After long dark months of wintry slumber, the Earth awakens with Spring, which brings forth explosions of beautiful, jewel-toned blossoms that perfume the air and delight the eyes. Well, instead of just smelling or looking, how about tasting them too?
Edible flowers provide not only colorful, elegant garnishings to your dishes, they also contain nutrients that help to keep you healthy.
Edible blossoms have been used as food and medicine for millennia. Ancient Chinese, Roman, South American, and European herbalists have recorded many therapeutic uses of flowers. For example, Marigold (calendula officialis) is used topically to soothe and soften the skin, including calming acne, eczema, and burns. Internally, calendula helps with indigestion, and ulcers. Sweet violets ( viola odorata) are mildly sedative, and both the flowers and leaves are used for treating colds, sore throats, and coughs. Violets are associated with Aphrodite and prized as a token of love. Josephine had violets sewn into her wedding gown when she married Napoleon. And the most romantic flowers of all, roses, are known for their ability to balance the heart and emotions; dispelling melancholy. Women all over the world have long used roses for beautiful skin. My Mother who had flawless, wrinkle-free skin all her life, credited my grandfather for cooking a concoction of goats’ milk and rose petals for her to drink as a child. I luxuriate in the fragrance of roses by brewing organic rose buds as a tea.
If you don’t have a garden, don’t be sad. There are plenty of wild wistful floral offerings everywhere in the Spring and Summer. During the end of March and April, I often gather nasturtiums, , chive , and arugula blossoms on walks or hikes. I use them liberally on salads and to make pestos.
(See end of post for a quick and delicious salad with nasturtiums.)
Other edible flowers include carnations, chrysanthemums, dandelions, and squash blossoms. While using flowers in your kitchen brings artistry, beauty, and flavor; care should be taken when gathering them, either from the wild or from a garden.
(Caution: Not all flowers are edible, and those sprayed with pesticides/herbicides should be avoided. Some delicious-looking flowers are poisonous, so never ingest any that you cannot positively identify. If you have any doubts, do not eat it. If you have allergies, you may want to use flowers with care and introduce them slowly, being mindful of your reactions. And finally, when picking flowers on a trail, be sure to choose ones that are away from where dogs can leave their markings!)
Spring blooms are also emissaries of Mother Nature, reminding us that it is time again for detoxification and renewal. This is the perfect time for a cleanse, both internally and externally. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, Spring is the time of the liver and doing a detox can clear away stagnation that built up over the winter months. (See my next post for liver supportive herbs and foods. Also, download my free mini eBook with great detox tips and recipes!) Many spiritual traditions also have rituals for thoroughly cleaning house from top to bottom as the weather warms and the days become brighter.
Use sprays of lavender to purify and scent the air while you dust your shelves and floors. Then take a break by drinking a cup of rose tea, accompanied by a salad topped with nasturtiums. A perfect welcoming of Spring!
Avocado & Pecan Salad with Nasturtiums
3 cups organic Spring salad mix
1/2 avocado, sliced
8 – 10 toasted pecans
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt & fresh ground pepper, to taste
Place all the ingredients, except the flowers, in a large bowl and toss well with a pair of tongs. Adjust seasoning as needed. Top with the nasturtiums and
relish the flavors of edible beauty.
For Love of Friends & Food,
Gladstar, Rosemary. Family Herbal. North Adams, Mass: Storey Books, 2001. http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/garden/07237.html http://www.naturalnews.com/031202_edible_flowers_petals.html