We're full into spring with summer at our heels. Why not take advantage of the wild greens growing all around you. I'm talking about dandelion greens here. They're packed full of health supporting nutrients and make a great contrasting addition to your mixed greens salads, soups, stews, wraps, rice, and yes even beverages.
Years ago, when I would look through my herb books, I would see dandelion and dandelion roots mentioned as medicinals. Funny enough, I never realized that they were the very same "weeds" growing in my backyard. You know the ones we are encouraged to go to the hardware store, buy a bottle of weed-kill and call it a day?
For years I thought the only way I could come across dandelion was to buy it at the health food stores or through herb catalogs. They weren't cheap! So I did. I would order them, make my teas out of them, drink the coffee substitutes that contained them; but, not until I was an adult did it dawn on me that I was spending a small fortune on something I could get for free; and, in an almost overabundance, by walking right outside to my backyard and harvesting a basketful.
I felt really smart after that 'light bulb' moment [and yes, I'm being facetious].
Here are the top ten things I like to do with my new found 'freebies':
- As a salad addition
Dandelions are loaded with vitamins and minerals like: vitamins A, C, & D, minerals like: Phosphorous, Calcium, & Iron, and micronutrients like: copper, cobalt, zinc, boron, and molybdenum [according to Russian and Easter Europe studies on the topic]
- As a major ingredient in smoothies
This is really good, especially if you find yourself on the run a lot and need to get in a true health shake. You can use it from root to flower.
- As a coffee substitute
This is a staple for those who want a healthy, caffeine-free, earthy beverage. The dandelion root can be roasted alone or other roots can be added to the mixture for a more full bodied, nutrient dense drink - roasted chicory & burdock root, roasted buckwheat...
- In a great stir-fry
I find that it adds just the right amount of bitterness in a stir-fry with a sweet and sour sauce incorporated.
- In a hero sandwich
Next time instead of adding shredded iceberg lettuce to your hero sandwich try adding slivered dandelion leaves. You want another innovative nuance to it, pickle them! It's great for the liver and should go a long way in helping digest that over-sized sandwich!
- As a sauce
If you're a lover of international cuisine, you've more than likely tasted some of the mint, tamarind, citrus sauces and/or chutneys, pesto and the like. Make a healthy variation with dandelion as the focal point.
- As a finisher for soups, stews, and bisques
I love the contrasting bright green color and crunch dandelion adds to the aforementioned. It's a great way to boost their nutritional value and keep you healthy in the process.
- As spears for great ranch-style dipping sauces
Cauliflower and carrots are great, but I'm a bigger fan of the unique. Try adding dandelion leaves to the lineup. Make sure you place them in ice cold water to stiffen them up before adding them to your offerings.
- As a tea
Dandelion tea is great for so many things and it happens to taste great. Try it as a single or in combination with others like: mint, chamomile, raspberry, cilantro... Let your imagination run wild.
- As a nutrient dense addition to your seasoning blends
Dry it just like you would mint, parsley, chives... and pulverize them into a fine dusting powder. You can keep it by itself, or you can add it to a multitude of other dried herbs and spices. Again, you will pick up the nutrient value of all the things you add it to.
I love this herb, and I think after trying it out in any or all of these creative ways, you will too!
For more information and great ideas stop by my facebook page and drop me a line.
Until next time...