By: Leanne Ely
I am willing to bet there are some plants in your yard that you didn’t even know you could eat.
Now, I’m not suggesting for a minute that all of these food items are delicious (because some of them aren’t) but your kids will surely enjoy making a meal out of weeds! Just be careful to explain to young children that they aren’t to touch random plants without supervision!
If you manage to find any of these plants around your home, please share a photo with me on our Facebook page to show us how you’re using these wild edibles!
Stinging nettle. Stinging nettle is not something you want to run into on the hiking trail, but believe it or not, this wild plant that grows in abundance all over the place is actually edible. Nettle has been eaten all over the world for centuries. Cooking stinging nettle for 30 seconds or so is enough to neutralize the chemicals in this wild vegetable that causes it to sting your skin, so your tongue won’t get all swollen and sore when you eat it! Try making a stinging nettle pesto, or adding it to a quiche!
Pumpkin leaves. If you have pumpkins growing in your garden, don’t leave the leaves behind when you pick them! Pumpkin leaves are not only edible, but they’re rich in iron, protein and vitamins A and C. You could use them in a soup, salad or a stirfry, but they also make awesome grain-free wraps!
Zucchini blossoms. I hope you aren’t discarding the blossoms of the zucchini plants growing in your garden! Squash blossoms are great fun to cook with (try stuffing them with a mixture of sauteed zucchini, bacon and mushrooms) and they are also quite beautiful on the plate. You’ll want to harvest the “false” blossoms that won’t turn into zucchinis. (Those false blossoms that don’t produce fruit are the male flowers, by the way!) Choose the freshest looking blossoms you can find and enjoy!
Dandelion leaves. If you have an organic lawn, go ahead and pick those dandelion greens and eat them up! They will fit right in with the other greens the next time you make a salad. Treat dandelion leaves just like you would treat spinach or beet greens. But if there’s any doubt they’ve been sprayed with pesticides, don’t eat them.
Cattail. So you might not have cattails growing in your yard, unless you live in a marshy area. But how much fun will it be to gather cattails and bring them home to turn into something delicious? It’s the root of the cattail you can eat, so you need to pull the plant from from the water and cut away the woody stalks, reserving the roots. Clean the roots and scrape them into a bowl of water. After the the cattail root sits in water for several hours, the starch will settle to the bottom of the bowl. Separate that starch from the water and allow the starch to dry out. You’ll be left with a freshly foraged replacement for flour!
Clover. The clover plant is completely edible, but it is not completely delicious! The pink blossoms of the clover plant can be made into a tea, or roasted until crispy and used for whatever your imagination comes up with! As I mentioned, the leaves are edible, but I wouldn’t recommend eating them unless you were starving. Warning: clover is an common allergen so don’t eat too much unless you know if your body can handle it. You should also know that in some warm climates, clover may produce small amounts of cyanide.
Garlic scapes. If you’re growing garlic in your garden, hang onto the scapes, the green stalk that grows from the top of the garlic plant. Garlic scapes are wonderful in soup stock and snipped into salads. Garlic scapes are delicious and beautiful!
There you have it! Will you be going out to try and find any of these wild edibles?
PS: My new book, Part-Time Paleo: How to Go Paleo Without Going Crazy is nearly here!! If you get it now (and now is the time!) I’ll send you some crazy bonuses that your’e going to love!