Top 5 Edible Weeds

by Michelle Toole on Healthy Holistic Living

Some of those weeds you see growing in the local park, or in the forest nearby, are something more than just plants you step on. A lot of those are actually edible.

But let’s be clear unless you are absolutely positive about the weed you are pulling I wouldn’t recommend eating it! Be smart and healthy.

1. Dandelion

Ahh the dandelion, one of my favorite! This weed can be a bit bitter but it’s great for the liver. This common weed holds incredible nutritional value. “Dandelions are a rich source of vitamins, minerals and it even has antioxidants. For example, one cup of raw dandelion greens contains 112% of your daily required intake of vitamin A and 535% of vitamin K,” explains Edible Wildfood. Contrary to popular belief, dandelions are actually good for your grass and garden, as their long taproots help summon minerals and nitrogen to the surface where shallow-rooting plants can take advantage of them. 

2. Stinging Nettle

I drink a cup of nettle tea every morning it’s one of my favorites and keeps my allergies at bay. The leaves, stems and roots are all edible. Young leaves are preferable however, no matter how far into the growing season be sure to remember that until dried or cooked, stinging nettle leaves will have those stinging hairs – never eat them raw! Nettles make an excellent spinach substitute and can also be added to soups and stews. Nettle beer is brewed from the young shoots. Nettle root is used for medicinal purposes including enlarged prostate and when there is difficulty in urination due to BPH. Nettle tea made from the root can help urinary ailments. Tea made from the leaves is rich in iron and can aid coagulation and the formation of hemoglobin. Stinging nettles are rich in vitamins A and C, as well as in potassium, manganese, iron and calcium. You can make stinging nettle soup, or stinging nettle and cheese quiche for example. Dried stinging nettle can be used for making tea.

3. Catnip

The entire above-the-ground plant can be gathered just after full bloom and dried. The flowering tops are most commonly used in medicinal applications. Catnip is most often used in teas. A mild tea made from the flowering tops may be effective in treating colic, restlessness, motion sickness and nervousness in children. Catnip is also used as a muscle relaxant and mild sedative, which is why it is often used to relieve the pain of headaches (especially tension headaches) and migraines. This also explains its use to combat insomnia and other sleep disorders. Because of the herb’s mild sedative effect it has recently been proposed for use in the treatment of ADHD (hyperactivity) in children.

4. Amaranth

This quite nice looking plant comes from the same family as quinoa does. It has been known as edible weed for centuries, thanks to Incas, who considered amaranth their staple food.

Amaranth seeds can be cooked and prepared, as you would prepare quinoa. However, they are even better than quinoa, because they do not contain gluten, which makes them safe for people with gluten allergies.

The leaves are also edible if cooked, and they are very rich in vitamins A, K, B6, iron and calcium. The mature root of this weed is also good to eat. It has a milky taste, white color and is usually cooked with tomatoes and tamarind gravy.

5. Lambs Quarters

This plant is commonly found in gardens, as well as near streams and in forests. Its leaves always look dusty from a distance due to a white coating. It produces tiny green flowers that form in clusters on top of spikes, and the leaves are said to resemble a goosefoot. Lambs Quarter was called one of the most nutritious plants in the world by author and foodie Michael Pollan, and it’s not hard to see why. A relative of beets, spinach, and quinoa, “it’s sort of a super-food – high in Vitamins A and C, riboflavin, niacin, calcium, manganese, potassium and iron,” writes Ava Chin for the NY Times. It’s reported to be rather bland when eaten raw, but especially delicious when the leaves are sautéed or added to smoothies.

Sources:

• Stinging Nettle on Edible Wildfood
• 6 Common Weeds you should try on You Queen

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