Dandelion greens

native to: possibly the Central Asian region
in season here: greens are best in the spring, roots in the fall
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Dandelions are related to sunflowers, daisies, and thistles, and appear in medical texts as early as the 10th century. Folk medicine uses dandelions to purify the blood, improve digestion, and prevent piles and gall stones. The flower stems are a traditional soother for burns and nettle stings. The roots are sometimes roasted for use as a coffee substitute, a preparation sometimes recommended for balancing blood sugar. The leaves are best known as a salad ingredient, but can also be used in soups, casseroles, juices, and smoothies, or just cooked like spinach or chard. Dandelion greens can have a somewhat acrid flavor, which can be reduced by blanching for 20-30 seconds then immersing in icewater to stop the cooking process. The leaves can also be dried for use in tonics and teas.

Dandelion greens are very high in vitamin K, which strengthens bones and may fight Alzheimer’s. They are abundant in vitamin A, an antioxidant which is particularly good for the skin, eyes, and mucus membranes. They also have fiber, vitamins C and B6, thiamin, riboflavin, calcium, iron, potassium, manganese, folate, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, cobalt, zinc, boron, and molybdenum. Rather ironic, isn’t it, that my parents once had a conniption when I tried to eat dandelion greens out of the lawn? Although, considering all the chemicals they put on that lawn, perhaps those particular greens were dangerous….

Research indicates that dandelion roots or their extract may be useful in treating cancer, including leukemia. Dandelion greens may prove useful in treating jaundice, cirrhosis, edema, gout, eczema, acne, AIDS, and herpes. Dandelion extract has been linked to weight loss and used in dental research as an antiplaque preparation. Dandelion pollen has antibacterial effects.

Dandelions contain compounds known to have laxative and diuretic effects, so they would probably be a good addition to a detox regimen (but maybe not the best choice right before a long car trip). Also, that high potassium level can be a problem for people on certain medications.

Read more:
label-style nutrition information for raw dandelion greens
label-style nutrition information for cooked dandelion greens
mercola.com
leaflady.org
instructions for dandelion root coffee from leaflady.org

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Dandelion and Fennel Salad

1 bunch dandelion greens, finely chopped
1/2 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
2 cups thinly sliced Napa cabbage
1/2 cup bean sprouts or sunflower shoots

Dressing:
juice of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp. mirin
1/8 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. tamari soy sauce
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4 tsp. maple syrup or honey

Combine dressing ingredients; toss lightly with greens.

Adapted from: Healthy Recipes for Your Nutritional Type by Dr. Mercola, as posted on mercola.com

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Rosemary

native to: Mediterranean region
in season here: all year

Rosemary is traditionally used to flavor chicken, lamb, pork, salmon, and tuna. It is a member of the Labiatae family and related to mint, oregano, and thyme. Historically, it is associated with memory; in ancient Greece, students would place sprigs in their hair while studying. The link to memory also made it a symbol of fidelity in England, where it was once used in wedding decorations and gifts. In the 15th and 16th centuries, it was a popular digestive aid. Fresh rosemary can be frozen in water or broth in ice cube trays as an alternative to drying it.

Rosemary stimulates the immune system and improves digestion. Its anti-inflammatory compounds can mitigate asthma attacks and it stimulates circulation, increasing blood flow to the brain and helping concentration. The flowers contain the phenolic anti-oxidant compound rosmarinic acid and a number of volatile essential oils that work to soothe painful ailments such as gout, rheumatism, and neuralgic conditions. A recent study suggests that a compound in rosemary, carnosic acid, could help prevent macular degeneration. It also fights inflammation, allergies, and fungal infections, and acts as an antiseptic. It is high in many B vitamins, folates, and minerals such as iron and calcium, and is a good source of vitamins A and C. Rosemary extract can stimulate hair growth and prevent dandruff, while rosemary tea has been used to treat nervous headaches, colds, and depression.

In large amounts, rosemary can cause miscarriage and might worsen neurological conditions such as epilepsy and neurosis. Rosemary oil can cause allergic skin reactions in some people, but this is not common. Rosemary should be used with caution by those taking anticoagulants, ACE inhibitors, diuretics, or lithium.

Read more:
label-style nutrition information for fresh rosemary
mercola.com
Medical News Today
a history of rosemary at Our Herb Garden
lots of rosemary recipes atabout.com

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Cornmeal olive oil cookies

3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp. minced fresh rosemary
1/3 cup powdered sugar, or as needed

Stir together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt. Whisk oil with sugar until combined; whisk in egg and rosemary. Fold in flour mixture to form soft dough. Roll tablespoonsful into balls and place 2 inches apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake about 13 min. at 375F, until edges are lightly golden and centers puff and split, rotating sheet halfway through. Let cool slightly on sheet, then roll in powdered sugar while still warm.

From: The Complete cooking for two cookbook : 650 recipes for everything you’ll ever want to make / by the editors at America’s Test Kitchen. America’s Test Kitchen, c2014. 9781936493838

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Brithyll a chig moch (Welsh trout & bacon)

fresh rosemary, loosely chopped
fresh thyme, loosely chopped
fresh parsley, loosely chopped
fresh sage, loosely chopped
butter to taste
1 rainbow trout per person, cleaned, head and tail left on
1 long rasher of bacon per person

Combine rosemary, thyme, parsley, and sage; blend with a little butter and stuff fish. Wrap each fish in a rasher of bacon, then in foil. Bake in a hot oven for around 25-30 minutes. Open foil and paint fish with a little butter. Serve with boiled potatoes and plain fresh vegetables.

Adapted from: Anthony Crowter, Cae Nest Hall Hotel, Llanbedr Merionnydd, N. Wales, who notes that this dish is traditionally baked in an open fire with the fish encased in mud.

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Rhubarb

native to: Western China, Tibet, Mongolia, and Siberia
in season here: spring and summer

Rhubarb is a member of the Polygonaceae family, related to buckwheat, of all things. Once established, it can live up to 15 years, and is propagated by dividing the root (actually a rhizome). The stalks or petioles should be an inch or two thick before harvesting, which usually occurs in its second year. Stalks can be red or green, but the red ones are sweeter and more flavorful. The leaves contain poisonous glycosides and unhealthy amounts of oxalic acid; they should be removed upon harvesting so they don’t pull nutrients from the stalks.

Rhubarb improves digestion, skin, circulation, and metabolism, helps with weight loss, works to prevent Alzheimer’s, protects neurons, stimulates bone growth, and supports the cardiovascular system. It has anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic properties. It is very low in calories and cholesterol, and contains dietary fiber, protein, vitamins C, K, and various Bs, calcium, potassium, manganese, magnesium, and polyphenolic flavonoids.

Historically, rhubarb root was used as an emetic, and both dried rhubarb root and rhubarb itself are traditional laxatives. It was introduced to the US in the late 1700s, which is about when its culinary use began. Its popularity peaked in the 1930s, but dropped dramatically during WWII, probably because of sugar rationing.

Those with kidney problems, certain gastrointestinal concerns, cancer, or vascular issues are advised to avoid rhubarb, although rhubarb extract is being investigated as a treatment for kidney stones and renal failure.

Read more:
label-style nutrition information for raw rhubarb
label-style nutrition information for cooked, sweetened rhubarb
Organic Facts
Zhion.com
a history of rhubarb from High Altitude Rhubarb

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Sweet-and-sour rhubarb sauce

1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 med. onion, finely chopped
2 cups thinly sliced rhubarb (about 12 oz.)
1/2 cup peeled, seeded tomatoes (fresh or canned), finely chopped
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp. sugar
large pinch ground allspice
1/2 tsp. lemon juice, or to taste
pepper

Heat the onion in olive oil over low, stirring occasionally, until softened but not brown (about 7 minutes). Stir in rhubarb, tomatoes, honey, sugar, and allspice. Simmer uncovered until reduced to a thick puree, stirring occasionally (about 20 minutes). Add lemon juice and adjust seasonings. Serve over chicken or fish.

Adapted from: From the farmers’ market : wonderful things to do with fresh-from-the-farm food with recipes and recollections from farm kitchens / Richard Sax with Sandra Gluck. Harper & Row, c1986; which says this recipe is of Sephardic origin.

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