Herb of the Month – Dandelion
Dandelions are plentiful and at their peak flavor right now. Dandelion happens to be one of the top five most nutritious vegetables, ahead of broccoli and spinach. It contains Vitamin A, calcium, iron, thiamine, riboflavin, and trace minerals. Europeans have been eating dandelions for centuries and you can find them here in upscale markets and restaurants, not to mention the backyard.
Medicinal plant properties include dandelions use as a liver and kidney tonic and mild diuretic. All parts of the plant are edible. Dandelion leaves are tastiest when young and collected before setting their flower bud, after that they become bitter.
Dandelion leaves can be used in salads, egg dishes, casseroles, soups, and vegetable dishes. Basically anywhere you would use spinach. Make sure they have not been sprayed with pesticides. The fall roots can be chopped, roasted, and used as a healthy coffee substitute.
The flowers, steeped in water, make a fine face wash, herbal bath, or steam. You can also use the flowers for vinegar and wine. Pull out the flower petals and blend into butter and cheese spreads, or as a bright garnish for salads and other dishes. The flowers are a source of a natural yellow dye and are an important pollen source for honeybees.
So don’t scorn this generous, sunny little plant. Appreciate the many gifts it offers and use it to give yourself a healthy spring boost.