Many people think of Dandelions as a nuisance. This time of year, I always hear folks sharing ideas on how to get rid of those darn dandelions and which poisons work the best. On the other end of the spectrum, there are those throughout the world who welcome and embrace the dandelion as both food and medicine. The dandelion is a wild vegetable that is abundant, extremely nutritious and still free. The parts used are mostly the leaves and root. They are high in vitamin A, B, C, beta carotene, minerals and fiber. Dandelions act as a natural diuretic and are a popular blood and liver cleanser. They are also considered a general tonic to help nourish and strengthen the liver, gallbladder, pancreas, spleen, kidneys, stomach and intestines. Dandelions have been known to help with anemia, cirrhosis of the liver, hepatitis, and jaundice, reducing serum cholesterol and uric acid levels. Dandelions have even relieved menopausal symptoms for some. Hot flashes have been linked to liver congestion in certain individuals. When there is liver congestion, previously used hormones that are ready for discard become trapped in the liver, recycled and used repeatedly, eventually causing toxicity.
Then there are those who just love to cook with dandelions. Dr Peter Gail, founder and president of The Defenders of Dandelions, has researched recipes and folklore on wild plant use by people throughout the world. He has collected over 3000 recipes for 105 plants, including over 600 for dandelions. He began eating weeds as a young boy as a necessity for survival after a friend introduced Gail’s family to them. In 1994, to promote the use of dandelions, Dr Gail’s company, Goosefoot Acres, decided to sponsor a national dandelion cook off in Dover Ohio. It is held the first weekend in May every year and draws people from all over the country eager to enter their favorite dandelion dish in the contest.
If you are ready to go out and pick some dandelion greens, it’s best to pick the leaves when they are young and tender, especially if you are going to eat them raw. This is before it flowers. After it flowers, merely cut the plant back to the root and in about 2 weeks or so you will have more tender leaves. This can be done all summer. It may be unhealthy to pick and eat dandelions from soil that has been exposed to repeated applications of herbicide. Chris Atzberger of Columbus Ohio has a recipe for the Classic Dandelion Salad that serves 4. Half lb. fresh dandelion leaves, chopped, 1 small onion minced, 8 oz. fresh mushrooms chopped, 2 T. balsamic vinegar, 3 T. olive oil, half t. salt, 0ne eighth t. black pepper. Toss and serve. I also like mixing dandelion greens in with my other salad greens. They can also be cooked like any green. I wouldn’t discard the water after draining, for that’s were most of the nutrients are. My wife prefers steaming the greens in a little water or sautéing them in a little olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Here is a refreshing dandelion and tomato appetizer recipe offered by Gail Harshbarger of Akron Ohio that would complement at any summer picnic. 15 Roma tomatoes or 8 other tomatoes, half c. onions, finely chopped, 1 clove garlic finely minced, one fourth c. sweet yellow pepper diced, one fourth c. sweet red pepper diced, 2 c. dandelion leaves, chopped, 1 c. feta cheese crumbled. One half to three fourth cup c. red wine or Italian dressing, half teaspoon of your favorite mixed dry herbs, 1 t. Worcestershire sauce, One fourth c. Parmesan cheese. Mix all ingredients in a bowl except for the tomatoes. Chill for 1 hour. Cut tomatoes in half and scoop out the inside. Stuff dandelion mixture into the tomatoes and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. My wife usually adds what she scooped out of the tomatoes to the dandelion mixture before chilling. It can also be baked.
The dandelion root is the part used mostly for medicinal purposes. It may be dug up, dried, cut up then made into a tea. It must be simmered for 30 minutes or so. If you would like to enjoy some of the health benefits of dandelion but are not that adventurous, dandelion tea may be purchased as well as the capsules.
The dandelion root is also used to make a tasty and nutritious coffee substitute called, dandy blend. Dandy blend had a delicious coffee-like flavor that can also be used in baking or added to vanilla ice cream to give a delicious creamy coffee flavor.
When I see dandelions, I admire their beauty and give them thanks for all their medicinal gifts…so please be kind to your dandelions.
This article provided by Michael Comeau and is for informational purpose only. It is not intended to diagnose treat or cure any disease. Always consult with your doctor when seeking medical advice.