Keep Those Skins!

We were recently teaching a cooking class that involved making a stew with carrots included in the recipe. We shared the instructions with the class and then, almost immediately, everyone broke out the peelers out of habit.  As a society, we’re programmed to peel, but it’s quite frequently unnecessary!

Not only will putting down the peeler save you time and effort, but the skin is also frequently the healthiest part of your vegetables.  Of course some vegetables, such as butternut squash or the bottom of asparagus spears, don’t have a skin that’s textually palatable.  But if you’re a person that’s comfortable with the texture differences, several vegetables are equally or even more delicious with the skin on!  Think carrots, potatoes, cucumber, or even eggplant if you’re cutting it up small – all equally delicious with the skin on no matter how you decide to cook them in your home.

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Why should you keep the skin on your vegetables?

To get right to the point, most of the nutritional content of vegetables tends to concentrate towards the skin.  While we hear a lot about pesticides and herbicides, the truth is that, once you clean your vegetables, the nutritional benefit that you’ll receive from the skin far outweighs any fears you should have related to your veggies.

(If you want to be extra careful and budget allows, purchasing organic vegetables should rid you of that fear. Otherwise, we recommend checking out the Environmental Working Group’s website to learn what produce are known to have the least and most pesticide contamination to understand where you may want to consider paying a little extra attention.)

The skin of produce contains antioxidants, fiber, vitamin C & E, and phytonutrients, all which fight against free radicals and have great health-promoting properties.  From there, each vegetable contains whatever nutritional benefits they typically have, but with a higher concentration towards the skin.

For example, the skin of potatoes includes more iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, vitamin B6 and vitamin C ounce-for-ounce than the rest of the potato.  So mash your potatoes and include the skin or consider simply roasting them and leaving on the skin so that your family is able to enjoy all of the nutritional benefits available.

We even love to save and freeze onion skins to make a broth once we’ve accumulated enough.  There’s tremendous nutrition in their skins and it brings out the most delicious light onion flavoring our soups and other broth-based dishes.

When in doubt, there’s almost always a way to use the skin of your produce to ramp up the nutritional value of your home cooked meals. Your budget and the health of your family will all benefit from keeping using those skins!

There you have it!

Leaving the skin on your vegetables simplifies your cooking process and is more nutritious for those enjoying the meal. You can even save some of the skins for later to bring delicious flavor into even more dishes.  Simply enough, just remember that whenever possible… you should KEEP THOSE SKINS!