Have you ever found yourself grocery shopping and come across a disfigured, scratched, bruised or oddly shaped fruit or veggie—where you’ve proceeded to brush it aside or simply left it on the counter, not good enough to eat? As it turns out, you’re not alone in sharing this reaction to ugly vegetables.
In fact, it is estimated that 20 to 30 percent of fresh fruit and vegetables in Australia are deemed as ‘waste’ before it even leaves the farm due to imperfections.
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In recent times, there has been a surge of news options in grocery stores, online food delivery companies, and even people growing their own vegetables who are embracing and encouraging people to eat ugly vegetables and that they are equally as nutritious, more economical and better for the environment.
This National Nutrition Week 2019—Nutrition Australia is championing ugly vegetables by breaking down stereotypical vegetable consumption habits, including our repulsion to ugly veggies and fruit.
With only 4% of Australians eating their recommended amount of vegetables each day—two-time Olympian, three-time Commonwealth Games athlete, philanthropist, Ubiquinol ambassador, and mum extraordinaire—Eloise Wellings is here to inspire us on how we can get the recommended 5-6 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit . Eloise shares more about ugly fruit and veg and how to get more of this fresh produce in our diet in the lead up to summer.
“I’ll often go with this option as I know I’m doing my part to reduce waste, am saving money and am still getting the same nutritional benefits as the more polished and prettier versions on display in grocery stores.” says Eloise.
Here are Eloise’s top tips for making the most of popular ugly fruit and vegetables options as well as energy boosting options to get fit and on track for summer:
- Bananas with brown spots
Bananas are sometimes left in the ‘ugly’ fruit category when they become over ripe with brown spots. However, don’t be fooled by a brown-spotted banana as spoiled and undesirable—as those brown spots indicate that the banana’s chlorophyll has broken down, resulting in increased antioxidant levels. Antioxidants are extremely beneficial to the body in preventing and delaying cell damage. Bananas are also a great source of potassium and vitamin B6, but as they ripen, they also become an easily digestible carbohydrate, which can all help to boost your body’s every levels . You can use these bananas in smoothies for an extra energy and nutrient boost before a workout, or use them in healthy snack options like banana bread instead of reaching for those biscuits.
- Sweet Potatoes that are disfigured
For many shoppers, sweet potatoes are one of the most oddly shaped vegetable varieties you can find in the grocery store and is sometimes found in the ‘disfigured’ discount section. The reason that some sweet potatoes, and others from the potato family, become oddly shaped can be due to stress while they are growing. This includes length of time they are left to grow, as well as variance in soil and different exposure to heat and watering . Despite being oddly shaped, the only thing that may affect these energy rich vegetables is culinary presentation, not their nutritional value. To mask a disfigured sweet potato, aim for recipes like a mashed sweet potato or a dish that chops the vegetable into cubes and are either seasoned and fried in a pan or roasted in the oven. Choosing these less conventionally sweet potatoes at the grocery can also save you money.
- Carrots that are misshapen
Carrots, and their close relative the parsnip, can also fall victim to the ‘ugly’ vegetable category. The reason for roots that twist around each other that often cause misshapen carrots is due to overcrowding. Deformed carrots are still tasty and can store well, despite not looking like a normal carrot. These can be included in a broth or chopped up to include in a salad or as a finger snack. They are also a great source of vitamin B6, which aids in the conversion of food into energy.
- Strawberries with split ends
Another fruit that is sometimes oddly shaped that takes notice is strawberries. This is largely in part due to poor or incomplete pollination which results in either disfigured or small strawberries. Although their shape is not quite as perfect as others with a pointed rounded tip used for chocolate covered strawberry dishes—these fruits are still edible and make for great additions to salad and desserts that involve freshly cut up strawberries. The natural sugar in strawberries can also help give you an extra lift as they are an energy-boosting fruit.
- Try adding supplementation
While fruit and veggies of all shapes and sizes are a great source of nutrients, some people find that taking a natural supplement also helps them to get the most energy and nutrients out of their diet. Options for this include Ubiquinol (the active form of CoQ10)—it is a potent antioxidant found naturally in our bodies and supports healthy energy synthesis. The key component to performing at your best each day is diet, and supplementing your diet with antioxidants like Ubiquinol may help on a cellular level to derive the most from your foods.