Don’t just squeeze lemon over fish and toss out the rind. According to Lauren Popeck RD, LD/N of Orlando Health Physician Group, there’s some great use for lemon rind when it comes to garnishing dishes and kicking up the flavor. What’s more, there are some great nutritional benefits hiding in the zest, as well. “You can expect three grams of fiber in two tablespoons of zest, five times more vitamin C in the peel than flesh, and other essential vitamins and minerals, including riboflavin, thiamin, niacin, folate, vitamin B6, vitamin B5, vitamin A, calcium, iron, potassium, zinc, and magnesium,” says Popeck. Her favorite uses for zest: blend into vinaigrette or marinade, toss a piece of peel into smoothies, grate and sprinkle on green beans, blend into yogurt or cottage cheese, stir into oatmeal, cereal, or muffin batter, or add to coffee or tea. Don’t stop with lemons: Use oranges, limes, and even grapefruit for some acidity and flavor with no added calories. Find out more surprising food parts you never knew you could eat.
Most of us eat the banana without giving the soft, mushy peel a second thought. Here’s why that’s a mistake: “Bananas contain tryptophan, which boosts serotonin ‘the happiness hormone’ to help with mood regulation and nerve impulses,” says Popeck. A few creative ways to use the peel: First off, go ripe. “Riper peels are softer, thinner, and tastier,” says Popeck. Cook or boil for at least 10 minutes to soften. You can add to smoothies, stir-fries, or soups. Or, you can puree and add to muffin or cake batter. And, for a treat, simply slice and bake a banana with the skin on, she suggests.