Custom dictates that we peel carrots, potatoes and even apples, throwing their peels away, while onion skins and coffee grounds are also added to our food waste bins.


In fact, 9.5 million tonnes of food is wasted in the UK every year with 70 per cent of that arising from household food waste, according to food waste charity WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Plan). But it seems that we’re throwing away some of the most nourishing parts of our produce. A 2022 Indian study found that waste from fruit and vegetables, including peels and seeds, have high amounts of phytochemicals, dietary fibre, polyphenols and "bioactive compounds".

Here, registered nutritionist Jenna Hope shares her tips for turning your food waste into delicious, healthy additions to your diet.

1. Make quick watermelon rind pickles

Watermelon is the summer’s most moreish fruit but there’s more to it than the pink flesh. The rind is edible, with a mild but slightly tangy flavour that is also a good source of fibre.

“To pickle the rinds, add salt, vinegar and sugar and leave in a jar until they soften,” Jenna says. “Alternatively, add the rinds to a juicer for an extra hit of nutrients.”

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Watermelon rinds

2. Boil vegetable scraps for a flavour-filled stock

Carrot peelings, onion and garlic skins, spring onion tops and celery leaves can all be added to boiling water to make a delicious, nutritious stock packed with fibre and beneficial plant compounds.

“Rather than throwing them away, add them to a pan of water with some bay leaves, garlic cloves, fresh herbs (if you have them), salt and pepper,” says Jenna. “Bring to the boil and leave to simmer over a low heat for a few hours. You can then use this in your soups, stews and curries to provide some extra flavour and nutrients.”

3. Brew pineapple peel tea

Once you’ve sliced off the rough, textured skin of a pineapple you’re left with a pile of roughage filled with the enzyme bromelain, which aids digestion and has anti-inflammatory properties.

“Add the peel to hot water with a cinnamon stick for a delicious, after dinner sweet tea. Alternatively, infuse the peel in water with ice for a refreshing summer drink,” says Jenna.

4. Add parmesan rind to soup for a flavour boost

Don’t throw away the hard end of your parmesan, it will bring a subtle umami note to your food.

“This can be a useful way to increase the flavour in the dish and therefore you won’t need to add as much salt,” Jenna says. “You can use parmesan rind in your stock or in a cheese sauce. Stock containing parmesan rind is extra delicious when used to make risottos.”

5. Serve cauliflower leaves in a salad

Cauliflower leaves aren’t just tasty, they’re a good source of fibre and calcium.

“Never throw away your cauliflower leaves. These are perfect roasted and added to salad or served as a side. They’re particularly rich in iron which, when combined with a tahini dressing, can be a great way to increase your iron intake.”

6. Drizzle roasted broccoli stalks in olive oil

Broccoli florets have overshadowed the rest of this cruciferous vegetable.

“Stalks provide a lot of flavour so add them to vegetable soups. Or chop them lengthways, drizzle them with a splash of olive oil, salt and pepper and roast them in the oven.” The stalks are high in fibre, iron, vitamin C and potassium, Jenna explains.

Bonus tip! From the seeds of a fruit... put coffee grounds in a cake

Brits quaff an estimated 35 billion cups of coffee a year, sending half a million tonnes of ground coffee waste to landfill. But instead of pouring these down the sink, use the grounds – which contain antioxidants, caffeine, calcium, magnesium and zinc – in your baking.

“Coffee grounds can be added to cake or energy ball recipes,” says Jenna. The flavour pairs well with cocoa, so add to chocolate cake for a rich, earthy note.


Read more about reducing food waste, the best kitchen hacks and putting the freezer to good use.

Coffee grounds

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