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Somehow, I can't help but wish I grew up hearing "Mikey, eat your flowers!" rather than "Finish your broccoli." But I must admit, flowers weren't a common element of the daily meals at the Braunstein household. Don't get me wrong, there was lots of love and ample nutrition at the table, but flowers were relegated to vases, not dinner plates. And the first time I saw a flower on a salad plate, I thought, "Well, isn't that cute? What a nice garnish." But I never thought of eating it.
ROSE, YOU LOOK GOOD ENOUGH TO EAT
"We've served flowers as part of our meals since we opened here in 1994. We did it at our earlier restaurant too. A lot of people, of course, don't initially think of eating them. But that's one of the things about McFoster's. We think about food differently."
Flowers for the palate are not a new idea. Just like any plant, mankind has eaten them since hunger was first invented. The fact is, they are nutritious and many have powerful healing properties. It's just that they don't provide a particularly hearty repast. Flowers, for the most part, have been relegated to the role of garnish. But garnish is oh-so-important to the overall culinary experience.
"Four vital senses are aroused when a magnificent meal is served," McGranaghan tells us. "First is sight. The look of the presentation is what you get first. Following is the aroma. Then there is the taste and finally the texture. Flowers are a big part of all of those. When a dish is beautifully garnished, it shows that love and care went into the preparation."
Culinary artists use flowers of all sorts and varieties to garnish and provide both nutrition and health with their meals. The most common of garden variety blossoms can enhance and elevate the dining moment. But the most common of gardens should not necessarily be the source of the bloom for food.
"You shouldn't eat just any flower. All the ones we serve are organically grown, without chemicals or pesticides, obviously," McGranaghan mentions. "We either grow them in our organic garden or get them from other sources that also grow them organically. Even during winter months, you will find flowers on our salad plates."
"We seem to use a lot of nasturtia, calendula, which is the marigold, scented geraniums, rose petals, borage, violets and lilies. Lilies are great munchies. They're like non-fat potato chips. And you should eat them petal by petal or you miss the whole thing. It's like a delicacy."
APRIL SHOWERS BRING... LUNCH!
Here's a list of some of the flowers that are often considered to enhance a meal, usually in salad or as garnish but also in other ways too. From various sources, we've listed some common flowers that are used as edibles. We included some description and also information from Jonathan Lust's The Herb Book as far as some of the healing properties these flowers have.
There are a number of commonsense thoughts that should guide your diet regardless of its direction and the same holds true of eating flowers. Some parts of blossoms have more allergens than the petals. You may want to avoid the internal workings such as the pistils and stamens where the pollen is formed and stored. Eat in conservative amounts so that you know which flowers agree with you if you've never enjoyed trying them before.
Some flowers are just plain considered poisonous. Some of those are azalea, crocus, daffodil, foxglove, oleander, rhododendron, jack-in-the-pulpit, lily of the valley, poinsettia and wisteria. Eat flowers from a proper source. You wouldn't eat a hamburger you found lying by the side of the road. Don't presume it's ok to pick the flowers there either. Happy spring.
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Michael Braunstein is Executive Director of Heartland Healing and certified by the American Council of Hypnotist Examiners in clinical hypnotherapy. He graduated from the Los Angeles Hypnotism Training Institute and was an instructor at the UCLA Extension University for 11 years.
Heartland Healing is devoted to the examination of various alternative forms of healing. It is provided as a source of information and not as medical advice. It is not meant as an endorsement of any particular therapy, either by the writer or by Heartland Healing Center, Inc.
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