Monday, June 4, 2012

Edible Flowers: Which Ones Are Good For You?

Check out these wild edible flowers and see how they can be use in salads, soups, jams and more.

A frosted cupcake next to a sprig of lavender.
Lavender can be used in both sweet and savory dishes.

We all turn to flowers to brighten up a room, accompany an “I’m Sorry” or connect us to nature, but using flowers to add flavor and nutrition to your plate? Check out these wild edibles and adventure to new territory with culinary inspiration:

Rose hip jelly with a sprig of rose hips.Rose Hips

Their tart flavor pairs well with sweets. Get creative with your next jam or jelly creation! This easy-to-identify plant is a perfect place to start when uncovering your flower power, and it’s high in vitamin C, too!

Lavender

Stressed? Indulge in the rich aroma of cooking with lavender. Studies have proved it’s an effective calming agent when inhaled. This savory Mediterranean native complements meat and sweet dishes alike.

Pansy Petals

Loaded with the antioxidant lutein, this bright orange powerhouse adds vibrancy to both desserts and salads.

Calendula.Calendula

Researchers are currently investigating the potential immune-boosting capacity of calendula, due to its ability to fight inflammation. Best enjoyed in soups and salads for some spicy tang!

Nasturtium

These flowers have a similar fiery flare to watercress. They are easy to cultivate, requiring minimal attention, and they go great in any dish in need of a peppery punch.

Keep in mind, not all flowers are created equal. Organic is the only option when choosing amongst these blossoming beauties. Too delicate to be washed, flowers should be labeled “food grade” to avoid harmful chemical ingestion. “Edibles” should also be clearly labeled, as several flower species are poisonous to humans. Once you’ve found your flower, mix it up! Experiment with your favorite dishes, discovering the perfect flower flavors for you. The possibilities are endless.

— Hayley Segal, dietetic intern, and Debra A. Boutin, MS, RD, chair and dietetic internship director, Department of Nutrition and Exercise Science at Bastyr University.

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