When I think of dandelions, I’m taken back to the Saturdays of my childhood. Waking up to the sound of cartoons and the smell of fresh-cut grass seeping through my windows is a delight to store to memory. I remember I would go outside with a cup of water, find a small sturdy stick, gather tree leaves, at times pull up patches of grass (I’m so sorry Mother Earth for those small, inconspicuous bare spots in the front yard) and pick dandelions from the grassy, wild-growing vacant lot at the corner – all to prepare my mud pie feast.
I’ve always loved dandelions with the same love I’ve had for daisies or orchids. But at some point even in those tender years, I was told that dandelions were weeds – the “bad W word” that had me picturing a hell where all the bad and unwanted flowers went after being feverishly dug up. I kept that perception of the precious Taraxacum officinale – which wasn’t hard simply because I had not yet come to know, understand, or experience all the amazing benefits of the Dandelion.
Who started this perception, this damaging characterization? I couldn’t understand why the Dandelion wasn’t deemed as useful or wanted like the more popular flowering plant varieties, especially when I knew of its natural riches: potassium, calcium, lecithin, iron, magnesium, niacin, phosphorous, proteins, silicon, boron, and zinc. Idle talkers couldn’t have been privy to know that its young leaves are good, highly nutritious and have blood-cleansing and digestive properties. Those with their ears to the grapevine must not have heard of the delights of dandelion tea that aids the liver and gallbladder functions. Back-fence talkers never whispered about its history of blossoms being used to produce a yellow dye for wool and other natural cloths or its dried, roasted and ground roots being used as a caffeine-free coffee substitute. Over time, it seems all these truths vaporized and clouded the very essence of the Dandelion, only to cultivate a rainfall of enlightenment of its history, domestic and healing uses and miraculous properties that allow us to remember how to sustain ourselves – wholly.
Even in the world of nature, I find it amazing how one concept or judgment can taint benevolent goodness – much like the world of our own. Nevertheless, tainted doesn’t mean destroyed. All weeds are functioning parts of nature. They are great indicators of problems in gardens or lawns and can provide great benefits to our bodies and overall health. So, in honor of the Dandelion (and the white clover and all the “weeds” that have carried a bad rep), you will have a place in my garden this growing season – your own time to shine again – in an effort to show those who are willing to see how wonderful and helpful you really are. :)
Dandelion Ideas & Recipes
All of these recipes here can be found on the web. You’re also sure to find more interesting and creative ways to use dandelion for your benefits. Take the journey through your search engine!
2 cups of boiling water
1/2 cup of dried of fresh dandelion blooms and greens
Boil water; pour over dandelion blooms and greens. Cover and steep for 3 minutes. Strain and serve.
For added flavor(s): Try adding fresh lemon, orange, mint and/or honey.
DANDELION & MIXED GREENS SALAD
Rinse, prepare and mix your selected greens for salad (dark leafy greens are recommended due to their high nutritional value). Slightly toss. Add condiments to taste (i.e., lite salad dressing, small amount of cheese, fresh vegetables).
Simply add rinsed dandelion greens to your salad. Slightly toss.
For an extra dose of color, sprinkle the petals on top of the salad.
DANDELION ROOT AS A COFFEE SUBSTITUTE
What you will need:
2 Whole dandelion plants (roots included)
Thoroughly wash and dry the whole plant. Carefully cut the roots off and roast on a pan in the oven at 350 degrees until they turn dark brown.
Grind and prepare like coffee.