
Add a touch of water or melted margarine to the peels and sprinkle with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. Bake at 250 F for about an hour or until light and crispy.
Benefits: Apple skin contains potent polyphenols that help reduce inflammation. Some research shows red apples are more beneficial than others because they contain more polyphenols.
Save the skins from recipes calling for peeled tomatoes, and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 200 F until they are completely dry (2 to 3 hours). After they’ve cooled, use a blender or food processor to grind them into a fine powder, and use as a flavor enhancer for soup, yogurt and other foods.
Benefits: Tomato skins are packed with lycopene, which is a potent antioxidant.
Give ordinary water a refreshing twist by adding slices of whole cucumber to your water pitcher or infuser bottle, and chill.
Benefits: Cucumbers have vitamin C, an antioxidant that protects against cell damage and maintains connective tissue health, as well as vitamin K, which helps strengthen bones.
Boil 3 medium zucchinis about 10 minutes, then slice lengthwise and scoop flesh into a bowl, leaving ¼-inch-thick “boats.” In a separate bowl combine 6 ounces tomato paste, 1 teaspoon each of garlic and onion powders, 1 teaspoon dried cilantro and 1/8 cup chopped basil. Mix zucchini pulp with ¼ cup diced tomatoes, 1/8 cup chopped green onions, ½ diced jalapeno (seeds removed), 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper, ½ cup Italian bread crumbs, and salt and pepper to taste. Coat zucchini boats with tomato paste blend, fill with vegetable mixture and sprinkle with mozzarella. Bake at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes.
Benefits: Zucchini skin is rich in vitamins C and K, both antioxidants.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with oil spray. Cut eggplants in half lengthwise and scoop out flesh, leaving ½-inch-thick shells. Roughly chop the scooped-out flesh. Roast shells, cut-side down, until softened (25 to 30 minutes). Lower oven temperature to 375 degrees. In a saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat, add 2 Anaheim chiles or 1 jalapeno (seeded and finely chopped) and 1 shallot (finely chopped). Cook 3 to 4 minutes. Add 4 crushed, minced garlic cloves, ½ teaspoon each of crushed red pepper and turmeric, 3 teaspoons paprika and cook 2 minutes. Reduce to medium heat. Add eggplant, 3 ½ cups chopped tomatoes, 1 tablespoon tomato paste, 1 teaspoon each honey and red wine vinegar. Cook 12 to 15 minutes. Pour into a bowl and stir in ¼ cup low-fat feta and salt to taste. Scoop into eggplant shells, make a cavity in the fillings and crack an egg into each. Spread the egg white to cover some of the filling, leaving yolk intact. Sprinkle with crumbled feta. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes. Serves 4.
Benefits: Eggplant skin is packed with antioxidants, like the flavonoid anthocyanin.