The definition of a weed according to wiki is ‘a plant considered undesirable in a particular situation, “a plant in the wrong place”. When we are gardening we often pluck and discard weeds with disdain at their tenacious growing power and ability to survive beyond all odds. We give little thought as to their potential value in the kitchen and this is where we are missing out on a nutrient packed gem right on the doorstep!
Weeds have all sorts of nutritional and medical benefits and what’s more they are organic and totally free of charge. Before we raid whole foods of it’s expensive supplements and rare varieties of kale we can find a super food hiding away in our own garden. There are many nutritional, edible weeds including chickweed, chicory, daisies and elderflowers to name but a few. Potentially one of the most common and accessible weeds we have in the UK is the dandelion.
Dandelion has been used through the ages to treat everything from liver and kidney issues to heartburn and even appendicitis. It’s not just the leaves either, every part of this weed has beneficial nutrients from the root to the bright yellow flower heads. Dandelions contain a wealth of vitamins including A, B, C and D as well as minerals iron, potassium and Zinc. Here are some of the potential benefits of eating dandelions.
- Dandelion acts as a natural diuretic and can help the kidneys remove toxins from the body by making the bladder fill up more frequently to be emptied, increased urination also aids with lowering blood pressure
- The leaves contain 535% of the recommended daily value of vitamin K which, is useful for bone density and brain health.
- The leaves boast more beta carotene than carrots, beta carotene is great for healthy eyes!
- A study done in 2011 showed that dandelion root tea may induce leukaemia cells to die. It sent a different instruction to healthy cells than it did to those containing the disease.
- Dandelion extracts have been considered to help fight infections as they can help boost the immune system.
- Every part of the dandelion plant is rich in antioxidants which, can help to slow down the ageing process of our cells.
- The plant is filled with antioxidants – which may help stave off premature aging, cancer, and other illnesses.
Dandelions have a slightly bitter flavour which, can be minimised by picking them in the spring and summer as the young leaves are less bitter and more tender. To be made more palatable dandelions can be made into hot drinks including tea and coffee which, you can find in local health shops. You can also add them straight to salads or boiled or fried to act as a vegetable and even made into wine and root beer! Uv has scoured the internet in the search of some dandelion recipes you can try at home!
2 INGREDIENT SIMPLE DANDELION FACE CREAM
DANDELION GREENS WITH PINE NUTS AND DRIED CHERRIES
Image and article @ Sarah Louise Johnson