Not Just Weeds - Beautiful Uses For Dandelion
Like little bursts of unwanted sunshine in your eyes, dandelions sprout out of nowhere and make nuisances out of themselves. As you pluck those pesky weeds, it’s easy to take them for granted. But be careful. Just because dandelions (taraxacum officinale) are invasive species, that doesn’t mean they aren’t precious. A virtual bounty of wellness, dandelions may regulate blood sugar, lower blood pressure, and studies are being performed that investigate dandelion’s potential anticancer properties. Plus, if you’re feeling a little lackluster due to digestive concerns or water retention, sip some dandelion tea or take the extract; it functions as a natural diuretic and laxative.
Did you know these medicinal blooms have been written about in folklore, tracing all the way back to the 11th century? Even now, remnants of dandelion’s mystery remain. Once their golden flowers fade, they transform into lovely translucent poufs... According to legend, if you close your eyes, make a wish and blow, the fuzzy petals will transport your desire to the heavens and it will come true.
Leaves, root, flower… each part has its own special purpose. Its root is a detox aide that may have anti-diabetic benefits and reduce cholesterol. And in roasted form, dandelion root becomes a hearty herbal coffee substitute. Its dense greens contain vitamins A, C, K, and choline, an essential nutrient that works with the nervous system to strengthen brain function, mood and memory. And its wildflowers are used in food and also skincare; they contain Polyphenols, are anti-inflammatory, and may restore balance to skin by reducing spots and clearing up acne.
Since dandelions are abundant, you might be tempted to harvest them yourself. But proceed with caution. Before you go grab that wicker basket and dash off to go flower picking, make sure those “weeds” haven’t been sprayed with harmful pesticides.
*Always check to make sure natural remedies are safe for you, especially if you have seasonal allergies, which may make you more sensitive to dandelions: side effects.
Eat, drink, feature them in healing potions, here are some ways to experience the gifts dandelions have to offer.
Dandelion Sweet Potato Salad
(4 side dish serving)
2 Medium Sweet Potatoes
1/2 Cup Finely Chopped Dandelion Leaves
1/2 tsp Chopped Rosemary Leaves
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 Cup Chopped Chives
1 Cup Greek Yogurt (dairy-free or cow’s milk)
Optional: Dash of Sea salt and Peppers
Cut sweet potatoes into one inch chunks and boil with Rosemary approximately 10 minutes until medium soft (not too soft). Shut off the flame and add chopped dandelion leaves in the pot for 3 minutes. Rinse with cold water, drain, and place in a large bowl and set aside.
In a blender or food processor, combine chives, olive oil and Greek yogurt until blended. Taste, and if desired, add sea salt and pepper. Blend through sweet potato, dandelion mixture.
Dandelion Flower Oatmeal
2/3 Cup Steel Cut Oatmeal
1 Cup Water
1 Cup Unsweetened Coconut or Almond Milk
1 Banana, Sliced 1/2 inch thick.
1/4 Cup Golden Raisins
1/4 Cup Dandelion flowers
2 Tbsp Clover or Wildflower Honey
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
*For an extra creamy texture, soak the oats overnight in a pot of cold water. When ready to cook, pour out the water.
In a bowl, break apart dandelion flowers, until fine and mix with raisins and cinnamon. Bring coconut milk, water and salt to a boil in a saucepan. Add oatmeal and honey, and lower flame to simmer. Add dandelion, cinnamon/raisin mixture, and stir evenly. If too thick, add a bit more water. Simmer until your desired texture is reached, approximately 20 minutes. Add sliced bananas. Optional: garnish with slivered almonds.
Chocolate Almond Dandelion Latte
(yields one cup)
3/4 Cup brewed Dandelion Coffee (measurements per cup vary depending on brewing method)
1 tsp Cacao
1 Tbsp Honey
1/4 Cup Coconut Cream
Pinch Ground Cardamon Seed
1/2 tsp Almond Extract
In a saucepan simmer and stir brewed dandelion coffee with cacao, honey, almond extract, and cardamon, and until completely dissolved. In another saucepan, warm coconut cream until it boils, then shut off flame. Whip cream with a milk frother, until foamy. Add froth to mocha dandelion brew and enjoy.
If you’d like to dig deeper into the wondrous uses dandelions: “Gather Victoria” has a lovely shortbread recipe. For skincare and healing, try dandelion salve from “Grow, Forage, Cook, Ferment.” And to spotlight dandelions as a main dish, international chef, baker, and author David Lebovitz, has a luscious dandelion pesto recipe.