April 30, 2015
Just as you would give your home a nice spring-cleaning, when you eat with the seasons, nature intrinsically brings ‘spring cleaning’ to your body by the way of bitter greens. When you eat bitter greens (in fact, anything bitter), you stimulate your body’s production of bile. Bile is like the dish-soup of the digestive system; it breaks down fats into smaller, more digestible fragments. Bile is produced in the liver and is a means for the body to get rid of metabolic waste products and toxins filtered through the liver –hence why it’s so important to stimulate this process- to eliminate the risk of toxic build-up in your body.
Both of these plants can be found in your backyard or a forested area near you.
Stinging Nettles: Used medicinally for thousands of years, stinging nettles are a deeply nutritious herb to incorporate in your lifestyle. High in iron, calcium and vitamins A and C, it makes a perfect “blood-building” tonic. It can be used to treat anemia, stop internal or external bleeding, and reduce skin irritations, mucus congestion and water retention. It increases breast milk production and stimulates digestion. You can steam or sauté the leaves in butter, salt and pepper, or use them dried.
Dandelion Greens: All parts of the dandelion are edible and have medicinal and culinary uses. It has long been used as a liver tonic and diuretic. In addition, the roots contain inulin and levulin, starch-like substances that may help balance blood sugar, as well as bitter taraxacin, which stimulates digestion. Dandelion roots can be harvested during any frost-free period of the year and eaten raw, steamed, or even dried, roasted and ground into a coffee substitute.
Nourishing Nettle Mint Tea
This recipe is from “Nourishing Meals”, a great cookbook for the real food cook interested in healing your body from the inside out.
Yield: 6 Cups
6 cups filtered water
3 Tablespoons dried nettles
3 Tablespoons dried mint
- Place the water into a medium-sized pot, cover and bring to a boil. Once the water has boiled, turn off the heat and add the dried herbs.
- Cover and let steep for about 30 minutes.
- Strain through a fine mesh strainer into mugs for serving.
- Store leftover tea in glass jars in the refrigerator.
When picking fresh nettles, use gardening gloves and scissors. It’s best to harvest nettles in the spring when plants are young (6-8” tall) as they retain more nutrients. Dry in a dehydrator and pulse in a food processor to create loose-leaf tea (like in this recipe).
Spicy Green Salad with Blueberry Vinaigrette
This recipe also comes from “Nourishing Meals” and is a great way to use any spring green. You could even toss nettles into this salad!
Yield: 4-6 servings
8 cups mixed greens, rinsed and spun dry
2-3 carrots, sliced into rounds
1-2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 cup hazelnuts, roasted and chopped
1/3 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1/3 cup champagne vinegar
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon raw, local honey
½ teaspoon sea salt (or Herbamare)
- Place all ingredients for the salad into a large bowl, toss together and set aside.
- To make the dressing add all ingredients to a blender and puree for about 30 seconds until smooth.
- Dress salad just before serving. Store extra dressing in a glass jar in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Article by Darci Barman, MSN, RDN, LD, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist practicing “foods-first”, functional nutrition at Pilgrim’s Wellness Clinic, inside Pilgrim’s Market in CDA, ID. For more information, see www.darcibarman.com