We picked up this plant on our last trip to a local nursery. It was described as a Japanese celery, and is called Ashitaba. We planted it in the ground as soon as we got it home, and it’s been doing quite well. We were told you can pretty much use it like celery, and that it’s good in stir fries.
I decided to write about this new addition, and did a little research. Well it turns out, it’s so much more than we expected it to be. The name Ashitaba is Japanese for “tomorrow’s leaf”. It is called this because apparently you can pick a leaf and the next day one will have grown in its place. It is a flowering plant in the carrot family. It has been used medicinally for years in Japan, and has been considered a major contributor to longer healthier lives. It has been used to aid digestion, and has been known to be used topically to help speed the healing of skin abrasions and to prevent infection. It was once topically used to aid in the treatment of small pox.
One of its best health benefits is that it contains the highest concentration of chalcone in the world. Research has shown that concentrated levels of this compound found can help lower bad cholesterol and promote a faster metabolism. Chalcone has also been shown to help ease anxiety.
Ashitaba contains high levels of B12, which is especially good for those who are eating a strictly plant based diet. Often times vegans and vegetarians are low in B12 which is commonly found in meat products.
The leaves, roots, and stems can be eaten raw or cooked. The leaves and the stems can be dried and used to make tea. It has been used to make soba (a kind of noodle), tempura, and ice cream (hmmm, not sure how to make that, but I’ll figure it out). I found some recipes on-line for cheesecake and scones as well.
I’ll need to do a little more research before I start cooking with it. What seemed to be a common factor in many of the recipes is that you only use a few leaves. I guess too much of a good thing can be bad sometimes. Hence the need for a little more research.
Ashitaba grows well in our tropical climate. It likes temperatures between 75 – 85 degrees, and prefers some moisture, but not too much.
To play it safe, I think I’ll start out with a little tea first, and slowly experiment with some more interesting recipes. I’ll let you know if I make the ice cream!
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