Energetics of Dandelion: Yes, It’s Edible!

It’s that time of the year when dandelions begin sprouting, destroying your yards! You’ll find these sunny yellow flowering plants dotting lawns almost year round, but they come back with a notorious vengeance each spring. You won’t typically find them in groceries, but did you know they are edible?They are also tortoises’ favorite snacks!

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They are chock full of vitamins A (more than in carrots)  B-complex, C,  and D, as well as minerals including iron, potassium sodium, calcium phosphorus and zinc. The often detested lawn blight seems to cure just about everything that ails you.  The genus name, taraxacum, is derived from the Greek taraxos, meaning “disorder,” and akos, meaning “remedy”.  This plant is used by many cultures, from Native Americans to Europeans and the Chinese.  Traditional Chinese Medicine uses dandelion as one of the top six herbs in its medicine chest.  Dandelion appears in the U.S. National Formulator and in the Pharmacopeias of Hungary, Poland, Switzerland, and the Soviet Union.

Dandelion is touted to purify the blood, detoxify the liver and gallbladder, dissolve kidney stones, improve gastro-intestinal health, assist in weight loss, clear acne, relieve both constipation and diarrhea, ease rheumatism, prevent high blood pressure and anemia, lower cholesterol and reduce gas.

The entire plant is edible. The root is a caffeine-free coffee substitute, similar to chicory, and also an ingredient in root beer. Dandelion leaves, which are deeply notched, flat and dark green in color, funnel water to the roots.  The leaves are used as a diuretic, helpful for liver problems, gall bladder function and high blood pressure.  The leaves may also normalize blood sugar levels along with lowering total cholesterol and triglycerides and raising HDL (good cholesterol), as proven in diabetic mice.  Tossed into salads and sandwiches, they boost flavor and reduce heartburn.  The flowers have antioxidant properties, helpful in preventing cancer. The petals, pulled from their green base can be used in numerous recipes like risotto, salads and cookies. Yum! You may have also heard of the the classic dandelion wine.

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Avoid dandelion if you’re allergic to ragweed, chrysanthemum, marigold, chamomile, yarrow, daisies or iodine.

Oddly, high quality studies of dandelion are lacking.

Dandelion is one of the Five Flavors. Dandelion is a bitter (yin) flavor, reducing both heat and damp conditions in general, particularly in those area affected by the liver, spleen-pancreas, lungs, and heart.  Dandelion and other bitter foods also tend to direct energy inward and toward the lower part of the body.

Gluten-Free Dandelion Flower Cookies

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups gluten free baking flour
1 cup dry gluten free oatmeal
1/2 cup dandelion flowers*
1/2 cup ground macadamia nuts or pistachios (optional)
1/2 cup butter or vegetable oil
1/2 cup honey
2 eggs
1/4 cup raw sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 tsp baking soda

Directions

Preheat oven to 375°F. Blend oil and honey and beat in the two eggs, sugar, nuts and vanilla. Stir in flour, oatmeal, baking soda and dandelion flowers. Drop the batter by teaspoonfuls onto a lightly oiled cookie sheet and bake for 12-13 minutes at sea level.  Add 2 tsp flour and adjust cooking time (check at 13 minutes and add 2-3 minutes if necessary) for high altitude.

*Use pesticide-free flowers, wash well in clear water; measure 1/2 cup flowers with green base then twist petals off green part; use only petals since the green is bitter.

Recipe courtesy of Vitesis.

Energetics of Beets: Beet Greens

photo credit: Beet Greens via photopin (license)

photo credit: Beet Greens via photopin (license)

Last time I wrote about beets I concentrated on beet roots, this week I am going to talk about beet greens! Most people throw away this part of the beet when cooking, but they are throwing away an excellent source of nutrients! Beet greens have a similar taste and texture to spinach and Swiss chard. It is time to start incorporating this delicious vegetable to your diet!

Varieties

The three varieties below represent the bulk of beets found in the market today.

Table beets are the most popular variety of beets and are most commonly found in local markets.  These beets come in many colors including red, yellow and white speckled with pink.  Red beets contain a health-promoting phytonutrient called betacyanin, which is not found in yellow or rainbow colored beets.

Sugar beets are specifically used for the production of refined sugar and alcohol.  These large white beets are not generally eaten as a vegetable.  Their sugar content is more than twice that of red beets and they lack many nutritional benefits.

Mangelwurzel, also called fodder beets, are used for animal fodder.

Beet greens are available throughout the year, however their peak season runs from June through October.

How to Choose and Store

beet greensBeet greens almost always come with beet roots and are seldom sold separately.  There are always some exceptions, some grocery stores and supermarkets cut off the beet greens before stocking the shelves.  These grocery stores and supermarkets will sometimes give you the cut off beet greens for free!

To select the best tasting and most delicious beet greens, look for greens that appear fresh, have a lively green color and are not limp.  Avoid beet greens that have turned yellow and are wilted.

For proper storage it is important to refrigerate the greens.  It is best to place them in a plastic storage bag, like the ones found in the produce section. You should get as much air as possible out of the bag before placing it in the fridge.  Beet greens may be attached or cut away from the beet root before storage.

Nutrition

beet green nutritionLike the beet roots, beet greens also contain phenolic phytonutrients, manganese and copper that protect the body from free-radical damage.  Beet greens also contain a high amount of fiber which has been found to help lower total cholesterol levels and triglyceride levels. Other heart-healthy nutrients in beet greens are folate, potassium, magnesium and vitamin C.  Beet greens are a good source of energy-producing iron, bone-building phosphorus, and sleep-promoting tryptophan.

Energetics

Beets strengthen the heart, sedates the spirit, improves circulation, purifies the blood, benefits liver, moistens intestines, promotes menstruation.  Used with carrots for hormone regulation during menopause.  Treats liver stagnancy and liver ailments in general, as well as constipation.  Also treats nervousness and congestions of the vascular system.

Note: The beet greens contain oxalic acid, and in high doses inhibit calcium metabolism.

Beet Green Chips

baked-beet-greens-7Ingredients

 

  • About 1 large bunch of beets greens
  • olive oil
  • kosher or sea salt
  • fresh cracked black pepper

Directions

 

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Line one or two baking sheet pans with parchment paper.

2. Wash beet greens and blot with towels to remove excess water. Remove inner rib of beet stems if they are thick and tough. Smaller, more tender beet greens can be baked with the inner rib intact.

3. Add all the beet greens in a large bowl. Start by tossing or spraying about 1 tablespoon of olive oil at a time, making sure the beet greens are lightly coated with oil. But do not over oil the leaves or they will become too greasy when baked.

4. Lay the beet greens in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle salt and pepper over beet greens to taste. Season on both sides of the beet leaves.

5. Bake the beet greens for about 15 minutes, turn the beet greens and continue baking for 10 minutes or until the greens are crisp.

 

Source

 

 

 

Energetics of Broccoli: Even More Nutritious Than You Thought

photo credit: found_drama via photopin cc

photo credit: found_drama via photopin cc

Many parents know broccoli as one of the “green monsters” of dinner time, a tough contender with young ones.  This cruciferous vegetable has quickly become one of the United States most popular veggies, thanks to it’s unique flavor and incredible nutritional value.

Varieties

Broccoli is part of the cruciferous family which includes cauliflower, kale, collard greens, mustard greens, cabbage, and brussel sprouts. There are five main varieties of broccoli.  The most popular variety is the green broccoli, which is the common type found in grocery stores and restaurants.  This type has light green stalks topped with clusters of dark green, purplish florets. The next variety is broccolini, which is just baby broccoli that is a cross between broccoli and kale.  It is best served raw. There is a type called broccoflower, that is a hybrid of broccoli and cauliflower.  It resembles cauliflower more than broccoli.

photo credit: krossbow via photopin cc

photo credit: krossbow via photopin cc

There is also a variety called broccoli raab.  This variety has an intense flavor that is a bit bitter with pepper undertones.  This broccoli has more leaves and a longer stem than green broccoli, the stem is also more tender.  Unlike green broccoli, the stem of broccoli raab can be eaten up to 2 in from bottom of the stem.  The last variety of broccoli is broccoli sprouts.  These sprouts have risen in popularity due to their high concentration of phytonutrients.

How to Choose and Store

When shopping for broccoli, look for tightly closed florets clusters that are dark green or purplish in color.  The darker the green coloring the more chlorophyll, beta-carotene, and vitamin C, and the darker the purple coloring the more flavonoids. Stalks and stems should be firm, and any leaves still attached should be vibrant and not wilted. Avoid broccoli with florets that are not compact or uniformly colored. They should not be yellow, bruised or have yellow blossom, as that can be a sign that they are overly mature.  Also avoid broccoli if the stalks are too wide, woody or hollow, and be sure to check fo rareas that may be spoiled or have a sour smell.

If broccoli is not stored properly it can start getting limp, yellow and bitter.  The best way to store broccoli is to put it in the fridge and wrapped tightly in a plastic storage bag (try to squeeze out excess air). Do not wash broccoli before storage to avoid spoilage. Broccoli can last up to 10 days in the fridge, whole. If you have a partial head of broccoli use the same storage process as whole broccoli, but it must be eaten within 2 days to keep its nutritional value.

Broccoli is in season year round, but it’s peak flavor happens during the cold months, when the frost helps develop a sweet flavor.  During the hotter months broccoli is less tender and needs to be cooked an additional minute or two.

Nutritional Facts

Broccoli nutritionBroccoli is an important addition to everyone’s diet, being a concentrated source of dietary fiber, folic acid, iron, vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B5, vitamin B6, vitamin E, phosphorus, niacin, manganese, zinc, tryptophan, magnesium, potassium, and omega-3 fatty acids. It is also known to be very heart healthy, due to its abundance of flavonoids, such as quercetin. Broccoli is also known for promoting bone health, as one cup of steamed broccoli has 74 mg of calcium and 123 mg of vitamin C.  It is due to it’s high vitamin C content that broccoli can boast a better absorption rate of calcium than dairy products.

Broccoli and other leafy vegetables are found to contain antioxidants in the carotenoid family called lutein and zeaxanthin.  These are found in large quantities in the lens of the eye, but it will decrease in the aging process. Consuming vegetables with these antioxidants are shown to help lower the risk of cataracts.

photo credit: KatLevPhoto via photopin cc

photo credit: KatLevPhoto via photopin cc

Broccoli contains phytonutrients, which are thought to have many anticancer properties. One group of these phytonutrients is the isothiocyanates, that recent research shows promotes the deactivation of tumor growth (especially in estrogen-sensitive breast cells). Another phytonutrient found in broccoli is glucorphanin,  which converts to sulforaphane in the body and boost the liver’s detoxification  enzymes, helping to clear potentially carcinogenic substances more quickly.  This over abundance of phytonutrients are also shown to eradicate Helicobacterpylori, the bacterium responsible for stomach ulcers and have been found to increase a person’s risk of stomach cancer three to six-fold.  While mature broccoli has an amazing amount these phytonutrients, broccoli sprouts are found to have 10 to 100 times the phytonutrient power!

Pregnant women should be aware that broccoli plays an important role in the development of  the fetus’s nervous system!!!!  Broccoli is an excellent source of folic acid and a B-vitamin that is essential for proper cellular division and DNA synthesis, and without folic acid the fetus’s nervous system cells do not divide properly.  Deficiency in folic acid during pregnancy has been linked to many birth defects like spina bifida.

Energetics

Broccoli is a diuretic, brightens the eyes, and benefits rough skin. It is used in the treatment of summer heat conditions, eye inflammation and nearsightedness.

Caution: Broccoli has five goitrogenous chemicals which disrupt the body’s ability to use iodine.  Avoid in cases of thyroid deficiency and low iodine.

Roasted Broccoli and Feta Salad

Roasted Broccoli and Feta SaladIngredients:
2 heads broccoli, cut into florets
2 cups cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 ounces baby arugula (about 3 large handfuls)
4 ounces crumbled feta cheese

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Add the broccoli florets and cherry tomatoes to a rimmed sheet tray. Drizzle with 1/4 cup olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat completely. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, until the broccoli is tender and lightly golden brown.

Toss with arugula and crumbled feta cheese. Drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and toss. Serve immediately.

Energetics of Arugula

Arugula is often underused since I usually see it as a garnish on a plate when eating out.  Arugula is a master of adapting to whatever dish it’s tossed into.  I should be so adaptable and agreeable!  Also known as, rocket, roquette, rugula and rucola, this low calorie, peppery little dark green leafy wonder is related to mustard.

Back in the day (we’re talking Romans here) the leaves were eaten and the seeds used to flavor oils; and for all those wild toga parties, as an ingredient in aphrodisiac potions.  Doesn’t that sound better than Trash Can Punch?

Loaded with Vitamin K as well as  Vitamins A and C, arugula keeps bones and blood healthy.  With calcium, magnesium and potassium, plus iron, it keeps blood pressure regulated.  Phytonutrients and phytochemicals not only protect the body, but also toss out toxins and free radicals.

Best when eaten raw, but gently  heated (such as at the tail end of the cooking process for soups or pizza) with a bit of oil, arugula’s nutrients are better absorbed.  I love adding arugula to a smoothie to support liver detoxification too.  Super easy!

Energetics of Arugula: Enters the liver, detoxifies excess heat.  Bitter, nourishes heart and small intestine.  Antipyretic – reduces fever.  Dries dampness.

 

Arugula Pesto

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups baby arugula leaves
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 2/3 cup pine nuts
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 (6 ounce) can black olives, drained
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 pinch ground cayennepepper
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Place the arugula, basil, pine nuts, garlic, and olives in a food processor, and chop to a coarse paste. Mix in olive oil, lime juice, vinegar, cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Process until well blended and smooth.  Recipe courtesy of AllRecipes.com.
© Donna Sigmond, EastWest Wellness