Now is the time to begin a relationship with dandelion. They’re everywhere, and are still tender (not so bitter) now. The raw greens taste a bit like the skin of a tart apple, but as the season progresses, they’ll become more bitter. The flowers have a nice sweetness. So, head outside, find one and say hello, admire it for a breath or two, then (if you don’t use chemicals on your lawn) have a taste. Once you convince yourself that it’s really quite delicious, bring a few leaves in to top your salad or throw into your morning smoothie.
Dandelion is a nutrient dense liver and gall bladder tonic – a natural detoxifier perfect for internal spring cleaning. It’s often used to treat upset stomach, gas or constipation, and prevent UTIs (urinary tract infections), though the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database notes insufficient evidence for any of these uses. It may affect the P450 detox pathway in the liver, so if you are on any drugs that clear through that route then don’t overdo dandelion (though if you time it right I bet dandelion would be supportive for you – again, be wise and know yourself, your health conditions and your medications). Otherwise, it’s a safe, healthy and economical (being free for most of us) herb to add to your spring table.
A cup of raw dandelion greens will give you the classic dark green leafy nutrient density – well over your daily needs of vitamins A and K, and about 10% of your calcium needs. They are also rich in iron, vitamins E, C and have a little omega 3 to boot.
Here are a couple of dandelion recipes from around the web to try:
Dandelion Greens with Hot Olive Oil Dressing from epicurious
Pink Dandelion Wine from The Old Farmer’s Almanac
Some nutritionists say that wild food speaks to us in a cellular pre-genetic language, suggesting we heal. While I can’t say if that’s true, I can tell you that when I’m eating greens that until recently I’ve thought of as weeds and they are delicious, my life is clearly better. As I get to know dandelion I’m glad he’s around (and he is everywhere). If dandelion can teach me to be a survivor in my life – a joyfully resilient survivor who doesn’t care if I’m considered weed or gourmet green – just offer my gift and practice non-attachment to who gets it – my life is clearly better.
Enjoy dandelion time.