The dandelion, usually the bane of lawn enthusiasts, is actually packed with health benefits and has a long history of use as a medical treatment. So, before you go out and spray those pesky dandelions, consider gathering them up into a basket and using them for tonight’s dinner salad. We’re not kidding! The flower and leaves of a dandelion are all edible and can be used to make everything from vinegar to tea to a hearty salad.
Some of the medical benefits from dandelions are in their vitamins and minerals, but they’re also considered good for digestion; their high acidity levels can help our bodies process our foods more efficiently. Dandelions are high in fiber and calcium, can reduce inflammation in the body, and are rich in antioxidants. Believe it or not, dandelions are actually good for the soil, as they help to cultivate a nutrient-rich environment for other plants. Even the roots of a dandelion are edible!
Simple living enthusiasts Doug and Stacy have a video series about their life living “off the grid.” In this video, Stacy shares how to see dandelions in a new way, as a source of vitamins and minerals rather than as a garden nuisance. Stacy shares three recipes for dandelions and you might be surprised at just how she uses them. If you’re still doubtful about dandelions, give this video a few minutes of your time. Watch how Stacy uses her dandelions in three different recipes; we’ve also summarized those recipes below the video.
Before consuming, like any other garden plant, dandelions must be thoroughly washed to remove any dirt or bugs.
Dandelion Recipe #1: Dandelion Vinegar
Fill a mason jar with washed dandelion heads. Fill the jar with apple cider vinegar, to just below the rings. To prevent the vinegar from eroding the metal jar, place parchment paper over top and screw on lid. Let the jar sit in a cool, dark place for 1 month, then strain the dandelions from the liquid. Transfer liquid back to the mason jar to use as a dandelion vinegar.
Dandelion Recipe #2: Iced Dandelion Tea
Fill a mason jar with dandelion heads, about half full. Add mint leaves, lemon balm, and a sweetener like a maple syrup, honey or natural stevia. Boil water and pour boiled water over dandelions and let sit for 30 minutes. Strain and return liquid to the mason jar. It’s ready to drink and will last 2-4 days refrigerated.
Dandelion Recipe #3: Dandelion Salad
Thoroughly wash leaves and snip or tear them into smaller pieces. Add lemon juice (to help reduce the acidity of the leaves), red onion, walnuts, feta cheese, Medjool dates, and your own salad dressing (Stacy uses a mixture of honey, extra virgin olive oil, and apple cider vinegar), add a pinch of kosher salt and black pepper and enjoy!
It’s hard to look past the dandelion as anything more than just a scourge on our lawns and gardens, but the dandelion is actually an excellent source for health and wellness. If harvesting your own dandelions is too much, you can often find these flowers at your local organic or health food store. Sometimes it’s nice to know that something that is such a nuisance is actually super healthy for us. Bon appetit!