Cooking has several benefits but by far the most important is the ability it gives us to create affordable and healthy meals at home while avoiding the huge expenses we’d otherwise incur purchasing a similar meal at a restaurant. However, for many, cooking is also a hobby that’s fun and calming.
Whereas there are literally thousands of plant species that find their way into the world’s cooking sets everyday, there’s a fairly large number of common plants and flowers that are edible (and delicious too) but don’t come up in recipe conversations as much as they should. Many of these also deliver important health benefits. Here’s a quick look at 6 of these plants and flowers.
The bright orange-yellow tones make the calendula flower pleasing to look at. Behind the breathtaking surface lies an even more impressive nutritional component that’s also tantalizing for your taste buds.
In fact, calendula is regularly used as a saffron substitute. Its flavor is a near perfect mix of spice and tang. It’s so good that you can eat calendula on its own if you prefer. You’re more likely though to enjoy it as part of another meal or as a tea flavor. Calendula’s health benefits include treatment of ulcers, sore throat and cramps.
If you live near or have been anywhere close to a wetland or marsh, then there’s a high probability that you’ve come across a cattail. At first glance, these flowing tall plants don’t look like being at home on a dinner plate. Their appearance however belies their nutritional value.
While the hot dog-like tips are their most characteristic feature, that’s not the part that you should be cooking. Instead, it’s the protein-rich stems and roots. You can grind them to powder to form a flour, or fry the roots and stems whole. Cattail flour can be used to make everything from pancakes to biscuits.
Dandelions aren’t the most welcome plant in the average home’s yard but they can be the unexpected addition to your next meal. These yellow flowers that eventually become white and fluffy are packed with not just a wide range of vitamins and antioxidants but also essential minerals like calcium and iron.
Dandelion has anti-inflammatory capabilities and may be useful in aiding recovery from illness, injury or surgery.
Hibiscus is the state flower of Hawaii. Given Hawaii’s floral diversity, the choice of hibiscus already hints at its strong, stunning and unforgettable appearance. Yet, it’s perhaps its rising popularity among home mixologists and chefs that’s drawing the most attention to it in recent years.
The hibiscus flower’s petals are fairly tart and sweet with a flavor that’s strikingly similar to cranberries. This trait makes it a popular ingredient in cocktails and general drinks in addition to being the core component of hibiscus tea. Hibiscus can also be prepared and eaten as a dessert or candy. Its health benefits include the management of high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
Herbs are a type of plant that have been a mainstay of the human diet for thousands of years. They’ve proved popular not just because of their proven (or believed) medicinal properties but they’re also easy to grow.
Among edible herbs, you can hardly go wrong with lemon mint. It has a distinct flavor and fragrance that has found broad application in cooking, garnishing, beverages and more.
Roses are the flower of love and smell great but did you know you can actually eat them? That’s right. If you are not put off by the overpowering scent, the flavor is pretty light. Its fruit flavor can blend nicely with many different meals including desserts, jams, salads and soups. On the nutrition side, it’s an excellent source of vitamin C.
When it comes to cooking roses, there’s just one thing you have to be wary of—the thorns (of course!).
If you’ve never thought of including any of these plants and flowers into your home-cooked meals, there’s no better time than now to set out on an exciting culinary adventure.