Early European settlers so valued the versatile dandelion plant as a food source and a medicinal herb that they introduced dandelions to the Americas. Wonderfully nutritious — more beta carotene than carrots, more iron than spinach, an abundance of vitamins, as well as magnesium and zinc — dandelion leaves contain 15 percent protein. One cup of dandelion greens contains 112% of our daily recommendation of vitamin A, 32% of vitamin C, and 535% of vitamin K, a magnificent 218 mg potassium, 103 mg calcium, and 1.7 mg iron. The whole dandelion plant has nourishing, healing properties for us – and for birds! The dried herb is used in manufacturing bird food, as it is good for their health and digestion. Water is also good and healthy. Dandelion and water, hmmm…
Dandelion Tea – A Recipe for the Birds!
Heat two cups of water in a pot on the stove. Drop in a tea bag; dip it up and down a few times to get it good and wet. Cover the saucepan 10 minutes or so to steep and cool. Uncover the saucepan, dip the tea bag up and down a few more times, and then squeeze the water out of the tea bag. Let it cool. Make sure the temperature of the tea is not higher than 100 degrees Fahrenheit; ten degrees Fahrenheit hotter will burn their crop. Simply pour it in a water bowl after it cools down, and offer it in addition to plain water.
Or, harvest dandelions from ground not treated chemical fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides for the past few years. The whole plant can be picked or pulled; wash well to remove any dirt. Boil a quart of water on the stove. Reduce heat; add two tablespoons of cleaned and chopped fresh dandelion roots to the water; cover and let simmer a minute. Remove the pot from the burner. Add two tablespoons of freshly picked and chopped dandelion leaves and – hopefully – flowers; let steep forty minutes. Strain and “serve”.
You can drink 2 cups of this herbal dandelion tea a day – especially if using the flowers. Dandelion flowers are good for your heart. Dandelion flower tea can help relieve pain from headaches, menstrual cramps, backaches, stomachaches, and depression.
Note: some seed companies sell “Italian Dandelion” seeds that are really chicory, a plant with milder leaves similar in appearance to dandelion; however, this does not offer the benefits that real dandelions give.