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From Garden to Table: 4 Ways to Use Nasturtium

Have you looked out the window at your garden lately? The beginning of August is prime garden season in Indiana where I am. Most of the plants that l planted back in April and May are growing like mad. It’s time to start reaping the benefits of these beautiful blooms. Where to start?

Nasturtiums spreading joyfully through the garden

For me, I’m starting with my nasturtiums.

From just three or four plants I planted this spring, I’ve got a bumper crop of nasturtiums. If you’ve not planted them before, they spread like crazy and happily fill in the blank places in your garden. They’re a low-maintenance, high-enjoyment type of plant. Let’s look at some ways I like to use them at my house.

Arrange them in a Vase

I love to snip several stems of nasturtiums, tie them together, add water, and put them in a pretty little vase. It doesn’t get much simpler than that. But simple doesn’t mean boring. They certainly pack a punch of color and scent. I adore the smell of nasturtiums. They’re a close second to the scent of roses. When you walk by a patch basking in the summer sun, you can’t help but be enveloped in their warm, sweet aroma. And even a small display in your home will infuse your room with their lovely scent for a few days.

 

Add them to your Salad

Both the flowers and the leaves of nasturtiums are edible and high in Vitamin C. Snip the mild-peppery flavored leaves into smaller pieces and toss them in with other salad greens. The flowers are tasty too and make a beautiful display in your salad. I purchased a bottle of violet balsamic vinegar from a specialty shop, and I splash that over the top of the salad along with EVOO (extra virgin olive oil). Use about twice as much EVOO as vinegar. It tastes divine!

 

Make a Roll-up with the Leaves

Nasturtium leaves can grow as large as the palm of your hand, so they make an excellent roll-up for cheese spreads, tuna, egg, or chicken salad, and the like. Simply spread the leaf with the

filling of your choice (I love dill-flavored cream cheese), add any other filling you desire such as shaved turkey or ham, roll up, and secure with a toothpick. Arrange on a plate and drizzle your favorite type of dressing over the top. To really make it shine, add a few nasturtium flowers to the plate.

 

Recipe from Phyllis Shaudys The Pleasure of Herbs

My very first herb book that I ever purchased was The Pleasure of Herbs by Phyllis Shaudys, and it is still my favorite. I bought my copy in the 1980s and it is packed with recipes and projects. I found this recipe for Nasturtium Salad, which she adapted from the Herb Society of Greater Cincinnati in the August chapter, and I’ve adapted by adding lettuce and other vegetables.

Nasturtium Salad
Author: 
Cuisine: salad
Serves: 4 servings
 

Ingredients
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 cucumber
  • 12 small nasturtium leaves
  • 12 small nasturtium leaves
  • ½ tsp. Dry mustard
  • ½ tsp. Dry mustard
  • 2 Tbsp. Wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. Wine vinegar
  • 6 Tbsp. Salad oil
  • 6 Tbsp. Salad oil
  • Salt, freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Salt, freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp. Chopped fresh tarragon
  • 2 Tbsp. Chopped fresh tarragon
  • 6 Nasturtium flowers with leaves

Instructions
  1. Peel and slice cucumbers thinly. Wash cherry tomatoes, red pepper, mesclun leaves. Wash nasturtium leaves; remove stems and drain. Mix well in blender the remaining ingredients except for the flowers with leaves. When ready to serve, combine the cucumbers, small nasturtium leaves, mesclun, tomatoes, pepper strips and the dressing and toss gently. Garnish with the flowers with leaves.

Now it’s your turn. If you don’t have nasturtiums in your garden, choose something else and delight yourself in the botanical goodness that’s right our your back door. Leave a comment as to what you’re harvesting today!

Botanically me,

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Sweet Peace Aromatherapy Room Spray

Sweet Peace
Author: 
Recipe type: Aromatherapy Room Spray
 

Mix up this lovely room spray for a sweet, light fragrance.
Ingredients
  • 8 drops Lavender
  • 15 drops Vanilla in jojoba oil
  • 1.5 oz. Distilled water
  • 1.5 oz. Vodka 80 proof

Instructions
  1. Fill a 2-4 oz. spray bottle with the water and vodka. Add the lavender and vanilla. Shake well before each spray. Mist the room for a lovely fragrance.

 




4 Ways Plants are Grown for Essential Oils

Essential Oils and PlantsWhen you take off the cap of your favorite essential oil and inhale the lovely aroma, do you ever think about the plant the oils came from? I love herbs and flowers and grow some of my favorites in my own garden. I am purposeful about how I care for them. For one thing, I don’t use pesticides or herbicides. And I try to nourish them with compost or an organic fertilizer when possible. I want to be sure that what I am eating or using in a lotion (that I make for my Indianapolis aromatherapy business, AromaScents) is as healthy as possible.

Four Ways Plants are Grown for Essential Oils

It’s good for us to ask the question of how the plants that our essential oils come from are cared for during the growing cycle. Usually, the company you buy your oils from should be able to tell you this. Generally, though, farmers grow these plants in one of four possible ways:

  • Ethically Wild-crafted: This term means that these plants have been gathered as they were growing in the wild or in their native environment. The ethical part means that they were harvested in such a way so that the plant will continue to grow and thrive. In other words, the plant wasn’t decimated in the process of harvesting it.
  • Cultivated: This term means that the plant was specifically planted, grown, and harvested for the DSC_6546purpose of distillation for essential oils.
  • Traditional: Traditional plants are subjected to the use of pesticides during the growing process.
  • Organic: This term means that plants have been grown without the use of pesticides and that the company is usually following  guidelines set up by an independent agency. Not only that, but it also means that the organic farmer is usually following a protocol that protects the land, supports biodiversity, and respects the balance of nature rather than interfering with it by artificial means.

Why is this important?

It’s important so that you can make an informed choice about what type of essential oils you use. If a pesticide-free plant is important for you to use in aromatherapy, you’ll want to seek out essential oils that are organic. Here’s a bit of research on what organic means.

  • Congress set forth general organic principles in the Organic Foods Production Act.
  • The United States Department of Agriculture defines specific organic standards.
  • The Act allows states to set organic standards that are more stringent than the federal standards.
  • Read this USDA Organic Agriculture post for more information.

Keep in mind that just because an essential oil is organic does not necessarily mean it is better for aromatherapy purposes. It depends on many other factors, a major one being the quality of the distillation process. You may have organic plants but end up with an inferior product because of poor distillation techniques from an inexperienced distiller.

Ultimately, when buying essential oils, decide what factors are important to you and research the companies you are purchasing them from to see if they follow practices that you support.

JaneJane VanOsdol has a Level 1 aromatherapy certification from Natural Options Aromatherapy, which follows the guidelines for certification from the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA). She is currently studying for a clinical certification with the East-West School for Herbal & Aromatic Studies and is developing a line of products. She is also available for workshops or one-on-one meetings in the Indianapolis area. You can contact her here.  Visit (and Like) her AromaScents Facebook page for more information.