If you’ve been keeping an eye on your lawn and garden beds recently, you’ve probably noticed that dandelions are popping up left and right. Even though your first instinct may be to pull and toss them out, douse them in a weed killer, or weed whack them away…stop! Dandelions are not only some of the first flowers that bumblebees find after a long winter, but they actually have quite a few health benefits for us humans and there are plenty of ways to use them instead of destroying them.
Benefits of Dandelions:
- High in calcium making them good for bone health
- Sap/milk from dandelions can help treat fungal infections along with help with acne due to its high alkaline content and antioxidant properties (the sap/milk can also be an irritant so it’s best to keep away from eyes and start small)
- Presence of vitamin c, luteolin, and other vitamins and antioxidants promotes liver and kidney health along with digestion
- Help ease muscle and joint pain
- Good source of fiber
- Good for eye health
- Bright yellow flowers can brighten up a little bud vase.
- Every part of the dandelion can be eaten!
5 Uses for Dandelions
- Make a muscle salve to help relax sore and tired joints and muscles. Jill Winger over at The Prairie Homestead blog has a recipe for a Dandelion Salve using just a couple of ingredients that looks perfect. Once made, this dandelion salve can last over 3 months. Excuse me while I go make up a batch!
- Mix the greens into your favorite salad or top a sandwich or wrap for a boost of peppery flavor and nutrients. They can either be added to your food raw (after they’ve been washed) or you can sauté them to take some of the bitter edge off. You can even add a little crisp by coating the flowers (no stems) in a tempura batter and frying them up.
- Make tea and coffee. Pluck the flower off the stem and pop them in hot water and let them steep for a couple of minutes. Add honey for a little sweetness. The roots can be used to make a coffee like substitute but with much less caffeine than your normal cup of coffee. Once you get those roots out of the ground (preferably in Fall), make sure you thoroughly clean them to get all the dirt off. You’ll then want to chop up the roots into ½-1” pieces and then place them in a blender to grind them to a coarse consistency. If you want to roast them in the oven before grinding them, you can do that as well. Place them in a 250-degree oven with the door cracked open for 2 hours and stir them often and then place them in a blender to grind them up. Steep the grounds in hot water just like you would tea.
- Make your own yellow dye. If you’re an artsy person, dandelion heads can be used to make a lovely yellow dye for natural fabrics and wool yarn. You can follow this easy tutorial for dyeing yarn with dandelions here.
- Homemade moisturizer. Dandelions can help soothe irritated, dry, and even burned skin. Combined with organic coconut oil, this all-natural moisturizer may become your new go-to. These directions are easy to follow.
If you have a yard full of dandelions like I do, take some time this Earth Day and pick (or send those little ones out to pick) those not-so-pesky-anymore flowers and put them to good use and don’t forget to leave some for the bees! Important note: make sure you pick dandelions in your own yard or a space where you know weed killers, herbicides, and other chemicals have NOT been applied. Also, it’s best to add them in, in small doses if you’ve never eaten or used dandelions before so that you can know if you’ll have any reactions to them.
Have you tried any of these recipes or found some unique uses for dandelions? Let us know in the comments; we’d love to hear from you!