Many of you have stopped by our Farm Store and have noticed dandelion greens on our shelf, and all of our CSA members will be seeing this green in their CSA boxes this week. A question we seem to get a lot about this beneficial plant is, “But, aren’t those weeds?”
yes, well, kind of. Up until about the 20th century, dandelions were adored all over the world for their medicinal and healing properties, nutritional value, and their beauty. Some texts claim that gardeners actually used to weed out grass to make room for dandelions! They were a common garden flower throughout Europe, and it really wasn’t until front lawns and modern landscaping started to gain popularity, that dandelions started to get kicked out of the household garden.
Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans were very familiar with this plant; and it’s been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. In fact, dandelions most likely found their way to North America aboard the Mayflower – and not on accident – but because of their medicinal uses. And being in a “New World”, the bright yellow color of a familiar dandelion flower may have been a nice reminder of home for the Pilgrims.
So how does this plant, that’s known more to be a common weed than a super-green, help you add more nutrients to your diet? For one, they are high in Vitamin K (providing around 535% of your recommended daily value), which plays an important role in strengthening bones, but may also help fight Alzheimer’s disease by reducing neuron damage in the brain. They’re also high in Vitamin A (providing about 112% of your daily value), which acts as an antioxidant carotenoid, making it great for the skin, mucus membranes and vision. They contain zeaxanthin, a flavonoid that protects your retina from UV rays, as well as other flavonoids such as carotene, lutein, and cryptoxanthin, which help protect your body from lung and mouth cancers.
It’s really easy to add dandelion greens to your meals throughout the week. You can juice the greens, add them to your morning smoothie, sauté them, chop them up and add them to your salad, throw them in soup… the list goes on! We really love the recipe list Regina Yunghans over at The Kitchn put together for ways to add this green to your meals – some recipes may call for kale or other seasonal greens, just substitute your dandelion greens where it says to use those. Check out a few of the recipes below or click this link to see them all: 10 Ways to Use Dandelion Greens
How do you use dandelion greens? We’d love to hear about it in the comments section below!