The entire dandelion plant is edible from root to flower (though it is bitter in taste). Dandelion has been used in Chinese, Native American and Western medicine for centuries. In both Eastern and Western medicine the dandelion has been shown to have immune-enhancing, hepatoprotective, diuretic, and cholagogic effects. This means it can help our immune system, help protect the liver, increase toxin elimination through urine, and stimulate digestive enzymes. All things that I think are in particular need during our quarantine time! Its properties are even more detailed in Chinese medicine as it falls under the category of Clearing Damp Heat and Eliminating Toxins. This is a broad category that roughly means it can help with many types of sores, lumps, and irritations both topically and internally such as acne or abscesses, even tonsillitis! It is a key ingredient in a topical plaster used to treat swelling and bruising from sprains and strains. Dandelion, along with other herbs, is very effective in treating sore throat as well. Again, a good thing to be thinking about during this Covid-19 pandemic. Dandelion can be drunk as a tea and is even used blended with other herbs as a coffee substitute. However, what I am really excited to share is that it can be a culinary treat! Ever have dandelion cookies? Well try this lovely recipe.
Prepare Dandelion Flowers
1. Pick Dandelion Flowers from an area where pesticides or herbicides are not used.
2. Wash them and let them dry a bit before separating the petals from the green base.
3. Hold flowers by the tip with the fingers of one hand and pinch the green flower base with the other hand. This releases the yellow petals from their attachment.
4. Shake the tiny petals into a collection bowl prior to measuring them.
5. If you can’t make the cookies immediately, the intact flowers can be frozen for a short time in a covered container until you are ready use them.
Ingredients (I often double this recipe)
1/2 cup oil (or fat of your choice. I like to use butter)
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 - 1 1/4 cup unbleached flour (or gluten free alternative. I actually really love making these cookies using blanched almond flour but if using almond flour, use 2 cups flour)
1/2 cup dry oatmeal
1/2 cup dandelion flowers (use only the yellow petals)
Optional—1/2 cup dried cranberries for color and a little zing
1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Blend oil and honey and beat in the two eggs and vanilla.
3. Stir in flour, oatmeal and dandelion flowers
4. Drop the batter by teaspoonfuls onto a lightly oiled cookie sheet
5. Bake for 10-15 minutes. (Shorter time if using the almond flour option 8-10 minutes). Cookies will be soft and lightly browned
So, before throwing the “weeds” of your garden into the green bin, ask yourself if there may be a way to use the medicine around you and have a little fun while you are at it! The dandelion is an easy place to start. You can make, a simple tea of leaves and stems for cooling the body, clearing the skin, and detoxifying the liver, a tincture or tea of the roots for immune system enhancing, or a lovely batch of cookies with the flower petals to lift the spirits and bring sweet joy into the household as part of your medicine. If you would like more ideas of how to use what we find around us to benefit our health, come in to the HeCares clinic for a consultation. Cheers!
Leia Sutton-Barnes, L.Ac