Edible blossoms and flowering greens have been used for centuries in dishes around the world to add a splash of color, aroma and delicious flavor. The bonus? They also give you a slew of health benefits!
Only consume pesticide- and chemical-free flowers grown specifically for culinary use. Top sources: organic gardens, farmer’s markets, specialty groceries and online at GourmetSweetBotanicals.com or Melissas.com.
Keep the doctor away with violets! A longtime folk remedy, sweet violets are now revealed to contain more immunity-enhancing vitamin C, gram for gram, than an orange and more vitamin A than spinach! “They’re also loaded with astringents, anti-inflammatory compounds and trace minerals that prevent infections and break up congestion,” notes ethnobotanist Peter Gail, Ph.D. — the reason these dainty flowers are still a common ingredient in herbal cough and cold remedies across Europe!
Quell tummy trouble with lavender! Infuse your favorite desserts and drinks with these pretty purple flowers and you’ll also be aiding digestion! Lavender’s natural chemicals stimulate the secretion of bile to help break down food, which, in turn, helps sidestep gas, indigestion and bloating. Plus, its anti-inflammatory and famous relaxing properties compounds calm stomach cramps and soothe away anxiety-related queasiness!
Stay young with squash blossoms! The big, bright blooms on summer zucchini and yellow squash plants have proven anti-aging powers, thanks to two skin-smoothing ingredients: beta carotene, which helps shield against sun damage, and vitamin C, which brightens your complexion and stimulates the growth of firming collagen to minimize fine lines and wrinkles. The oversized, golden-hued flowers also help you feel younger, thanks to an ample amount of lutein—which keeps eyesight sharp—and energizing B vitamins, which boost focus and protect against age-related memory loss!
Shut down germs with nasturtiums! Wary about taking antibiotics? These multi-hued blossoms are proven to help clear up bladder and urinary tract infections, sinusitis and even acute bronchitis as effectively as a prescription Rx—without the side effects or risk of antibiotic resistance! They’re also loaded with anti-fungal and antibacterial compounds that help disarm the germs that can ruin picnic foods, such as salmonella!
Boost circulation with pansies! As if the refreshing, mildly minty flavor of pansies wasn’t enough reason to add them to salads, they also contain about 20 mg. of a powerful antioxidant, rutin, per flower! Rutin is renowned for boosting blood flow by strengthening capillaries and increasing flexibility in blood vessels, keys to help prevent or reverse spider and varicose veins! There’s even evidence that rutin reduces the risk of blood clots and helps prevent or treat glaucoma, a leading cause of vision loss in adults.
Delicious ways to eat your flowers:
Toss ‘em! Remove stems and add whole flowers or a scattering the petals like confetti over summer salads! Try with any culinary blooms!
Fry ‘em! In a bowl, mix together one egg with one cup each milk and flour. Dip each flower head into the batter until fully covered, then brown in a heated saucepan with a thin layer of oil, about two minutes on each side, until crispy. Drain on a paper towel. This is especially delicious with squash blossoms.
Stuff ‘em! Place a dollop of guacamole or herbed goat cheese in the center of the flower, then gently tuck the petals closed and serve on cucumber slices as an appetizer. Try with nasturtiums or squash blossoms.
Candy ‘em! Apply a thin layer of egg whites to the flower head as you hold it by the stem, then sprinkle with sugar and let dry for 24 hours. Snip off stems and enjoy. Try with violets, lavender or pansies.
Infuse ‘em! Pour three cups vodka, vinegar or olive oil into a large Mason jar. Add two tablespoons of flowers. Close jar tightly and let sit for 48 hours. Strain to remove the flowers. Try with violets, lavender or nasturtiums.