Did you know that a major contributor to the production of greenhouse gases is food waste? When not properly disposed of, rotting food produces large quantities of methane, a gas roughly 28 times as potent as carbon dioxide. In fact, if food waste was a country, it’d rank third globally (behind the US and China) for greatest greenhouse gas emissions.
Like much of the news around global warming, this may seem daunting. But one of the most empowering ways we can take action is by making small, accessible changes from home. And TV chef, nutrition coach, author and entrepreneur Mareya Ibrahim poses a surprisingly simple solution: Save the peels.
Save the Peels is an initiative — Ibrahim’s team calls it the “Sustainapeelity Movement” — encouraging action to reduce food waste. The idea is that we can reduce food waste right at home, starting with fruit and vegetable skins.
Ibrahim is the founder behind eatCleaner, a brand of all-natural produce wash. Her product line ensures that fruit and vegetable peels, once cleaned, are safe to eat. Through eatCleaner, this 25-year food industry veteran created a free handbook, sharing her innovative culinary and household uses for peels.
“I love texture in my cooking and enjoy experimenting with different techniques,” said Ibrahim. “On a whim, I tried adding a browning banana, peel and all, to my smoothie. I was surprised to find how smooth and frothy it became! And there was no trace of grittiness. I thought, I’m onto something! Plus there’s over 30% more nutrients in the peel than in the fruit alone, so, double bonus.”
How Mareya saves her peels:
- Bananas: Blend peels well into smoothies and ice cream, or add into baked goods (banana bread, banana muffins or banana custard) for texture.
- Citrus: Dehydrate peels or let air dry, then add into natural sea salt for a scented soak.
- Papaya & pineapple: Use peels in marinades for meats, as their enzymes help break down proteins and make meats tender.
- Watermelon: Pickle the rind in white vinegar and spices for a delicious sustainable snack.
These are just some of the ways Ibrahim breathes new life into produce parts that would otherwise be discarded. Her guide includes numerous other uses, including suggestions for proper disposal. When disposing food matter, she echoes what we always say at Clean Eating: Make sure to compost! Either deposit waste into a compost bin or pile or add scraps to garden beds and planters. The guide also includes eight delicious recipes for sweet treats featuring bananas (with peels on, of course).
“Over 1 billion pounds of banana peels alone end up in landfills every year,” Ibrahim said to CE. “When any organic matter starts to break down, it creates methane gas, which contributes to greenhouse emissions. We can do our part to prevent that waste from ever getting into a landfill.”
Check out our favorite recipe from the handbook:
Protein Chocolate Chip Walnut Banana Bread
Peels make this banana bread extra moist and jam-packed with essential nutrients! Just wash them really thoroughly (try eatCleaner produce wash) and throw them into the blender.
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- In a high-powered blender (such as a Vitamix), pulse bananas and peels, eggs, ghee, milk and vanilla until smooth.
- In a large bowl, mix the blend with all remaining ingredients until combined. Line a 9- x 5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper. Pour mixture in evenly and sprinkle additional chocolate chips on top as garnish.
- Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the loaf comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.