Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Eat Your Weeds

My garden is coming up slowly but surely. As I weed, I try to harvest whatever I can. For instance, I usually throw radish or beet thinnings on my salads. I also use common "weeds" for a nutritious treat.

On the left (below) is purslane. It has thick leaves that have a bit of a lemony flavor. My garden is abundantly filled with purslane every spring and into the summer. This green, when eaten raw, contains Thiamin, Niacin, Vitamin B6 and Folate, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Riboflavin, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Copper and Manganese.

On the right is lambsquarters. It grows prolifically in the garden as well. This weed reminds me of spinach. When eaten raw, it contains a lot of Niacin, Folate, Iron, Magnesium and Phosphorus, Dietary Fiber, Protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Calcium, Potassium, Copper and Manganese.

One food I grew up watching my father eat lots of is dandelion greens. You know, the leaves from the lovely, yellow dandelion flower. Yeah, it's a weed that most people want to rid their yards of. Not me. Every spring I scour our front yard for the leaves (before the flowers bloom). I wash them and eat them raw too. One serving of dandelion greens, raw, contains 112% the RDA of Vitamin A! They are also loaded with Folate, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Copper, Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Vitamin K, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Calcium, Iron, Potassium and Manganese.

As a warning, do NOT eat any weed or plant that you are not sure is safe. We eagerly hunt morel mushrooms every spring up here in northern Michigan. There is a look-alike mushroom, the false morel, that looks just like a true morel. The false morel is deadly poisonous. The difference in the two is that the true morel has a hallow stem and cap that are all one piece. The false morel is dense inside and the cap comes off of the stem - they are one piece. Get yourself a guide to wild plants and play it safe before you enjoy the bounty of the wild.

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