Tangy Beans on Toast

Why is adding zest to meals awesome for our gut?

Zest can be a wonderful way to spice up your meals! Commonly used in French cuisine, zest refers to shavings of the peel of a citrus fruit. It is traditionally used to add a tart flavor to food or drinks, and it is prepared by scraping or cutting the outside of lemon, orange, grapefruit, lime, or other fruits. The outer peel (where the zest comes from) is where the oils of the fruit are concentrated; these oils are also what give the fruits their signature citrus fragrance!

Citrus zest contains many beneficial ingredients like fiber, antioxidants, vitamin C, and D-limonene. D-limonene (the compound that gives off that signature citrus aroma) is responsible for the majority of the health benefits. The zest can also support oral health and protect against bacteria-induced cavities and oral diseases. It has different antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties. The compounds contained in zest may also help treat digestive and gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea and heartburn.

Citrus fruits– and therefore the zest of citrus fruits– contain plenty of essential micronutrients that our bodies and guts need to thrive. In fact, 14% of the recommended daily value of vitamin C can be provided by a tablespoon of orange peel– 3 times more than the amount of vitamin C that the interior of the orange provides. Also, the same serving size of orange peel can offer about 4 times more fiber than the interior of the orange. With a lemon peel, 9% of the daily value of fiber and vitamin C is provided in 1 tablespoon. In both cases, there is an abundance of vitamin C and fiber that can be added to your diet through zest. Vitamin C and fiber are great additions to diets by benefiting digestive health. They can help your bowel movements and prevent constipation.

Ways to eat it

Using the peel, or zest, of citrus fruit is an easy way to add an intense, concentrated citrus flavor.

Add it to homemade salad dressing, pancakes, dairy free frosting, smoothies, or to baked goods!

Chop dehydrated peels and add to salt, pepper, and other spices for a homemade seasoning blend.

Zest can add a beautiful pop of color mixed into or on top of dishes.

Recipe: Tangy Beans on Toast

Ingredients (Makes 4 Servings):

  • 1 1/2 lbs white beans, dried (fava beans or great northern beans will work)

  • 1 Tbsp baking soda and/or 1 cup vegetable broth

  • 1 medium bell pepper, diced

  • 1 medium Zucchini, diced

  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced

  • 1 tsp ground cumin

  • 1 tsp garlic powder

  • 1 tsp paprika

  • 1 pinch of salt and pepper

  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced

  • whole-grain bread, toasted for serving


  1. Cover the white beans in water and soak them overnight with the baking soda and vegetable broth.

  2. Optional: try sprouting the beans for 6+ hours beforehand to improve digestibility.

  3. Drain the beans lightly then season with cumin, garlic powder, paprika, salt, pepper and lemon before cooking until slightly tender then adding in the bell pepper and zucchini and cooking for an additional 2-5 minutes.

  4. Serve on toasted bread and season with salt and lemon to taste or blend into a dip to enjoy with fresh veggies.

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10 Amazing Health Benefits of Orange Peels. (n.d.). Manipal Hospitals.


Greger, M. (2019, February 5). Health Benefits of Citrus Zest. NutritionFacts.org.


Here's why you should not throw away lemon peels. (2017, July 13). The Times of India.


Lang A. (2019, August 19). 9 Benefits and Uses of Lemon Peel. Healthline.


McGrane, K. (2021, April 19). Can You Eat Orange Peels, and Should You? Healthline.


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