Food, Health, Lifestyle Features

Nasturtiums – The Garnish We Should Always Eat!

Next time you are served a delicious organic vegan meal at Wise Cicada cafe and it happens to be garnished with a Nasturtium flower or leaf – be sure to eat it!

Here are a few very good reasons why….

Firstly, check out the colour of the flowers….. anthocyanins abound in the vibrant yellow and orange petals. Anthocyanins are powerful free radical negating antioxidants – helpful  and protective for our bodies in anti-inflammatory and immune system response.

Nasturtium (Tropaeolum Majus) originated in  South America (the Andean regions of Peru Columbia and Ecuador). The Spanish conquistadores introduced Nasturtium to Europe in the 16th century, where the herb became known as ‘Indian cress’.

Like the cress we know well, this ‘Indian cress’ also carries some heat –  it contains mustard oil (isothiocyanate).  As well as the peppery mustard ‘note’, Nasturtiums also contain glycoside (glucotrapaeoline) which hydrolyses to antibiotic and antifungal sulphur compounds. This makes Nasturtium an ideal infection fighting herb, both topically and internally. It may be helpful for respiratory system infections and digestive flora balance. It is also reputed to help promote red blood cell production. The high levels of lutein in nasturtiums also suggest a daily dose will provide supportive nutrition for your vision.

One last addition to the great reasons listed for eating this flowery garnish – if  you are adding Nasturtium petals and leaves to your daily salad – you are also effectively topping up on your iron and vitamin C levels. So plant some in your garden today.

This pretty rambling plant flowers throughout most of the summer so enjoy it in abundance. If you want to preserve some Nasturtium goodness for the winter months here are two great recipes:

Nasturtium Capers
Pick enough Nasturtium buds to fill a jar (wash and dry on a paper towel then pack into jar)
Sprinkle in theses spices as you layer the buds (a dash of nutmeg, a few whole black peppercorns, a few cloves)
Pour organic vinegar over the buds, seal and leave for 6 weeks before opening.

Nasturtium Vinegar
Pick one cup of Nasturtium flowers and place them into a bottle with a peeled clove of garlic. Pour over 500ml of organic cider vinegar and ensure that all the nasturtium petals are covered by the liquid.  Leave for 4 weeks in a cool dark place, then strain and bottle.

We recommend Waiheke Herb Spread from Wise Cicada grocery shelves, this artisan spread is packed with fresh nasturtium flowers and leaves. More info on this product here.

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