When Jim Henson voiced Flower Eating Monster on "The Julie Andrews Hour" (1973), he launched the career of a demon Muppet who played in The Vile Bunch backing up Alice Cooper on "The Muppets Show."
But (and you can ask Alice Cooper) eating flowers isn't really a monstrous idea.
Many blooms deliver a healthy dose of anti-aging phenolic compounds, such as chlorogenic acid and flavonoids (they're anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory).
But you can't just munch away on any old flower. Some are toxic, some taste terrible, and some have been grown with pesticides or in soil laced with heavy metals (from now-defunct coal-fired power plants).
For safe flower-flavors: Always look up a flower using its botanical name (check first, eat later) and never eat any flower that hasn't been grown in organic soil using organic fertilizer and in a pesticide-free and heavy-metal-free zone. (Tip: Remove heavy metals from soil by growing ragweed for a season, then recycle plants carefully.)
That means no roadside flowers and nothing from florists, nurseries or garden centers. And anyone with allergies or asthma should taste flowers one at a time, in small quantities, to make sure they don't trigger a reaction.
For tasty dishes: Add blooms to stir-fry (flowers from herbs, such as basil, garlic, borage, rosemary, fennel are all delicious) or salad (nasturtium and lavender are favorites), or use as a side dish (think stuffed squash blossoms; and cauliflower and broccoli tops are flowers). Also stick with petals (violets are an exception) for the most pleasing tastes.
© 2014 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.
© King Features Syndicate