A perennial problem? Friend or foe, the dandelion is a nutritious treat

When I was a child, I recall the times I heard what the consequences of sniffing a dandelion would be. Namely that if I did I would ‘wet the bed’. Children would chase me until they caught up with me, to do nothing but stuff the odious flower under my nose. Of course they laughed and mocked, and convinced themselves, and me I might add,  that I was going to urinate in my bed as I slept. We hated dandelions for this reason, they were horrible, ugly and made you wet the bed, and so began our conditioning (if we want to get Pavlovian about this) that these ‘weeds’ were our foe, and ought to be eradicated.

I think it is safe to say that we have all seen these persistent invaders sprouting up in the lawn, the path ways, in the cracks of the pavements and just about everywhere where you don’t want them to be. An utter plague to the gardener who enjoys pristine lawns and weed free patios.

Before I go any further, let me confess that what I am about to write in this post is not groundbreaking information, but I believe the dandelion needs as much warmth and support, and positive press as possible. It’s abundant and delicious, and extremely healthy.

Let’s investigate the nutritional powerhouse we call ‘the dandelion’…

Firstly, this versatile herb (or vegetable in my eyes) offers its flowers, leaves and long, deep tap roots for us to consume. Most importantly, it’s a culinary and medicinal plant rolled into one, it’s freely available to all and it welcomes you each and every morning with the one of the prettiest of flowers. One that our pollinators love! That’s quite a prize in the way I view the world.

The dandelions trump card has to be its whopping levels of vitamin A, C and K. A 100g serving of dandelion greens would give your body 338% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin A, 58% of vitamin C and 649% of vitamin K. If truth be told, I could sit in front of my computer all day and write the individual benefits and list the nutritional information. Name the vitamin or mineral, the dandelion owns it! There are that many health benefits, and they’re all coming from this persistent ‘problem plant’.

Dandelion leaves and flowers are often used in salads, or wilted (which will reduce bitterness). I have used them as a spinach substitute in times passed. The flowers can be deep fried into a fritter and are also used in wine making, whereas the root can be dried, roasted and ground down to make a naturally sweet caffeine free coffee substitute rich in probiotics.

In future posts I will be sharing some of the ways I use dandelion in my recipes, so watch this space and remember to smile when you see a dandelion shoot up. They’re definitely a friend, not a foe.


Photo credits

Dandelions: an old weed becomes a new rubber crop



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