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Don't throw that out!

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Don't throw that out!

Wait! Don't throw those vegetable greens, peels and stems out just yet. They're some of the most nutritious—and believe it or not, the tastiest—parts of the fruits and vegetables in the Fast Metabolism Diet.

Save those stems and leaves


Take Swiss chard. The fresh leaves make a great addition to any salad or soup, but the stems are also fantastically high in the amino acid glutamine. They make a great side dish in their own right when lightly steamed or sautéed.

Greens from root crops are good for you too -- so hang onto those beet and turnip greens and add them to your salads, or mince the beet stems and toss them into your favorite soups and stews. (Heads up: they'll turn the stew a dark red.) And the feathery greens from celery stalks? Those go into the soup too, or you can eat them fresh in salad.

 A veggie mash-up


If you have a mishmash of veggie scraps—a little bit of this, a little bit of that—making your own vegetable stock from scratch is one of the best ways to use those scraps up and enjoy their high fiber, vitamin and mineral content.

Start with onions, carrots and celery, then add any other vegetable scraps you have on hand. (No need to peel the carrots before you chop them up; just give them a good scrub, because those peels are extra-rich in beta carotene.) Simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, strain any remaining solids out, then use or freeze the resulting stock.

Just about anything can go into the pot except for cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts -- they're best blanched and frozen if you have extra. When you go to town on that broccoli, hang onto the stems! They're very rich in vitamin C and taste great when sliced into rounds and steamed, or cut thin as part of a stir-fry.

Fruit scraps are delicious too—and they can contain up to half the fruit's fiber content. Save your apple peels to be simmered and added into your morning oatmeal, or save yourself some time and eat the whole thing, peel and all. Next time you get your hands on a kumquat or kiwi, give it a good scrub and do the same—you can even eat the peel!

Hide those fruits and veggies


Although fruit and veggies peels and stems are usually tasty in their own right, you can smuggle them into many other dishes too. This is a great way to use up those scraps, get the most nutrition possible out of your food purchases, and pull a fast one on kids who might not be into the whole fruit and vegetable thing just yet. Here are some sneaky ideas to get you started:

    • Blend some of those simmered apple peels into your smoothies

    • Scrape as much pulp as you can away from the watermelon rinds—that's a great addition to smoothies too

    • Shred zucchini and carrot peels, then bake them into meatloaf and hamburger (use buffalo, chicken or turkey while on the Fast Metabolism Diet)

    • Grate orange peel (the outer orange zest, not the white part) and sneak it into meat dishes too, or add it to oatmeal or rice for a fresh zing of citrus. You can also do the same with lemon peel, but start sparingly since a little lemon goes a long way.


If you end up with extra citrus peels sitting around, you can always dry them for potpourri or simmer them—and just about any fruit scraps—on the back of the stove for an aromatherapy pick-me-up.

And simmered lemon peels make a wonderful detoxifying tea, too.

A word about buying organic


If you're going to be eating the outsides of fruits and vegetables, it's worth putting a little thought into how they've been handled. That means buying organic whenever possible.

If you're buying non-organic produce in the store, though, take a look at the Environmental Working Group's "Dirty Dozen" and "Clean Fifteen" lists—the fruits and vegetables most- and least-likely to be contaminated with pesticide residue. If your favorite foods turn up on the dirty dozen list and you can't buy organic, that may be the only case in which discarding the peel is a good idea.