Eat Your Dandelions!

Eat Your Dandelions!

Part of Ep. 1502 Healthy Weeds

Some people look at dandelions and think "weeds."  We look at these and think, "lunch!"

Premiere date: Jun 06, 2007

TRANSCRIPT+
Wisc Gardener Transcript: 

Shelley:
We showed you how to pull these out of your back yard.  Now we’re going to show you why you might want to keep some.  I’m with Laurel Redmon, co-owner of Red Sage Health.  Laurel, you have a passion for dandelions. 

Laurel:
You could say that.  I have a passion for all plants and herbs. 

Shelley:
What is Red Sage Health? 

Laurel:
Red Sage is our business.  It’s named after one of my favorite herbs, red sage root.  We have an herb farm in the Baraboo Hills an herb shop and an acupuncture and massage clinic both here in Baraboo and in Madison. 

Shelley:
So you have an extensive background in acupuncture and herbal medicine. 

Laurel:
I’ve been studying Chinese medicine and herbal medicine for 20 years.  I’ve studied in Asia extensively, also in California.  I have worked with many of the preeminent herbalists in Chinese and Western herbalism. 

Shelley:
You teach classes, too? 

Laurel:
I do.  I’ve taught classes on aroma therapy, health diagnosis cooking, wild food and mushroom identification. 

Shelley:
Wild food or weedy food is kind of what we’re focusing on.  Dandelions have a long medicinal history. 

Laurel:
Indeed, they’ve been used across the world for many millennia. 

Shelley:
We’re going to focus on something else today. 

Laurel:
Yes, using them as food. 
Shelley:
You already surprised me because we’re going to talk about even eating the flowers, the roots and the leaves.  The leaves are probably the most familiar, so let’s start there. 

Laurel:
It’s a common European salad green.  It’s very, very nutritional.  Wild greens, as a rule, have much more nutritional value than cultivated.  Dandelions have extensive magnesium, potassium, iron vitamins C, A and E, and even lots of calcium. 

Shelley:
I’m eating my vegetables and my vitamins right here.  What else do you have in this?  This is gorgeous. 

Laurel:
That’s a salad I made with, in addition to dandelions it’s got chick weed, violet leaves and tomatoes in a balsamic vinaigrette. 

Shelley:
We should mention that we are using dandelions that have not been sprayed with any chemicals. 

Laurel:
That is right.  The best way to make sure that you’re getting dandelions that aren’t sprayed is to pick them from your yard that you do not spray. 

Shelley:
And a good time of year for dandelion greens? 

Laurel:
Almost all wild greens are really at their peak in the springtime.  So now’s the perfect time of year. 

Shelley:
And how else would I use the greens? 

Laurel:
Especially when they get a little more robust taste more bitter later in the year, you can easily saute them.  Cook them in soups, any soup just cut up the greens and just put them in.  I’ve made cream soups with it. 

Shelley:
What’s this one? 

Laurel:
This is an Indian dal with garlic mustard and dandelion greens. 

Shelley:
I’m getting my weeds and my vitamins, excellent.  And the one that I don’t think about is cooking with the roots.  Look at those. 

Laurel:
You can see how I really took some effort to scrub these clean.  Cleaning the dirt off wild foods is so important because that can be quite off-putting, especially when you’re trying to introduce people to wild foods. 

Shelley:
And for safety too, really scrub them down. 

Laurel:
Once you rinse them a few times and scrub them down—I have here a dish that I made where I chopped up the dandelion root.  And I also grated in carrot and burdock and dressed it in a simple Asian dressing. 

Shelley:
So it’s got three kinds of roots in here. 

Laurel:
It’s very, very nutritious and fortifying. 

Shelley:
All raw, too? 

Laurel:
It’s all raw, but you could also saute that and make it into a stir fry dish. 

Shelley:
I think I like it raw. 

Laurel:
I do, too. 

Shelley:
And what else do we have?  The flowers are the ones that are the most surprising to me. 

Laurel:
Well, to me, they’re my favorite.  It’s just an instant snack. 

Shelley:
Just eat it like that? 

Laurel:
It’s a great pick-me-up.  It’s got that nice, nutritional pollen, a good Chi tonic. 

Shelley:
It’s sweet.  And so, you don’t have to do anything.  You wash them a little, I assume. 

Laurel:
You wash them, but if you’re in a clean area and you know that they’re not sprayed you can even just eat them right out of hand. 

Shelley:
And it’s okay to keep the green part on? 

Laurel:
Definitely, that gives it extra nutrition and a balance of bitter and sweet flavors. 

Shelley:
I can see having fun with my kid in the back yard just sitting there and eating the dandelions.  But you’ve invented a recipe. 

Laurel:
Yes, a few years ago, I created dandelion fritters.  I’ve made them a number of times but I’ve never used the same recipe twice.  I’ve experimented with different seasoning combinations and different types of batters.  Today we have some ten-grain pancake mix that I’ve added some garlic and some cumin to.  And I’ve got some buttermilk here. 

Shelley:
I’ve got your flowers. 

Laurel:
You could easily make this into a more of a dessert type thing by using a little honey or maple syrup. 

Shelley:
Or a sweeter batter. 

Laurel:
Yeah, some cinnamon, allspice, cardamom. 

Shelley:
You could use like a tempura batter, too? 

Laurel:
Or you could just make your own out of cornmeal. 

Shelley:
And just eat the whole flower.  I never would’ve thought to do that. 

Laurel:
Just pan fry these.  I like to use butter because dandelions remind me so much of butter. 

Shelley:
I think I’m going to have to take a sample of one while you’re making more. 

Laurel:
My hands turned yellow after I picked all these dandelions this morning. 

Shelley:
These are wonderful. 

Laurel:
Thank you. 

Shelley:
And good for you, too. 

Laurel:
It’s a fun food.  It’s really tasty.  It’s easy to have it be nutritious and fun. 

Shelley:

Laurel, thank you so much.  We will have more information about Laurel about Red Sage Health and her recipes on our Web site. 

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