For the second installment of our series Scary Foods to Make Yourself Eat, we’re venturing into vegetables – debatably an even tougher sell than sardines (read part one about sardines). If you don’t already eat a lot of green vegetables, then you may just want to start by adding dark leafy greens (spinach, romaine, kale, chard, etc.) to your everyday diet. If greens are a staple, then consider incorporating the less common leaf of the dandelion plant.
In the Northeast we primarily know dandelions as those pesky weeds that invade our lawns every spring. Some of us may remember the childhood challenge of blowing all the seed spores off a mature flower with a single breath. But we rarely considered the leaves as an edible green vegetable. Turns out, not only are they edible, they’re quite nutritious.
In this case nutritious comes with a price. These leaves are very bitter. Frankly, that’s why they’re on this list. But in plants, bitter taste often coincides with strong anti-inflammatory properties, supporting the prevention of chronic disease. Dandelion is no exception. A range of phytonutrient compounds have made the root, leaves and flowers of the dandelion plant medicinal staples in every tradition of healing. More notably, dandelion leaves are a strong diuretic and support the liver for optimal detoxification and cleansing, making them a great food to incorporate when you want to refresh and rejuvenate the body (they arrive in spring for a reason). As an excellent source of carotenoids (vitamin A), vitamin K, vitamin C, calcium and iron, they hold their own against more standard leafy greens.
There are many ways to get around the bitter taste and enjoy them as part of your spring diet. Mix some raw chopped dandelion into your salad mix to kick up the flavor, blend them into green smoothies, or add them to soups just before serving. For more great ideas on how to eat dandelion greens, check out this post from Huffington Post.