Edible Weeds: Don’t Fight Them – Eat Them!

May, 20, 2014

By Fredrica Syren:

Most people, when finding dandelions or nettle in their garden, will with a sigh figure out how to get rid of them. Not me! When I come into my garden and find these little weeds, I cheer. Many weeds are edible and quite nutritional. During spring and summer, my kids and I spend time outdoors picking dandelion flowers, leaves and stinging nettle, and make all kinds of goodies from them.

Copyright @green-mom.com
Copyright @green-mom.com

The nutritional benefits of both dandelions and nettle, I’ve covered here on green-mom.com. You can find out more about dandelions and nettles by clicking the links. But to sum it up, nettle is rich in anti-inflammatory properties as well as iron, calcium, zinc, potassium, selenium, and vitamins A, B, and K.  And dandelions, in potassium. The flower is used for everything from a diuretic to a tonic for treating the early stages of cirrhosis of the liver. Dandelions are known for cleansing the body and keeping fluid levels balanced, which is beneficial to many organs and body functions. Both weeds are easy to make into tea simply by pouring boiling water over leaves and steeping for 5-10 minutes.

However, there are so many other fun ways to consume dandelions and nettle. Here are a couple of my recipes:

 Nettle Soup — A super easy soup to make, it’s my kid’s favorite, for sure. It’s vegan, healthy, satisfying and loaded with nutrition.

  • 2 cups freshly picked nettlenettle-soup
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour mixed with 2 Tbsp. water
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (I use Tofutti soy sour cream.)
  • 2 Tbsp. minced chives

1. To not get stung, use gloves to chop the nettles.

2. Bring nettle and vegetable stock to a boil on medium heat in a saucepan and cook for 10 minutes.
3. Mix flour and water until it’s a lump free paste. Add to nettles and whisk until completely dissolved.
4. Simmer for 5 minutes while stirring often.
5. Pour nettle along with stock into a blender and add sour cream.
6. Blend until creamy.
7. Pour back into pot, and add salt and chives.

Dandelion Syrup — My daughter Bella is in love with dandelion syrup and prefers that on her pancakes. Here in Sweden, it’s also called sunshine honey.

  •  ​1 ½ cups dandelion flowers, no stemsdandelion syrup
  • ​1 cup sugar
  • 3 cups water
  • ​Grated peel from one small lemon

1. Remove the petals from the sepal. Be sure not to allow any green into the petals, as it will add bitterness to the syrup.

2. Place the petals into a medium pot and cover with 3 cups water. Bring to a simmer.
3. Turn off the heat, cover and let sit overnight.
4. Strain dandelion water into a bowl, pressing on the flowers with the back of a spoon to extract all the liquid.
5. Return water to pot and add sugar, lemon peel. Simmer over low heat until thickened. Allow mixture to cool, then pour into a clean jar or bottle.

Nettle Pancakes — A great way to “sneak” green vegetables into a food most kids love. Simply add chopped nettles to any pancake batter.

Nettle Smoothie — Nettle is a super food and one of the most nutritional green vegetables. This a great a great smoothie for the morning or after a great workout.

  • ½ avocadogreen_smoothie_2
  • Handful of nettle
  • 1 date
  • 1 orange
  • ½ cup blueberries
  • ½ Tbsp. chia seeds
  • ¾ cup water

Blend everything into a wonderful, creamy smoothie.

Dandelion Smoothie — Since the leaves are bitter, they might be hard to eat, but blending them up in a smoothie with sweet fruit can make them easier to consume. This is super smoothie:)

  •  1-2 bananas
  •  1 mango
  • Handful of dandelion leaves, stems removed
  • 1 ½ cups water

Mix everything in a blender until perfectly smooth and creamy.

Dandelion pesto — This is a super easy way to add powerful greens to your diet.

  • ​1 handful dandelion leavesdandelion-leaves
  • ​1 handful basil leaves
  • ​½ cup almonds
  • ​½ cup sunflower seeds
  • ​2-4 garlic cloves
  • ​¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ​2-3 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • ​Grated lemon peel from one lemon
  • ​½ Tbsp. honey
  • ​​½-1 tsp. salt

Mix all Ingredients except olive oil in a food processor until it’s like a paste. Scrape down sides a couple of times. Slowly add olive oil and blend just until it’s combined.

Fredrika Syren

Fredrika Syren is an environmental activist and writer. In 2016, she founded the website Green-Mom.com where she shared her family’s journey of living zero waste. She lives in San Diego, California with her husband James and their children Bella, Noah, and Liam. Fredrika and her family were recently featured in the documentary Zero Time to Waste. Fredrika is also the author of Zero Waste for Families - A Practical Guidebook (which you can buy on this site)

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