Lets talk about Chickweed today. You know the weed that grows in your garden, planted pots or yard. It blooms tiny white flowers in the spring and goes unnoticed in the summer. But did you know it’s a very beneficial plant that can be used medicinally for many applications? It’s an energizing tonic, has more iron than spinach, helps with skin conditions and tumors, an expectorant, helps with allergies and is natures fat metabolizer and weight reduction medicine? People use chickweed for constipation, to help with asthma and obesity, or skin conditions such as psoriasis.
It can be eaten raw, used in salads, make a pesto or humus with it, make a tea with the leaves, or create a salve or poultice. Yep the unassuming chickweed is mighty so don’t kill it!
Chickweed can be transplanted very easily and is a great companion plant in the garden. Because it is a ground cover chickweed will help keep out harmful weeds and adds nutrients to the soil as it dies back. I planted some around my lettuce and strawberries last year plan to add more to other areas of the garden this year.
Adding my disclaimer: please do not consume anything you are not sure about. Always ask a botanist, herbalist or experienced forager for help in identifying plants. Never eat anything that has come from a treated lawn, is near the roadside, flood plain, or the foundation of any building. No known side effects are shown from using chickweed but as a precaution avoid if pregnant or breastfeeding.
- 1/2 cup walnuts or pine nuts
- 2-3 cloves garlic minced
- 3 cups chickweed loosely packed
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
About a month ago our sweet lab mix Snow had reconstruction surgery on her knee and has been sidelined from play time so I have to walk her everyday. It gives me a chance to stroll across our land taking time to appreciate its beauty and to see what’s new. Today I spotted a familiar sight, one that has been gone from the landscape for some time, Dandelions in bloom! We had a few warm days after the bitter cold and I’m sure the plants decided to make an appearance to remind us that spring will be here before we know it.
Dandelions always remind me of my childhood, we had them growing everywhere, and of the times spent with friends making wishes before releasing their seeds to the wind. The magical time when we ran around and played until dark, not a care in the world, enjoying all that life threw at us. It’s sunny yellow petals are such a great sight to see and always brings a smile to my face.
As I grew older I started to understand the power of such a wonderful weed and hate when others try to eliminate it from their yard. This tiny yellow blooming plant does wonders for the human body, I wish everyone would let them be!.
So let’s talk about the mighty Dandelion. Did you know that Dandelion is rich in beta-carotene, vitamin C, fiber, iron, potassium, and calcium just to name a few. The root can be used in teas or roasted and used as a coffee substitute, the greens can be eaten raw in salads or sautéed or steamed in casseroles, Quiche etc.
This lovely plant can help with:
Improve liver function
Cancer (study after study shows it may slow cancer growth and prevents it from spreading)
Help regulate blood sugar and insulin levels
Strengthen the immune system
Promote eye health
Aid in weight loss
The good news is you can find Dandelion in some grocery stores (I have seen it in Harris Teeter) the bad news is that most of the dandelion you see in playgrounds, on roadsides or yards have been exposed to toxic chemicals. So unless you know that the land is organic don’t use any of the plants you find there.
As always there are some precautions and possible side effects when using this plant. It can cause diarrhea or upset stomach so introduce it slowly into your diet to make sure your system can tolerate it. Dandelion is a member of the Asteraceae family so if you are allergic to chamomile, ragweed, sunflower or Echinacea you could be allergic to dandelion as well. Also use caution if you are on any blood thinners, diuretic medicine or have gallbladder issues.
So the next time you see sunny Dandelion show up in your yard pay homage to this lovely weed!
Let’s talk about mushrooms!
While walking on our property months ago I ran across a large patch of Trametes versicolor or Turkey Tail. It’s usually very easy to spot with it’s striking colors and turkey tail shape. But did you know how wonderful this mushroom really is?
Research has proven that turkey tail has several beneficial and healing properties so let’s talk about a few of those.
- Has antioxidants that can help inhibit or reduce damage caused by imbalances in the system that lead to inflammation and cellular damage. One study showed over 35 different phenolic compounds in a sample of turkey tail extract.
- Turkey tail contains immune boosting agents that help strengthen your immune system.
- Research has shown that using turkey tail extracts in combination with chemotherapy extends survival rates in cancer patients. The mushrooms are thought to have antitumor properties that can inhibit the growth of certain cancer cells.
- Can keep your gut healthy because the mushroom contains prebiotics which helps enhance the growth of beneficial bacteria.
- Researchers are now conducting tests on turkey tails ability to reduced blood sugar levels for type 2 diabetics and improving athletic performance.
There are a few reported side effects from using Turkey Tail in combination with chemotherapy such as nausea, gas, vomiting and the darkening of fingernails. Overall the research on this mushroom has proven very positive and successful. I’m sure they will continue to find more amazing benefits of this wonderful medicinal from nature.
How can you incorporate it into your life? Turkey tail is one mushroom I would not recommend eating because the taste is well yucky! You can add the mushrooms to any broth you are making, can take it in capsule form, or take it in tincture form. Please do not consume any mushroom unless it has been verified by an expert to indeed be what you think it is. While most are harmless some can cause extreme diarrhea or even death.
So the next time you see Turkey Tail on the trail you will indeed know it’s power!