Dandelion Greens- A superfood in your backyard!



Dandelion greens are the unexpected superfood. 
More antioxidants than a carrot can surpass the protein content of spinach and will nudge kale out of the running with a higher calcium count. Yep, these backyard plants may be getting an unfair reputation. It is time to think twice before you break out the weed whacker. 
I used to pick the dandelions and make wishes blowing all the fuzzy little pom poms off the stem. Sound familiar? After the yellow flowers are gone, we are left with the fluffy white bunny looking tail which is the seeds.  Then, of course, are the green leaves. They are slightly bitter, but I find that the more peppery and tangy the leaf the more super in nutrients. So in this case bitter is better! 

Note to self: Forage friends safely. Although there is something magical about gathering your ingredients for your Sunday picnic lunch, beware if you are in your neighbor's shrubs on a scavenger hunt because you never know what kind of toxins from pesticides could be lurking. Best bet is to harvest the plant at your own home or purchase the dandelion from your local grocer or farmers market.  

Health Benefits:

1.Vegan-Friendly: It can be challenging for veg-heads to meet the RDA of essential vitamins and minerals. Luckily dandelion can help get you closer to your goals along with a little creative food combining. Vitamins like B's C & A along with Iron make dandelion a nutrient dense contender. 

2.Dem Bones: Dandelion has some pretty solid bone supporting minerals like calcium. One cup of raw dandelion contains 103mg. Bonus, this gracious green also includes the vitamin K that acts as another vital bone strengthener.

3. A detoxifier: Flow Sure: Dandelion works in your body as a diuretic by helping to increase the pace in which we flush out fluids. It is important to cleanse our kidneys by keeping the flow of toxins out and the process of sodium moving in and through our system healthily.  Try brewing dandelion tea or the root & add some to your bottled water to sip throughout the day as a tonic. 

4. Healthy Gut=Happy Stomach: Dandelion contains soluble fiber. Ahhh, I can already feel the relief just saying "fiber." If you suffer from bloat, too much acid or tummy discomfort from feeling stopped up dandelion can provide soothing comfort to an achy intestine by helping things move along.  

5.Sore No More: Pay attention athletes. Muscle recovery plays a vital role in our fitness life. Due to the antioxidant and chemical plant nutrients, aka phytonutrients, dandelions anti-inflammatory properties could help combat sore, swollen and achy muscles.


Dandelion Meal Inspiration:

  • Steam and toss with garlic and olive oil as a spinach alternative.
  • Add to your green smoothie.
  • Layer greens in your favorite sandwich for a spicy bite. 
  • Incorporate into your morning omelet.
  • Braised with a medley of some of your other fave greens like kale, spinach, and chard. 

  • Simple Dandelion Spring Salad with Anchovy-Lemon Dressing

One Bunch Dandelion Greens

1/2 Cup Sliced Red, Black or Watermelon Radish

1/4 Cup Sugar Snap Peas- leave some whole and shell a few to sprinkle in the salad. Use the pea shoots too! 

The Dressing:

2 Anchovy Filets

1 Lemon- juiced.

1/4-1/2 Cup Avocado Oil- I love the one infused with garlic.

Fresh ground pepper to taste

In a food processor pulse the anchovy and lemon juice. Add the oil in a steady stream while the processor is on low. Remember those little anchovies can be overpowering in salty favor so you may not need any salt at all. Finish it off with a grind or two of fresh pepper from a mill. 

Assemble the Salad:
Tear the leaves into bite-size pieces. Toss with dressing to coat leaves. Add the rest of ingredients and toss. Drizzle more dressing as desired. This salad is lovely as is, but you could add a grilled protein or toasted nuts like walnuts or pecans. 

Happy Springtime foraging Food Athletes!

Be Happy, Be Healthy, Love Your Body,

xo Jessi (Your Food Athlete Coach) xo