Health & Wellness

Go wild on spring greens!

Janet Moje

With spring just around the corner, it will soon be the best time to forage for salad greens when they are most tender and bursting with nutrients.

What better way to enjoy a sunny spring day than to get outside and enjoy the fresh air while you harvest your lunch or dinner salad! Here are 5 common plants to look for.

 

Dandelion
Dandelion
image from ebay.com.


Dandelion: As the leaves get older, they become more bitter so the young, newly emerged leaves are best to harvest for salads. Shaded leaves will also be less bitter than those growing in full sunlight. A good source of potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin K, dandelion greens also contain the same amount of calcium as a half glass of milk. It helps with digestion by stimulating digestive juices.



Chickweed
Chickweed
image from colorfulcanary.com.

 

Chickweed: With a taste similar to spinach, chickweed can be eaten raw or cooked. It is high in vitamin A and C. It is an anti-inflammatory, and has been used traditionally to help ease discomfort from chronic disease such as irritable bowel syndrome and osteoarthritis. Excessive amounts can lead to diarrhea, so it is best eaten in a salad of mixed wild greens instead of a side dish.

 

Lamb's Quarter
Lamb's Quarter
image from organicinstlouis.blogspot.com.

 

Lamb’s Quarter: Commonly known as pigweed, leaves can be eaten raw or cooked. Seeds can also be eaten but can be quite bitter. It is rich in iron, phosphorus and calcium, and also contains vitamin B1, C and beta-carotene. Historically, the plant and seeds were used medicinally as well as a food source.

 

Stinging nettle
Stinging nettle
image from davidroblesmd.blogspot.com.

Stinging Nettle: Yes, young leaves are quite good to eat raw without stinging you. If they are a bit older, you can also steam them which will remove the sting, but they cook down considerably so pick extra if that’s your plan. They are very high in vitamin C and Iron, and have been useful medicinally as a tea for problems with circulation, kidneys, menstrual issues, respiratory, inflammatory and blood issues. Adding them to soup that is nearly cooked is a great way to add flavour and nutrients.

 

Plantain
Plantain
image from herballeaf.eu

Plantain: High in fibre, vitamins A, C and K, the leaves are best chopped fine before adding to salads. Traditionally a healing plant, they have been used to treat cuts, stings and bites, and ease a fever. Their seed stems are the source of psyllium husks, a bulk-forming laxative, soaking up water in your gut, and acting as a pre-biotic.

There are many more wild greens that can be added to salads and even some flowers to add colour and interest on your plate.