view counter

Sunny Dandelions

Take them off the wanted poster and into the kitchen
     The cheery bright yellow flowers of the common dandelion have been maligned by herbicide companies. The plant is on the wanted poster for people who want perfectly green lawns. One of the best ways to rid your lawn of dandelions is to eat them.
     Dandelion is our form of dente de lion, which is French for tooth of the lion, referring to the downward facing teeth of the leaves. The dandelion is a bitter green best gathered in spring and summer. All parts of the plant are edible and used as medicine. 
     Dandelions have been eaten as a spring green in Eurasia since prerecorded times. They were mentioned in Chinese writings around the seventh century, and Arabian physicians used the plant around the 10th century. In the Blue Zone of Ikaria, Greece, dandelions are eaten as greens or made into tea.
     Dandelions have many health benefits. One cup of chopped dandelion leaves contains 103 mg of calcium, 218 mg of potassium, 5,589 mg of vitamin A (IU) and 428.1 mg of vitamin K, according to the USDA. It also contains inulin, a prebiotic that feeds gut bacteria.
     Its leaves have a diuretic effect on the kidneys, flushing them but not depleting the body of potassium as many prescription diuretics do. Dandelion greens also act as a mild laxative. The root has more action on the liver in that it is a cholagogue that increases the production and flow of bile.
     Dandelion and its corresponding tincture and tea have been traditionally used for arthritis, gout, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and abnormal blood sugar levels. It is contraindicated in bile duct obstruction and intestinal blockage. In a few people, contact dermatitis can appear due to sensitivity to the latex in the stem.
     Dandelion greens are now sold in farmers markets and some grocery stores. When picking wild dandelions, make sure they haven’t been sprayed or are next to a highway. 
    The bitter flavor is delicious and will get all your digestive enzymes ready to do their work. Use very young dandelion greens raw in salad. Boil or steam older greens (and the roots if you like) and season with oregano, olive oil and fresh lemon juice. Or use in making pesto. 
     Dandelions appear all around the earth. Wherever the plant grows, its long taproot loosens compacted soil, restoring minerals. There are some lookalikes, such as chicory and cat’s ear — both of which are non-toxic and even edible. Dandelions have one flower per hollow stem and no branching.