....all around us.
Have you ever been out of greens, that is, opened your fridge only to be reminded that yesterday you used up your last piece of kale or spinach or whatever used to be there? This happens to me waaaay too often, but the truth is I don't forget, I just simply run out because when I stock up while visiting the farmers market nearby (that is, only once a week during the winter) I simply don't have any more greens to juice or blend after a few days, period. So what's a raw girl to do? Well, let's be reminded that nature has always taken care of us! And even during times when GMO crops are spreading around the world at the speed of light, it seems, there's a place to go for the freshest, highly nutritious, unmolested, purest, wild, tender greens....and that place is called the YARD!
Don't have a yard? Surely you can find a place nearby where you can hike and pick some greens along the trail. Well, I hope you can, for sure you can if you live in the Bay Area...
What is there to find?
Remember the days when you were assigned chores by your parents? I do. And maybe the list included pulling weeds??? Mine did! Little did I know back then that I was killing stuff we could have eaten. They were considered harmful invaders...haha. I find it really funny looking back.
Now, do you remember the yellow flowers of a weed with long stemmed green leaves that when you picked them released a milk-like substance? How about the puffy ball that you picked to blow on and make a wish? All these memories are describing dandelion. The weed that some health-food stores sell by the bunches for $3-5 a bunch! And it's free to pick. Chances are, you just have to step outside your home and they're there for you. More good news: the more you pick them, the more they'll grow, so you'll have an endless supply of dandelions, the incredibly nutritious, liver cleansing plant, freely provided by nature.
Where to find dandelion?
I've lived in many places and this weed is literally everywhere. I'm pretty sure you won't have a hard time finding some. Go picking!
What does dandelion have to offer?
Since they're dark leafy greens it won't come as a surprise that they're loaded with vitamin K and A, also have a good amount of vitamin B and they're high in minerals such as calcium, magnesium, manganese, and iron. All-in-all, they're very good greens for beautiful skin, strong bones, and for cleansing the liver, as I mentioned before. But wait, would you have guessed that just about two cups of them provide you with 3g of protein?! They also have antiviral qualities and are a good addition to your diet for cancer prevention. Pretty respectable, isn't it?
Ok, let's move on to my new found delicacy...
I've recently learned that these heart-shaped, tender greens, called miner's lettuce (claytonia perfoliata), are edible. I've been picking them over the past couple of weeks and adding them to juice mainly. I even picked a few and ate them just like that out in the yard but they will be a great addition to a salads too. They have a very mild flavor, no wild-green bitterness one might expect, at all.
The leaves and the stems, basically the entire plant is very delicate. They have somewhat of a velvety feel to them when you sweep your hands along the top of a cluster of them.
When they're young, especially when they first pop up, they have heart-shaped little leaves, which later become a different form with a tiny white flower at the center. Quite unique, in other words, easy to identify.
Where to find miner's lettuce?
They might be around anywhere in the Northern states of the U.S. especially during spring time, but this plant I have only seen here, in California. If you can find them where you live (as long as you live somewhere other than California), let me know, please, I'm curious to learn of its whereabouts!
What's in miner's lettuce?
This wild lettuce is famous for having qualities that help prevent scurvy, from which we can guess that they're rich in vitamin C. Wherever you find information about them the same historical fact is mentioned: they got their name from being consumed by the miners during the California Gold Rush to prevent scurvy.
An exert from the fed database http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/forb/claper/all.html states:
NUTRITIONAL VALUE : The nutritional composition of miner's-lettuce has been determined to be 37.1 percent protein, 42.5 percent total carbohydrate, and 12.4 percent crude fiber. The calcium:phosphorus ratio is 0.66:1.0 .
Note: be careful when picking them. Do not pull on the stems, if you do, the entire plant will come out with the root. They seem to be barely connected to the earth. You can just pinch them off or use scissors if you wish instead and leave the bottom part of the stem and the root undisturbed. Also, try to not clear a large area because the seeds need to spread for next season. Leaving some scattered will ensure their existence : )
So look around in your yard and see what's waiting for you there. There's not a more eco-friendly way of living. Expect more on "what's in your yard".