Dandelion – A Spring Super Food

by Lisa Marie Rosati on April 22, 2013

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Did you know that spring is the PERFECT time to begin a body cleanse; particularly a liver detox.

Spring represents renewal and rebirth. During Spring, Mother Earth brings forth the best herbs and plants to help tone and nourish your digestive system.

Dandelion or “Taraxacum Officinale”,  a member of the sunflower family is a cheerful little plant that packs stupendous nutrition and powerful medicinal qualities. The leaves taste slightly bitter, similar to endive. Although considered the bane of many Long Island gardeners’ existence, herbalists worldwide have revered dandelion for many centuries.

Ayurvedic, Chinese Medicine and Native American cultures make good use this common and at times annoying weed. As a matter of fact, it’s still cultivated as a crop in many parts of Europe including France and Germany. Dandelions are a sensational super-food readily available for your nourishment!

I recommend that you purchase Dandelion greens at your local food store instead of picking them in the wild. I have found them at Uncle Giuseppe’s in Smithtown and Whole Foods Market in Lake Grove.

What’s So Special About Dandelions?

Quite a lot!

  • Dandelion contains 112% of the daily-recommended value of vitamin A & four times more vitamin A than lettuce.
  • Dandelion is higher in beta-carotene than carrots.
  • Dandelion contains more iron and calcium than spinach.
  • Dandelion supplies your body with 32% of the daily value of vitamin C per cup (of leaves).
  • Dandelion contains vitamins B1, B2, B5, B6, B12, C, E, P, and D, biotin, inositol, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and zinc, and many other trace elements and enzymes (wow).
  • Dandelion contains the antioxidant lutein, which is beneficial for healthy vision.
  • Dandelion contains helenin (a chemical compound), which is known to help with night vision.
  • Dandelion is rich in inulin (a prebiotic), which feeds and encourages the growth of the beneficial flora in the gut as well as balancing blood sugar and diabetes.
  • Dandelion flowers contain lecithin, which helps the liver to break down fats and improves brain function (useful…).
  • Dandelions have milky sap that is found in the leaves and flower stems. The sap has been used to remove warts, corns, callouses and other stubborn skin maladies.
  • Fun Fact #1 – when placed in a paper bag with unripe fruit, the flowers and leaves of Dandelion release ethylene gas ripening the fruit quickly
  • Fun Fact #2 – Dogs, cats, hamsters, horses and our other furry friends can also eat dandelions. It aids their digestion, and cleanses their liver and kidneys.

Not sure how to add Dandelions into your diet? Try juicing the leaves or here’s a simple and delicious recipe you can try.

Dandelion Pesto Sauce

Ingredients:

1 big handful of dandelion leaves
1 handful or packet of fresh basil leaves
1 cup of walnuts or hazelnuts, chopped
1 cup of shelled hempseed or pine nuts
3 teaspoons lime or lemon juice
1-2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 small chili, seeded and chopped (optional)
1 teaspoon of sea salt or Pink Himalayan Salt
1 level teaspoon kelp powder (optional)
1 level teaspoon dulse flakes
a drizzle extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

  1. Place everything in your food processor (in 2 batches if it’s a small machine)
  2. Blend until nice and smooth but with a nice crunch.
  3. Be ready to add more oil as required to make a nice smooth consistency and to help the blades turn.
  4. Enjoy!

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