Something bitter in the mouth makes the stomach healthy: even if it may seem strange or even difficult to eat the lovely flowers and leaves of daisies, violets, dandelions, or the hairy leaves of the nettle – they have a lot to offer in terms of health and are more than that A treat of a different kind. Whether to refine salads, as an ingredient in honey or as a vegetable substitute in rice dishes. There are no limits to creativity in the kitchen.
Wild plants full of healthy bitter substances – Article overview:
- Healthy wild plants & flowers
- Why are bitter substances healthy?
- Daisies, violets, dandelions & Co.
- Healthy flowers
- Proper preparation of flowers
- Wild plant bitter substances – link tips
Many domestic medicinal plants such as nettle, milk thistle, peppermint, shepherd’s purse, chickweed, yarrow, rosemary, sage, and wild garlic stimulate the metabolism through the bitter substances they contain and thus support detoxification and excretion processes. “Something bitter in the mouth is healthy for the stomach” is the saying. Today we know that bitter substances support the liver, bile, and pancreas and positively affect the cardiovascular system.
While vegetables and salads such as chicory, radicchio, or endive are used to taste powerful and bitter, only mild-tasting varieties are grown, and the bitter taste has become rare. In doing so, people lose the valuable benefits of bitter substances. The consequences of a lack of bitter substances are varied and range from overweight to digestive weaknesses, a feeling of fullness, and metabolic diseases. Also, the taste buds wither while the desire for mild and sweet foods grows.
Why are bitter substances healthy?
Bitter substances are in themselves poisons that plants use to protect themselves from predators. However, many of these substances are very healthy for humans. Traditionally, they are mainly used to treat gastrointestinal complaints. They increase gastric and bile secretion and thus have a digestive effect.
“What is bitter for the mouth is healthy for the stomach.” The proverb is no coincidence because the beneficial effect of the bitter substances affects other areas:
- they promote digestion
- strengthen the immune system
- are good base donors
- help you lose weight
- are good for the nervous system
- and they support the liver
Bitter substances in food are particularly recommended for overweight people. They have a strong desire for sweetness, as they act as a food break and lead to a feeling of satiety earlier. The aromatic taste activates digestion. Also, bitter substances act like “mucous membrane training” or a free jogging hour for the intestines.
The mucous membranes contract due to the bitter taste and then expand again. Poisons, metabolic waste products, viruses, bacteria and fungi can be more easily removed and excreted.
Daisies, violets, dandelions & Co.
The daisy (Latin Bellis perennis: Bellis = beautiful, pretty; perennis = persistent, perennial) grows on almost every lawn and is one of the most famous plants in Central Europe. The “beautiful” has many different names in the vernacular, such as. Eyebrows, celestial flowers, mayflower, ladybirds, Maßliebchen, moonlight flowers, morning flowers, Easter flowers, rain flowers, sunflowers, and daisy.
The daisy is a medicinal plant in folk medicine. The flowers contain the active ingredient saponin, essential oils, bitter substances, and tannins. As a result, they have a blood-purifying effect and are used for skin diseases and liver problems. The ingredients are also dehydrating, and daisies are a great addition to a spring cereal regimen.
The flowers and young leaves can be used in salads, as an addition to spreads or as a decoration for dishes. Leaves and flowers give soups and sauces an additional special touch. The buds and the half-open flowers taste pleasantly nutty, while the open flowers taste slightly bitter, which makes them ideal as a salad addition. When pickled, buds are used as a substitute for capers.
The dandelion (canned lettuce, dandelion, cowflower, eyelid, French lettuce, meadow lettuce, Pfaffenröhrl, dog flower, bammbusch, lard flower, safflower) has been known as a medicinal plant for a long time . Already in antiquity it was valued as a stomach remedy and in the Middle Ages the milk juice was used to treat eye diseases (Greek taraxis = eye inflammation and akeomai = I heal).
The most important ingredients are the bitter substances (taraxacin in roots and herbs), inulin, vitamins C, A and B and a high potassium content. Dandelion has an activating effect on the (cell) metabolism, stimulates the production of bile and gastric juice and promotes emptying of the gallbladder. Overall, the excretory function of the liver and kidneys is supported. In folk medicine, dandelion is considered to be blood purifying and effective for rheumatism, gout, digestive disorders, eczema and liver diseases. The white milky juice is also used to treat warts.
The healing aspects of dandelion in traditional Chinese medicine vary depending on the part of the plant: Nibbling fresh dandelion leaves and stems stimulate the body’s fluids and cleanse the blood. They have a diuretic effect, stimulate the kidneys, and lower blood pressure. For this reason, unlike nettles, they are not recommended for people with low blood pressure.
As bitter as the dandelion root is, it dissolves bitterness easily. The bitter substances in the root work best as tea. It is advisable to drink dandelion root tea just before a meal. By the way, the roots of dandelions are considered a delicacy in China. Dig up fresh, clean well with the vegetable brush, cut diagonally into slices, and fry in a wok or in a pan with vegetables until crisp. A pleasure!
Healthy and tasty flowers
In addition to herbs, we can also use numerous flowers and blossoms for our well-being. In the Middle Ages, for example, there was not much difference between flowers and spices. Rose soup as a dessert or fried elderflower and sage leaves were common dishes, and dandelions and red clover were also used in the kitchen.
Today, edible flower blossoms are being rediscovered in the kitchen and are no longer just used to decorate the rim of the plate, but are used as a healthy color accent in salads. This means that they are no longer gently pushed aside, but rather eaten with them.
Violets and pansies – are not only pretty to look at, but also have a special taste. For tea, salads, candied as candy or decoration for desserts.
Rose petals or buds – with roses, you can conjure up the romance in the form of cookies, pies, liqueurs, or syrups. For seasoning and candied, they are irresistible – whether in salads or as cake decoration. Dried rosebuds make a wonderfully fragrant tea.
Even in grandmother’s time, the marigold was used as a substitute for saffron to color dishes due to its strong color. Goes well with butter, salads, and cheese. The young leaves of the marigold are also edible.
Although we primarily associate lavender with scented sachets, its flowers are an edible decoration with a tart, spicy taste. For example, Lavender is an integral part of the herb seasoning mix “Herbes de Provence.” In England, lavender-flavored sugar is popular (pulping flowers three times their weight in sugar). Or season a lamb dish with lavender instead of rosemary.
As graceful and perhaps seductive some meadow flowers appear, they can also be dangerous. The list of poisonous flowers is long. Flowers like foxgloves, autumn crocus, lily of the valley, and buttercup – as beautiful and tempting as the name sounds – are very poisonous, for example. Allergy sufferers should also be particularly careful because many flowers contain allergenic substances.
Proper preparation of flowers
Most flowers are suitable for salads or as edible decorations. Only a few can also be cooked. Small flowers like daisies, borage, or violets are sprinkled all over the lettuce. Larger ones are carefully cut up.
In the case of daisy flowers (marigold, chrysanthemum), only the delicate outer petals are used. The plant’s aromatic substances are most intense when the dew has dried, but the sun is not yet shining in full force. Therefore, it is best to pick flowers in the morning, rinse them briefly with water, and pat dry with paper towels.
Pistils, stamens, and green parts must be carefully removed from large flowers. Please only use flowers from your own garden or unsprayed plants! It would help if you didn’t buy flowers to eat at the florist because the flowers are mostly treated with pesticides.
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