The dandelion can be used for a host of both natural remedies and delicious food recipes. This wild little plant is useful in combating common ailments and readily available to consume in a survival situation. Dandelions may seem like a nuisance in the yard, but before you mow over the little yellow flowers, pause to consider all the benefits the “weed” can provide. Make certain that you only pick dandelions that have not been sprayed with chemical herbicides for the medicinal and edible recipes.
Dandelion medicinal uses
Dandelion root, both fresh and dried, and the young leaves and top of the plant have been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. Many believe that the juice in the root is the most beneficial part of the wild plant.
Some of the medical issues that dandelion petals, roots and young leaves are used to treat include gallstones, intestinal gas, loss of appetite, muscle aches, stomach aches, eczema, viral infections, cancer, bruises and joint pain. Dandelions contain particles that may decrease inflammation and increase urine production, according to WebMD.
A University of Maryland Medical Center study said that dandelions are full of vitamins A, B, C and D. The wild plant also contains significant amounts of zinc, potassium and iron. Native Americans routinely boiled dandelion root and drank the “tea” to treat kidney issues, various types of swelling, heartburn and upset stomachs. Chinese medicinal recipes also included dandelion teas to aid breast milk flow issues, stomachaches and appendicitis.
Most dandelion medicinal use studies have been conducted on animals and not humans. The wild plant has often been studied for its diuretic uses — increasing the amount of urine produced in order to rid the body of too much fluid, decrease blood pressure and cleanse the liver. The root of the dandelion plant is also believed to possess mild laxative properties.
During lab tests on mice, ingesting dandelion has helped to “normalize” blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol levels and increase HDL (or good cholesterol) levels in diabetic mice. All animal studies about a possible natural diabetic treatment have proved successful, prompting researchers to study the issue further before entering into human trials.
The young leaves of a dandelion, after being blanched, are excellent for use in salads. The leaves of a mature plant often possess a bitter taste. Blanche the dandelion green in the same manner as commonly used for endives. Chopped dandelion roots from a plant less than two-years old are also often used in salads or washed and eaten alone.
Plant some dandelion seeds in a pot, cover the top with some rough litter and come spring, a multitude of young leaf sprouts will be readily available for salads.
Young dandelion leaves can also be boiled in the same manner as spinach, drained and moistened with butter or soup and served as a dish. Many folks simply sprinkle salt and pepper on the boiled leaves and munch them for a healthy snack.
Roast the dried root of a dandelion plant and use it for coffee. Roast the roots just slightly until they have a coffee-type tint. Grind the roots into powder and use just like the sometimes-expensive ground coffees available in grocery stores. Dandelion coffee is often made as a means to garner the medicinal value from the root. Mixing the coffee with chocolate to enhance the taste is commonplace. The root of the wild plant is believed to have stimulating properties for the entire digestive and nervous systems. Dandelion roots may also help improve kidney and liver function and keep the bowels healthy.
Make sure to gather only dandelions that you are sure have not been sprayed with a chemical herbicide. You only need the yellow flower for this recipe. The bread has a moist spongy texture and is very sweet.
- Approximately 2 cups of dandelion petals
- 4 cups of flour
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 4 teaspoons of baking powder
- 3/4 cup of honey
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup of vegetable oil
- 2 2/3 cups of milk
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Pull away and discard any greens from the yellow petals. Wash the flower thoroughly; using a strainer is advised.
- Combine all of the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir to combine.
- Mix the beaten eggs, honey, vegetable oil and milk in a separate bowl.
- Grease two baking pans and pour the dandelion bread mix inside.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Turn the oven down to 350 degrees and bake for another 20 minutes.
Dandelion pumpkin seed pesto
- 3/4 cup green unsalted, hulled pumpkin seeds
- 3 minced garlic gloves
- 2 cups of dandelion greens
- 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan
- 1/2 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Optional – black pepper and salt to taste
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Pour pumpkin seeds onto a baking sheet and roast for approximately 5 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
- Chop by hand or pulse garlic and pumpkin seeds together in a food processor until fine.
- If not using a food processor, chop dandelion greens.
- Add dandelion greens, Parmesan cheese, and lemon juice and stir until thoroughly combined. If using a food processor, stop the machine periodically and stir. The mixture should be thick.
- Pour in the extra-virgin olive oil and stir or blend until the mixture is smooth.
- Add salt and pepper – optional.
- Makes about 1 cup of dandelion and pumpkin seed pesto.