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An Edible Garden: Cooking and Baking with Flowers

An Edible Garden: Cooking and Baking with Flowers

Flowers have been used in culinary delicacies around the world for thousands of years, though it’s only in recent years that their popularity in the kitchen has been rekindled. Some of the flowers listed below are ornamental ones that are found in many gardens, so you won’t have too much difficulty finding them, but be sure to only eat those that you have grown yourself or that you’ve purchased from a source that you can trust (like an organic farmer’s market). Blooms that you can buy from a florist shop will have most likely been treated with pesticides and other toxic chemicals, and you really don’t want to ingest any of that. Additionally, don’t eat flowers that you’ve picked from the side of the road, as they’ve been exposed to a plethora of poisons via car exhaust fumes, spills, etc.

Flower omelette

    When it comes to incorporating flowers into various dishes, keep in mind that their flavours can range in taste from aromatic and sweet to spicy and earthy, so it’s important to taste them before deciding how you’re going to use them. It’s also good to ensure that the flowers you use are indeed edible ones, as there are some lookalikes out there that can make you quite ill if you eat them by mistake.

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    Squash/Zucchini Blossoms

    Zucchini Blossom

      If you’ve never tried the stuffed, cooked blossoms of squash or zucchini, you’ve missed out on something rather exquisite: the flowers themselves have a beautiful, delicate flavour, and they hold fillings such as herbed rice, cheese and nuts, and ground meat exceptionally well. Once stuffed, the blossoms can be cooked in a variety of different ways, but frying them seems to yield the tastiest results.

      Marigolds (Calendula)

      Spicy and velvety, marigold petals were treasured as edible delicacies by the ancient Greeks, and are still used throughout India and the Middle East in a variety of different dishes. Fresh, they’re a gorgeous addition to salads, and they can be dried and used in drinks, soups, and when dried, as a baking spice with cinnamon and cloves. Brewed into a strong tea, they can colour rice dishes in lieu of saffron, but be sure to remove the white “heels” of the petals before using them as they can add an unpleasant note to your dish.

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      Violets, Violas, and Pansies

      Candied Violet Truffles

        With their distinctive floral scent and delicate flavour, violets and pansies have been used in a variety of dishes since the early medieval period. Use candied violets as decorations for cupcakes, petit-fours, and other desserts, or use them raw in herb/flower salads; the raw blossoms go well with chervil and endives, as well as cress, arugula, pears, and raspberries.

        Rose Petals

        All rose petals are edible, but the more fragrant the flower, the more flavour it will have. Dark red roses are particularly stunning, and can be used to dramatic effect when creating desserts. You can create your own rose water by steeping a few handfuls of petals in a clean jar of water for a few weeks and then use that to flavour desserts like crème brûlée, ice cream, jams, etc. You can also make candied rose petals with a bit of egg white and sugar, and then arrange them on cakes and tarts—just remember to remove the white “butts” that attach to the center, as they’re terribly bitter.

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        Nasturtiums

        Originally from Peru, these vibrant flowers were brought to Europe by the conquistadores back in the 1500s, and they’ve been used to brighten up both gardens and dishes ever since. You can shred the young leaves and stems to add to dishes; they have a sharpness similar to that of watercress. The flowers, though still spicy, have a sweeter, more delicate flavour, and look spectacular in leafy green salads.

        Dandelions

        Dandelions

          Though these plants seem to be the bane of lawn enthusiasts everywhere, dandelions are actually very useful little plants: they’re used as a cleansing tea, the young leaves can be used as a great, slightly bitter salad green, and the cheerful yellow blooms are startlingly delicious when cooked. Dandelion fritters are easy to make and beyond delicious, and you can enjoy them either savoury or sweet, dipped into either sour cream, mustard, or honey.

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          Sunflowers

          It’s likely that just about everyone has tasted sunflower seeds at some point, but before the flower heads transform into the dark, seed-laden moony faces most of us are familiar with, they’re edible in a variety of different ways. The petals can be used as a sweet/bitter additive to salads, and before it even unfolds into a petaled blossom, a sunflower bud can be steamed: it tastes much like an artichoke heart when cooked.

          Remember that you can also use the flowering parts of many herbs in your cooking and baking: mint, dill, fennel, borage, chive, thyme, and rosemary flowers have a similar flavour to the fully-grown plant, only slightly more delicate, and can be used in the same way that you use the regular herb; just prettier versions thereof.

          Consider breaking up chive blossom heads and tossing them into potato salad or egg dishes to add a spicy kick along with splashes of vibrant purple, and rosemary flowers are also great with potatoes. Borage flowers can be candied and used as decorations for cupcakes, while lavender blossoms—though a bit perfume-y and an acquired taste—can be used to make lavender sugar for desserts and teas. To make it (or any edible flower sugar) blend 1 cup of white, granulated sugar with 1 tablespoon of dried flowers. Leave the mixture in a dry, warm spot for a couple of weeks, then put through a sieve to get most of the petals out.

          Borage

            If you’re planning a garden this year, consider adding a few of these edible blooms along with the other plants you have in mind; not only will they add stunning colour and fragrance to your space, they’re also a rather exotic food source that you can pluck and enjoy all summer long.

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            How to Keep Yourself Awake at Work Without Caffeine

            How to Keep Yourself Awake at Work Without Caffeine

            Keeping yourself awake at work can be a real challenge when you’re bored, exhausted or sleep-deprived.

            But before you reach for that can of Red Bull, bottle of Mountain Dew, or pot of coffee, try these healthy remedies to stimulate your 5 different senses and help you stay awake at work:

            Sight – Visual Stimulation

            The first thing you do when you wake up is opening your eyes, so your visual stimulation is very important to keeping your energy level high.

            1. Maximize your exposure to light.

            Your body’s internal rhythm is regulated by the amount of light you receive. The greater your exposure, the more alert you will feel.

            Open the shades and let in the sunlight. Step outside or look out the window. Turn on all the artificial lights in your office or around your work space.

            2. Exercise your eyes (or give them a break).

            Roll your eyes up and down, side to side and diagonally. Rotate them clockwise and then counterclockwise. Squeeze them shut and then open them wide. Do this several times.

            Reading and sitting in front of a computer screen for long periods can lead to eye fatigue.

            Take regular breaks with deliberate blinking and looking out into the distance.

            3. Take note of your environment.

            Learn to enjoy people-watching. Observe their activities, speech, body language and interactions with others. Notice the details of building, trees and other objects around you, including their color, shape and size.

            By doing this, you’re not only relaxing your eye muscles but also calming your mind.

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            Hearing – Auditory Stimulation

            What you hear or listen to have direct effect on your brain. This is why we feel so annoyed and sometimes angry when we hear construction noise when we’re working.

            4. Engage in conversation.

            Talk to a friend or colleague. Trade funny stories. Discuss your business venture, a creative idea, the latest political scandal, or any other topic that interests you.

            Practice mindful listening to what you and the other person are saying. Tune into the tone, volume and content of the conversation.

            Learn how to practice better listening from this guide:

            Why Listen to Reply Instead of Understand Is the Key to Failure

            5. Listen to upbeat music.

            Try hip hop, rock or jazz to keep you alert. Instrumental, non-distracting music works best.

            Sing, whistle, and hum along if you can. Plug in the earphones if you must.

            Smell – Olfactory Stimulation

            If you’re feeling sleepy and suddenly smell the coffee, you’ll probably feel more energetic. This is why smell is an influential stimulation.

            6. Work your nose.

            Aroma therapists recommend essential oils of peppermint (to boost energy), rosemary (to build awareness), eucalyptus (to increase oxygen), cedarwood  (to activate your mind), and cinnamon (to improve your reaction time).

            If you don’t have essential oils on hand, you can use lotions or burning candles that provide the same scents.

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            Citrus like lemons, limes, grapefruits and oranges are also natural olfactory stimulants. Get a whiff of these citrus scents to stay awake.

            Taste – Gustatory Stimulation

            If you want an energetic day at work, you can’t let your tongue feeling plain and flavorless.

            7. Have a good breakfast.

            Start off with the most important meal of the day.

            Think fresh, light and healthy: bran cereals, wholegrain breads, fruits, and yogurt.

            Nix the heavy stuff like sausages, greasy eggs or pancakes.

            Need some breakfasts inspirations? Check out these ideas:

            20 Healthy Breakfast Choices That Will Save You Time

            8. Drink lots of water.

            Keep a glass or bottle of H2O near you and sip from it throughout the day. Dehydration can leave you feeling tired, sluggish and sleepy.

            So make sure you drink enough water throughout the day. Not sure how much to drink? This can help you:

            How Much Water Should You Drink Each Day (and How Much Is Too Much for You)

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            Think that you’ve been drinking too little water? Try these friendly reminders:

            3 Best Apps To Help You Drink Much More Water

            9. Eat energy-boosting snacks.

            Nuts and fruits (like bananas, apples and strawberries) are sure bets. Pairings with staying power include baby carrots with a low-fat cream cheese dip; celery sticks with peanut butter; red peppers with hummus; and plain yogurt with granola.

            Avoid carb-filled, sugary snacks that make you crash and leave you feeling tired.

            Here you can find some healthy snack ideas:

            25 Healthy Snack Recipes To Make Your Workday More Productive

            Touch – Tactile Stimulation

            Last but not least, your sense of touch will make you physically feel more energetic and less stressful.

            10. Splash cold water on your face.

            Do this in the morning, during bathroom breaks and in the afternoon. Being exposed to cold water pushes your body to adjust and regulate its internal temperature, which in turn keeps you alert.

            This works the same as you take a cold shower to increase mood and alertness. Take a look at this article to learn more about it:

            5 Surprising Benefits of Cold Showers

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            11. Use acupressure.

            Apply pressure to, massage, or tap on the stimulation points of your body. These include the top of your head, the back of your neck, the back of your hand (between the thumb and index finger), just below the knee and your earlobes.

            Watch this video to learn about the acupressure points you can try:

            12. Get moving.

            Move away from your chair and stand, walk, run or climb the stairs. Feel the earth under your feet. Stretch and twist. Do jumping jacks, lunges, push-ups and back bends.

            And if you need to move more discreetly, wiggle your feet, bounce your knee up and down, scrunch your toes, or cross your legs.

            You can also try some simple stretches and exercises at your desk:

            Unlike addictive caffeine fixes, these remedies activate your senses, engage your attention, amp up your energy and prevent morning grogginess and afternoon slumps without the side effects or health risks.

            Pick a few ways from this list of suggestions and practice them consistently. And when you do this consistently, you’ll soon see the positive results — a more energetic and productive you at work.

            Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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