Friday, March 9, 2012

Spring' sGreen Cure.

Spring Green Detox:

Following seasonal changes, body and mind experience a resurgence of vitality as days get longer; it is essential to prepare for the physical and spiritual renewal ahead. After a more sedentary period, cells may be laden with toxins, intestines and organs are clogged with digestive residue; this is the time to take advantage of plant life to gently cleanse our systems and to add minerals and vitamins in their original interactive properties.

As winter ends, I pull out bags and baskets to gather herbs and greens which some may view as noxious invaders. Foraging tools include light colored clothing, water resistant shoes, hat, hand shovel, small knife or kitchen scissors, paper bags, I also recommend a field book of wild edibles for novice students of nature.

Roadsides may be contaminated with heavy metals from traffic dust and emissions, so I avoid harvesting within 40 feet from any street. The risk of pesticide residue presents real danger along sidewalks or farmer's fields, due to current agricultural practices I must remain at safe distance of cultivated areas. This leaves only woodlots, open range and known neighbors. The sight of an abandoned lot or untended hedges provides comfort to the forager or hunter-gatherer; I skip along wood sides with eye trained to familiar new leaves, secure in the promise of wild foods a turtle or a hare would be fond of.

When the first dandelions peak from cracks and leaf mats around the house, I use a small weed-puller tool to dig up the whole plant. Salads and omelettes benefit from the addition of fresh greens. Stews, sauces, dips and purees can hide the less presentable ones. Add onions or garlic for healthful flavoring. Smooth the taste with a spoon of sour cream and yogurt if not yet accustomed to plain vegetable taste. After a long winter of preserves or processed foods, the digestive track may need tender input.

Chicory begins to bud as a rosette as soon as sun warms the soil, the veins of this dandelion family are reddish then, and make a fine addition to soups. They are diuretic and exert a cleansing action on the biliary ducts, liver and gallbladder, as do the vegetative cousins; artichoke and thistle.

I collect sorrel rosettes by inserting knife below center and sever the tap root, or cut with scissors. The tart oxalic acid is milder than spinach but vibrant in a perky romaine lettuce salad. Iron and multiple trace minerals in this enriching vegetable are absorbed with the aid of its vitamin C content.

I begin munching on all sorts of violets, Viola papilionacea is astringent, I can sense the cleansing properties within the anti-oxidants enhancing vision and immune system. Sautéed in stir fry or added to salads and deserts, they are a welcome texture, leaf and flower. (Note; only harvest the tops) the roots are emetic, could cause some unpleasant vomiting.

Plantains are best picked young, you can identify the flat lanceolate leaf and rosette spread flat on the ground. All species of plantago contain mucilage, a beneficial fiber which lowers LDL cholesterol and triglycerides; used as herbal teas or boiled for greens, they have a soothing and anti-inflammatory effect.

Daylilies are plentiful, not on the gourmet list, but seasoned with scallions or butter, they provide ample fiber and minerals. Young sprouts make great company for a fish platter. Very young spikes moisten an omelette. Sprinkled with vinaigrette like a bland leek, they can be wrapped with cheese and ham. Steamed, they assume the role of companion to potatoes or rice dishes, thicken vegetable soups when pureed and make .

Chickweed' s long wispy strands add excellent nutrition to salads. these plants are best snipped with scissors( unless you enjoy tedious hours untangling them at the kitchen counter later). The mild herb provides much needed vitamins and minerals. I eat most of them on the spot, and may share with the chickens if plentiful.

Matricaria, also called pineapple weed, a chamomile, can provide soothing relief and it tastes as its common name. the fine lacy leaves add visual appeal to humble salads, or as garnish next to fish or squash..yes, it is polite to munch on the decorations in this case..

Within a few weeks of incremental addition of greens, the body will feel scrubbed and rinsed within. There is no magic pill to improve clearer function and motion, the solution to dietary overload lives in the whole plants, ask any cat. Animals instinctively know which herbs smell just right to purge processed pet foods or winter silage out of their systems...i wonder if they feel as good as i when crunching on fresh greens.

The anticipation of pure relief and rejuvenation surges through glands, and i wait for sunshine to coax familiar herbs from the rich loam of the Midwest...If foraging is not on your schedule, perhaps a farmer's market is on your path.
I hear spring coming in the kitchen.


  1. I love that---"I hear spring coming in the kitchen." You remind me of Little Red Riding Hood out there picking and eating and filing your basket. If I didn't know better, I'd swear you were raised in the woods! :) I had no idea so many of these things could be eaten. Wow.

  2. in a way, i was indeed raised in the woods, because at every vacation or week-end, i would never miss a chance to cross the woods reach my grand-mother' s place several miles from the bus stop. it was a whole world to me, i felt safe and almost loved there, through fields and meadows, i communed with the known and less visible..solitude was my refuge and solace. as it still is wherever i park this carcass of mine.
    i plan to write another article about more spring and summer edibles..such vibrant nutrition coursing the mind.