When I think of springtime in my youth, I always picture myself at about 6 years old, laying in the grass, blowing the seedy tops of dandelions up towards the blue sky. We lived in a desert area so these precious treasures were few and far between. Whenever I stumbled upon one, I would savor the moment, watching the seeds fly off in every direction.
Little did I know that 30+ years later, I would be frying up the yellow dandelion flowers and eating them as a side dish or adding the fresh green leaves to salads. Nor did I know that I would fall in love with dandelion tea.
When it comes to my daughter, I am always looking for ways to maximize her vitamin and mineral intake from food sources. In fact, I do not use any sort of vitamin or mineral supplement for her and probably never will. Dandelions take center stage in our house during spring and fall (when they tend to be less bitter and more tender).
Dandelion Benefits and Nutrition Profile
Did you know that dandelion leaves, flowers, and roots are all edible? This herb, yes herb not weed, is a powerhouse! Let’s look at all the dandelion benefits based on information provided from the USDA National Nutrient Database:
- Dandelion greens are loaded with calcium. Just one cup of chopped dandelion greens has 103 milligrams of calcium.
- Dandelion greens have a high iron content. One cup contains 1.7 milligrams of iron.
- Dandelion greens are high in vitamin A in the form of antioxidant carotenoid (beta-carotene) and vitamin C. (Vitamin C also helps facilitate iron absorption.) It also houses vitamins B1, B2, and B6, vitamin E, and is especially abundant in vitamin K.
- Dandelion greens are rich in minerals. Besides calcium and iron, they are a good source of copper, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium.
- Dandelion greens have more protein per serving than spinach. The greens themselves are 14% protein and contain all essential amino acids so it’s a complete protein. One chopped cup contains 1.5 grams of protein.
Unless your child has an allergy to them, dandelions are considered very safe when consumed as a food, even at young ages. (Anyone with an allergy to ragweed, chrysanthemum, marigold, chamomile, yarrow, or daisy should avoid dandelion). If you are interested in using dandelions medicinally, I suggest that you consult with an herbalist.
What are some of the health benefits of dandelions?
Traditionally, dandelions have been used as a diuretic, to increase the amount of urine in order to get rid of too much fluid. This is not typically an issue for children unless said child has liver problems.
Fresh or dried dandelion herb is also used as a mild appetite stimulant which might be beneficial in a child or adult with a sluggish appetite. It is also known to settle an upset stomach. The root of the dandelion plant may act like a mild laxative and has been used to improve digestion.
A few animal studies also suggest that dandelion might help fight inflammation which sadly, a lot of us have these day.
How should I prepare dandelions?
First, try to harvest in spring or fall and always do so in a more “wild setting.” Roadside dandelions are chalk full of pollutants and park dandelions are chalk full of animal waste and most likely weed killer. So try to find a field that is off the beaten path a bit.
After a harvest, always soak the dandelions for at least 15 minutes. Just cover them with cool water. Be sure to allow them time to dry. Just spread them out on a towel for about an hour.
Here are two of our favorite Dandelion Flower recipes. I’m pretty boring when it comes to preparing the greens. I either add them to a salad raw, add them to soups, or sauté them in my favorite avocado oil.
Fried Dandelion Flowers & Candied Dandelion Flowers
For Fried Dandelion Flowers
- 1 cup milk
- 1/3 cup coconut flour or 1 cup flour of choice
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Pinch of pepper
- Coconut oil
- 30 fresh de-stemmed dandelion flowers
For Candied Dandelion Flowers
- 30 dandelion flowers
- 1/2 cup raw honey
- 1/4 cup water
For Fried Dandelion Flowers (Gluten Free)
- Combine the milk, flour, egg, salt, and pepper in a bowl.
- Stir until a batter has formed.
- Dip each dandelion flower into the batter. I just use my hands but some people like to use tweezers.
- Drop into the hot oil (375ºF) and fry until lightly brown on all sides. This does not take long. A minute or two.
- Drain on paper towels or other absorbent towels.
- Serve this hot or warm. They don’t taste all that great cold.
For Candied Dandelion Flowers
- Preheat over to 350 degrees F.
- In a small saucepan, heat the honey on low until small bubbles begin to form.
- Stir in the water and turn the heat to medium-low.
- Heat the mixture until small bubbles form again.
- Remove honey mixture from heat.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Using a slotted spoon, dip each dandelion flower into the honey mixture and place on the baking sheet.
- Bake for 5-10 minutes. You want the honey to harden but do not want the flowers to burn. You have to stand there and really watch it.
- Allow to cool then remove from the baking sheet.
- Store in airtight containers in a cabinet.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 30 Serving Size: 2 pieces
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 43Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 7mgSodium: 7mgCarbohydrates: 8gFiber: 0gSugar: 5gProtein: 1g
I’m sure those of you who are new to the world of “is it a weed, no it’s a herb” are hesitant to tackle dandelions. Maybe even some of the more experienced weed-eaters (hahaha) don’t really know the full range the dandelion and its uses.
Sources for this article include: