Ahh, The Dandelion!
By Tracy Martorana, Owner of Tracy’s Teas
Ahh, the dandelion. It’s that time of year… everywhere you look, you can find dandelions. But, are they mother nature’s gift or mother nature’s curse? If you live in suburbia, and attempt to create the perfectly manicured green lawn; then to you they are most likely a curse. They are persistent and stubborn weeds that threaten to take over your yard!
However, if you can learn to accept their presence, you will find that they are a wonderful gift. For one, dandelions are a honey creation powerhouse. The bees love dandelion flowers because of the large amounts of nectar. So if you are a bee keeper, a honey eater, or someone who simply wants to promote a healthy hive of pollinators…dandelions are a must.
Second, dandelion root is considered an alternative herb, meaning that it purifies the blood by promoting liver health (as well as the health of the kidneys, spleen and bowels). In other words, alternative herbs are beneficial to the organs and systems responsible for eliminating waste, toxins and old cells from the blood. This has beneficial results for the whole body. This is why many herbalists will recommend alternative herbs for many different ailments, because ridding the body of wastes and toxin is often the first step in relieving other ailments/issues.
In addition to its alternative qualities, dandelion leaves and roots are very nutritious. They are loaded with vitamins such as A, B’s, C and D; plus mineral such as Calcium, Iron and Magnesium. Many herbalists feel that dandelion should be consumed daily to help maintain optimal health.
Dandelion root can also be dried and roasted to create dandelion coffee. I have never tried it, but I may have to. Roasted dandelion root is said to taste very similar to coffee…however, since it doesn’t taste exactly the same, it is often mixed with regular coffee to create a healthier and more flavorful brew.
I have made several teas for myself using dandelion root, but find it is very bitter. It must be combined with other, better tasting herbs. I find that I prefer to throw a handful of leaves in my salad or on a sandwich…or add some to a sauté of spinach. The greens are indeed still bitter, but add a dressing sweetened with honey or a clove of garlic and you don’t even notice the bitterness. Because it’s such a powerhouse herb, I also take it in capsule form from time to time. You can find dandelion capsules in most health food stores.
So next time you curse the dandelions in your yard, take a moment to think of them differently….think of them as dinner!!
Tracy will be teaching a variety of Holistic Living Classes at Rochester Brainery. Her next upcoming class will be on “Herbology: Detox″ on Thursday, June 6th from 7-9pm. Check it out here!