Dandelions for Dinner

I love this time of year when my yard and garden are full of the bright happy faces of dandelions! For the life of me I can’t understand why so many people spend so much money and effort trying to rid themselves of these wonderful plants. Dandelions are one of the many plants now thought of as weeds that were originally brought to the Americas by the early European settlers because of their value as both a food source and a medicinal herb. They are incredibly nutritious, with more beta carotene than carrots, more iron than spinach, are very high in potassium and calcium, contain abundant amounts of vitamins A, C, D, K, B-complex, as well as magnesium, zinc, and 15% protein.

Annie eating dandelion root

The Latin name for dandelions, Taraxacum officinale, literally means “disorder remedy”.  Dandelions leaves and roots are one of the most effective detoxifying herbs, especially for supporting liver health. The leaves are a good diuretic, removing excess fluids, but not deplete the body of potassium, and helping to relieve joint pain, reduce uric acid, reduce cholesterol, assist in the treatment of high blood pressure and congestive heart failure. Dandelion also flushes bacteria from the bladder, and assists in treatment of yeast infections. The roots reduce inflammation and help balance enzymes for better digestion. The flowers contain luteolin, an antioxidant. The dandelion seeds contain an antibiotic that is a great treatment for lung infections. Dandelion tea can be misted onto your birds to sooth skin irritation and itchyness. 

Ariel nibbling on dandelion leaves

Ariel nibbling on dandlion leaves

If you have a yard that you have not used chemical fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides on in the past few years, and you have dandelions already growing, consider yourself lucky, and start harvesting them for your parrot. The whole plant can be picked (or pulled), washed well to remove all dirt, and offered to your parrot whole, or mixed into their fresh chopped salad, used in place of any other fresh green in a cooked mash or birdie bread, or juiced with other veggies and fruits for a healthful and refreshing drink.

Benji eating dandelion seeds

 For those of you who have treated lawns or live in a community that regulates what you grow in your yard, consider growing some in a container garden, you can disguise them by mixing them with other greens, herbs and edible flowers. You will need to find a friend with and untreated yard who will let you dig up a few young plants to start with. Please be aware that many of the seed companies are now selling seeds for “Italian Dandelion” but this is actually chicory, a plant with leaves similar in appearance to dandelion and with a much milder less bitter taste, but without the benefits of true dandelions.

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2 Responses to Dandelions for Dinner

  1. Lara Joseph says:

    What a great and informative post. I’m going to try implementing this.

  2. Janet Louks Hustek says:

    I never knew the value of the whole plant. Very interesting.

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