You may be shocked to learn that those yellow flowers you thought were weeds your whole life is actually a superfood! Here’s what you need to know about the health benefits of dandelions and how to eat them, including making a delicious dandelion tea.
I know…you may be shocked by this, but it’s true. Dandelions are a superfood high enough in vitamin levels to put even kale and spinach to shame. Those bright yellow weeds that pop up in the lawn? Yes, that’s what we are talking about. Get ready to have your mind blown!
The Health Benefits of Dandelions
Dandelions are some of the most nutritionally dense greens you can eat. They are far more nutritious than kale or spinach. Dandelions are full of vitamins and antioxidants. In fact, a half-cup of dandelion greens has more calcium than a glass of milk!
The greens are also a good source of Vitamins C, A, and K. Dandelions are rich in potassium, giving them a strong diuretic quality as well as making them an excellent blood detoxifier.
Dandelions are noted for their ability to stabilize blood sugar, making them an excellent supplement for diabetics.
Plus, you can eat the flower too. In fact, every part of this little cheerful plant is edible! There are so many other ways people have used these little plants. Here are a few more of my favorites:
- Detoxifies the liver – It can reestablish hydration and electrolyte balance. A recent study on mice showed it can slow down liver fibrosis or scarring.
- Slows Down Aging – This plant is full of antioxidants that fight free radicals. Free radicals are the things that age our bodies.
- Helps Manage High Blood Pressure – Since it is a diuretic, it makes people pee more. This act can actually help lower blood pressure.
- Lowers Cholesterol – Animal studies show that dandelion plants can help raise HDL levels and balance cholesterol levels.
My Dandelion Childhood
Picture this scene: I’m 8 years old and new to the neighborhood. I am desperate to make new friends because school starts in a few weeks. While chatting away to some of the neighborhood kids, I see my mother out of the corner of my eye with a big bowl. One of the kids asks, “Umm, why is your mom picking weeds out of the yard?” My response, “I think she has a lot of water.” *crickets*
The weed my mom was harvesting? Dandelions. Yep, that evil little weed that threatens the tranquil sea of green on a perfect lawn. I grew up very aware of its health benefits; notably its use as a diuretic (my mother always said she had “a lot of water” when she was retaining water).
In many countries, especially in Asia, dandelions are eaten regularly for medicinal and for nutritional values (by the way, my mother is Korean). In the West, dandelions are gaining popularity as an edible weed.
How to Harvest Dandelions
The entire plant is edible: flower, leaves, and roots. The taste resembles that of a spicier arugula.
As you probably know, you can grow it from home. However, if you plan to harvest your own greens, make sure you harvest from an area that is not treated with chemicals of any kind. This means you need to avoid areas near freeways or public parks.
You can find dandelion greens and roots in Asian stores or even in some specialty supermarkets if you are not feeling up to foraging. If you do plan to harvest them on your own, it’s better to gather dandelions in the spring when they are young (before they flower) and again in the fall.
How to Eat Dandelions
Yes, you can eat dandelions that grow wild in your yard. Remember, avoid any dandelions that have been sprayed with fertilizer or any other toxic sprays.
Here are a few popular ways to eat dandelions, including my favorite, dandelion tea.
How To Make Dandelion Tea
You will use the root of the plant to make this tea, so pull up as much of the roots as you can when you are harvesting it.
This tea will effectively treat digestive issues, gallstones, inflammation, muscle aches, and bloating.
You can use either fresh or dried dandelion roots for tea. Both work just as well and are equally effective at helping with digestion problems.
To make your tea, you’ll need to finely chop the dandelion roots first. Then, add the root into a cup with boiling water and steep for 2-3 minutes. You can either make your own tea bags or steep the roots directly in the water and strain it after.
Then, add a bit of honey to cut the bitterness. Without the honey, it’s pretty bitter, especially if it’s an older plant.
Use Dandelion Roots As A Coffee Replacement
Lots of people prefer drinking dandelion coffee instead of coffee made from coffee beans. It rinses you gently. In other words, it’s more gentle on your tummy than coffee beans are. ;)
You can brew dandelion coffee in your coffee pot or French press as well. Here’s how to make dandelion coffee.
- Dry the roots
- Grind them up very fine in a food processor
- Place the grounded roots into your coffee pot or French Press and brew like normal.
This is a very bitter coffee, so use your favorite creamer and sweetener. You’ll still be able to get all the same digestive benefits from this coffee as you do the tea.
Garnish Desserts With Dandelion Petals
Use fresh or dried petals as a garnish in salads and desserts. Young dandelion petals have a honey-like flavor; mature blossoms are bitter but still nutritious and pretty. You can dry the flowers in a dehydrator or lay them out in a single layer on a lined cookie sheet and place it outside in the mid-day sun.
Fry Dandelion Flowers and Eat Them
This is a fun way to eat the blossoms. Dip the flowers in tempura batter and fry them in oil. They taste crunchy and savory—trust me, they are good.
How To Eat Dandelion Leaves
Mature dandelion leaves can be on the bitter side. Blanch the greens first, then saute them in oil with garlic. Young greens can be eaten raw in salads or in sandwiches.
Instead of worrying about eradicating the weeds from your lawn this year, think of the weeds as a free, highly nutritious food source. Go ahead and let the kids blow on the dandelion puff balls; they’re helping to spread free food for all.