Making the most of your veggies, herbs, and fruit

What do you do with the unused parts of vegetables that aren’t listed in your recipe? While composting is an excellent option, why not eat every bit that can be eaten? Getting more out of your produce saves money, fills bellies, and adds nutrients to your meals.


All the parts of the veggies listed below can be eaten – leaf, stem, flower, root, and all!

  • Kale
  • Swiss Chard
  • Collards
  • Beets
  • Radishes
  • Celery
  • Radishes
  • Turnips
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Carrots
  • Onions and leeks         

Here’s how to use ALL the parts of the veggies listed above:

-Sauté with onions, garlic, and mushrooms and add to eggs, sandwiches, casseroles, etc. (stems will need to be cooked a little longer, until soft)

-Toss with oil and herbs and roast with your other veggies

-Kale, chard, and celery leaves are great for juicing and smoothies

-Lightly steam and serve as a side dish with some oil, salt, and lemon juice

Pickle the stems as you would any other veggie to add to salads and sandwiches

-Turn carrot tops into pesto or chimichurri sauce

-Spiralize your broccoli stems, just as you make zucchini noodles

-Add the greens from spring onions and leeks to soups or to stir fries


Herbal Teas and Flavored Water

  • Boil herbs (leaves, stems, and all) in water and let steep for tea
  • Fennel fronds and corn silks can be boiled for nutrient- and flavor-rich teas
  • Add cucumber, fennel fronds, mint, and any of your favorite veggies and herbs to water and chill in the fridge for a delicious beverage

Soft vs. tough stem herb uses

  • Soft herb stems like cilantro, parsley, and basil can be diced and added to whatever you’re already cooking with their leaves. Add the leaves toward the end so they keep their bright green color and don’t wilt!
  • Oregano, rosemary, and thyme have tougher stems, so use the leaves for your meal and save the stems for a broth bag (see instructions on back of page)



  • Citrus rinds can be candied as easily as boiling a few times and adding sugar (see recipes for specific instructions based on which citrus you use)
  • Use the zest from citrus in baked goods, salads, or cocktails
  • Both citrus rinds and zest can be used to make infused cooking oils
  • Make your own lemon pepper or lemon extract using zest
  • Peels are great for DIY cleaning products

Watermelon rind

  • Try pickling watermelon rinds for a tasty Southern treat
  • Make a watermelon rind stir fry using sauces traditional to Asian cuisine

Quick and easy snacks

  • Toss potato skins or kale leaves with oil and salt and bake to create homemade chips
  • Sprinkle apple peels with cinnamon and bake into chips for a tasty snack
  • Pumpkin (and other winter squash) seeds can be baked with your favorite seasonings. Try garlic powder, cumin, or chili powder and a squeeze of lime!

Make your own veggie stock

After prepping your meals, you may end up with ends of carrots, tough stems of herbs, onion and garlic skins, and other less edible parts of the veggie or herb. Add all of the leftover bits to a freezer bag or sealed storage container and keep it in the freezer. Once the bag is full, boil the veggies and herb stems for a few hours and then strain the solid items from the liquid. Homemade veggie stock is a great way to use every part of your produce while providing you with a free, nutritious broth to use in your other recipes! Here’s another great veggie stock recipe if you’re looking for a more detailed recipe.