Before You Curse Those Dandelions…
…You might be surprised to learn that America’s early settlers were firm believers in the tonic effects of eating spring greens. They believed the greens stimulated digestion, purified the blood, cured scurvy and ague, combatted rheumatism, and repelled kidney stones after a long cold winter of inactivity.
Rich in vitamins and trace minerals, these cleansing greens and roots were prepared and drunk in early spring, providing much-needed nourishment and energy after a nutrient-poor winter. When the old-timers concocted spring tonics, dandelions were the main ingredient. Tonics stimulated the appetite, the circulation, and bodily functions as settlers got ready for physical farm labor.
One cup of raw dandelion greens provides 54% of your daily recommended intake of Vitamin A and 188% of your Vitamin K. It also contains high concentrations of Vitamins D, C, and B, iron, silicon, magnesium, and zinc, and is one of the richest sources of potassium known to man.
Hundreds of years ago, dandelions were so valued that they were cultivated in gardens. Try using the tender young leaves in salads, either fresh or blanched, as the French and Dutch settlers favored. If you boil dandelion greens in water, make a point of drinking the cooking water, which is loaded with water-soluble vitamins. Use the leaves as you would spinach sautéed in garlic and oil, or added to soup.
Eat dandelions and you’ll be roaring to go.
- Chris Cohan