Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Benefits of Dandelion


What is yellow and green
Grows all around, 
Can be eaten entirely
Provides us with fun
 Looks pretty
and
is Determined to stay? 

Dandelion

By most, this is considered a weed. We consider them as that annoying plant that is usually found between the cracks of a sidewalk or laying comfortably in a yard or on your lawn where it's unwelcome. For years people have visited hardware stores in search of a weed killer - but believe me these provide more good than harm. The unconventional attitude towards Dandelions is of nutritional value and its prized medicinal properties.



The Look:
Seed head  a.k.a  Sparkly Wishes (as my nephew calls them)
This is a matured flower head. It takes the shape of a sphere containing many single-seeded fruits attached to  fine hairs. This is how dandelion spreads itself.
Flower head & bud*
These are yellow (to orange) in nature. The petals forming the head are arranged in a dome shaped manner.
Stem*
Hollow stem consisting of a milky sap. Stems don't branch off - each stem solely holds one flower head.
Stems can grow 5 - 70 cm long.
Leaves*
It's all in a name! Dent-de-Lion (Lions Tooth) resemble the jagged edged leaves that taper at the tip. They usually lay flat to the ground and are formed in a circular arrangement (rosette). Unlike some other plants mistaken for dandelion, leaves of dandelions are hairless . The rosette can hold as much as ten stems.
Root* 
Dandelion leaves & stems grow from a taproot. This root type grows vertically down, tapering at the end forming a center where secondary roots sprout laterally.


*The Edible Parts:
Thus far I know that the leaves, roots, flowers & flower buds are edible parts of the Dandelion. I've seen a couple of cases where the stem was eaten or used for it's milky sap externally. The puff on the other hand I'm not sure (although the puff doesn't seem like a palatable candidate)

The Health - Constituents:

Vitamins:      
A    -     B1     -     B2     -     B3     -      C     -      E

Minerals:     
Calcium   -   Chromium   -   Iron   -   Magnesium   -   Manganese   -   Phosphorus   -    Potassium   -   Sodium   -   Selenium   -   Silicon   -   Zinc

Other: 
Leaves: bitter glycosides, carotenoids (including lutein and violaxanthin), terpenoids, choline, potassium salts, iron and othe minerals, Vitamins, A, B, C, D (the vitamin A content is higher than that of carrots). 
Root: bitter glycosides (taraxacin), tannins, triterpenes (including taraxol and taraxsterol), phytosterols, volatile oil, choline, asparagine, carbohydrates (including inuli), pectin, phenolic acids, vitamins, potassium.

Actions: 
  • DiureticIncreases output of of urine, taking harmful substances from the system
  • Laxative - Stimulates or facilitate evacuation of the bowels.
  • Aperient - Used to relieve constipation.
  • Choleretic - Increases the volume of secretion of bile from the liver
  • Cholagogue - Promotes the discharge of bile from the system, purging it downward.
  • Tonic - Benefits entire body. Strengthens organs that are affected by the action of the digestive system.
  • Stomachic - Promoting the appetite or assisting digestion.
  • Antioxidant - Inhibits oxidation & removes potentially damaging oxidizing agents.
  • Hepatic Tonic -  Aids liver
  • Alterative - Curative: tending to cure or restore to health
  • Anti-inflammatory - Reduces inflammation.
Medicinal Uses

Prevents & Treats Cancer
  • Considering all the actions dandelion has on the body it seems reasonable to say that it could play a major role in preventing the formation of cancer.
  • The pro-biotics that keep a healthy gut helps maintain the body
  • Antioxidants help eliminate free radicals which can cause major cell damage
  • It being a tonic - helps keep organs strong
  • Its alterative (curing) powers can help the body heal itself
  • Plays a major role in eliminating toxins (which with buildup can cause cancer)
  • Improves the Liver - which is the detoxifying organ
  • Its diuretic ability also helps us eliminate toxins and unwanted substances
Improve Digestion function
  • Inulin is a soluble fibers
  • Helps digestion 
  • Prevents constipation and keeps you regular 
  • Precursor to fatty acid - providing liver with energy

Promotes healthy gut bacteria
  • Inulin is a pro-biotic. 
  • chain of bacteria that keeps your gut healthy and alleviates digestive problems.
  • Note: inulin found in processed foods may not have same affects as those found in directly consuming vegetables.
Help Manage Diabetes
  • Because inulin is not digested & absorbed, it does not affect blood glucose levels. This makes it an appropriate food for diabetics. 
  • It is not counted as carbohydrate intake but is filling like starchy food.
Improve Bone Health
  • Adding inulin to calcium-rich foods like yogurt may boost calcium absorption. 
  • Try a yogurt dandelion salad.
Menstruation Relief & Bloating
  • Dandelion tea can bring considerable relief from bloating and breast tenderness, as soon as symptoms are felt.
Aids Liver Function
  • To help keep liver at peak efficiency & use preventative measurements, dandelion root tea of dandelion plants should be eaten regularly.
Reduce Acidity
Purify & Build Blood
Regenerate Cells
  • The greens leaves help maintain alkaline levels in body.
  • This alkalinity purifies the blood & helps in building cells
  • Alkalinity is also considered to be a bad living environment for bad bacteria - which will help in preventing diseases.
Stimulates Digestion & Relieves Constipation
  • The bitter aspect of dandelion helps stimulate digestion. 
  • Helps in the production of stomach acids and enzymes
  • Aids in digestion & metabolism of fats and oils
  • Assists function in Liver
  • Assists function in Spleen
  • Assists function in Gall Bladder
  • Assists function in Pancreas
Soothes Digestive Tract
  • Soothes Digestive tract
  • Absorbs toxins from bowel
  • Stimulates mucus membranes
Gall Bladder &
Gall Stones
  • Due to its Choleretic & Cholagogue actions - the increase volume of secreted bile from the liver & the discharge of bile from the system helps dissolve gall stones
  • Inflamed Gallbladders (Cholecystitis) can also benefit from dandelion  
Anti Inflammatory
  • Due to it's anti inflammatory properties dandelion is helpful for those who suffer from:
    • Allergies
    • Eczema & other skin conditions
    • Asthma
    • Arthritis
    • Gout 
    • Rheumatism
    • Pain (especially the flower buds)
Weight loss
  • Dandelion tea with a tablespoon of cider vinegar sipped regularly can help in weight loss
Warts
  • Some claim that the milky sap from the stems can be placed on warts several times a day & have the power to shrivel the wart & make it disappear
Other Medicinal Uses
  • Regulates metabolic disturbances 
  • Helps in preventing bone disorders 
  • Regulates low blood pressure
  • Helps with poor circulation
  • Aids in eliminating ulcers
  • Anemia 
  • Halitosis (bad breath)
  • Malignant tumors & Cancers
  • Colds, 
  • Lowering cholesterol
  • Heart burn & Dyspepsia
  • Swollen glands
  • Hot flushes
  • Sleep inducing 
  • Backache relief & Headache relief 
  • Water retention Remedy (Edema)
  • Hepatitis & Jaundice - since dandelion is great for liver, gallbladder & bile

Culinary Uses
**  Before consumption of the Dandelion plant, Verify that the dandelions have not been treated with chemicals. Avoid eating any chemically treated plants - they are dangerous to your health. 
** Make sure leaves, flowers & roots are thoroughly cleaned before use.


Dandelion Lemonade

8 cups Dandelion flower
3 L Water
4 Lemons Juiced
Fresh Honey


Add dandelion flowers to a gallon or pitcher
Mix in the water & add the juice of the 4 lemons
Add fresh honey to taste & Chill.
Flowers can be left in lemonade or strained before serving

Speaking of dandelion drinks check out dandelion beer & dandelion wine or dandelion liqueur: Dandelion flower -  half cup of sugar - a long strip of lemon peel – vodka Prepared as the tincture!!

Dandelion tincture:
Dandelion Leaves / Roots / Stems / Flower / Flower Bud
75% - 100% Alcohol (not rubbing alcohol)

Wash, then chop Dandelion (All parts can be combined or used separately)
Pack tightly into jars until full
Pour in alcohol to fully submerge chopped dandelion & Snap a lid on
Each day, make sure dandelion parts are submersed in alcohol
In six to twelve weeks, strain out the dandelion pieces and put the finished tincture into jars.
Take a few drops daily in water as a tonic for good health!

Dandelion Vinegar – prepare same way but with cider vinegar instead of alcohol – Leaves or flowers can be used

Oven Roasted Root Vegetables

Whether it be next to a chicken or roast beef or even steak, Roasted root vegetables are always good.

Why not introduce a new root to this medley of roots.

Now it’s not just carrots, & potatoes that you can use, but even Dandelion roots.

Breaded or Battered Dandelion Flowers

Dandelion Flowers
Batter / Bread / Tempura / Crushed Cornflakes
Desired spices

Wash Dandelion flower heads & pat dry
Prepare batter (you can find many types of batter – the simple flour & beer batter, or you can try bread crumbs, tempura crumbs or a batter that is later coated with cornflakes or crackers.)
Spices of choice can be added to batter mix
Toss flower in batter
Deep or pan fry.

Dandelion Jelly
2 cups dandelion blossoms
1 quart water
1 package (1-3/4 ounces) powdered fruit pectin
5-1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons orange or lemon extract
Directions
 Boil dandelion blossoms & water (4 min) then strain.
 Combine dandelion liquid and pectin. - Rolling boil, stirring constantly. Add sugar; return to a full rolling boil. Boil for 1 minute; stirring constantly.
Remove from the heat; add extract. Skim off foam. Ladle hot mixture into hot sterilized half-pint jars, leaving 1/4-in. headspace. Remove air bubbles; wipe rims and adjust lids. Process for 5 minutes in a boiling-water canner. Yield: about 6 half-pints.


Dandelion Soup or Stew

Soups & Stew is also a great way to enjoy this medicinal plant.
As with the salad, all parts can be used in the soup (although the flowers may fall apart)

Also remember that dandelion doesn’t have to be centre stage in your dish. If you’re just starting out with this plant, then try to incorporate it into your foods as complementary to the main food in the dish and then expand from there. Get your palate used to the taste.
Salad

Options are endless with this great plant.  Roots, Leaves & Flowers can all be used here. And options as to what to mix them with are all upto your taste buds.

I usually always go with a lemon/garlic base for the dressing. (I feel it goes best with dark leafy greens). But, so as to not get bored of the same dressing, I incorporate other things to this base (Spices or Sesame Oil for an Asian kick or even roasted red pepper paste) The options are endless!


Dandelion Pesto

I say this can be done with any herb or plant. Nuts usually taste great with any dark leafy plant, so it should work with dandelion leaves.

I’m sure with making this, you can use it as a sauce for pasta, or even as a dip

Dandelion Gratin

Whether it be the main ingredient or an extra ingredient Dandelion can be incorporated easily in foods like the Gratin.

You can even add them to fritters, or egg dishes such as omelet or scrambled eggs. The options once again are endless.

Dandelion Tea

Dandelion flowers, flower buds, roots or leaves can be used.

This is one of the easiest forms of obtaining the benefits of dandelion.

Great for weight loss or as a treatment for cholesterol & more.

Simply steep the part of the dandelion in boiled water & enjoy


Dandelion Coffee
Made by drying the roots then roasting them till fully brown. Ground up & steeped.e with constant mixing. Then it is dried & ground into a powder.

Dandelion Yogurt Salad

Since Dandelion is known to help absorption of calcium, then why not take advantage. Mix a little calcium with your dandelions to get the best out of both. 

I usually find dark leafy greens taste good with yogurt (definitely the homemade yogurt – sour & salty) not the sweet one.

My parents usually chop dandelion leaves & add Kishk to it. Kishk is of Lebanese & Syrian culture. Burgul (cracked wheat) is mixed with yogurt & whey & left to ferment for a week’s time with constant mixing. Then it is dried & ground into a powder.

Dandelion Infused Oil

So after seeing the turmeric infused oil, it’s quite simple to say that you can infuse oil with almost anything you’d like.  So why not do a dandelion infusion.

Benefits: massaging oil or oil rub to relieve aches and pains. Treat Skin irritations & inflammation. Use in salad dressings

Jar full of flowers
Cover or submerge with oil (almond, grape seed, olive or vegetable oil)
Add 1 or 2 ounces 100 proof vodka to prevent molding
Cover with cheesecloth & put in a warm sunny place.
Use in as early as 3 weeks

Sprinkly Wishes

Last but not least, who can forget the best thing about a dandelion?

It’s its ability to keep you entertained, while allowing you to wish endlessly.

Just as my nephew calls them SPRINKLY WISHES - You make a wish, you blow & wishes fly away sprinkling the air!  

Here’s to dreaming & hoping.

And all along it was right under our noses.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

d-WINE OIL SALAD MOST BENEFICIAL. mANY USES . CHEERS t.K.

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