When your grandmother said dandelion greens were good for you, she wasn’t kidding. Folk medicine claims the dandelion plant is a powerful healer, used to purify the blood, settle digestion and prevent piles and gall stones, among other maladies. The fact is the greens of the humble dandelion provide 535 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin K, which may be the most important source of any other plant-based food to strengthen bones, but may also play a role in fighting Alzheimer's disease by limiting neuron damage in the brain.
Dandelion greens also give the body 112 percent of the daily minimum requirement of vitamin A as an antioxidant carotenoid, which is particularly good for the skin, mucus membranes and vision. A flavonoid called zeaxanthin protects the retina from UV rays, while others, primarily carotene, lutein, and cryptoxanthin, protect the body from lung and mouth cancers.
Need more benefits? Dandelion greens are high in fiber, which helps your body shed waste. These greens also contain vitamins C and B6, thiamin, riboflavin, calcium, iron (crucial for generating red blood cells), potassium (to help regulate heart rate and blood pressure), and manganese. Other nutrients present in dandelion greens include folate, magnesium, phosphorus, and copper.
After gathering this plentiful, easily recognizable herb – preferably the younger, paler leaves – rinse them gently, pat them dry, and store them in plastic bags in a low-moisture refrigerator drawer. Blanching them by immersing them in boiling water for 20 to 30 seconds helps reduce a sometimes-present acrid taste before adding them to salads.
You might even want to try them cooked. Heat a good dollop of olive oil, and a bit of the garlic, in a non-stick skillet.
Once the garlic has become flavorful, add your dandelion greens. Cook them on medium-high until they’re nicely wilted, just like you’d cook spinach. This will take 3-5 minutes. It’s important not to overcook the greens because you’ll lose nutrients the longer they stay on the stove.
Once they’re done, sprinkle just a bit of high quality salt on the greens, spritz with fresh lemon juice, and you’re good to go! They’re wonderful to eat plain like this, as a side, and they’re also delicious on pasta./AgroWeb.org