Friday, February 4, 2011

Think Spring.....Think Dandelions

It seems we are all longing for an early Spring. It has been a long cold winter. Coping with Arctic wind chills and snow, lots of snow for some of us; well, most people including myself are fed up with winter period! The good news is that Spring will come in fact early this year. Punxsutawney Phil predicted this by not seeing his shadow. In my eyes, there is still 6 more weeks of winter any way you look at it. But, with the skies so beautiful baby blue and the sun shining ever so bright yesterday and today, and as i was sitting in my chair enjoying the warmth and soaking it all in, I seemed to forget for a moment my winter weather doldrums.
My dad and I love to do much of the same things and try to help each other out with freezing and canning, putting out a big garden. This year we have been talking about dandelions. Yes, that little so called weed with the yellow flower that everyone hates that seems to take over your yard. We plan on digging up a bunch of them this Spring to eat. Mom used to hate it when he would dig up a bunch and had her clean them. Oh! How I used to love eating them! Did you know the dandelion is not native to the United States? It's true! It was brought here by the European settlers for food and medicine. The fresh young leaves and flowers are a great addition to every salad. They are classified as a "bitter" which aids in digestion by helping the pancreas, spleen and stomach. They also increase bile, improve kidney function and contain high amounts of potassium. This can make them helpful for water retention and high blood pressure. Both leaves and root cleanse the blood and kidneys, along with liver and gallbladder functions. The root has been roasted for years and used as a healthy coffee substitute. In the bible it mentions that "they shall eat with unleavened bread and bitter herbs" The dandelion is one of the most common plants in Egypt and Western Asia. It is quite possible that it was eaten at the time of the passover. Chinese herbal practitioners wrote about it's medicinal value in the seventh century. The Roman scholar knew and wrote about it in the first century. How's that for years of testing? So, think about this the next time you get the urge to eradicate that "dandy" weed....maybe it grows in such abundance because we could all use more free food and health benefits that it so devotedly offers. After all, the Creator does not make mistakes.

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