When it comes to nutrition, nothing beats wild greens. These superfoods lift your body to a whole new level of energy and are accessible for anyone. You can juice them, toss them into your smoothies and eat them as a salad. Picking them is a delight to the senses. They don’t come in plastic wrappings, you don’t need to stand in line at the supermarket and stress out. You simply need to go outside, spend some relaxing outdoors time with your loved ones and pick them. It’s impossible to get your food any fresher, more nutrition-packed than this!
Here are 7 common green superfoods you can get for free and add to your diet:
Stinging nettle – Grab her firmly to avoid getting stung, rather than handling her carefully. And always pick before the plant goes into flower. Did you know stinging nettle started to grow stinging hairs because she has that many minerals she would otherwise have been eaten to extinction? She is just filled with minerals and vitamins: extremely high amounts of iron, magnesium and calcium, pro-vitamin A and vitamin K. Way more than spinach or other leafy greens you may be familiar with. Stinging nettle leaf is also quite high in protein. She does a wonderful job in juices and smoothies, where she looses her sting. I also dry the leaves and grind them whenever I need them in wintertime. If Popeye were real, I am sure he would choose fresh stinging nettle over -canned- spinach.
Common daisy – The best food may be right under your foot. It’s such a simple, common flower, but don’t underestimate her strength. Common daisy even blooms under a thick layer of snow – how’s that for plant power? Both the leaves (rich in pro-vitamin A and iron) and flowers make a lovely addition to salads or dips. Common daisy gives your metabolism a boost, which may be exactly what you need in springtime.
Chickweed - Once sold as a mineral- rich nutrition bomb in English grocery stores for a lot of money, until people found out this was the same plant that they saw growing between the pavement stones (when will that happen to rocket or purslane?). A great edible weed for beginners, because it tastes rather neutral. So even if you’re new to wild edibles, you can add quite a lot of it to your salad, juice or smoothie. Chickweed pesto is also a great way of eating it.
Garlic mustard – This is a plant that is in the mustard family, a group that provides many phyto-nutrients that promote health. Garlic mustard has some good gifts for you: calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, selenium, manganese, folic acid, vitamins K, C and pro-vitamin A. And this particular member of the mustard family smells and tastes just like garlic, without the smelly breath afterwards. What a winner. I love the greens in my salad, I used the larger leaves as a wrap, eat the flowers as well and love to make a wild mustard with the seeds.
Lamb’s quarter – This is nature’s wild version of spinach. Not only has it been found in the stomach of well-preserved moor corpses of more than 5000 years old; it’s also in the same family as quinoa, known for the fact that it’s so nutrition dense that it’s even turned into astronaut food. And for picky eaters, astronaut food may seem so much more appealing than leafy greens. The seeds are very high in amino acids, and the greens are an excellent source of vitamins A, B2, B6 and C, manganese, and calcium, and a good source of fiber, potassium and copper.
Hairy bittercress – For that little kick in your salad. It’s related to watercress and tastes quite like it. Both leaves and flowers are edible. Did you know that all these cresses contain a phyto-nutrient that works as a natural antibiotic? But instead of destroying your intestinal flora, it does the opposite. On top of that, it’s delicious.
Common mallow – The soft, young leaves give a silky texture to salads, pestos and smoothies. Larger leaves can be used as wraps. Common mallow is a good source of calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, selenium, and vitamins A and C. And the flowers are so lovely. In fact, any meal is so much more special and festive if you serve it with wild edible flowers. My kids will eat and drink anything that has flowers in it. You can even freeze them with water in ice cube trays and add some magic to your favorite drink.
Written by our friend Leaf.
Leaf is a passionate herbalist and expert. Join her and her family with two kids on their journey with edible wild plants at www.wildplantforager.com