You probably view dandelions as pesky weeds keeping you from lawn perfection. But, what you might not know is dandelion greens serve up almost a full multivitamin and mineral supplement. The leaves are packed with vitamins A, B, C and E and are a rich source of calcium, magnesium, potassium, manganese iron, and zinc. Similar to arugula in flavour, the dandelion’s slight bitterness is often offset with the sweetness of onion, which they’re often sautéed with (see recipe below).
Still skeptical? Here are four reasons to consume these weedy wonders (and yes, they’re available at grocery stores too):
1. Dandelion helps with urinary tract infections
Dandelion leaf is a diuretic, meaning it promotes urination thereby helping weight loss without side effects. It also removes toxic substances from the kidneys and entire urinary system. Plus, its disinfectant properties inhibit bacterial growth, preventing future UTIs.
2. Dandelion helps clear acne
Acne is often caused by hormonal changes. During hormonal fluctuations, the sebaceous glands secrete extra oil. When mixed with dead skin the pores can get blocked, preventing toxic substances from escaping. This blockage causes infection and results in acne. The diuretic and detoxing nature of dandelion helps to regulate hormones facilitating removal of toxins through sweat, bile and urine.
3. Dandelion nourishes your blood
One cup of dandelion greens has 1.7 mg of iron, almost 10 percent of your daily vitamin B, 32 percent of your daily vitamin C, plus omega-3 fatty acids and protein. While iron is the integral part of hemoglobin in the blood, vitamins B and C are essential for formation of red blood cells helping to reduce anemia (an iron deficiency).
4. Dandelion can reduce blood pressure
Dandelion leaf, being diuretic in nature, increases urination (both in quantity and frequency) thus helping lower high blood pressure. The fibre in dandelion is also helpful in reducing cholesterol, thereby lowering blood pressure. Dandelion juice is high in potassium, which is effective in lowering blood pressure by replacing sodium.
This recipe is one of my favourites for detoxing because it’s so balanced. The mushrooms lend it a meaty flavour, you get a hint of bitterness from the dandelion, a touch of heat from the garlic and a bit of sour from the lemon as well as sweetness from the onion.
10 cups dandelion greens, tough lower stems discarded and leaves cut crosswise into 2 inch pieces
2 litres water (for boiling greens)
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, sliced very thin
2 cups shitake mushrooms, chopped
2 cups red onion, chopped
¼ cup pumpkin seeds or hemp seeds
Juice of 1 lemon
¼ – ½ tsp grey or pink unrefined salt
1. To reduce the bitterness, boil the dandelion greens ahead. (If you don’t mind the full bitter flavour, skip this step.)
2. Bring 2 litres of water to a boil. Add dandelions and cook uncovered, until ribs are tender (about 5 minutes).
3. Drain liquid in a colander, catching the extra water in a second pot to be saved as therapeutic dandelion tea. Press out excess water.
4. Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat until it shimmers, then cook garlic and onions, stirring, until pale golden (about 45 seconds).
5. Add the chopped mushrooms and sauté for 5 minutes until soft.
6. Add greens and sea salt and sauté until coated with oil and heated through (about 3 minutes).
7. Serve warm or cold with a garnish of seeds and squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
Makes 8 servings
Julie Daniluk hosts Healthy Gourmet (OWN: the Oprah Winfrey Network), a reality cooking show that highlights the ongoing battle between taste and nutrition. Her first book, Meals That Heal Inflammation (Random House) is now available and will help people enjoy allergy-free foods that taste great and assist the body in the healing process.
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