By Gillian B
Need some last minute ingredients for dinner? Look no further than your backyard. Step into nature’s supermarket!
Dandelion is considered a weed to most people who spend hundreds of dollars a year trying to keep their lawn perfect. However, it is time to give dandelions a chance!
Dandelion leaves, or “greens” are perhaps more nutritionally potent than the lettuce you have in your crisper. They contain just as much iron as spinach, and four times as much vitamin A (beta carotene) as the popular salad green.
One cup of dandelion greens also contains 535% of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin K and is a good source of vitamin C, calcium, iron, fiber, and potassium!
The plant is also a known diuretic, working to increase the amount of urine the body produces and can be valuable in reducing water weight or blood pressure. It also has digestive benefits, working as a mild appetite stimulant and an upset stomach soother.
Historically and to this day, the leaves are most widely recognized as a promoter of liver health, as they stimulate the production of bile and work to detoxify the blood.
Believe it or not, the entire plant is edible:
- Flowers: An excellent source of antioxidants, used in cooking and baking.
- Leaves: Used in teas, tinctures, and meals.
- Roots: Used in liver tonics, teas, and tinctures.
Dandelion is one of the most abundant plants out there. It can be found popping up in lawns, gardens and even out of the cracks in sidewalks just about everywhere in North America. That being said, you do not want to pick just any dandelion especially those at the side of a busy road, trail or those coming up in lawns that may have been sprayed.
Look for dandelion that is in a more natural setting with less traffic like around the perimeter of wooded areas or where there is longer grass, sand or pebbles.
Here’s what to look for:
- Flowers: Choose the full and bright yellow blossoms. Can be foraged all year long.
- Leaves: Choose a mixture of young and older leaves. Can also be foraged all year long.
- Roots: Choose the fullest and largest root systems on the most developed plants. It is best to forage the roots in springtime.
As with all wild plants, it is important to harvest responsibly. This means, not taking more than you need or completely clearing out the whole area. If there is a bunch of them, you can thin them out a bit but be sure to leave some for Mother Nature to do her thing.
Ways to use Dandelion:
Medicinal and edible, the Dandelion is very nutritious, having more vitamins and minerals than most vegetables, it has a long history of use as food in many countries.
Use the greens in salad blends, detox juices and smoothies, stir fries, soups and sautés. I made a wild dandelion pesto the other day with the leaves, hemp seeds, garlic, salt and olive oil and it was divine!
The flowers are often dipped in batter and fried while roots make an awesome coffee substitute when dried and roasted. Dandelion wine is made from fermented flowers and is very flavorful and medicinal!
Check out this creative recipe:
Cream of Dandelion Soup
Recipe adapted from: http://www.eattheweeds.com/dandelions-hear-them-roar/
4 cups chopped dandelion leaves
2 cups dandelion flower petals
2 cups dandelion buds
1 Tbsp grass-fed ghee or organic coconut oil
1 cup chopped wild leeks (or onions)
6 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups spring water
1 cups raw cashews, soaked
2 tsp sea salt
- Gently boil dandelion leaves in 6 cups water. Pour off the bitter water. Boil gently a second time, pour off the bitter water.
- In a heavy-bottom soup pot, sauté wild leeks and garlic in ghee or oil until tender.
- Add 4 cups spring water.
- Add dandelion leaves, flower petals, buds, and salt.
- Simmer gently 45 minutes or so.
- Add cashews and simmer a few minutes more.
- Blend in a high-powered blender such as NutriBullet Rx.
- Garnish with flower petals.
Check this video for more weeds with health benefits: