Surprisingly, dandelion greens (taraxacum officinale) are part of the sunflower family, which is one of the largest of the plant families and includes over 20,000 species including daisies! The greens are best in the spring, which is before the plant flowers. They have a wide array of health benefits that make them a nutritional boost. Additionally, you can cultivate dandelion seeds to have a steady supply. Dandelions are an asset in your yard and are not really a weed.
Harvesting and Storage
Dandelion greens can be found at farmers markets, health food stores, co-ops, and perhaps available during the spring and early summer months in your own backyard.
Picking the greens that are both young and tender will have a milder flavor. Be sure that they are from real dandelion plants and not from similar-looking ones because consuming inedible parts may put your health at risk. Never harvest from areas contaminated with harmful substances like pesticides, lead, heavy metals, parasites, or other pollutants.
Do not wash the greens because that may lead to spoilage. Wrap them in paper towels to absorb condensation and excess moisture and store in plastic bags or containers in the refrigerator. They remain fresh for only two to four days.
Dandelion Greens in Recipes
Blanch the greens for one to two minutes to reduce a possible bitter taste. To mask that, blend them with sweet and flavorful fruits such as strawberries, bananas, oranges, mangoes, papaya figs, kiwi, pineapple, or citrus. You will have more calcium than any dairy product and slightly more calcium than kale.
Add them to stews, soups, salads, sandwiches, vegetables, and herbal teas.
Health and Nutrition Benefits
The dandelion plant is said to be a powerful healer to address numerous maladies including digestion-related problems, blood purification, preventing gallstones and piles, and others.
Dandelion greens provide a higher amount of vitamins and minerals than most cultivated greens. Some of those are the following:
* Multivitamins include vitamin C, vitamins B1, B2, B6, vitamin E, riboflavin, thiamin, folate, and more. Vitamin A as beta-carotene is good for vision, shielding the retina from ultraviolet rays, the skin, mucous membranes and may help lower the risk of mouth and lung cancers. The greens also provide 535 percent of the recommended daily vitamin K to strengthen bones and fight Alzheimer’s disease.
* Rich in minerals. Besides calcium, they also provide iron that generates red blood cells, potassium that helps regulate blood pressure and heart rate, copper, magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese.
* More protein per serving than spinach. The greens are 14 percent protein and contain all of the essential amino acids.
* High in inulin and pectin, which are soluble fibers that help you feel full longer, assist with controlling weight, and maintain optimal levels of cholesterol. The greens are also loaded with antioxidants.
* One cup of low-calorie chopped dandelion greens has only 25 calories.