What’s So Great About Dandelion Greens?

What’s So Great About Dandelion Greens?

You know how some things just instantly conjure a memory? For me, Ralph Lauren’s Polo cologne re-animates a high school crush (who frankly, marinated in the stuff but I didn’t know any better). Maybe the smell of baking cookies lands you smack in the middle of your childhood kitchen. And dandelions? Visions of my father on a mission of military precision to rid the lawn once and for all of what I thought were pretty yellow flowers and what he seemed to think were the scourge of a malevolent Mother Nature, hell-bent on ruining his front yard. Oh how he hated (and still hates) dandelions. It didn’t even occur to me that you could eat them until my Mom served up a dandelion salad one day (when my Dad was halfway around the world for work…coincidence?) We still talk about that dandelion salad. Why? Because it was horrible. It tasted like……lawn. My Father was the lucky to be on a dangerous mission peacekeeping in a war-torn country. Lucky!  So maybe you’re not supposed to just pick them off the lawn but actually my Mom was right (and ahead of her time). Dandelions are one of the healthy greens we should all be eating.

There was a funny quote in the New York Times Magazine about a month ago from their former food critic. When asked about current food trends Frank Bruni said “I’m not persuaded by kale. I do not accept it as the new spinach” (look away Laura Keogh, look away.) Perhaps Bruni is persuaded by dandelion greens? According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, dandelion greens are so good for you, they earned a spot in his list of 25 foods that make the health grade. He says dandelion is “anti-viral, aids digestion, and can help treat jaundice, edema, eczema and acne”. It’s also used to “prevent breast and lung tumours and relieve premenstrual bloating. Plus, the greens are high in vitamins A and C as well as calcium (more than kale), iron (more than spinach) and potassium. They’re also a complete protein since they contain all the required amino acids.

All great to hear yes, but I hear you saying, “Super news Kathy, but I can’t get my kids to eat the ‘old spinach’, how am I going to get them to try the ‘new”’spinach which, FYI is slightly bitter tasting…..which kids just luuurve”.  As I’ve mentioned before, my little tykes eat absolutely everything I put in front of them which I attribute to equal parts excellent parenting and the fact that they are imaginary. If your children happen to be real your best bet is the good old sneak. Drop a few leaves in a brightly coloured smoothie that includes sweet fruits to mask any bitterness. Steam the greens (which mellows the flavour considerably) and then whirr them up into a tomato sauce, soup or chili. Basically, lie and cheat any which way you can to get the nutrition in and then take the credit you’re due when they grow up healthy and strong. It’s a long game but you’re up for it!

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