Bon Appetit - Just Plain Good Food
The Dreaded Dandelion
by Tammera J. Karr, PhD
It is spring, and along with all the gardening and grass mowing, comes weeding. Americans spend millions on weed killers to eradicate dandelions from yards and ball fields every year. The health challenges of all the chemicals being placed on soils, and eventually into water systems is a topic for another day. Today it is about this forgotten food and all its many health benefits.
Why or when this highly beneficial food got relegated to pest weed, I’m not sure. Many countries throughout the world actually raise this plant for food and medicinal use. There are soups, sauces, salads and more from Europe utilizing this wild green. The root has been used for many health maladies of the liver, kidney and digestive system for centuries.
When looking up, what turned out to be substantial number of reputable sources of information on this forgotten food – I ran across the “LeafLady.org”, here was a very nice essay on all the many benefits of dandelion greens and roots. And the best part was it was accurate based on all my herbal books and formularies. Here is a little of an essay from her book.
“Suppose your doctor tells you, on your next visit, that he has just discovered a miracle drug which, when eaten as a part of your daily diet or taken as a beverage, could, depending on your body chemistry: prevent or cure liver diseases; act as a tonic and gentle diuretic to purify your blood, dissolve kidney stones, and otherwise improve gastrointestinal health; assist in weight reduction; cleanse your skin and eliminate acne; improve your bowel function, relieve both constipation and diarrhea; lower high blood pressure; prevent anemia; lower your serum cholesterol by as much as half; eliminate or drastically reduce acid indigestion and gas buildup by cutting the heaviness of fatty foods; prevent various forms of cancer; control diabetes mellitus; and, at the same time, have no harmful side effects and selectively act on only what ails you.
All the above functions have been attributed to one plant known to everyone, Taraxacum officinale, which means the “Official Remedy for Disorders.” We call it the common dandelion. It is so well respected, that it appears in the U.S. National Formulary, and in the Pharmacopeias of Hungary, Poland, Switzerland, and the Soviet Union. It is one of the top 6 herbs in the Chinese herbal medicine chest.” (The Many Health Benefits of Dandelion By Peter Gail)
An article published in Mother Earth News reported the following. “All parts of the dandelion are edible and have medicinal and culinary uses. It has long been used as a liver tonic and diuretic. In addition, the roots contain inulin and levulin, starchlike substances that may help balance blood sugar, as well as bitter taraxacin, which stimulates digestion. Dandelion roots can be harvested during any frost-free period of the year and eaten raw, steamed, or even dried, roasted and ground into a coffee substitute. The flowers are best known for their use in dandelion wine, but they also can be added to a salad, made into jellies or dipped in batter to make dandelion fritters. The leaves are rich in potassium, antioxidants, and vitamins A and C. Dandelion greens can be eaten raw, steamed, boiled, sautéed or braised. For use in salads, greens should be harvested from new plants while still small and tender before the first flower emerges. Larger greens tend to be tougher and more bitter, and better suited for cooking.” (MEN-Reap the Benefits of Dandelion Greens, By Roger Doiron 2008)
Simple Sautéed Dandelion Greens Recipe
1 to 2 tbsp avocado oil/coconut oil/extra virgin olive oil or Kerry butter
1 to 2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Shallot, minced
1 bunch dandelion greens, washed, dried, stems removed
Celtic Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and shallot, cook for 1 minute or until it becomes translucent. Add the dandelion greens and sauté 2 to 3 minutes or until soft, stirring occasionally. If your dandelion greens are tough, you may want to cover the pan and steam them for a minute or 2 more. Add salt and pepper to taste.
These are great with some traditional apple cider vinegar also.
Now many are concerned with the loss of or escalating coast of healthcare in the near future. Eating dandelion greens may be the one food which can help you take back control of your health. You may prefer to remain independent and self-sustaining, or you may just like to try new or different foods, whatever motivates you to eat your greens, ancient or modern, go for it.
To healthy greens and good health