Did you know that you can eat dandelion stems and leaves? Dandelions belong to the sunflower family. Dandelions can be picked fresh in your yard or bought from a growing number of grocery stores that carry the cultivated greens. Cultivated greens are less bitter than wild ones, so if you are picking your own dandelion greens, do a taste test by chewing on a piece of the leaf.
When picking your own, pick the younger, brighter green leaves and stems. They will be more tender and less bitter. Pick your dandelions from land that is not treated with pesticides or chemicals. Rinse your greens well and store in a produce bag (a bag with ventilation holes) in the refrigerator. Use your dandelion greens in salads, or sauté the greens with a little seasoning for a quick and easy side dish.
If you haven’t considered eating dandelion greens before, here are a few reasons why you should.
- Contains large amounts of vitamin K, which strengthens bones and fights Alzheimer’s by limiting neuron damage.
- Contains vitamin C which facilitates iron absorption and is necessary for normal growth and development.
- Contains high levels of iron, crucial for hemoglobin (among other things), which carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body.
- Dandelions are high in the antioxidant vitamin A, which protects from certain cancers and also benefits skin, mucous membranes, and is necessary for vision health.
- High in fiber and calcium, both of which are necessary for optimal health. Fiber aids in proper digestion and supports healthy gastrointestinal functions. Calcium is necessary for bone health.
This article is about the green parts of the dandelion, but did you know that the flower and roots are also edible? The roots can be dried, roasted, and ground into a substitute for a hot drink (coffee or tea) which contains inulin and levulin- substances which benefit blood sugar and digestion. Extract from dandelion root has also been studied and proven to be a cancer-fighter. Most people have heard of dandelion wine, which is made from the flowers of the dandelion plant, but did you know that dipping the flowers in batter and frying them up makes for delicious fritters?
For more information on dandelion greens, see also:
The Leaf Lady – also a link for dandelion coffee recipe
Let me know if you try dandelion greens for the first time, or find a great recipe for using the greens. I’m heading out with a basket and some shears now to pick some fresh greens to sauté with mushrooms and garlic. Yum!