Dandelion: a Nutritious Healthful Weed

Written by Hillary, Contributing Writer

The humble dandelion is often looked down upon for being a weed.  It is a weed, but a nutritious healthful weed.  By definition, a weed is a wild plant growing where it is not wanted; “a plant in the wrong place”.  Many desirable, delicious, nutrient-dense plants are technically weeds.  Once you see the goodness, you will not snub the dandelion any longer.

Dandelion Healthful Weed

Dandelions – all parts except the stem – are full of vitamins, minerals and even protein.  Dandelion greens are antioxidant rich.  They are a great source for vitamins K, A and C.  They also provide vitamin E and B1, B2, and B6.   Dandelion greens are high in both calcium and iron.  

They are also a good source of copper, manganese, magnesium, potassium and phosphorous.  Someone should let Popeye know, there is more protein (and a complete protein at that) per serving in dandelion greens than spinach.  All of these contribute to dandelions anti-inflammatory and detoxing abilities.  Why are dandelions so nutritious and healthful?  Their roots.  They send down tap roots which can pull minerals and vitamins from deeper in the soil than many other greens.

Greens For All Seasons

For years, we have picked fresh, young dandelion leaves to add to salads in early spring.  These earliest leaves are the least bitter and a tasty addition to other salad greens.  Try the leaves in your favorite pesto recipe.  Fresh greens of any size are a good addition to smoothies, too.  

We use greens year round, so we freeze some of the larger leaves.  We flash freeze them on cookie sheets, then seal in plastic bags.  These greens are wonderful to add to soups, lasagne and other dishes where the greens are cooked.  If using for tea, tear into smaller pieces prior to freezing.  Dehydrating is also an option for long-term preservation, but the nutrients are best preserved frozen.

Fistful of Flowers

My children have brought in dandelions by the fistful since they were toddlers.  There are numerous uses for these sunshine-y blossoms.  You can batter and fry them – try it.  Knowing that this is commonly done with squash blossoms made it easier to be brave and give this a try.  You can use closed or opened blossoms with equal results.  We also make dandelion infused oil.  The oil can be used as-is for aching muscles and joints or turn this into a healing salve.  The blossoms also make great tea.  Still another use for the flowers is to make jelly.  Sunshine in a jar!  It should be noted to only use blossoms you know to be free from contaminants such as sprays or roadside exhaust.

Back to the Roots

We cannot let any part of this ‘weed’ go to waste.  Digging up the roots and roasting them makes a great caffeine-free coffee substitute.  I am not fond of coffee (I know, I should turn in my homeschool-mama-badge right now) so I’ve not tried this.  This roast dandelion root coffee recipe also instructs harvesting and roasting preparations.  The chai-style tea recipes at the bottom are on my list to try when we get some roots harvested.  You can boil the root and eat it, but I’ve read it is very bitter.  I’d only try this in drastic situations.

From roots to blossoms and the leaves in between, there are many tasty and healthful uses for the humble dandelion.  Remove it from weed status and maybe even find a spot to cultivate it.  The seeds should be pretty easy to find.

Have you ever used dandelion? What ways have used it?

About Hillary

Comments

  1. I love dandelion root tea. I put a dash of creamer and coconut oil in it just like coffee.

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