Posts Tagged ‘Dandelion Benefits’

Goji Dandelion Red Lentil Curry

I haven’t posted any recipes in awhile, but this one was too tasty not to share!

As regular blog readers know, I’ve got a yard full of dandelions, and aside from harvesting the flowers for dandelion wine and dandelion jelly, I also gather dandelion leaves. Bags and bags of dandelion leaves! Sometimes I put them in green smoothies with frozen pineapple, banana and filtered water. Sometimes I steam them and just top with a hint of sea salt and freshly ground pepper. And sometimes I’ve been known to eat them wrapped around a slice of raw manchego. Tonight, I decided to make a dandelion soup.

Dandelions

Goji soup ingredients

I don’t measure when I prepare food, but here’s a guestimate:

Goji Dandelion Red Lentil Curry

Ingredients:

1.5 cups dried red lentils
filtered water to cover the lentils
1 strip of kombu seaweed
1 clove of garlic, pressed

half bag of gathered dandelion greens
half bunch of cilantro (not pictured)

three handfuls of dried goji berries
1 16 oz. can of coconut milk
Thai Kitchen green curry paste to taste (I used two generous scoops)

Method:

Cover the lentils with filtered water and begin to boil. Add in the kombu (for better digestion) and a clove of pressed garlic.

As the lentils and water begin to boil, put the dandelion greens and cilantro into a blender. Add enough filtered water (not the boiling water, but more water) to blend the greens into about a quart of nice, bright green liquid.

Add the blended water and greens to the pot of lentils and continue to boil. Watch to make sure the lentils don’t foam over. Turn down to low once you’ve established a rolling boil, at which point, you can add the three handfuls of goji berries and let it all simmer.

When the lentils are soft –about twenty to thirty minutes — add the coconut milk and green curry paste. Simmer for ten more minutes to meld the flavors. Serve and add a hint of sea salt to taste.

Goji soup

Goji berries hail from the nightshade family, just like tomatoes. Asians often add them to soups in order to impart a rich sweetness. In this soup, they perfectly balance the bitterness of the dandelions and go well with the subtle cilantro flavors. The spicy-sourness of the green curry rounds out the flavors, with the kombu adding that hint of fish flavor usually found in non-vegan curry dishes.

I got the idea for this soup while craving red lentils, noticing that I really needed to use up the rest of our cilantro, and researching where to plant my two new goji berry bushes:

Goji plants

Apparently, the bushes love full sun and can grow to sizes of eight to twelve feet in height and diameter. That’s a lot of goji berries! It also requires careful planning, since they like to spread once happily planted in their spot. I haven’t decided whether to plant them next to each other (with space in between) for a full goji hedge — a “fedge” (food hedge) in permaculture speak — or if I want to plant them in different areas to increase the odds of finding appropriate growing conditions. In the meantime, I will definitely add goji berries to soups again! Also known as wolfberries, these little gems pack a nutritional wallop: from beta carotene to anti-oxidants to fountain of youth chemicals and blood thinning capability.

Although I still consume the vast majority of my food raw, some things benefit from cooking. The boiling process mellows the sugars of the dried, sticky goji fruits, and it allows the dandelion greens to form a short-term herbal infusion, making some of the nutrients more bio-available than in their raw state. Besides helping with allergies and providing high vitamin A and calcium, dandelion greens offer so many benefits that I’m just sending you to the following link: click here to read a long list of dandelion health benefits. The results of eating kombu include: vitality and youthfulness, detoxification, adding essential trace minerals, and easier digestion of legumes.

Speaking of legumes, the red lentils made the list of the top ten healthy foods, due to their high fiber, high antioxidants, magnesium and folate. Additionally, scientists recently found a compound in nuts and lentils that blocks the growth of cancerous tumors.

Cilantro chelates mercury and heavy metals, and garlic does everything from boost immunity to thinning blood to keeping away vampires –psychic and otherwise. 😉 Coconut milk contains phosphorous for strong bones and manganese for good blood sugar levels, along with Omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids and various amino acids. A healthier option would involve cracking your own coconut to avoid the BPA in cans; however, I keep these cans on hand for very occasional, spontaneous meals. I’m a Lazy Raw Foodist even when I cook! The Thai Kitchen brand of curry pastes, including this green paste, are (as far as I can tell at this time) vegan. I keep both red and green flavors on hand, because they make fabulous soups and nori wraps on very short notice.

Most importantly for my purposes tonight, this superfood soup tasted savory, sweet, tangy and all around amazing! It had so many rich flavors that I can’t believe I only used water and no vegetable broth. TGWHL: Thank God/dess We Have Leftovers! 🙂

Dandelion Wisdom

Today we have a guest blog post from Madison herbalist and founder of Wildwood Institute, Kathleen Wildwood. David and I have attended several of her local herb walks, two Wild Edibles Gourmet Dinners, and plan to take her Making Herbal Medicines Workshop this coming June. Kathleen is a wealth of knowledge and today she shares some information about a much maligned weed and all the benefits it offers. Many thanks to Kathleen for her work and for sending me this article to post:

Green Wisdom from the Plant World

Plants are the original green living experts and we can learn a great deal from them. Whether we call them plants, crops, weeds, or herbs, they each have a part to play in the drama of life on Earth. They contribute to the health of our bodies, the health of the planet and all the creatures that live here. They are the ultimate recyclers, taking sunlight and water, free and abundant, and transforming it into nourishment for themselves, for the soil, for animals, and for us.

Wild plants, especially, can teach us about adaptation, beauty in harsh conditions, evolving in harmony with one’s environment, and healing. Consider, for example, the dandelion. When I give herb walks, even toddlers know the name of these sunny yellow flowers! This plant, often unappreciated to say the least, provides numerous benefits to the living things around it, including ourselves. The seeds are eaten by wild birds, including Canada geese. The leaves are eaten by creatures such as chipmunks, rabbits and even bears.

Of tremendous importance, dandelions also provide an all-season food source for bees. And to top it all off, they improve the health of the soil they grow in rather than degrading it. Did you know that dandelions tend to grow in areas where the soil has been demineralized, and that they help to heal it? The deep taproot brings up beneficial minerals like calcium and potassium, to be incorporated into the leaves and roots. If the plants are not removed, they redeposit these beneficial minerals into the topsoil as they decompose, making it richer and more fertile. They also anchor loose soil against erosion, create drainage channels in compacted ground, and attract earthworms to aerate the soil.

Gardeners may want to consider these benefits when weeding! A student of mine taught her 3 year old son that where the dandelions grow, it is OK to play. Where there is only grass and nothing else, herbicides have been used.This plant’s amazing ability to concentrate minerals makes it a wonderfully nutritious food. All parts of the dandelion are edible, and there are no poisonous look-alikes. Dandelion leaves are tastiest when they are smaller, especially in the early spring, when I like to eat them as part of a wild salad. As the plant matures and puts energy into its flower, the leaves grow more bitter. lf you have been put off in the past by the intensely bitter taste of the large dandelion greens sold in stores, I suggest chopping them small and sauteeing them until tender in some olive oil and garlic’ There is nothing wrong with adding a bit of honey or sugar at the end if you prefer, or you can eat them like your grandmother did with a splash of vinegar to increase mineral absorption.

In addition to being nutritive, quality herbal preparations made from dandelion are safe and effective medicines. For example, did you know that a tea or tincture (extract) of dandelion leaves is the only known diuretic that does not leach potassium from the body? Scientific studies done on rats in the 1970s found, to the surprise of the researchers, that dandelion leaves acted as a diuretic only if one was needed. Dandelions have been used by both traditional and modern herbalists around the world to make remedies for indigestion, increasing lactation, stabilizing blood sugar, and much more. The sap even dissolves warts. The fresh blossoms can be prepared as a facial (see recipe), while dandelion wine is one of the few alcoholic drinks that is actually good for your liver!

On a spiritual level, the yellow flower of the dandelion speaks to the 3rd chakra, which in many traditions is associated with self-esteem, self-care and self-protection’ The spirit healing properties of dandelion are said to include: being aware of and appreciating one’s beauty, inner and outer; delight; playfulness; pleasure; enjoyment; taking things lightly. Picture yourself sitting on a hill in summer, blowing dandelion seeds – how do you feel as you hold that image in mind? Truly, we have much to learn from this untamed and exuberant plant.

Dandelion Blossom Facial:

Place fresh dandelion blossoms in a bowl or jar, and core, with boiling water. Cover the container, and let steep for at least one hour. Strain, reserving both flowers and liquid fusion). Put the warm, wet flowers on your face and lie down for at least 10 minutes. Meditate upon your beauty, both inner and outer. Then wash it all off with the infusion. Do not rinse. You can also splash the infusion on your skin before going to sleep. Cleanses the skin, minimizes pores, and gives a healthy glow.


Kathleen Raven Wildwood
is the founder and director of Wildwood Institute, “bringing the plants to the people and the people to the earth” ™ through education and locally grown herbal products. Wildwood Institute offers classes and apprenticeships in herbalism and natural healing. wildwoodherbs.com – 608-663-9608.