Once the snow has melted one of the first signs of spring most people note is those tiny pointy leaves and golden yellow heads poking out of the ground all over the yard. Most people view these plants, as a nuisance and many refer to them as a weed in that disgusting voice that leaves no doubt that the Dandelion is not very welcomed in their yard.
Perhaps, that is because few people actually know how truly incredible the dandelion is. Dandelions are a wonderful source of food, and the plant holds many medicinal properties. Every single part of the dandelion, except the stem can be eaten.
The leaves of the Dandelion is the most nutritious leafy vegetable there is. One helping of Dandelion greens will give your body 54% of the vitamin A it needs daily, and 10% of the calcium. Compare this to a helping of broccoli that gives the body 12% of the necessary vitamin A and 4% of the calcium you require.
You can enjoy eating the leaves in a variety of ways as well. Picking the leaves and before the plant blooms, will give you tender leaves to eat in a salad or to use in place of lettuce for your favorite sandwich. Older leaves, can be cooked like spinach or mustard greens, or steamed sautéed or braised.
Eating raw dandelion root, will give you a crunchy bitter sweet flavor. Many times these raw roots are cut into small pieces and put into salads, adding a bit of pizazz to the salad.
Roots can also be steamed or dried and eaten that way. The most common method of eating the root however is to roast it, grind it and then drink it as a tea or coffee substitute.
The flowers of the dandelion can also be used as a tea or dipped in batter and deep friend. Their most common use though is in Dandelion Jelly, a beautiful golden honey like jelly.
It is the flower that is also used to make Dandelion wine.
Not only are dandelions good tasting they are good for you as well, having many medicinal qualities. Their most important quality however, is that they act to help clean the liver of toxins and act as a natural diuretic.
So the next time, you see those weeds growing in your yard, instead of sneering at them, why not go and dig up a few and have a nice salad, tea, or a little jelly for your toast?
I would offer one word of caution however. Never use dandelions from places where herbicides were sprayed on the lawn. Like with any plant we intend to digest, it is always best to use organic grown ones. Dandelions are no exception.
Here’s to eating and drinking healthy!