“The difference between a flower and a weed is a judgement.”
– Anthony Burrill
This statement is SO true – especially when it comes to Dandelions! For many, Dandelions are considered an annoying weed and maybe even an eye sore, but for those who decide to look a little closer, they often come to realize how incredible of a plant they truly are.
Here are some interesting facts you may or may not know about Dandelions:
- They are the most visited plant by important pollinators out of all urban plants
- They are one of the first blooming plants making them essential food for bees in early Spring
- They are extremely helpful in restoring the mineral content of soil and can create drainage pathways in compact soils – both of which are extremely important for healthy gardens
- They are incredibly prolific as a single Dandelion plant can produce up to 5000 seeds per year
- They are extremely healing and medicinal for humans!
The ways in which Dandelions can be of benefit to the human body are vast and varying. They are readily available for medicinal uses and can perform many different functions within the human body when ingested. Listed below are some of the incredible medicinal actions they can perform.
- They help with a wide variety of digestive disorders including; heartburn, constipation, and indigestion. They can help to stimulate appetite (when needed) and increase the natural production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach (important for protein digestion). They also assist in increasing the types of beneficial bacteria found in the gut.
- They support the liver by helping to produce bile and increase its flow throughout the body
- They have an anti-inflammatory action in the body making them helpful for conditions such as gout, eczema, and rheumatism
- They’re a diuretic and therefore help to support the kidneys in reducing unwanted water retention
- When taken prior to mensuration, they can help to support woman with many symptoms associated with PMS
- The stem is filled with a substance that can be used topically on warts and other skin conditions
Okay so now we all know how amazing Dandelion can be for our bodies – we should talk about how we can actually use them! Below are a few of the many ways you can start incorporating Dandelion into your diet.
- The Roots: can be boiled or baked and eaten like any other root vegetable. Otherwise they can be chopped up fresh and added to any soup, curry or stew. You can also dry them and grind them up into a powder. This powder can then be mixed with hot water and drank as an incredible coffee substitute (it even has a similar bitter yet smooth flavour like coffee does)
- The Leaves: used as salad greens, sautéed in stir fry’s, blended up into dressings, and added to smoothies, soups, or curries. They can also be dried to drink as a tea
- The Flowers: these are full of Vitamin D and can be eaten as found (however I find them a little funny tasting completely on their own). Alternatively they can be fried up with a bit of garlic and oil (this is delicious!) and added to salads or rice bowls. The petals can also be added into all sorts of baked goods (such as my “Liver Loving Dandelion Petal Cornbread” recipe)
- The flowers, leaves, and roots can all be made into nourishing Vinegars to be used in a variety of culinary applications
Harvesting Dandelions are really as easy as you can imagine it to be! All you need to do is find an unmaintained park or area where you know pesticides haven’t been sprayed and start picking away. It is best to stay away from busy roadsides as the Dandelions growing here will be contaminated with more pollutants. When I head out to harvest them, I like to bring a small gardening tool or shovel to help get the roots out of the ground. It is best to pick them on a sunny day as the flowers tend to close up when it is rainy or cloudy. Once you harvest multiple plants (I find it best to keep the root, leaves and stems in tact during harvest), you can bring them home, depict the different parts, and decide what you want to make with them. Be sure to stay tuned for tons of amazing recipes that I’ll be sharing with all sorts of unique Dandelion creations. You can also check out “Your Optimal Health Guide for Spring” where I share my “Liver Loving Dandelion Petal Cornbread” and “Green Dandy Detox Dressing” recipes – both of which are incredibly delicious!
I wish you happy harvesting and cooking as you hopefully start incorporating this amazing medicinal plant into your life!
I used Beverley Gray’s book, “The Boreal Herbal” as my main resource to write this post. This book is literally my Bible when it comes to foraging and using wild plant foods in the kitchen – definitely a must read for anyone else interested in this stuff!