No centrepiece is complete without a pretty flower arrangement. Now what if we told you flowers are an exciting, colorful, flavorful, even healthy way for amping up a meal’s glam quotient? Did you know about the flowers that can be eaten? Flowers have been used as a garnish for centuries to pretty up food but they can actually be used as ingredients as well, and are a powerhouse of health benefits in their own right. Did you know chives, signet marigolds, nasturtiums and roses are rich in Vitamin C? That Dandelion greens are high in calcium, iron and phosphorous? Or that Hibiscus contains antioxidants that prevent cholesterol deposits and aids liver disorders?
Here are eleven edible flower recipes and flower beauty products with remarkable health and skin benefits.
Hibiscus plants produce large, decorative blossoms. They usually grow in tropical and subtropical climates around the world. There are countless hibiscus species but the most popular edible variety is called Roselle or Hibiscus sabdariffa in shades of red, white, yellow and pink.
Floral Buffet: Popular in jams and salads, you can also eat these edible flowers straight from the plant or infused in hot water. Hibiscus tea has medicinal properties and some studies suggest that hibiscus may help reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels. The tea is bright red and has a tart, somewhat sour flavor. You could also serve it with honey over ice on a hot summer day!
Cool Idea: Hibiscus blooms can be used as cups to hold egg salad or chocolate mousse.
Also known as stubborn garden weeds, dandelions double up as a highly nutritious edible flower. They have small blossoms with tiny bright yellow petals and have plant compounds with proven antioxidant properties. The best part, you can practically eat the entire plant, from roots and stems to leaves and flowers. Dandelion tea is a popular cure for sore throats.
Floral Buffet: Being one of the flowers you can eat, there are endless ways you can eat dandelion; the flowers can be eaten raw, alone or tossed into a salad. They can even be breaded and fried or used to make jelly and wine. The greens can be used as sandwich filling or cooked in stews or soups.
Cool Idea: Toss dandelion greens and flowers with al dente pasta and olive oil for your version of Aglio e Olio!
A woody, floral herb with a distinctive aroma and pretty violet flowers, lavender originated in parts of northern Africa and the Mediterranean. Touted for its soothing properties, lavender is a popular addition in shower gels, soaps, massage oils, pot pourri and candles. The combination of color and aroma make lavender an appealing addition to food and drink
Floral Buffet: Lavender infused cakes, syrups, liqueurs, herbal teas, dry spice rubs and herb mixtures
the list is endless. This edible flower pairs well with savory and sweet ingredients. When cooking with lavender, it’s best to start with a small amount and slowly add more because the flavour is quite strong.
Cool Idea: Make a pitcher of lavender iced tea: 1 cup raw honey, 12 cups water, juice of 6 lemons and 1-2 drops Lavender essential oil.
Did you know there are almost 200 honeysuckle species but the most common are the Japanese and woodbine varieties. This fragrant pale yellow or white blossom has nectarhence the nameand can be eaten straight from the flower. A vital ingredient in Chinese medicine for centuries, the flower and extracts are used to soothe inflammatory skin conditions.
Floral Buffet: Pop the blossoms into hot water to make a fragrant tea. You could also boil them to make a flavorful syrup to sweeten iced tea, lemonade and yogurt and sorbet or as a sugar replacement in tea cakes.
Cool Idea: Sprinkle the blossoms on French toast for a crunchy, pretty element.
Borage, or starflower, is a herb with delicate, star-shaped flowers that could be blue, white or pink. A popular cough remedy in herbal medicine, borage flowers are steeped in hot water to make a tea to cure a sore throat or cough.
Floral Buffet: There’s no dearth of ideas on how to use borage. Both the flower and leaves are edible. The flowers have a slightly sweet flavor reminiscent of cucumber and honey. Toss into a salad or use as a garnish for desserts and cocktails. You can also add to soups and sauces for a crunchy element. In some cultures borage leaves are tossed in olive oil and served as a side dish.
Cool Idea: Mix borage flowers and sliced leaves into a hung yogurt dip for a sweet-and-savory touch.
Did you know there are more than 150 species of flowers in every size and color? The best part, they are all edible. However, all roses don’t taste the same. To choose a ‘tasty’ rose, pick one that has a nice scent. Chances are it will taste good too. Chemical compounds in rose reduce anxiety and promote relaxation. The stem and leaves are not edible though.
Floral Buffet: Rose petals have an aromatic, floral and slightly sweet, velvety flavor. Use as a garnish on desserts, sprinkle into fruit or green salads, or air dry the petals and add to granola. Candied rose, ‘gulkand’ is a common addition to paan. Rose petals can also be boiled and strained to create rose-infused beverages, jams and jellies.
Cool Idea: Line a cake tin with butter and rose petals to lend a fragrant, colourful flavour to cakes.
For centuries chamomile, a floral herb, has been used in cooking and traditional medicine. Chamomile is touted for its calming and anti-anxiety properties. The flowers resemble small daisies. They lend a slightly sweet, earthy flavor to food.
Floral Buffet: Most recipes require you to steep the flowers in a hot liquid to extract their flavors and bioactive compounds. Chamomile tea is a popular bedtime drink, and the flowers can also be used to make syrups or infusions for desserts and smoothies.
Cool Idea: Air dry the flowers and add them to a steaming cup of green tea for a fragrant, pretty cuppa!