If you love gardening you probably spend much of your time pulling weeds, but did you know that there are many common garden weeds that are healthy and delicious?
As an avid gardener, I spend a lot of time with weeds and, though it’s not my favorite task, I often leave weeds right where they are because they are delicious and healthy.
Since the holistic gardening approach is a stewardship concept where we support the natural systems, I try to consider each part of my garden as valuable, even the weeds.
Here are two of my favorite healthy & delicious garden weeds:
Purslane is the most frequently reported “weed” species in the world. I love its’ succulent and crunchy with a slight lemony, but not too sour, taste and I usually pick several leaves to munch while weeding the garden. Some people liken it to watercress or spinach and it can substitute for spinach in many recipes. Young, raw leaves and stems are tender and add so much to salads and sandwiches. It is also good when lightly steamed or stir-fried.
Purslane has a high level of pectin (known to lower cholesterol) which is great to thicken soups and stews. You can make green smoothies much creamier by adding purslane. Blend blueberries, kiwis, peaches or tropical fruit with the plant and your favorite smoothie recipe and you’re all set. Plus, a bonus: it’s okay to freeze purslane for use in smoothies.
[ctt template=”4″ link=”avz7B” via=”yes” ]Purslane may be a common plant, but it is uncommonly good for you. @TheHolisticates[/ctt]
Author and foodie, Michael Pollan, has called it one of the two most nutritious plants on the planet in his In Defense of Food manifesto (the other is lambs’ quarter below). Purslane tops the list of plants high in vitamin E and an essential omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). It also provides six times more vitamin E than spinach and seven times more beta carotene than carrots. It’s also rich in vitamin C, magnesium, riboflavin, potassium and phosphorus.
Another favorite is lambs quarter (sometimes called wild spinach). It is commonly found in gardens, along alleys and waste areas or near streams and ditches. Its’ leaves always look dusty from a distance with a white dusty looking coating on the back of the leaf.
The plant is mildly anti-inflammatory with a glycemic load of 1. It’s a good source of Niacin, Folate, Iron, Magnesium and Phosphorus. In addition, it’s a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Thiamin, Roboflavin, Vitamin B6, Calcium, Potassium, Copper and Manganese.
Lambs quarter adds a soft, toothy crunch to salads and can easily be blended into smoothies as a nutrient powerhouse.
It’s mild taste when eaten raw makes it excellent to add to other foraged and more bitter greens such as dandelion. I use it as a substitute for spinach or chard and it’s a great supplement to add to almost any recipe you find.
Here is an easy recipe for Lambs Quarter Soup, or Soupe Aux Poulet Gras, as it’s referred to in France:
Simple & Yummy Lambs Quarter Soup Recipe
3 tbsp. butter
2 or 3 med. size onion slices
3 tbsp. flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
Few grains pepper
3 c. milk
About 2 c. cooked, young, lambs quarter, chopped lightly and cooking liquid
1.Cook up onions in butter till wilted.
2. Add flour and cook up until the mixture browns a bit. Add Salt and pepper.
3. Cook for a few minutes over medium heat.
4. Add milk and lambs quarters. Then heat gently and eat ‘chunky’ or whirl with an immersion blender or in a food processor.
Notes: If you don’t want to use 3 cups of milk, you can use vegetable or chicken broth and a potato or two. Purslane will help thicken the soup, as needed, when using broth instead of milk.
These plants are delicious and nutritious, but let me be clear: unless you are absolutely positive about the weed you are examining I wouldn’t recommend eating it! Also, be sure when picking wild plants to eat, that you don’t gather ones along heavily trafficked areas or near yards which you know to have been treated with pesticides.
Kim is a natural health enthusiast, herbalist and avid organic gardener who has completed two programs in herbology. As a Holisticate, she shares insights, wisdom and recipes from her journey toward wholeness to inspire and empower others to live a holistic and balanced life. Connect with Kim on Facebook.
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