Care of Lisa Pitman and Nimisha Raja

Do you just walk right past those green leafy veggies in the produce section? Does the mention of dandelions conjure up images of endless digging in the garden to rid the pesky weed? Let’s stop and take a second look. Dandelion greens are some of the most nutritious greens you can consume (but get them from your farmers’ market or produce section unless you know for sure the ones in your garden are safe to eat: aka free of lawn pesticides, no dogs, cats or other animals in the area that may have done their business there).

Some people shy away from these super healthy greens because of the bitter taste. But fear not – you can mix them into a green smoothie and use fruit to cover up the bitterness, or lightly sauté them in a tablespoon of olive oil and crushed garlic. Add a bit of soy sauce or tamari and a squeeze of lemon and the bitterness will be pleasantly palatable. Also, choose younger (smaller leaves/stalks) dandelion, and it will be milder than the more mature variety.

The bitterness is what makes dandelion a wonderful tonic for your liver and kidneys. In addition, it provides 103 mg of calcium per 1 cup serving (that’s 10% of your daily requirement). It’s also rich in vitamin K (428 mcg or 535% of your daily requirement), which works with calcium and vitamin D for strong bones and teeth.

It’s loaded with vitamin A (112%) and has a respectable amount of vitamin C. Dandelion also provides a broad spectrum of minerals that are necessary for good health including: iron (1.7mg or  9%), magnesium (19.8 mg or 5%), phosphorus (36.3 mg or 4%) and potassium (218 mg or 6%).

So next time you’re at the farmers’ market or in your local store’s produce section, pick up a bunch of these nutritious greens and learn to love ‘em!

Note: All figures above reflect a 1-cup serving.