No longer considered a pesky weed growing in the corners of your lawn or garden, or the cracks in the wall, dandelion now has a standing in the world of health. It is an excellent food and can be grown easily.
Dandelion is a good source of vitamin C, fiber, potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus and B complex vitamins. It also has traces of minerals, vitamin D and proteins. It stimulates the production of insulin from the pancreas, works as a laxative and diuretic, and its sap is useful for treating skin diseases and acne.
What’s recently gained popularity is the leaves of the plant—dandelion greens. Dandelion leaves have more beta-carotene than carrots and more iron and calcium than spinach. “They (the leaves) are a great source of potassium and combined with its potential effect as a diuretic, it could be an effective remedy for high blood pressure,” says Joe Leech, a dietitian and health writer from Sydney.
They’re used extensively in salad, but there’s more to dandelion than that. Chefs have now started using it in different ways: the root is used as a base for ice cream, the flowers are baked into bread, turned into wine, or batter-fried and served as tempura, and the leaves are blitzed into smoothies.
Go on, make the most of this versatile plant. We share four simple and delicious ways to add dandelion to your diet.
You heard us. Dandelion coffee is a thing, and it’s being compared to matcha in its nutrition value. The caffeine-free herbal drink is made out of roasted dandelion root. This is blended with roasted barley rye, sugar beet and chicory root. It looks and tastes like coffee, but is less acidic and less bitter (owing to sweetness of glucose in chicory).
2. Herbal Tea
Dandelion roots are also used in teas and are good for those who want to detox or relieve themselves of that bloated feeling. Dandelion tea can be brewed in different ways—put the flowers or the leaves in a cup and let them steep, and then add some sweetener (such as agave or honey) for a natural, immunity-boosting drink. Alternatively, place the dried root into a cup with boiling water and drink it as is.
Cultivated dandelion greens are a bit milder than their wild cousins and work well with light dressings and other flavorful ingredients, including bacon grease and cheese, to lessen the bitterness.“One cup of dandelion greens is 25 calories. A simple preparation is to soak the greens in cold water, chop them and sauté in olive oil, garlic and herbs,” says Melanie Young, author and certified health coach.
The simplest salad is a warm dandelion greens salad with roasted garlic dressing. Young recommends a vinaigrette with apple cider vinegar, honey, garlic and extra virgin olive oil.
4. Just As Is
Dandelion, when consumed raw or cooked, retains its health benefits. “Dandelions can be eaten directly, much like you would a green salad. Consuming around 100 grams of dandelion provides 10-15 percent of your daily potassium requirements, with almost zero calories,” says Leech.
Since they’re bitter, pair the greens and flowers with something sweet—mix them with a fruit in a smoothie or a sweet dressing. Some people have experimented with pairing dandelion greens with bacon, cheese, lemon and nuts to complement the taste.
No matter how you choose to consume them, dandelions are sure to make your health shine.