Welcome to another Friday folks! Yeah.
Today I’m writing about the benefits of eating our colourful, floral friends & sharing a few very simple Coeliac friendly lunch ideas.
The culinary uses of flowers dates back to ancient times with the Chinese, Greek & Romans using them in traditional recipes. A couple of simple cultural examples are Italians using zucchini flowers & Indians using rose petals.
These edibles have a range of flavours ranging from floral & fragrant to spicy & earthy or herbacious.
There are so many different varieties of edible flowers, way to many to list here. Below is the most common 10 you would be likely to come across & possibly use.
Traditionally uses in Chinese & Indian medicines. Rose has a delicate, floral aroma & contains phenolics, which have anti-inflammatory benefits. Rose is also a rich source of vitamins.
These beautiful red flowers contain antioxidants & anthocyanins, they also lower blood pressure & cholesterol levels. When brewed they produce a stunning, aromatic red drink. I have also used them combining with pomegranates, to blend into a health drink.
Marigolds are bright orange in colour & work wonderfully with anything that has a citrus base. They are slightly tangy & work wonders in a simple green salad taking it to the next level.
4. Garlic Flowers
As the name suggests garlic flowers are just that, garlicky. They are a lovely alternative to anything that requires garlic & they share the same health benefits. Garlic flowers have a distinct garlic aroma.
5. Zucchini Flowers
These are great when stuffed before cooking. My favourite filling is the traditional Italian using ricotta & herbs. Zucchini flowers have a very mild flavour & do lend themselves to herbs & spices. They are low in calories, high in calcium, iron & vitamins A & C.
This incredible flower has antiseptic benefits. It can be drunk as a tisane & used as a delicate flavour in many sweet foods such as ice-cream & yoghurt. It works beautifully with Cacao (see my previous post Salted Lavender Brownies here) https://fallingleafstudioblog.wordpress.com/2017/05/19/salted-lavender-brownies/
A calming affect from the Chamomile petals, always reminds me of days gone by in the Maternity Ward after having my kids. The smell takes me straight back there! This flower is believed to have anti-inflammatory & anti-carcinogenic properties, also used for wound healing.
Ultra colourful as a stunning display on cakes & in icy-poles/ice cubes. Pansies are rich in Potassium & minerals so great for your heart, kidneys & blood pressure.
Both the flowers & leaves are edible with a slightly peppery taste similar to rocket. Due to their incredible sunset like colour, Nasturtium is a perfect addition to a simple green salad.
Growing wild in my backyard (& in many I’m sure), Dandelion is the ‘cure all’. They are packed with vitamins & minerals. Believed to cure everything from acne, gall stones, liver problems, herpes, constipation & alcoholism. The young Dandelion flower has a honey-like flavour & can be eaten raw or wonderful added to rice.
A word of warning:
Only eat known edible flowers…. don’t pick them from a roadside, football field or any other random place. They could contain pesticides, toxic car exhaust fumes or even doggy doo doo. Best to grow them yourself or purchase from a reputable grower or green grocer.
Only eat the petals, not the stamens, filaments or stems.
If prone to allergies only eat a little at first, introducing slowly whilst watching for a reaction.
To keep flowers fresh, place on moist paper towels & refrigerate in an airtight container. Some will last up to 10 days. Revitalize limp flowers in iced water.
Here are three simple Coeliac friendly vegetarian lunches I have enjoyed over the past week using floral edibles. I sourced my flowers from our local organic fruit & veg shop.
Gluten Free Pizza Slices
1 x left over gluten free pizza base pre-cooked as per packet instructions & cooled
1 x jar goats cheese or dairy free cheese for Vegan option
1x fresh Thyme sprig
Slice the cooled gf pizza base into 8 slices, spread cheese over slices. Choose toppings & add edible flowers.
The above image is Thyme & avacado drizzled with a little fresh lime juice plus flowers & the other is fresh mint leaves & flowers.
Salad Greens & Edibles with Orange Blossom & Sesame Vinigarette
a large handful of mixed salad greens of choice
selection of edible flowers
1 tbsp olive oil (EVOO)
1/2 tsp orange blossom water
1 tsp sesame seeds
Gently toss the leaves & flowers together. With a fork whisk the EVOO with the orange blossom water & drizzle over the salad. Sprinkle over sesame seeds.
Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls
1 pkt gluten free raw rice paper rolls
1 ball vermicelli glass noodles prepared as per packet instructions & cooled
1 avacado sliced
1/2 carrot peeled & julienne into thin strips
1/2 cucumber julienne into thin strips
cilantro leaves (corriander)
edible flowers (I have used Pansies here)
Prepare all ingredients except the rice paper roll wrappers & have them laid out ready to assemble. This is very fast once all the preparation is done.
Lay a damp tea towel on your kitchen bench.
Have a bowl slightly larger than the rice paper wrappers filled with a little cold water. Dip your first rice paper roll wrapper into the cold water completely submerging it for a couple of seconds. Remove it & place onto the damp tea towel.
Select your ingredients starting with the flowers, then mint leaves, placing both upside down in the middle of the wrapper. Pile up the remaining ingredients finishing with the noodles. Carefully & tightly wrap up your roll starting with one side then one end, other side, other end. Essentially as you would wrap a gift. Turn over your roll & admire your work.
Repeat the process with remaining ingredients.
Cheats Dipping Sauces
1 tbsp GF Tamari
Add finely sliced mint & cilantro leaves, combine.
1 tbsp GF sweet chilli sauce
1/4 tsp sesame oil
pinch dried chilli flakes
crushed raw peanuts
Combine sweet chilli, sesame oil & chilli flakes, sprinkle over peanuts.
Paleo: I suppose following a very strict Paleo diet then rice paper rolls are out. However we eat mostly Paleo as my Coeliac daughter cannot tolerate rice & all grains except corn. Rice paper rolls however are an exception in our case. I would assume as the rice content is so low she would need to eat about 10 at least to get any reaction.
Vegan: Change the goats cheese on the gf pizza to nut cheese.