Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
It's been several years since I took my first bite of Dandelion. I underwent the change based upon childhood memories of my grandmother showing me different plants for medicines. As, a child my best efforts were focusing on the beautiful golden flower. I didn't remember too much about its extraordinary benefits as a young adult except I saw it occasionally on grocery shelves in the tea section for weight loss. But, when I finally took the herbal plunge I was in love with the bitter herb.
I made efforts to have more of this sturdy plant to grow in my yard by having my yard guy to stop fertilizing my yard with any toxic chemicals. Once that was done then I was well on my way to changing my mindset about weeds. I became a Master Naturalist and herbalist which made me concentrate even more on edible weeds.
I knew I would have some resistance from my family but, I was actually surprised when my husband came aboard whose life quote is " Fruits and vegetables will kill you" .
After realizing that I had secretly introduced the green bitter herb into our diet my husband started helping me pull dandelions out of the yard while my neighbor watched exclaiming, " Y'all look like y'all going to eat those", while my husband looked up from one knee and said, " Yep, we are!". I was so proud that day to know that my efforts were beginning to sprout!
Well that day was the beginning of change for my husband and children. Now it has been over six years of including dandelion into our diet whether from drying the roots, mixing them with trail mix, salad, broth, soup or just having a good old pot of dandelion greens. . They bring good eating and also good health.
Dandelion benefits compare favorably in nutritional content to other commonly consumed green vegetables, providing just as much calcium, potassium, 1.5 times as much vitamin A and 7.5 times as much vitamin K as broccoli. It also contains twice as much iron and three times as much riboflavin as spinach. Dandelion greens boast 17 percent of the daily adult dose of vitamin E.
That's just the nutritional benefits but let's go further in the medicinal benefits.
Dandelion has been used for years as a diuretic for urinary tract infections, to aid in digestion, for liver, kidney and gallbladder conditions. But, wait there's more according to HealthyEatingSFGate, "Dandelion greens inhibit interleukin and other immune molecules that trigger inflammation. Dandelion may also control inflammation by suppressing COX-2 enzymes, the molecules that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs target, according to Leah Hechtman, author of the book "Clinical Naturopathic Medicine." A tissue culture study published in the August 2010 issue of the "Journal of Medicinal Food" found that dandelion greens extract significantly suppressed nitric oxide, prostaglandins and cytokines, all pro-inflammatory molecules." Dandelion research includes studies on breast and prostate cancer too.
Still not convinced about Dandelions lets philosophically look at this wonderful plant. Dandelion derives its name from the Greek meaning Head of a Lion also, the French are familiar with dandelion as lion's tooth. And if you look at the design of the dandelion you can see the flower representing a lions main or even idealistically your head, the long stem can be referred to as the esophagus stem or the main passage way to your body and the leaves represent appendages. You see where I am going with this picture and then there are the gorgeous roots which can represent a human's circulatory system. Wouldn't you want something that has restorative properties and is resistance to harsh toxins? It's amazing that we spend billions of dollars each year to get rid of this free medicines that we are convinced are obnoxious weeds. There's a scripture that says we perish for lack of knowledge. If you are interested in Dandelion make sure you identify the species correctly. Go to an herbalist or local agriculture extension for proper identity. Of course dont ever pull a weed or herb from the roadside because with car emissions the plant has become too toxic. When in doubt leave it out. There are false dandelions as well so a safe bet is to look for the long stem coming out of it the middle of the plant singularly. The leaves, flowers and the roots can be used medicinally as well as culinary.
After proper identification I started off with a simple garden salad but, I also have had some safe false dandelion as well mixed in and eaten those without any harm. Of course, everyone in my family wasn't on board at first so, I did do some disguising by camouflaging with a spring mix of greens.
Once you change your mindset you change your way and choices of healthy eating. Remember a Wiser You is a Healthier You!
Disclaimer: Word of warning Dandelion is beneficial for lowering blood sugar for those that are diabetic however, if you are already using allopathic medication to regulate blood sugars than stay away from Dandelion. It could do more harm than good. As always consult a physician before introducing any type of herb or supplement to the body.
Spring Salad & Dandelion Recipe
1 bag of Organic spring salad mix
3 to 4 bunch of fresh dandelion greens, washed and roots chopped off. If you want to take it a step further you can save and dry the roots and add them to trail mix.
1 small red onion sliced in rings
1 organic beef steak tomato diced and chopped
½ organic cucumber peeled and sliced
2 boiled eggs
2 tbsp of feta cheese
Add all of your wonderful ingredients to a nice glass (glass is better to showcase and healthier) bowl .
And you can use your dressing of choice for your fresh salad of various greens or you can always make a nice balsamic vinaigrette
(recipe by Stephonia Roberts)