Oh, the lowly dandelion! This “weed” is actually anything but lowly, and now that it is spring, it is the perfect time to bring to mind their benefits before you start your war with them (if you do). Please allow me break down the benefits of consuming the different parts of dandelions for you.
- Helps with digestion
- improves liver function and increases production of superoxide dismutase (the body’s primary antioxidant)
- Contains resistant starch which balances your microbiome)
- Full of anti-cancer phytonutrients and antioxidants
- Regulates blood sugar and insulin
- Improves cholesterol ratios
- Reduces inflammation
- Improves gall bladder function by increasing bile production
- Boosts immune function
- Regulates blood pressure
The roots are most often made into tea. There are many brands sold at Amazon and even your local grocery store. Dandy Blend is a brand of dandelion “coffee” that contains beetroot and chicory as well (both have health promoting properties). It is tasty and you can control the strength easily. I drink it at more of a tea strength, but your can just add more and have “espresso”. It is instant and dissolves in hot or cold water.
To Make dandelion tea or coffee from the roots:
- Harvest dandelion roots from a safe place (that hasn’t been sprayed and there aren’t pets using that area as a restroom).
- Wash the roots and chop them up.
- Dehydrate. You can do this in a dehydrator, or in your oven on the lowest setting.
- Grind roots in a spice grinder.
- Put 1 to 2 tablespoons ground dandelion roots in a pot and add filtered water. (You could also add ground chicory and/or a cinnamon stick for flavor.)
- Bring to a boil and simmer for five minutes.
- Strain grounds out when pouring into your mug and enjoy!
- High in calcium (higher than kale!), vitamin K (which is not so easy to get, and vitamins A, B, C to boot)
- Loaded with antioxidants and minerals
- Contain complete protein (contains all essential fatty acids)
- A natural diuretic that relieves bloating and swelling
- Aids kidney function
- Detoxifies your liver
- Boosts immune function
- Helps regulate blood pressure
- Helps with PMS
Dandelion greens are usually served mixed with other greens in a salad. You can harvest the leaves from a safe place (one that hasn’t been sprayed and isn’t a bathroom for local pets.) The smallest leaves taste the best because they are less bitter. You can also saute them to mellow their flavor. Here is a simple recipe for sauteed dandelion greens. The leaves are also used to make dandelion leaf tea. Some people use dandelion their greens in smoothies as well. They are sold at specialty grocery stores such as Whole Foods and PCC (Seattle area), but they are free from your back yard.
Let’s not forget dandelion flowers!
- Full of antioxidants
- Contain vitamins A, B, C, potassium, and iron.
Here is a recipe for dandelion wine. I have not tried making this yet, but it is on my to-do list. (Oh, my ever growing to-do list!) It is from Susan Weed’s book, Healing Wise. This is a great book for learning how common plants can benefit you. You can also make dandelion jam. This sounds interesting, and I also plan on trying this. I will let you know how it goes when I do.
Do you harvest dandelions from your yard or local meadow? Do you eat dandelions? Do you plan on starting? How about dandelion wine or jelly? I would love to hear from you!