By: Malcolm Mayhew
April showers bring May flowers, which means things are starting to look more vibrant and alive around here! When most of us think of flowers however, we usually think of using them as pretty centerpieces on our kitchen table, or planting them in our gardens or yards. While this is fun, you can do more than admire their beauty. Some flowers are actually edible and contain antioxidants as well as Vitamins A, C, D and E.
For thousands of years, flowers have been used by the Chinese and other cultures to add color, flavor and a bit of fun to rather ordinary dishes.
Before you go picking wild flowers from a field, there are a few precautions you need to take before you can tap into that “flower power.”
As a safety measure, only eat flowers you have grown yourself or you know are safe to consume. You can check edible flower guides just to be sure. Don’t eat flowers that were purchased at the store or flowers that grow alongside the road or public places, because these might have chemicals or pesticides sprayed on them.
In general, you should only eat the petals of flowers, so make sure to remove the pistils and stamens beforehand.
The best way to store edible flowers, is to wrap them in a moist paper towel and place them in the fridge. They stay fresh for about 10 days this way.
Here is a list of some of edible flowers you can try:
• Squash blossoms
• Any flowering herbs
• Blossoms from garlic, chives, leeks etc.
• Bee balm (minty flavor)
• Borage (taste like cucumber!)
• Chrysanthemum (comes in variety of colors, a little bitter)
• Citrus blossoms (from oranges, lemons, grapefruit, etc.)
• Lavender (great for sweet and savory dishes)
• Nasturtium (sweet flavor, most popular edible flower)
These edible flowers make great additions to salads, sandwiches, soups, drinks, appetizers and they make a beautiful garnish on desserts, taking your brownies, cakes and cookies to a whole new level.
To help you make the most out of May flowers, we are sharing our favorite vegan cheesecake recipe that you can top with any edible flower of your choice.
Bring this cheesecake to a bridal or baby shower and you are sure to impress with this elegant and feminine twist on a favorite dessert.
For the chocolate hazelnut crust:
• 1/2 cup pitted dates, soaked overnight in the fridge, or in hot water for two hours
• 2/3 cup toasted hazelnuts, skins removed
• 1/3 cup gluten-free quick oats
• 2 tbsp cocoa powder
• 1 tbsp brown rice syrup
• Pinch of salt
1. Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor until fine crumbs form. Press crumbs into 9-inch pie plate firmly (on bottom and sides of pie plate)
2. Place in freezer.
For the filling:
• 2 1/2 cups raw cashews (cover with water)
• 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste
• 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
• 1/4 cup melted virgin coconut oil
• 1/2 cup lemon juice
• 1/4 cup water
• 1/8 tsp salt
1. Cover the cashews with water and let soak eight hours or overnight
2. Drain and pat dry completely.
3. Combine all ingredients in a food processor for seven minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape the sides of blender.
4. Pour into prepared crust.
5. Freeze Cheesecake for two hours
6. Thaw 15 minutes before serving and top with edible flowers of your choice and fruits if you want.
This dessert not only makes you feel good just looking at it, but you can feel good about eating it too because it’s dairy and gluten-free.
About the Chef:
Chef Deb is the Executive Chef and Owner of Savor Culinary Services and a complete foodie! Her favorite food is homestyle food for the soul like her grandmother used to make. Simple ingredients but made from scratch. She believes that food is medicine and that it can prevent, treat and even reverse illness. She is a mother of two teenagers and has seen how changing her son’s diet has helped him overcome health challenges. It’s her son and daughter who give her the motivation to wake up each morning and keep going as an entrepreneur and mother. She has helped over 5,000 families in the Dallas/Fort Worth area enjoy the foods they love again while improving their health. She hopes to share her love for food, health and happiness with others one recipe at a time!
By: Malcolm Mayhew