Monday, May 14, 2012

" Loose Leaves ... "

There are stories in the soil, loose leaves cover the ground
There's volumes in the forest, no one reads out loud
If I could take them down off of that mountain shelf
We used to climb but no one tries to go up that far now yeah ...
I guess I'm moving faster now or that's what they said
And though some days still take forever I can't disagree
Because it seems to me that I wake up and sleep
Look in the mirror have no idea what happened in between
~ Bright Eyes ~ Loose Leaves ~

I had a good laugh today when I told Russell I was heading out to pick up Dandelion Leaves from the grocery store.  He had just spent some time in the yard taking those suckers out of the grass!
Believe it or not, dandelion leaves are one of the most nutritious foods you can eat.  Not only are they the most cultivated greens, they have a wide array of health benefits that make them the perfect all around nutritional boost ... particularly, dandelion leaves are rich in vitamin A, fiber, potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, thiamine, riboflavin, and protein.
The combination of trace elements, vitamins and other biologically active substances make it a food that is optimal for excellent health.  Recent studies have shown the following benefits:
  • prevent or cure liver diseases, such as hepatitis or jaundice
  • act as a tonic and gentle diuretic to purify your blood, cleanse your system, dissolve kidney stones, and otherwise improve gastric-intestinal health
  • assist in weight reduction
  • cleanse your skin and eliminate acne
  • improve your bowel function, working equally well to relieve both constipation and diarrhea
  • prevent or lower high blood pressure
  • prevent or cure anemia
  • lower your serum cholesterol by as much as half
  • eliminate or drastically reduce acid indigestion and gas buildup by cutting the heaviness of fatty foods
  • prevent or cure various forms of cancer
  • prevent or control diabetes 
  • reduce the risk of multiple sclerosis, cataracts and stroke. 
  • contains anti-inflammatory properties which may provide benefit to those with asthma and other inflammatory diseases.
So besides your backyard, where do you find them .... try your local health food stores, co-ops and farmers markets.  Remember to select unblemished, dark green leaves or bunches when purchasing them in the store.  When foraging, young greens that are harvested before the flower head appears will be less bitter.  And be sure to harvest them from land that has not been treated with pesticides, herbicides or other contaminants ... of course, organic is your best option.  
So how do you introduce them into your daily meals?  Well you can use dandelion greens in smoothies and juices.  Due to their bitterness, I recommend blending them with sweet flavorful fruit like banana, strawberries, mango or pineapples.  
And while dandelion is generally considered safe, some people do experience side effects such as heartburn, diarrhea, and upset stomach depending on allergies and/or ailments regarding bile ducts and gallbladder ... as usual, always check with your health care practitioner first.  
Happy weeding!!

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