Compleating 101

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Chop it, peel it, bin it? Habit?

It’s far too easy to bin all the odds and ends you’ve always chopped off during meal prep, but a lot of the parts we throw away can be eaten – and can often be the best bits in terms of flavour and nutrients. Here are some simple ideas to inspire your culinary cogs.

Orange and lemon peel

Candied peel will keep for 6-8 weeks in an airtight container. This recipe from BBC Good Food shows you how to make it. Use it in fruitcakes, muffins or other sweet treats.

Pumpkin seeds

Roasted pumpkin seeds are both nutritious and delicious, as well as fiendishly easy to make. Simply toss seeds in a bowl with melted butter and salt, spread them out on a baking tray and bake for 45 mins at 150°C/gas mark 2. Scrummy snack sorted.

Cauliflower leaves

Eat more of your greens by giving these outer leaves a thorough wash, then popping them in a bowl with oil and spices. Lay them in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast in the oven until crispy – bish, bash, cauli leaf nosh!

Carrot leaves

Don’t let your bunny get the best bits! Carrot top greens are not only edible, but tasty and loaded with nutrients. Whizz them up into a quick carrot top pesto with olive oil, garlic and parmesan and drizzle over your roasted carrots.

Cabbage hearts

With many health benefits, cabbage hearts have lots of uses – not just the leaves. Simply shred them into salads, soups or stews.

Herb stalks

It’s not just the leafy parts of your parsley, coriander, basil and mint that are there for the eating, the tasty stalks are just as good. Chop them into dips and sauces, blitz them into pesto or sprinkle onto savoury dishes. True stems with benefits!

Sprout tops

It’s not just the brussels sprouts that you can eat when you get a whole sprout ‘tree’ – you can eat the round leaves at the top too. This crown of vitamin goodness is so tasty that some retailers now sell them as a product in their own right – try them in stir fries, soups and stews.

Leeks and spring onion greens

Stop chopping when you get to the end of the white bit? Well don’t – the green ends of leeks and spring onions are full of nutrients and packed with flavour. Use them in the same way as you would the rest of stalk, and make sure you wash thoroughly.

Don’t just eat it. Compleat it.