Saturday, August 30, 2014

Not Just Another Pretty Flower!

                Although borage is most notably used as an herbal supplement in the United States, my goal with this post is to expand your understanding of what it is and how it can be used in its natural form.

                Borage is a plant that grows two to three feet tall and has flowers that have hues of blue, purple, and white (like seen in the picture here).  It is literally grown worldwide and is a versatile plant that can succeed in virtually any soil type.  Borage actually has many nutrient qualities that make this easy-to-care for garden item a must have as well. It has fatty acids, calcium, iron, potassium, and B vitamins. It is renowned as an adrenal gland aid and has actually been associated with improving mood and is currently being looked at as a possible anti-inflammatory.

                A practical application of Borage that I implement for my own programming is planting it in rows in a garden as it draws in beneficial insects and birds. When flowers are at their height in August (in Zone 3), the honey bees , butterflies, and hummingbirds all swarm to the plants to feed. The garden literally is buzzing as they are out in full force. The honey bees are especially helpful with pollination as they are drawn to the Borage planted and then frequently visit other plants in the garden.  If you do not have a garden, have no worries as the seeds can be grown effectively in pots as well. Just make sure that they have sunlight and you water them and you are good to go.

In addition to the practical uses in which we can turn to Borage, I have found them to be highly palatable. It is not all that common where you can plant a packet of seeds and literally have a hundred plants that add aesthetics and a distinct taste to any salad. To me, Borage tastes like a cucumber, and when used in a salad with fresh cucumbers, it almost tastes like there are two different cucumbers being used as part of the dish. It is great when you can cut a plant out of your garden at the base, take it into your kitchen and start cutting it up and put into your salad, and then watch the reactions of your guests. “Are you sure you can eat that?” is a frequent question that I have encountered when making the salads in front of others I have served, and with trying it, they realize how Borage adds freshness and vibrancy to the dish. While it always makes me laugh to get the reactions that I just mentioned,  the thing I like most about Borage is that you literally can eat the entire plant. Whatever you do not harvest in the fall, you can just till it into the ground as a soil enricher because of its nitrogen value.

Borage is definitely not just another pretty flower!

Mark Maule
Health and Wellness Instructor



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Kaplan Center for Health and Wellness
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