Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Are Flowers Paleo?

My children actually brought me to this question. Ever since they learned that some flowers could be eaten, they ask about every flower that they come across it seems. Would not our ancestors have done the same thing? I was curious to understand why those of us who are living a Paleo and Primal lifestyle get into the macro and micro nutrients of nearly everything they eat, but flowers are never brought up. Perhaps it is because flowers are seen as non-edible by most.

For example, everyone should know that dandelion leaves are edible, I mean, they have salads with dandelion leaves for sale in Wal-Mart. But did you realize that the roots and flowers are edible as well? I especially like the tea produced by roasting the roots, but the leaves and flowers have that distinct pungent flavor as do the ilk of healthy vegetables like collards, spinach, chards, etc. If you think about calcium and phosphor when eating the dandelion, you'll understand why it has the flavor it does. You are tasting health. The dandelion has, in addition to fiber, the following particularly good concentration of:

Vitamin A
Vitamin C

More specifically, look at this chart on percentages and other information (Serving of 55grams):

Calories: 25 (from fat 3)
Total fat: 0 grams or 1%
Saturated fats: 0%
Cholesterol: 0mg
Sodium: 42mg
Carbohydrates: 5grams
Dietary Fiber: 2grams
Sugars: 0grams
Protein: 1gram
Vitamin A: 112%
Vitamin C: 32%
Calcium: 10%
Iron: 9%

It makes me wonder that if early sailors had known of this plant, would they have been inflicted with scurvy? For one thing, they'd not had to carry limes only, but could have had dried Dandelions which would store well and as far as I know, would retain at least some of the vitamin C. However, I'll need to research that concept to see if the C actually is retained or is it lost during drying. I don't see why it would be lost because drying is not the same as cooking. The roots are roasted to create the tea, but the leaves and flowers are easily dried and stored for reconstituting later when placed in soups, stir fry, or crumpled over salads. I would not cook them into the soup, but instead, place them in the soups once the soups is already cooked and allow the dried dandelion flowers to absorb the juices of the soup.

It is in my estimation that dandelions, the whole plant and not just the leaves, are extremely Paleo.

But what about other flowers?

Squash and zucchini blossoms are routinely dipped in a seasoned flour and fried, which we Paleos can easily reproduce with coconut or almond flour.

Nasturtiums, pansies, violets, redbud, sunflower, yucca, clover, fuchsia, dame's rocket, day lilies, snap dragons, johnny-jump-ups, lilacs, arugula, borage, primrose, linden, garden sorrel, gladiolus, calandula, chive, perennial phlox (NOT the annual), garlic, daisies (petals only for this flower), impatiens, geraniums, hibiscus, hollyhocks, bachelor buttons, sweet woodruff, honeysuckle, wild hyacinth (Only the Wild Hyacinth (Brodiaea douglasii) bulbs are edible. The bulbs can be used like potatoes and eaten either raw or cooked and has a sweet, nutlike flavor. NOTE: The common hyacinth (found in your gardens) is toxic and must not be eaten)carnations, peony, tuberous begonias (only the petals), chrysanthemum (like the daisy, only eat the petals), marigolds, queen anne's lace (which is easily mistaken for hemlock, so be extremely careful), rose petals, tulips (petals only), and violas are all edible flowers and are excellent in salads.

Did you know that Euell Gibbons’s experiments proved that half a cup of violet leaves provides almost twice the adult daily requirement of vitamin A—more, perhaps, than one should eat at once. Leaves and flowers provide substantial amounts of vitamin C as well.

Cattails, if you have them in your area, are not only edible, but extremely tasty. For the edible use you will find the first shoots of spring excellent. The roots and pollen make a good flour. My favorite is when they are still young and green you can prepare the female portion of the plant just like corn on the cob.

Many blossoms from fruit trees are edible as well, such as apple, banana,orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit, kumquat, and elderberry.

Did you know that broccoli, cauliflower, and artichokes are all flowers? Also the spice saffron is the stamen from the crocus flower? Capers are unopened flower buds to a bush native in the Mediterranean and Asian nations. The general rule is that the flowers of most vegetables and herbs are safe to eat. Always check first, because as with anything in life, there will always be exceptions. NOTE: Avoid - the flowers of tomato, potato, eggplant, peppers and asparagus.

It is inconceivable to think that our ancestors, who were seemingly willing to test everything to see if it was edible, tasty, or nutritional. Just look at the trouble they went through to consume grains, you know that before they ground it, they had to try it straight from the plant. Some flowers are eaten by the mainstream, but they are labeled as herbs such as lavender and lovage.

Of course, make damn sure you know what you are eating, consult a book on horticulture or grow these plants yourself. Because it is high time that flowers should be mentioned along with all the other foods that our ancestors ate and what their modern counterparts should eat as well. While there are disagreements over our consumption of fruit, because we have bred them to become abnormally sweet compared to the fruit our paleolithic ancestors had available, flowering plants have not had that same distinction. Bred for their color, yes, but not their flavor. And I seriously doubt that dandelions have changed all that much over the years.

Print this post

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails