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M.I.S.S. Healthy Bites: Flower Power!

Add some flower power to your plate!

Add some flower power to your plate!

Ahhhhh, Spring…Don’t you just LOVE this time of year?  You’ve probably been waiting until Winter was over to wear your fun and flirty frocks, and hopefully your body is feeling fine and fabulous!  Just as you have to wait for the right season to rock the right fit, you have to eat certain foods during certain seasons for the best flavor.  This time of year, aside from the varieties of fruits and vegetables that are ready for harvest, flowers are in full bloom, blessing our lives with natural beauty.  Flowers look great on your dinner table, and even in your closet (have you seen Liberty of London all over Target?), but have you ever thought of adding flowers to your diet?

Edible varieties of flowers do to food as they do to everything else: make everything prettier, of course!  There may not be much nutrition in the delicate plants, but if it will get you to enjoy your spinach salad or baked fish even more, then sprinkle those petals everywhere!  Cooking is an art as well, and if artists of all eras have been inspired by flowers, then food should also be used as a canvas.  However, don’t go pulling daisies just yet, since not all flowers were meant for eating and you’ll want to make sure the flowers you do eat are the ones that will optimize your senses.

Sometimes, flowers will have an amazing scent and even a very distinct taste.  Roses, for instance, are very fragrant and have an almost sweet and spicy flavor to them.  Try roses in jams and jellies, and even ice cream!  Flowers are also great to add to salads.  I love to sprinkle fresh-picked Nasturtiums petals in garden salads for more color on my plate (on top of my usual rainbow of fruits and veggies).  You can even use the flowers of your favorite herbs to add a different degree of flavor to your favorite dishes, from breads to stews.  And you can’t forget that some of the best teas use flowers!  I particularly favor jasmine and hibiscus tea flavors.  As you can see, flowers can fit in anywhere.

What flowers are exactly safe to eat?  What’s Cooking America has a pretty informative list of edible flowers and their suggested uses, including recipes and some do’s and don’ts, like don’t pick flowers off of the streets to eat.  Just as some foods you’ll want to make sure you eat organic, the flowers you eat should always be pesticide-free.  The best way to know that what you’re eating is safe is to grow the flowers yourself.  You’ll not only have a beautiful garden, but also a tantalizing array of fresh ingredients.  Do some research to see what varieties grow best in your region at this time of year.  The Old Farmer’s Almanac is the go-to source for gardening by seasons and regions.  Bring out the green thumb in you!

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