Keep it peel

Posted Online: March 18, 2013, 9:47 am
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By Bev Bennett
Having someone peel you a grape may seem like the ultimate in pampering.
But if maintaining your health also is desirable, you might want to leave fruits and vegetables intact.
"You're doing an injustice to remove the peel," said Kristi Michele Crowe, Ph.D., assistant professor of nutrition at the University of Alabama and Institute of Food Technologists media spokesperson.
The peel is higher in dietary fiber and often contains beneficial phytonutrients (plant nutrients beyond vitamins and minerals) not found in the flesh, according to health experts.
Fruit and vegetable colors, often most vivid in the skins, such as red grape or apple skins, often are a clue to phytonutrients (though minimal-color produce, such as onions, also can be high in phytonutrients).
For example, apple peels have been shown to have greater antioxidant activity than the apple flesh, according to research from Cornell University, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
The challenge may be to convince peel-adverse children or adults to try whole fruits or vegetables.
"The texture issue is a concern for children," said Elizabeth Pivonka, Ph.D., registered dietitian, president and CEO of Produce for Better Health Foundation, Hockessin, Del.
Making peels palatable may be a simple matter of finely chopping or blending.
For instance, Pivonka suggests pulverizing fruit with skin on in a smoothie.
She recommends adding orange or lemon zest to muffin batter. Use a grater or zester to remove the colored outer peel.
The skin also is less noticeable when you slice fruits or vegetables thinner.
"If you cut the fruit into smaller pieces so there's [a greater ratio of] pulp to peel, you're getting more flavor from the pulp, which people like," Crowe said.
In addition, you can prepare recipes that take advantage of unpeeled fruits or vegetables, such astwice-baked potatoes served in the skins;whole cherry tomatoes stuffed with guacamole or yogurt dip;unpeeled carrots and bell pepper strips with yogurt dip, or apple slices with peanut butter.
Try adding unpeeled eggplant to a pasta dish.
"You don't notice that the peel is on if you're serving eggplant with spaghetti sauce," Pivonka said.
Top pizza with thinly sliced, skin-on tomatoes and bell peppers.
"In the long run, especially with children, you'll acclimate taste buds to skins," Crowe said.
If you're concerned about bacteria on unpeeled fruits and vegetables you're serving your family, washing produce before eating can be very effective, Crowe said. To start, wash your hands, cutting board, knife and other utensils with hot soapy water. Do not, however, wash produce with soaps or detergents. Use clean cold water to wash produce. Scrub thick-skin produce, such as potatoes, with a vegetable brush.
Wipe produce dry with a clean paper towel, which may remove more bacteria.
As a reminder from Crowe, if you choose to serve peeled produce you still should wash before peeling so any bacteria on the skin doesn't contaminate the flesh of fruits and vegetables.


Local events heading

  Today is Friday, Sept. 19, the 262nd day of 2014. There are 103 days left in the year.
1864 -- 150 years ago: Charles M. Osborn of this city, a lawyer of prominence, who voted for Lincoln in 1860 is now out strong for McClellan and will take the stump for him.
1889 -- 125 years ago: The George Fleming company had begun its dried fruit packing in a branch plant on 16th Street, Rock Island, employing nearly a hundred workers.
1914 -- 100 years ago: The cornerstone of the new Eagles home was laid. Building committee members were John Kobeman, Fred Ehmke and Frank Wich.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Former Kaiser Wilhelm, in exile, is sad as the Nazis march with communists.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Ninety-two members of the acappella choir at Davenport's West High School today accepted an invitation to perform at the New York World's Fair on June 13, 1965.
1989 -- 25 years ago: A Rock Island woman is one of 50 winners of $10,000 in cash in the Illinois State Lottery's "Celebration "89" instant ticket game. Dawn Loeffler was the third winner to be chosen through daily drawings that began Aug. 28 and will run 50 consecutive days.

(More History)