A great way to transition into Spring

Taking a walk down an old dirt road or in an open field it really doesn’t matter.  It feels so good to get outside and enjoy nature.  Breathing in the scents and looking at the beauty that is around you will help with clearing your head and calming those anxious feelings.

Something you may start to see a lot of are Dandelions.  Spring is on its way, yes right around the corner.  Have you been hearing more birds lately? Before you know it, you will be seeing Honey Bees on your favorite plants. Did you know that the Dandelion is one of the first sources of food for the bees?  These bees are so important to us and our plants. They are responsible for pollinating so many of our flowers, fruits and vegetables.   

It’s a shame that we have been taught to think of the Dandelion as being a plant to try to get rid of.  We should be recognizing it as a helpful plant with many benefits, and be thankful for it.  Dandelion is also a very nutritious
food as well as a medicine. Dandelion is a perennial in the Aster family.  This plant was brought to America by the early settlers.  It was used as a food source but also as a medicine.  It grew easily and soon was found everywhere.  It is now found in fields, along country roads, city sidewalks and of course your own front lawn.  I have even been finding dandelion leaves at my local grocery store lately in the produce department.

A beautiful field is the best place to forage for your Dandelion.  You can take a nice walk in the woods, and when you come upon a field full of these little yellow beauties, you can take a few home to mix into a fresh salad.  You can forage with a small tote bag and bring home enough to make a tonic, an infused oil or a syrup.  Always be sure to harvest ethically and responsibly. Ask the plant permission, only harvest a tiny fraction of what is in front of you and always leave a thank you gift.  A few strands of hair is a wonderful gesture.

Dandelion is known as a bitter herb.  The leaves can be used to make a nice spring tonic.  The tonic will help improve digestion and the root of the plant is known to support the liver.  It also is very helpful with removing toxins from the body.  The hollow tube stem is full of a white, milky liquid. This liquid is a natural latex that dissolves warts when applied topically.  If you have a latex allergy you should probably do a skin patch test first to check for sensitivity. The flower of the Dandelion plant is known to support eye health.

A great way to incorporate this plant into your regular eating habits this spring could be to use fresh Dandelion greens.  They are more enjoyable in the spring, they are less bitter. When mixed with other herbs and vegetables you won’t even notice.  Putting them on a sandwich like you
would spinach is a great way to eat more.  You can eat the heads and leaves in a cold salad. Sauté the greens with a little lemon juice and olive oil and even incorporate them dried into desserts like cakes and cupcakes. Dandelion, Pear and Honey Syrup is great on oatmeal, pancakes even yogurt.

Dandelion, Pear and Honey Syrup Recipe
40 dandelion flowers use the separated yellow petals only
3 small pears cut and peeled don’t need to peel if they are organic
1 quart of filtered water
juice of a lemon
3/4 cup of raw honey
6 – 4 oz. jars with lids – heated in the oven on low so they are warm when adding the hot liquid
In a medium saucepan combine the water, pears, lemon juice and dandelions.  Cook this on the stove and simmer it for 1/2 hour. (Watch and stir occasionally.)  Pour the mixture through some cheesecloth into a bowl. Squeeze out the cheesecloth so there is no liquid left. The liquid will be a nice yellow color.  Put the liquid back into the empty sauce pan and add the raw honey.  Bring the mixture to a boil and watch for it to thicken.  Be careful not to let it burn. It should not change color. Once it’s a little thick it’s done. Pour the syrup into jars that have been warmed.This syrup can be used to drizzle over pancakes, yogurt and oatmeal. It’s even good on roasted vegetables.

Dandelions are so good for you to eat but adding them into your dogs diet is also a great idea. You can make a tea or tonic that will help support their liver. 

go outside and enjoy the transition into a beautiful Spring.  Take that nice long walk in a field, on an old dirt road or a hidden hiking trail and breathe in the fresh air.  Enjoy the wonderful nature that is all around you and listen for the bees.

Download a great herbal ebook using hoopladigital.com and start learning about herbals and how to use them.

Annemarie, North Falmouth Library

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