It’ll save you tons of time.
Perhaps the most tedious part of cooking any meal is peeling vegetables. It always adds about 10 minutes extra onto prep time, at least. And, when everything is said and done, we’re often left with a pile of unusable carrot and celery skins that we end up throwing away and feeling bad about. Even though our moms insisted we do it, it can’t help but feel like we don’t actually need to be peeling our veggies.
Turns out we were right to think that. Peeling vegetables, for the most part, is totally unnecessary. Here, Amy Gorin, M.S., R.D., owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition, tells SELF why you should leave on the peels—and how to make them a tasty addition to any mean.
For one, the peels are chock full of nutrients and fiber.
When peeling vegetables like carrots, cucumbers, potatoes, zucchini, and the like, Gorin says you’re missing out on a bunch of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. “We get a lot of our nutrients from the parts of produce that are the most colorful and these are often the skins of vegetables,” she explains.
Of course, that’s not to say that you’re not going to get any nutrients from something because you peeled it. You will, but you’ll get more bang for your buck if you leave that rind on. For example, one baked potato with the skin on has 7 grams of fiber, whereas a peeled, boiled potato has only about 5.4 grams of fiber. Not a huge difference, but a difference nonetheless.
Keeping the peels on usually won’t really alter the flavor of your food.
Gorin says that, so long as you give them a good wash, you can leave the peel on a number of veggies and it really won’t affect how your food tastes all that much.
There are, of course, a couple exceptions to the rule. If you’re trying to get silky smooth mashed potatoes, you might have better luck if you remove the skin first. To make a yummy pot of mashed potatoes with the skins still on, one excellent move is to first roast the potatoes instead of boiling them as you normally would—that way the skin ends up crispy and flaky. Otherwise, what you’ll want to do is opt for a variety of potato with a thin skin. So instead of russet, new or Yukon may be a better fit.
In addition to that, Gorin notes that beet skins can tend to be pretty bitter, so if you do leave them on she recommends cutting the bitterness with something sweet and acidic like a vinaigrette.
There are still some vegetables you’ll need to peel.
Gorin says you don’t actually have to peel sweet potatoes, eggplant, cucumbers, zucchini, carrots, beets, or celery. Instead, give them a good wash and get cooking. You can get away with quickly rinsing things like cucumbers and eggplant, but since vegetables like carrots, beets, and sweet potatoes often get dirt stuck in their nooks and crannies, you’ll want to scrub them with the rough side of a sponge.
Not that it’s exactly surprising, but vegetables with really thick, inedible skins like winter squash, rutabagas, and turnips or even those with chewy, fibrous outer layers like onions unfortunately do always need to be peeled, says Gorin. You can’t win ‘em all.
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