This is the week in Ontario, and indeed, in most of Canada when the fiddlehead ferns start pushing their coiled green heads up through ground. As Canadians we are lucky to have such an abundant source of this food, which is full of anti-oxidants, minerals, vitamins and fatty acids. Fiddleheads are low calorie and very alkaline which makes them an ideal food for dieters. The nutritious Spring treat is especially abundant in Eastern provinces of Canada where they are served with freshly caught fish. Here in Ontario you can easily find them offered in seasonal in some grocery stores, whole food markets and grocery stores.
What Exactly is a Fiddlehead?
A Fiddlehead is a fern. We don’t eat the full plant just the tender young shoots of the plants. Officially it is of the Ostrich Fern family and known as Matteuccia struthioreris. The plant gets its nickname because its elegant spiral shape is reminiscent of the top end of a fiddle.
Fiddleheads are stalks that have curled up into flat disks that are usually about 4 cm in diameter. They grow to a height of about twelve inches in wild. However, it is recommended that you only consume the shoots, which are tender and have a taste that is like a cross between asparagus, watercress and green beans. Some fiddleheads have a slightly bitter or earthy taste to them and others are a little sweeter depending on the type of soil they are found in. Generally, the younger the shoot is, the sweeter it is as there is more of a concentration of starches and natural sugars in the plant that has yet to mature.
The plant naturally grows in big clumps and thrives in wetter, shady environments. You are most likely found in forests or near rivers and streams and in soils that are a bit sandy.
The harvesting season for fiddlleheads is the last two weeks of May and maybe the first week of June, so if you like to wild-forage for you food as a form of exercise, then now is the time to take a trip to the woods and find these delicious clumps of wild fern shoots.
The Nutritional Benefits of Fiddleheads
Fiddleheads are nutritional powerhouses and an ideal diet food. Here is a short-list of just a few of the benefits of consuming them.
They are an ideal diet food. Fiddleheads are a low-calorie, potent source of anti-oxidants that contain only 34 calories per 100 grams (100 grams is about six fiddleheads) and are a completely vegan source of niacin, thiamine and riboflavin.
Fresh fiddleheads also contain 120% of your daily requirement of Vitamin A. Vitamin A fights all diseases as well as nourishes and strengthens connective tissues in the skin. Vitamin A also protects against gum disease and age-related vision problems such as macular degeneration. It is protective of the liver and helps it detoxify the body.
This amazing vegetable is also high in Vitamin C. Fiddleheads contain 44% of the Canadian RDA. Vitamin C protects against inflammation, cancers and infections.
Fiddleheads are high in minerals. Fiddlehead ferns are extremely high in minerals needed to keep the glandular systems in the body functioning well. They contain copper, iron and manganese, which are all good for nourishing the blood and healing the liver and nervous system.
Fiddleheads are high in potassium. Fiddleheads really shine when it comes to having high potassium content. Potassium is an alkaline-producing mineral that also functions as an electrolyte. It helps lower blood pressure by countering the effects of eating a diet that is high in sodium.
Fiddleheads are best served fresh. They only last about two days in the refrigerator. Before cooking be sure to clean off any brown scales and rinse them well. They are best steamed, stir-fried or sautéed. Traditionally they are served with butter, pepper and salt but you can easily substitute a healthy oil like walnut or olive oil for the butter.
For more information or to book a consultation about our restorative diet and weight loss programs or any health issue you may be experiencing, visit the Pinewood Natural Health Clinic website that has a list of full services and products at www.pinewood.ca or call our Toronto Office at (416)-656- 8100. We also have an office in Pickering, Ontario at (905)-427-0057. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we would be happy to answer any question that you have about our holistic health services.