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Have you wondered if you can eat the dandelion greens in your yard? We’ll show you not only why you should eat them, but how to eat dandelion greens too!
I love dandelions. Their bright yellow color makes me smile. I know a lot of people look at them as weeds that must be stopped, but I never will.
While I love the pretty yellow flowers, the greens are really where it’s at with dandelions. Dandelion greens are amazing for you!
Did you know? Dandelion greens, also known as taraxacum officinale, are actually a member of the sunflower family – one of the largest families of plants! It includes more than 20,000 different species, including daisies! Plant life is fascinating.
The greens are best in the spring, which is before the plant flowers those pretty yellow blooms. The greens offer a variety of health benefits to give your body a nutritional boost.
Additionally, you can cultivate dandelion seeds to have a steady supply. Dandelions are an asset in your yard and are not really a weed.
Why You Should Eat Dandelion Greens
In the natural health community, the dandelion plant is revered as an important healing plant that can help us with a variety of conditions such as aiding in healthy digestion, helping to purify blood, assisting in liver detoxification, reducing the risk of gallstones and more.
Most people aren’t aware that dandelion greens actually offer more vitamins and minerals than most cultivated greens. Some of the vitamins you will get from dandelion greens include:
- Vitamins B1/B2/B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, thiamin, riboflavin, thiamin and folate
- Vitamin A as beta-carotene supports healthy vision
- 535% of the RDA for vitamin K
- Rich in calcium, iron, copper, potassium, phosphorus, manganese and magnesium
- 14% protein, which is more than spinach with all of the essential amino acids
- High in pectin and inulin to help you feel full longer
- Dandelion greens are packed with antioxidants
And finally, if you’re trying to maintain a healthy weight, one cup of chopped dandelion greens only contains 25 calories, making it a low calorie food.
How to Harvest and Store Dandelion Greens
Now that you know how good dandelion greens are for you, you probably want to know where to buy them as well as how to harvest and store them.
It used to be really hard to find dandelion greens unless you want to harvest them yourself. Fortunately, as their popularity has grown, so has their availability.
These days, you can usually find dandelion greens at health food stores, farmers markets, CSAs and I’ve even seen them at more mainstream grocery stores in recent years. Of course, you can probably find them in your backyard or neighborhood in the spring and early summer.
If you’re going to pick them yourself, be sure to look for young greens as they’ll be more tender and have a much milder flavor that’s better for foraging newbies (and everyone else too).
It’s critical that you’re sure you’re harvesting from actual dandelion plants and not from plants that look similar (there are a few). Eating some of the similar looking plants can actually make you sick, so be sure you know what you’re picking.
It’s also vital that you do not ever harvest from areas that may be saturated with toxic substances like heavy metals, pesticides, lead, oil, roadways runoff, parasites or any number of other pollutants.
Once you’ve harvested your dandelion greens, don’t wash them or they may wilt and spoil quickly. Instead, you want to wrap them in a paper towel in order to keep the condensation and moisture absorbed away from the greens. Tuck the wrapped greens into sealed glass containers (or plastic bags) in the fridge.
Be sure to eat your dandelion greens quickly as they will only be fresh for 2-4 days.
How to Eat Your Greens
You always want to blanch your dandelion greens for 1-2 minutes before eating them as it helps to reduce any bitterness. Don’t overcook them though.
A lot of people like to blend dandelion greens with fruits like strawberries, pineapple, bananas, mangoes, papaya, kiwi, figs, or citrus. The dandelion greens provide more calcium compared to all dairy products and even more calcium when compared to kale.
If you want something more savory, you can add dandelion greens to soups, stews, sandwiches, salads, vegetable stir fry and herbal tea infusions.