Archive for Recipes

3 Reasons to Love Dandelion

Everyone knows what a dandelion is! The very young discover its stunning bright yellow flowers as they begin to explore their outdoor worlds. Its flowers are often gifted. The bouquet of the ‘littles’ presented to young mothers and grandmothers – and often without stems. Yet not everyone knows the absolute gold mine that dwells within this passionately loved… and sometimes equally despised humble plant.

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is a herbaceous perennial which “has a basal rosette of pinnately lobed leaves and a hollow stalk that supports a single head with many small, yellow, strap-shaped flowers (the tiny flowers collectively appear to be a single, large flower). The small seed-like fruits are born on a common receptacle and are tipped by an elongate, narrow beak, to which are attached an array of white bristles, which aid in wind dispersal. The leaves and flower stalks yield a white latex when bruised.”1

Dandelion is the low-growing cousin of the sunflower family. It is native to both Western Europe and the Mediterranean, but has now spread (by wind, bird, or settler) to every temperate climate. It prefers to grow in grassy locations and cultivated ground. Basically, wherever people are, dandelions are. This is perfect, because whether one knows it or not, we… need… dandelion.

WE… NEED… DANDELION!

Dandelion Improves the Soil!

More than the occasional dandelion is a sign of poor, deteriorated soil conditions. Dandelion prefers full sun and is tolerant of poor growing conditions. Its taproot can grow from six to 18 inches deep. This helps to break up compacted soil by drilling down into the earth, which both aerates and also draws minerals up into the topsoil where its shallow-rooted plant neighbors can benefit. In this way, dandelion conditions and prepares the soil, making it easier for other more delicate plant species to take hold and receive the nutrients they require.

Gardeners gain additional benefits by cultivating dandelion in their gardens as it attracts pollinating insects and also releases ethylene gas which assists fruit in ripening.

Who would have thought? All this from the lowly dandelion. A mighty tool designed to bring healing and restoration to the earth’s soil.

Dandelion is Nutritious Food!

One of the earliest plants to bloom in the spring, dandelion is a critical food source for pollinators, especially honey bees.

Dandelion is also an important source of food for herbivores such as deer and rabbits. Likewise, a variety farm animals actively seek out dandelion. They instinctively know that after a long winter their bodies need the powerhouse nutritional ‘superfood’ that this unassuming herb so generously provides.

HORSE FLOWER

paardebloem

In the Netherlands, the common name for dandelion is “paardebloem”, which when translated means “horse flower”. The name “horse-flower first appeared in 1906 as a general accepted name in the book “Dutch plant names” of Henry Heukels. The name probably originated because of the fact that horses (also rabbits and pigs) love to eat the leaves of this plant and that it was commonly used as feed. Sometimes it was even named ‘horse-lettuce’.”2

Any horse pasture will soon find itself cleared of dandelion’s little yellow disks as equines actively seek them out. After a long winter and the nutritionally-depleted stored hay of late spring just before first cutting is ready, dandelion greens serve to cleanse the blood of all who will partake.

The First Dandelion

Simple and fresh and fair from winter’s close emerging,
As if no artifice of fashion, business, politics, had ever been,
Forth from its sunny nook of shelter’d grass—innocent, golden, calm as the dawn,
The spring’s first dandelion shows its trustful face.

~ Walt Whitman ~

However, dandelion is not only for animals. Back in the day, in the late winter before it was time to plant spring gardens, common folk knew to forage for the early-producing greens such as dandelion.

The modern newbie forager can heave a sigh of relief that dandelion has no poisonous look-alikes. So there is no reason to hold back. Dandelion is one amazing herb that everyone can confidently get their hands on!

As a young girl, I remember my mother digging dandelions in the early spring to remove them from our yard. She saved the green leaves and prepared them for dinner. At our house, we ate them just one way. Mom would pan fry some bacon, then add the dandelion greens to the pan until they were well wilted. Then she would serve them with a little apple cider vinegar.

NOTE: Never consume dandelions that are growing near or have been contaminated with lawn fertilizers, fungicides, herbicides, or any other chemicals.

THE WHOLE PLANT IS EDIBLE!

Buds (unopened flowers) – Salads, stir fry, etc.

Flowers – Snack, salads, wine. Try your hand at mixing the yellow petals into softened butter with a touch of added honey for a delicious treat on bread and muffins! 

Leaves – Salads (the youngest leaves are always the sweetest). When they become more bitter: sauté, add to soups, use as a pot herb, casseroles, mix with other greens in pesto, etc. The greens can also be used as a spinach substitute in any recipe. 

Dandelion leaves are delicious and rich in nutrients. The raw leaves contain vitamins: A, thiamine (B-1), riboflavin (B-2), niacin (B-3), pyridoxine (B-6), folate (B-9), C, E, K, and the minerals: calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, copper, and selenium.

HINT: To reduce the bitter taste of the older leaves either cook them like a potherb in one change of water and/or add a dash of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar.

Crowns (The part between the root and the leaves.) – Can be sautéed or fried.

Roots – As a root vegetable process the dandelion root in a similar manner to a mature beet which has a thick outer layer.  Steam for 2 minutes, put in cool water, then easily peel the outer skin of off the taproot as it is bitter. Next, place the cleaned roots in a pan of water.  Bring to a boil, then simmer until soft.  It is delicious served with butter with a taste similar to a parsnip.

The root of the dandelion contains one of the best sources of inulin (a plant fiber) which is considered a prebiotic that feeds the good bacteria in the gut. Inulin also provides a feeling of fullness and clears the body of cholesterol.

To make a coffee-like beverage dandelion root can be roasted and ground, then used as a tea.

To prepare the root for roasting, thoroughly wash and dry them then chop them into small bits.  Next, spread the root thinly on a baking sheet and place it in the oven at 250–300 degrees.  Stir every 15 minutes to roast evenly.  The roasting process will likely take anywhere from one and a half to two hours to be complete.  During this time the color will develop into a rich brown and the roasted roots will give off a fragrant aroma.

When done, cool and store the root in a glass container.  Use a coffee grinder, Vitamix, or blender to grind up the roasted dandelion into grounds and add to coffee, or make a tea.

Roasted dandelion root is enjoyable in combination with other herbs such as chicory root, cacao, ginger, vanilla, or cinnamon to name a few. Here’s a recipe for you to enjoy:

Darlene’s Mocha Delight!

~ A Delicious, Health-Promoting Coffee Substitute ~

  • 1 Cup Dandelion Root, Roasted (cut & sifted)
  • 1 Cup Chicory Root, Roasted (cut & sifted)
  • 1 Heaping TSP Cacao, powdered
  • 1/4 TSP Powdered Cinnamon

In a pint jar, combine all the ingredients and mix thoroughly. Label and store with a secure lid.

Add 1/2 – 1 scant teaspoon (more or less as desired) to a tea infuser for each 8 to 16 ounces of water. (I like to use large coffee mugs for my tea!)

Pour boiling hot water over the tea and allow to steep for 3 to 5 minutes for a delicious “coffee-substitute” beverage. Steep longer – 10 to 15 minutes or steep the first tea a second time to draw out more nutrients and increase the health benefits.

Be sure to add some almond milk, coconut milk, or a maybe a little of both and you are good to go. There is a natural sweetness to this recipe that does not require additional sweeteners. It is great cold as the “chocolaty” taste seems to increase as it cools. Yum.

“Coffee people” and “non-coffee” people are pleasantly surprised when they try this hot beverage. It is satisfying, delicious, and provides a nutrient boost the body really craves.

Dandelion leaves and roots do not have the same nutrient composition. The nutrient analysis below will reveal some of the major differences. The data provided is in 100 grams of dandelion leaf or root, respectively. Where information is blank no data was provided.

Dandelion is a Valuable Medicinal!

English Name: Dandelion
Binomial Name: Taraxacum officinale
Plant Family: Asteracae (Compositae)
Parts Used: Root, Leaf
Herbal Actions: Diuretic, hepatic, cholagogue, anti-rheumatic, laxative, tonic, bitter

THE LEAF & ROOT HAVE DIFFERENT HERBAL ACTIONS!

Hand coloured print, plate 1 of Dens Leonis in A Curious Herbal, 1737 by Elizabeth Blackwell

Indications – LEAF: As a diuretic, dandelion leaf is preferable to the root. “Dandelion leaf is a powerful diuretic, with an action comparable to that of the drug furosemide. The usual effect of a drug that stimulated kidney function is loss of vital potassium from the body, which can aggravate any cardiovascular problem that may be present. Dandelion leaf, however, is not only an effective diuretic, but also one of the best natural sources of potassium. It is thus an ideally balanced remedy that may be used safely whenever diuretic action is needed, even for water retention related heart problems. Overall, this herb is a most valuable general tonic and perhaps the best widely applicable diuretic and liver tonic.”3

Indications – ROOT: Dandelion root (not the leaf) should be selected for conditions associated with:

> Liver and gallbladder such as inflammation, congestion, chronic jaundice, and high cholesterol.

> Autointoxication which occurs when “the waste products of metabolism, decomposed matter from the intestine, or the products of dead and infected tissue, as in gangrene” are not properly eliminated from the body.4

> Aphthous ulcers canker sore-type ulcers commonly located in the mouth, genitals, or intestines.

> Digestive disturbances like loss of appetite, chronic gastritis, constipation, or diarrhea.

> Used topically for skin disorders (acne, eczema, psoriasis, rashes, and boils) the milky white latex “sap” is alkaline which may help curb itching skin and eczema. In addition, its anti-fungal and antimicrobial properties may reduce acne-causing bacteria and other skin infections. The latex appears to speed the healing of scars and the red inflammation caused by acne.  Dandelion sap also seems to work very well with sensitive skin, although for those allergic to plants in the Asteracae family, dandelion would be contraindicated.

> Diabetes may be helped by stimulating insulin sensitivity as well as insulin production by the pancreas which aids in controlling blood sugar levels.

> Certain Autoimmune conditions and blood disorders such as rheumatism and anemia.

NOTE: When using herbs medicinally, always be sure they are organic or responsibly wildcrafted. Wildcrafted herbs should be gathered in areas distant from chemical spraying or ‘drift’ that occurs from conventional crop pesticide use.

Have you ever gardened with, eaten, or used dandelion medicinally? Have you tried one of these suggestions above as a result of reading this post? Tell us your experience in the comments section below. We would love to hear from you!

References:

  1. Ancestral Plants: A Primative Skills Guide to Important Edible, Medicinal, and Useful Plants of the Northeast – Volume 1 by Arthur Haines p.184
  2. 2
  3. Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine by David Hoffman p.587
  4. 4

Chia ~ Salvia Hispanica

Chia (Salvia Hispanica L.)

Chia is a herbaceous annual that is part of the lamiaceae plant family and native to Guatemala and the central and southern parts of Mexico. Plants in this family contain very aromatic essential oils in all of their parts. Other well-known plants found in the lamiaceae family are mint, sage, oregano, thyme, rosemary, and sage.

Chia (Salvia hispanica) grows in well-drained clay or sandy soils with a lot of sun. Its beautiful flowers are bee and pollinator friendly, but chia does not tolerate frost. It should be harvested immediately after the first killing frost.

There are multiple varieties of chia such as Chan (Hyptis suaveolens) which is also sometimes called ‘Chia’. Unlike Salvia hispanica, Chan is high in Omega-6 essential fatty acids and not in the Omega-3s. Golden Chia (Salvia columariae Benth) produces seed that is used just like Salvia hispanica. Salvia miltiorrhiza, a “chia” that is native to China and used in Traditional Chinese Medicine is called red sage, Dan Shen, and Shen so. The root is used for medicinal purposes as a blood mover, traditionally in the form of a tea. » Read more

Coffee Depletes Key Nutrient

Yes sirree! Did you know that drinking just one cup of strong coffee or black tea within one hour of consuming a healthy meal will impair up to 60% of iron absorption? The stronger the coffee or tea, the greater the absorption of iron is undermined in your body.

Is that a problem?

It could be. Mild to moderate iron-deficiency may be asymptomatic or it can present symptoms such as fatigue, cold hands and feet, dizziness, restless leg syndrome, frequent infections, difficulty concentrating, cardiac problems, and more.

“Drinking coffee and other caffeinated beverages with a meal is associated with a 39 – 90% reduction in iron absorption.” [1]

However, caffeine in and of itself only demonstrates a mild negative affect on iron levels compared to the extreme affects caused by tannins.

Do I have to give up my coffee?

Well maybe, maybe not. A severe deficiency may require a complete break from coffee, at least while rebuilding your body’s iron stores. However, if you must imbibe you will want to limit your intake and make sure to leave a one to two-hour window between consuming coffee and then consuming foods or supplements that contain iron. You will also want to increase the amount of food iron that you eat overall.

The Framingham Heart Study [3] was a large study of 634 elderly people from 67-93 years of age and who were still living on their own. It “found that each weekly cup of coffee was associated with a 1% lower level of ferritin, a protein that indicates iron storage levels.” [1]

What is the best way to get my iron?

Well, to begin with, it is not recommended to consume the inorganic form of iron called ferrous (Fe) sulfate which happens to be the most common form that is found in both supplements and in fortified foods.

“Iron used to fortify breakfast cereals ‘is a finely powdered metallic iron and is generally poorly assimilated.” [2]

Inorganic iron is not only used to fortify cereals, it is used to fortify wheat, maize (corn), and rice. Dairy, condiments, and sauces are also fortified. Therefore, one must consider any derivatives of these products such as bread, pastries, pasta, ice cream, tortillas, etc. to contain metallic iron.

Which real foods contain the iron my body needs?

The best organic food forms of iron are found in green vegetables, legumes, and meat (especially red meat and organ meat.) Unlike ferrous sulfate, dietary iron from real food is non-constipating and bio-available, making it the very best choice for your body!

Recipe: Darlene’s Mocha Delight!

~ A Delicious, Health-Promoting Coffee Substitute ~

  • 1 Cup Dandelion Root, Roasted (cut & sifted)
  • 1 Cup Chicory Root, Roasted (cut & sifted)
  • 1 Heaping TSP Cacao, powdered
  • 1/4 TSP Powdered Cinnamon

In a pint jar, combine all the ingredients and mix thoroughly. Label and store with a secure lid.

Add 1/2 – 1 scant teaspoon (more or less as desired) to a tea infuser for each 8 to 16 ounces of water. (I like to use large coffee mugs for my tea!)
Pour boiling hot water over the tea and allow to steep for 3 to 5 minutes for a delicious “coffee-substitute” beverage or steep longer, 10 to 15 minutes, to draw out more nutrients and increase the health benefits.

Be sure to add some almond milk, coconut milk, or a maybe a little of both and you are good to go. There is a natural sweetness to this recipe that does not require additional sweeteners. It is great cold as the “chocolaty” taste seems to increase as it cools. Yum.

Dandelion is a treasure-trove of nutrients. Unlike coffee, dandelion is high in iron as well as manganese and phosphorus. Chicory, like dandelion, is full of nutrients and an especially good source of potassium. Like dandelion, chicory is known to aid digestion making this a wonderful beverage to consume with a meal. Chicory and dandelion are a great combination.

‘Coffee people’ and ‘non-coffee’ people are pleasantly surprised when they try this hot beverage. It is satisfying, delicious, and provides a nutrient boost the body really craves.

Darlene’s Mocha Delight!

Share your favorite coffee-substitute creation in the comments below or change-up this one and make it better! To your health!

Sources:
[1] Do Coffee and Caffeine Inhibit Iron Absorption?
[2] The Truth About Vitamins & Minerals in supplements: Why real nutrients are best! by Robert Thiel, Ph.D.
[3] Dietary determinants of iron stores in a free-living elderly population: The Framingham Heart Study

Pass the Pumpkin Spices, Please!

by Shannyn Caldwell

Pumpkin spice ‘everything’ seems to be everywhere these days. It has been for months and will be for months to come. It’s not just for Thanksgiving anymore.  So let’s get to know this cozy flavor profile a little bit better.

Pumpkin Pie Spice. What are we actually talking about here? Well, once you get past the obligatory scoop of pumpkin, that is where you find the “spice.”

 

Pumpkin pie spice is a standard blend with many variations that look something like this:

*4 TSP Ground Cinnamon

*2 TSP Ground Ginger

*1 TSP Ground Cloves

*½ TSP Ground Nutmeg

The spices above are a blend of

very powerful medicines indeed!

When combined with pumpkin (an amazing comfort food in and of itself), we are looking at a potentially healing as well as delicious food.

Obviously, if you create a cake, pie, or smoothie of sugar-laden pumpkin spices, you will be working against medicinal properties of the spices, BUT you CAN find and create some very healthy recipes out like custards, pancakes, cookies, lattes, smoothies, and shakes that taste 100% like you are cheating the brains out of your diet.  However, you are really feeding your body healthful nutrients.

Here’s what we know about the healing properties of Pumpkin Pie Spices:

First, they are all warming spices which fight the cold and the damp.  All forms of herbalism (Western, Ayurveda, and Traditional Chinese Medicine) use these spices to balance out cold and damp conditions.

In addition to their warming qualities these spices have actions that go far beyond their mouthwatering scents and flavors.

Cinnamon is one of the healthiest spices on the planet. It can lower blood sugar levels & reduce heart disease risk!

Ginger aids digestion and helps upset stomach.

Clove is incredibly high in antioxidants. One-half teaspoon contains more than one-half cup of blueberries).  There is compelling research pairing clove with cancer and diabetic conditions.

Nutmeg aids an upset stomach and also helps with sleeplessness. It is interesting to consider the new research utilizing nutmeg and its effects on cancer and kidney disease.

So, maybe just maybe, the “Pumpkin Spice EVERYTHING” people are onto something.  Hmmm, I think I might go make a latte…

Heavens to Betsy! Liquid Laundry Soap

Author: Shannyn Caldwell, Student ~ Genesis School of Natural Health

I got super tired of spending my family’s hard-earned coin on garbage detergent and so I did some digging and came up with this heavenly spin on a Pinterest money saving fave!

I hacked the recipe because I couldn’t find washing soda in my dear home town, so I learned to make it and felt it was only fair to spill the beans on how!

So, dear diva, you should know that washing soda can be made easily from baking soda. All you do is cover a cookie sheet with plain ‘ol baking soda and…bake it! Go figure! About 20 minutes at 400 does the trick. You’ll see. It changes…gets softer, less composed.  That done, you’re off to the organic/fair trade/money saving races!

Here’s the recipe I used: 

  • Whisk 1/2 cup washing soda with 1/4 cup borax. Add 1 cup boiling water.
  • Stir in 1 TBSP Castile soap (I used peppermint because it’s what we had on hand), 1/4 cup white vinegar and 20 drops of essential oil. (I used lemon and peppermint.)
  • Pour into an empty and clean gallon jug and top with hot water!

BOOM! Mom win!

1/4 Cup takes care of 1 large load!

If you try it, let me know how it turns out in the comments! If you’ve got questions, ask away! Bless your sparkly clean socks off for reading and sharing. I hope you have fun rocking your laundry!

Cheers!