Yesterday was a beautiful spring day. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, there was a light breeze, well almost. Being in Wyoming the light breeze was more like a mild storm. It was so windy the little ones had a hard time walking upright. Still, it was a lovely day and we decided to enjoy the warmer weather by taking a walk. The kids were so excited when they saw the fields full of dandelions. They preceded to run around like crazy, picking bouquets of flowers and presenting them to me with huge, happy grins. Good thing I like dandelions better than roses, huh!
I remember one of my younger brothers running across the yard with a fist full of dandelions held behind his back. He found mom and proudly presented her with a handful of...... stems. He had picked dandelions that had already gone to seed and as he ran around looking for mom, all the fluffy white seeds had flown away. The look of shock on his sweet little face when he stood there wondering what had happened to his pretty flowers was precious. Mom very graciously thanked him for his gift, while I quickly snapped a picture. We all waited till he left the room to have a good laugh at his expense.
While children love dandelions, most adults spend a great deal of time and money trying to rid their yards of them. If they only knew! Dandelions are very nutritious, containing many vitamins including vitamin A, B complex, vitamin C, and D, as well as minerals such as iron, potassium, calcium and zinc. They can make a tasty addition to salads or sandwiches, and can also be steamed and eaten like spinach. Dandelion root can be dried and used to make a coffee like substitute and the flowers are used to make wine. Make sure to pick the young leaves, since the older ones are bitter. Always be careful to pick dandelions in an area that you are sure hasn't been sprayed with weed killer or other pesticides.
Dandelion leaf tea stimulates the release of bile from the liver into the gallbladder, making it easier to digest fat. It is also cleansing to the liver and can help to improve skin problems. Dandelion is a diuretic but since it also contains potassium it doesn't deplete your body as most medical diuretics would. Dandelion is used to treat indigestion and can be mixed with peppermint or ginger if bloating is a problem. It can also be used to help dissolve uric acid kidney stones. Dandelion is safe, although since it's a diuretic, large dosed should be used with caution during pregnancy.
Tea is the easiest way to get the medical benefits from dandelion. Teas are best made from dried herbs. When herbs are dried the plant cells are broken making the beneficial parts more permeable to water. To make dandelion tea heat one cup water to a boil, add 2-3 teaspoons dried herb, cover and let steep for at least fifteen minutes. Strain and sweeten if desired.
Here's a few fun recipes that use fresh dandelions.
You can buy dried dandelion, ginger and peppermint here.