Thursday, October 6, 2016

The Humble Dandelion: The Power of Edible Plants for Health

Hi all!  Welcome Chrystle Fiedler Back to the Killer Hobbies blog today!  There are even a couple of recipes for you cooks out there!

The next time you see a dandelion in your yard, put away the weed killer and stop and take a closer look. Inside the leaves of this unassuming herb is a powerhouse of nutrients, including iron, beta-carotene, and potassium, that can contribute to better health and wellness, and it’s free! Best of all, nearly every part of the dandelion plant is edible. Herbalists have long prescribed dandelion-root tea as a natural remedy to relieve acne and eczema as well as to enhance liver function.

Not only are dandelions packed with nutrients, they are everywhere. Now that Fall is here, I’m already looking forward to greeting them next Spring  in my yard. I’m also going to include edibles such as violets, chickweed, malva and other plants I've listed here in my garden. An easy way to grow edible plants and your favorite medicinal herbs is by using a wagon wheel design. Just place on the ground, fill with organic soil, add seeds and plants, water regularly, and watch them grow!

This way, you'll be able to make a fresh salad or a smoothie or even, a dandelion quiche! (see recipes below) from the great outdoors. What could be better? 

Remember: Safety First!

But before you forage for edible plants you aren’t familiar with, it’s absolutely essential to learn how to identify the most poisonous plants. Not only do some plants have poisonous look-alikes, but certain parts of some plants are poisonous. For example, blue elderberries are yummy, but the leaves are toxic. To avoid any problems, choose and use a good guidebook. You’ll find recommendations at the end of this section, or even better, take an herb walk with an herbalist to learn more about edible plants you’d like to grow, forage for, enjoy, and use in natural remedies.

Here are a few of my favorite edible plants: 
Dandelion (Taraxacum spp.): Although most everyone recognizes dandelion, not everyone realizes that nearly every part of the plant is edible. The leaves, which are most palatable in spring before the plant flowers, are high in iron, beta-carotene, and potassium. Dandelions are also mildly diuretic. I like to sauté well-scrubbed dandelion roots in a little toasted sesame oil and tamari. Herbalists have long prescribed dandelion-root tea to relieve acne and eczema as well as to enhance liver function.
Chickweed (Stellaria media): Delicate and delicious, chickweed is high in vitamin C. Its leaves, flowers, and stems are great when included in salads, soups, and stir-fries. Store up to two weeks in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Herbalists make the tops into a tea to soothe bladder and bronchial irritation and ulcers; they also put them in salves to relieve skin disorders ranging from diaper rash to psoriasis.
Lamb’s-quarters (Chenopodium album): The leaves of lamb’s-quarters have long been used as a nourishing food during times of war and famine. They may be eaten raw or cooked and are rich in iron, calcium, beta-carotene, and vitamin C. To make a tea from the leaves, pour one cup of boiling water over two heaping teaspoons of fresh leaves (or one heaping teaspoon dried). Steep, covered, for ten minutes. When cool, the tea may also be used to moisten a compress to relieve headache or sunburn.
Malva (Malva neglecta) is a member of the Malvaceae (mallow) family. The word malva is Latin meaning "soft," and neglecta means "neglected." Malva leaves are soothing and anti-inflammatory and can be eaten raw along with the seeds. Malva leaves have served as a traditional medicine in a tea for sore throats and ulcers. Malva can also be used in a simple poultice for treating skin rashes, burns, and insect bites. The leaves are rich in beta-carotene and have been included in teas and syrups for coughs and irritated lungs.
Purslane (Portulaca oleracea, P. sativa) is a member of the Portulacaceae (purslane) family. The genus name Portulaca is from the Latin porto and laca meaning "milk carrier” in reference to the plant’s juicy liquid. High in the essential fatty acid omega-3, purslane is also rich in beta-carotene and vitamin C. Not only does it make a good salad herb, but is wonderful in raw soups such as gazpacho or used in place of okra in recipes. As a poultice, it is used to treat bee stings, boils, burns, and hemorrhoids.
Violet: Found in shady areas, with heart-shaped leaves, brilliant purple flowers, and a lovely aroma, the violet (Viola odorata) is a member of the Violaceae (violet) family. While violet leaves are edible year-round, the flowers are in their prime in the spring. I like to use raw violet blossoms on the dishes I serve to add an element of whimsy. The leaves and flowers are both high in vitamin C and are a valuable remedy for coughs, fevers, and lung complaints such as bronchitis.
How You Can Use Edible Plants
1. Salads. All of the above greens, when young (before flowering), may be included in a salad.
2. Blend clean chopped greens into some soaked nuts to make a pâté. Season with lemon, garlic, salt, and chopped onion to make a dip.
3. Use greens as you would spinach in making raw lasagna.
4. Puree young greens to make a raw pesto or soup.
5. Enjoy fresh wild-greens drinks like this smoothie!
Green Smoothie
1 cup of apple juice
1 ripe banana, peeled
1 cup of wild greens such as malva, violet, lamb’s-quarters

Blend for 2 to 3 minutes, strain, and pour into large glass. Enjoy this nutrient-packed drink.
And there's more! 
Dandelion-Green Quiche


1/3 cup of coconut oil
2 tablespoons of organic milk
3/4 cup of brown-rice flour
3/4 cup of cornmeal
1 tablespoon sage
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Mix 1/3 cup of coconut oil, and 2 tablespoons of organic milk together. Combine the dry ingredients, then add to the liquid mixture and blend. Pour into a 10-inch pie pan. Bake 15 minutes in a preheated 425  F. oven.


1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon of canola or sunflower oil
1 cup of grated organic cheddar cheese
2½ cups washed and chopped dandelion greens
2 organic eggs
2 ounces of organic cottage cheese
salt and pepper to taste 

Chop a medium onion, then lightly sauté it in oil. When translucent, place into the crust (see above). Combine the grated cheese and the dandelion greens and place in crust. In a blender combine 2 eggs, 2 ounces of cottage cheese, and salt and pepper, for 60 seconds. Pour over the greens, cheddar cheese, and onions in the pie shell. Bake at 350  F. for 35 minutes. Let stand a few minutes before serving.
NOTE: When trying a new food for the first time, it’s good to have only a moderate amount, just to test how it affects you.
For more information on edible plants check out these books:
The Wild Wisdom of Weeds: 13 Essential Plants for Human Survival. Katrina Blair. Chelsea Green Publishing: 2014.
Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health. Jo Robinson. Reprint edition. Little, Brown: May 2014.
Wild Edibles: A Practical Guide to Foraging, with Easy Identification of 60 Edible Plants and 67 Recipes. Sergei Boutenko. North Atlantic Books: 2013.
Backyard Foraging: 65 Familiar Plants You Didn't Know You Could Eat. Ellen Zachos. Storey Books: 2013.

Dandelion Dead: A Natural Remedies Mystery  

Business is blooming at Nature’s Way Market & Café, and shop owner, holistic doctor, and amateur sleuth, Willow McQuade has never been happier. Her new medicinal herb garden is a hit, and so is her new book, she’s in love with ex-cop and animal sanctuary founder Jackson Spade, and enjoying teaching seminars about edible plants and natural remedies.   

But everything changes when Willow’s old boyfriend and TV producer, Simon Lewis, winemaker David Farmer, and his wife Ivy, ask her to cater a party at Pure, their new organic vineyard, to kick off North Fork’s Uncorked! week and the competition for Wine Lovers magazine’s $200,000 prize. Pure’s entry, Falling Leaves, is the favorite to win, and the wine flows freely until after Simon’s toast when smiles give way to looks of horror. Ivy’s twin sister, Amy has been murdered! Turns out, the poison that killed her was actually meant for David. But who wants him dead? A rival vintner? Or someone closer to home? This time the truth may be a bitter vintage to swallow.


CHRYSTLE FIEDLER is a freelance journalist specializing in natural remedies, alternative medicine and holistic health and healing, and is the author of the Natural Remedies Mysteries series. Her many consumer magazine articles have appeared in USA Today’s Green Living, Natural Health, Remedy, Mother Earth Living, Spirituality & Health, and Prevention. She is also the author/co-author of seven non-fiction health titles including the Country Almanac of Home Remedies with herbalist Brigitte Mars, and The Compassionate Chick’s Guide to DIY Beauty with Vegan Beauty Review founder, Sunny Subramanian. Chrystle lives on the East End of Long Island, NY in a cozy cottage by the sea. Visit


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Twitter: @ChrystleFiedler

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Chrystle Fiedler said...

Thanks Tracy! It's great to be back on Killer Hobbies! I hope you enjoy my post on edible plants! Chrystle

Linda O. Johnston said...

Welcome back to Killer Hobbies, Chrystle. What a wonderful post! I'll have to try some of your suggestions.

Monica Ferris said...

When I was a small child and our family lived in east central Illinois, my Aunt Mamie sent me out in the early spring to gather dandelion leaves. She'd wash them and make a salad of them with onion and chopped hard-boiled egg. Delicious! Hadn't thought about that for years, I may try it in the spring.

Chrystle Fiedler said...

Hi Linda! Good to be back with all of you. Love the doggie photo! Chrystle

Hi Monica! I'm glad that I reminded you of happy days. Sounds like a delicious and nutritious lunch! Chrystle

Monica Ferris said...

I forgot to add that the dressing for dandelion salad was bacon chopped small and fried, and poured, fat and all, over the salad. Yum!